Wolfenstein 3D is a first person shooter developed by id Software and published by Apogee Software in May 1992.
American spy Billy Blazkowicz has been captured by the Nazis while searching for the plans of a terrible new weapon, and is kept prisoner in Castle Wolfenstein, from where he must escape.
This was not id's first FPS; they had released Hovertank and Catacomb 3-D the year before. Ideas for their next game included a new entry to the Commander Keen series, or an original science fiction title about aliens. Designer John Romero then suggested producing a 3D sequel to Muse Software's Castle Wolfenstein, an early 1980s top-down stealth shooter series. Muse was defunct, but id bought the copyright for $5,000.
However, Romero reasoned that players might be confounded by the complexity of the old titles, since first person games were still a novelty. So his design discarded all stealth elements in favor of fast-paced, action-focused gameplay.
The game sold very well, surpassing their previous releases by far. It also received stellar reviews and awards from gaming magazines. It is now regarded as a landmark, the game that brought the genre to mainstream popularity.
The game was banned in Germany, where the depiction of Nazi imagery in games was against the law. It didn't help that the intro music was a rendition of "Horst-Wessel-Lied", the Nazi party's anthem.
The SNES version, while technically competent (and impressive, given that system's weak CPU), had a number of level design changes and was heavily censored at Nintendo's request. This version was the basis (with the censorship undone) for the Jaguar, 3DO, and Apple IIgs versions. The Macintosh version was a mashup of the console and PC levels, with a fully new soundtrack. An unofficial port was made for the Mega Drive console.
Wolfenstein 3D 's engine is an evolved version of the one used in Hovertank 3D and the Catacomb 3D games. It was then used by other developers:
- Raven Software
- 1993 - ShadowCaster
- Wisdom Tree
- 1994 - Super 3D Noah's Ark
- Apogee Software
- 1995 - Rise of the Triad: Dark War
Wolfenstein 3D had a very successful sequel in 2001, a not so successful one in 2009, and a number of spin-offs. After id was acquired by Zenimax, the series' plot was rebooted in 2014.
- 1981 - Castle Wolfenstein
- 1984 - Beyond Castle Wolfenstein
- 1992 - Wolfenstein 3D
- 1992 - Spear of Destiny (expansion)
- 2001 - Return to Castle Wolfenstein
- 2003 - Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (multiplayer-only)
- 2008 - Wolfenstein RPG (mobile game)
- 2009 - Wolfenstein
- 2014 - Wolfenstein: The New Order
- 2015 - Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
- 2017 - Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
- 2019 - Wolfenstein: Youngblood
- 2019 - Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot