Wolfenstein 3D, from id Software, broke new ground in the first-person shooter genre because unlike its predecessor Faceball 2000, it was the first PC game of its kind to render textures on all walls and enemies.

Wolfenstein also appeared on some console systems. Like FaceBall, Wolf3d for Super NES ran in low resolution (about 112x80 or so) because of the slow 3.6 MHz 65c816 CPU. It's amazing that id managed to pull it off at all. Because the game came out before the ESRB set up shop, id had to censor the subject matter (all Germany and Nazi references became "master state"; swastika -> eagle; Adolf Hitler -> generic face named Staatmeister). A cheesy unlicensed Super NES game called Super 3D Noah's Ark by Wisdom Tree used a Wolf3d engine licensed from id, apparently in retaliation at Nintendo for censoring the game.

Wolf3d on the Atari Jaguar, however, was much better. The game used larger textures for everything, had clearer samples, ran fullscreen with a heads-up display instead of a status bar, and (best of all) did NOT suffer at the hands of the censor; even the mechanical Hitler made it in. The biggest problem I could see was that the game allowed no way to circle strafe around corners, as the 'open door' button toggled between sideways movement and turning. (It wasn't id's fault; imagine the Jaguar joypad as a Sega Genesis 3-button pad with a telephone keypad attached. What buttons would YOU bind to strafing?) At least it held my interest for a few months while I was waiting for Project Reality to materialize into a product.

(TheBooBooKitty told me to node everything i know about Atari; you're looking at all of it.)

© 2001 Damian Yerrick. Verbatim copying and redistribution are permitted.
It's interesting to note that, whilst Wolfenstein 3D did nothing new ('Ultima Underworld' predated it by a month or so, and had a more sophisticated, texture-mapped 3D engine than 'Doom', even), it was the first texture-mapped, first-person game to ditch any pretensions of complexity.
It always seemed as if, until then, programmers were so over-awed with their complex 3D engines that they assumed only a game of epic scope would do justice to the months spent writing it - Wolfenstein 3D bucked the trend, and was essentially Gauntlet but in 3D.

The world rejoiced, although I remember that, at the time, it didn't take long before the novelty wore off. After that, the gameplay seemed very repetitive and a little dull, even before Doom came out. Wolfenstein 3D is therefore a classic mainly because of its contemporary impact, and not because it is a timeless gaming experience.

It's interesting to see how... transitional Wolfenstein 3D seems nowadays. The decision to give the player a health bar *and* lives didn't catch on, whilst the menu screens nowadays appear to belong to a different geological time period. Also, there's no 'mouselook', because in 1992 some PCs did not have mice.
On the other hand, bits of it still appear in games nowadays - the minigun is still a staple of 3d shooters, the practise of bumping against likely walls whilst hitting the 'use' button is still something of a curse.

As an interesting trivia point, one of the wall panels in a maze in E2:L3 apparently says 'Call Apogee and say Aardwolf'. This was to be a competition, although it was abandoned due to the various 'sprite browser' utilities which quickly started to circulate.

Wolfenstein 3D requires at least 640kb of memory.

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