Wolfenstein 3D

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Often regarded as the first true First-Person Shooter. Although very primitive entries in the genre had been available since 1973, it's definitely the Trope Codifier and pretty much any modern FPS traces its gameplay's descent back to it. Wolfenstein 3D was a shareware game developed by Id Software in just two months, and published by Apogee Software in May, 1992.

The story is simplicity itself: American soldier B.J. Blazkowicz is imprisoned in the Nazi prison Wolfenstein, and must walk through endless corridors, find keys and shoot Nazis until he escapes. Following chapters, which could be mail-ordered, had somewhat more out-there storylines, with Operation: Eisenfaust requiring you to thwart a Nazi doctor performing horrible biological experiments, and Die, Fuhrer, Die! allowing you to take down Adolf Hitler himself. As he attacks you in an armored battle suit with quad-miniguns. There's also a prequel trilogy of episodes, entitled the "Nocturnal Missions", in which B.J. assassinates a Nazi chemical weapons scientist (A Dark Secret), uncovers his plans for a chemical war (Trail of the Madman) and finally kills the general carrying it out (Confrontation).

Wolfenstein 3D was a reimagining of the original Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, 2D Stealth-Based Games released in the 1980s. It was followed by Spear of Destiny in 1992, and in 1994 by "Return To Danger" and "Ultimate Challenge", two further missions for Spear of Destiny; Return to Castle Wolfenstein revived the franchise in 2001, leading to the Enemy Territory spinoff and another sequel simply titled Wolfenstein. As a tribute to Wolfenstein 3D, Doom 2 contained two secret levels with this game's style.

Wolfenstein 3D was also released for the SNES, with all swastikas and other Nazi imagery removed, the attack dogs turned into giant rats, and Hitler modified to be just a "generic" dictator (by shaving off his mustache and calling him Staatmeister). Wisdom Tree also produced an unlicensed Christian-themed modification (Read: level-for-level copy) based on the SNES port, Super 3D Noah's Ark, which changed the guns into a fruit-shooting slingshot and the enemy soldiers into animals. Rumor has it Apogee willingly let them use the engine, being angered at the Wolf 3D's bowdlerization at Nintendo's hands.

Now online to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Get Psyched! (and ruin your productivity...)

Get Psyched!:
  • 100% Completion: The game scores you on enemies, treasure and secrets found in each level, although getting all 100%/100%/100%s is physically impossible on at least one level (E2M8 due to a lot of mutually exclusive secrets) and technically impossible on a few (E5M3, E6M2 and E6M8 all have secret walls that, due to an engine bug, push a square too far, either blocking off an area containing treasure or parking on the treasure itself rendering it inaccessible).
  • Adolf Hitler: With four miniguns and a mecha suit.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Hitler is a boss! Once you blow up his Powered Armor, he's only about 1/2th as tough as the regular bosses, but with extra dakka. He's still got several times as much health as the Elite Mooks and wields dual miniguns, though.
  • Blatant Item Placement: With ammo and food found on the floor.
  • Boss-Only Level: The only opponent in Level 9 of Episode 1 is the boss, Hans Grosse.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The Hitler Ghosts in the last level of Episode 3. They have boss-like health (about 33% the health of a normal boss), which is probably meant to fool you into thinking the first one is really the final boss.
  • Chest Blaster: The mutants in Episode 2 have guns implanted in their chests. The gigantic Ubermutant boss from Spear of Destiny has upgraded it to a chaingun.
  • Combat Medic: Dr. Schabbs, a Mad Scientist and one of the bosses.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: Including at least one map that is almost entirely made up of a ton of swastika-shaped rooms layered along each other.
  • Dog Food Diet: You can eat dog food for health.
  • Dummied Out: "Call Apogee, Say Aardwolf!" It's still there (E2M8), if you know how to get to it.
  • Easy Mode Mockery: The easiest level, "Can I play, Daddy?", is symbolized by an icon of Blazkowicz in a baby bonnet.
  • Elite Mooks: SS Guards and Officers.
  • Every Ten Thousand Points: Forty-thousand in this game's case.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Die, Fuhrer, Die! chapter has a souped up Hitler as the boss.
  • Foreboding Architecture: The Original blueprints were leaked from Apogee and now everybody's doing it.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Enemies cannot hit each other, and their shots will go straight to you even if blocked.
  • Gatling Good: Aside from the bosses, the vast majority of which attack you with weapons of this variety, the Gatling Gun is the player's ultimate weapon.
  • Ghostapo: Possibly subverted. The mutants, while undead-looking, are a result of scientific rather than supernatural experimentation, and the flying, fireball-shooting Hitler Ghosts are, according to the Return to Castle Wolfenstein manual, decoys hung from the ceiling by wires.
  • Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: The Angel of Death in Spear of Destiny.
  • Glass Cannon: Attack dogs. Faster than other enemies, can deal high damage with their bites, but they only have a single hitpoint.
  • Gratuitous German: See the list for all of them.


  • is shot* "MEIN LEBEN!"
  • Hurricane of Puns: Just a quick glance at the list of potential titles id Software had considered before choosing the Wolfenstein name reveals several groaners, including Luger's Run, Luger Me Now, Tank You Very Much and Castle Hasselhoff.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Food restores health.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Just barely counts as an example. The Knife Nut, Luger, and MP40 are all things you could reasonably expect someone to carry. The Chaingun? Not so much.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: "Can I play, Daddy?", "Don't hurt me!", "Bring 'em on!" and "I am Death incarnate!"
  • Joke Level: E3M10, a Pac-Man stage also known as "Wolf Pack".
  • Loading Screen: GET PSYCHED!
  • The Maze: Quite a few of the levels have mazes, but the most extreme example is the Aardwolf maze in E2M8.
  • Meaningless Lives: Dying puts you back at the beginning of the level with only a pistol and 8 rounds, and you have the ability to save anywhere, so...
  • Nazi Gold: Collect it for scorepoints.
  • No Fair Cheating: cheating for full ammo will deny you the chance to get a high score.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: While it doesn't end your game, if Dr. Schabbs, the boss of Episode 2, kills you with his syringes, then instead of your head being all caved in and dead (see Shows Damage below), it turns gray and zombie-like (the stuff in the syringes turns you into a mutant).
  • Path of Greatest Resistance: If a room is filled with bodies, you've already been there.
  • Power Armor: Hitler has one.
  • Puzzle Boss: The secret level in Episode 4 looks like a run, shoot and hope job. It's actually a maze - there's a path from start to finish that goes past the backs of the guards without any of them seeing you (follow the blood spatters on the walls).
  • Secret Level: Once an Episode.
  • Shareware
  • Shout-Out:
    • E3M10. Wakka wakka.
    • A couple to id's previous game Commander Keen. Try inputting the cheat code from Episodes 4-6 and you'll get a message saying something to the effect of "Commander Keen is another great game from id Software, but you knew that already, didn't you, Cheater?"
    • Related to the above one, the hint sheet for the game gives a brief biography of B.J. Blazkowicz, including revealing that he's Keen's grandfather.
  • Shows Damage: As you soak up damage, the face in the status bar becomes more beaten and bloodied.
  • Sigil Spam: Well, the real Nazis emblazoned swastikas onto everything too, although we're pretty sure they didn't actually create whole levels shaped like them (E6M3).
  • Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: Each soldier uses a different Gratuitous German phrase, except for the Apple Macintosh port (where they all share the same pool of phrases) and the SNES port. (Where, due to being Bowdlerised, they don't even speak German. Like the Mac port, they all use the same generic sound pool, but with the thoughtful addition of having different human enemies will speak with different voice-pitches.)
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Surprisingly, the Pac-Man music on E3M10 is quite sharply contrasted with you running for your life!
  • Stupid Power Armor Hitler
  • Third Is 3D: With easy Sequel Displacement.
  • Those Wacky Nazis
  • Universal Ammunition: The three original guns all share the same pool of ammunition, though in the case of the first two it's justified (the Luger and MP40 do both fire 9mm bullets). The 3DO and SNES ports added a flamethrower and rocket launcher which had their own ammo pools.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Whatever you do, in the pushback mazes of E2M8 and E4M2, don't box yourself in! If you do, let's hope you saved at the start of the level, otherwise you have to start the episode all over again.
  • Yeah! Shot: The ending of Episodes 1 and 5.