4/30 – Wolfenstein 3D

Hello and welcome. My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

Welcome to the third day of DOS week and today, it’s time for a classic. I don’t know if you can get more definitive DOS than Wolfenstein 3D, developed by id Software and released in 1992.

Many think of Wolfenstein 3D as the first game in the Wolfenstein series and while it certainly cemented the first-person shooter style, Wolfenstein 3D is actually a sequel to Castle Wolfenstein from 1981 and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein in 1984. Both of those titles were 2D stealth games made by Silas Warner. After deciding they wanted to make a sequel to Castle Wolfenstein, id Software found that the trademark had lapsed so they were free to use the name Wolfenstein 3D without permission from Silas Warner. Warner would later meet the id Software team after the release of Wolfenstein 3D and say he loved what they had made with his idea.

Wolfenstein 3D is the basis for the first person shooter genre. Retrospectively, it wasn’t the first in the genre but it was certainly the first to popularize the mechanics and current games in the genre often trace their influences back directly to Wolfenstein 3D.

Players played as BJ Blaskowitz, a prisoner of the Nazi’s in Castle Wolfenstein. He must escape confinement and work to destroy the Nazi’s, eventually fighting Hitler himself. BJ can use a variety of weapons from a knife and a pistol up to a chain gun. Each level has BJ needing to travel through a series of rooms and hallways to find an elevator which takes him to the next level. Along the way, enemies such as nazi soldiers and dogs will try to stop him. While levels are fairly static with no stairs or open areas, each level contains hidden rooms which contain ammunition and health packs to help BJ on his way.

Wolfenstein 3D was an instant success, bringing in almost double what id Software had hoped to make in their first month. They would make an expansion pack called Spear of Destiny soon after and the pair received a number of game awards for 1992 including several game of the year awards. While id Software would not make another game in the Wolfenstein franchise, they would use what they learned on Wolfenstein 3D to create another game that you may have heard of. More on that another time though…

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