Remember… Wolfenstein 3D?

Remember… is a series of retrospectives, some from our magazine archives, and others from our more recent nostalgia dreams.

This probably isn’t what William “B.J.” Blazcowicz had in mind when he signed up for WWII. His dreams of sunning on the banks of the Rhine, sipping pilsner and pinching pretty hausfraus’ bums while they all sing along to Marlene Dietrich’s greatest hits have, by a rotten turn of luck, been swapped out for some mad commando-spy stuff that mostly involves infiltrating the Nazi war machine and stealing the plans for Operation Eisenfaust. Only this isn’t the Operation Eisenfaust you learned about in Grade 9, the one where Hitler dispatched his pal, Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny, to abduct Miklós Horthy’s son, forcing daddy to abdicate as Regent of Hungary, and precipitating the German occupation of that country. No, this is the other, top secret Operation Eisenfaust, the one where the Nazis are breeding top secret undead supermutants in a top secret biological weapons research facility in some top secret location that probably doesn’t appear in Where in the Third Reich is Carmen Sandiego because it’s so top secret. Write about it in your next history exam, and remember to tell your teachers that video games teach you stuff.

Originally released back in 1992, id Software’s genre-defining FPS might not have been the first ever 3D first-person game (preceded as it was by a number of prototypical titles, including Ultima Underworld and System Shock, as well as the company’s own John Carmack’s Catacomb 3D), but it certainly did everything better, while introducing chain guns to an entire generation of disaffected Gen-X adolescents hungry for pixel-blood.

Enormously successful, the game was promptly ported to just about every available platform, including SNES, GBA, 3DO, the Atari Jaguar, Apple II, and Acorn Achimedes*, while unofficial ports were later developed for Linux and Dreamcast following the release of the source code in 1995. Wolfenstein was also released as shareware, allowing it to be widely copied and redistributed. This version included the first of the commercial release’s three episodes, Escape From Castle Wolfenstein, totalling 10 playable levels.

VERBOTEN!

Following an enquiry by the German federal court, the PC version of Wolfenstein was summarily banned throughout the country for its depiction of Nazi iconography, including swastikas, as well as its adoption of the Nazi anthem, Horst-Wessel-Lied, as the game’s theme tune. The SNES port was subsequently entirely divested of all Nazi references, while the attack dogs were swapped out for rats. Apparently it’s totally cool to shoot rats, but not dogs.

REMEMBER… EVEN BEFÜHRER THEN

Before Wolfenstein, there was … Wolfenstein. Well, Castle Wolfenstein, a WWII-themed stealth-based action adventure developed by Muse Software and released on the Apple II way back in 1981. The game was later ported to MS DOS, the Atari 400/800, and the Commodore 64, as well as spawning a sequel, Beyond Castle Wolfenstein. The complete Wolfenstein series includes:

  • Castle Wolfenstein (1981)
  • Beyond Castle Wolfenstein (1984)
  • Wolfenstein 3D (1992)
  • Spear of Destiny (1992)
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001)
  • Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (2003)
  • Wolfenstein RPG (2008)
  • Wolfenstein (2009)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014)
  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (2015)
  • Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus (2017)
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood (2019)

* I’ve never heard of that one either.

GET IT ON GOG.COM!

We’ve teamed up with GOG to give one NAG reader a free copy of Wolfenstein 3D. Simply drop a comment below and we’ll randomly choose a winner on Friday.

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