Is Wolfenstein 3D The Best Game Ever?
The Ideal Quarantine Game
When Wolfenstein was released in the floppy disk days of 1992, it soon became a massive critical and commercial hit. Hailed the ‘grandfather of first person shooters’, it is widely acknowledged to be one of the best video games ever made.
I wholeheartedly concur, not that my opinion matters all that much. But if I had to choose one game for the desert island (equipped with solar power) or more realistically, to survive lockdown during a plague pandemic, Wolf 3D would be it.
Of course, there are way more enhanced, stimulating and spectacular games out there, but for me, I far prefer a simpler game from a simpler time that is able to offer up a warm and wonderful mega dose of nostalgia. Besides, this is a blog about nostalgia and so I’m expected to toe the party line.
Choosing Friends With Computers
My dad bought our first home computer, a Macintosh Plus in 1988. It had a single shooting game installed that was so prehistoric, it was only when the block-shaped character moved that I could make him out from the monochromatic background. It didn’t matter to me and I still loved that game because it was my first. You always remember your first although in this case I remember the game well enough, I just can’t remember what it was called.
My friends at the time, somehow, were always kitted out better than I was. I played hours of Saboteur 2, Avenging Angel in 1989 at Bruce’s place and then a year later, Airborne Ranger was the big thing at Michael’s. I think I chose my friends purely based on how up-to-date their computers were.
In 1992, when Wolfenstein 3D blew the collective mind of the gaming world, I became really good friends with Andre, my high school classmate. His father worked in IT which meant their home PC was well jacked with all the latest bells and whistles.
What made Wolf 3D so thrilling, apart from the innovative gameplay, 3D graphics, and gripping story, was the fact that it was actually scary. When a mutant creeps up on you, silent as a dead mouse, and starts flailing his arms and spewing lead from a chest gun, it freaks you out so much that you take those images to bed with you. Well, the fifteen year old version of myself did, but no amount of nightmares would keep me from coming back for more.
Recreating Near Perfect Moments
In 1993 my dad finally gave me the go-ahead to get a real computer and so, with the help of my IT teacher, we put together a 386 with a whopping 2 MB’s of RAM. When I returned home for the holidays, I spent the entire month, all day and deep fully immersed in the Third Reich, only getting up to pee.
I would prepare a mountain of junk food to sustain me through those heroic bouts of Nazi annihilation. Ferris, my devoted Staffie, kept me company pretty much farting the entire time – perhaps a valiant yet vain attempt to gas a Nazi guard or two. My trigger finger was forced to become as adept with the air freshener as it was with the mouse button.
Last night I downloaded Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny off Steam and I just played the first chapter, Escape from Wolfenstein, a few hours ago. The feelings of nostalgia are still warm and fuzzy within me. It has, after all, been 28 years since I checked in on those crazy, carefree times and the boy I once knew.
Wolfenstein 3D. Ferris. Junk food. Pure, unadulterated boyhood bliss.
Nostalgia score, 9/10.
5 Reasons Why Wolf 3D Revolutionized Gaming
1. It gave the world real first person shooters
Wolf 3D is responsible for popularizing the concept of shooting a man in the face from a first-person perspective. This gaming genre has become huge over the last almost 3 decades so this is a seriously big contribution.
Games were no longer just a cute amusement for kids and techies. Blazkowicz chain-gunning Nazi’s into goulash and eating the good bits to restore health suddenly made gaming a lot more adult. Real men could now play them without feeling childish or nerdy or ashamed that they weren’t out wrestling buffalo or pillaging a neighboring village.
2. It set the standard for how FPS operated
All those gaming design tropes that we became so accustomed to, things like labyrinthine levels, make tactical use of architecture to battle baddies, the eternal hunt for keys and finally, the push walls that exposed secret rooms chock-block filled of gold, weapons and health. Wolf 3D defined the playbook of what a FPS should look like and we’ve been following it ever since.
3. It defined the functionality of FPS weapons
The arsenal of classic weapons that we take into battle, whether it be Duke Nukem, Quake or Call of Duty were all masterminded by the Wolf 3D creators. I’m referring to the last resort pistol, reliable bit dull machine gun and the ferociously satisfying chain gun, heavy on damage but costly on ammo.
Without these staples of carnage, our digital world would be overrun with evil Nazis, pig aliens and all types of demonic forces from Hades. Wolf 3D made sure we were well prepared to take on these foes.
4. It brought the Rambo archetype to video games
Before Wolf 3D, never had we seen a gaming character capable of saving the entire world with brute force and bullets alone. The one-man army phenomenon was well established in Hollywood with the likes of First Blood and Commando, but computer games were more accustomed to simpler, less ambitious protagonists. I’m thinking of mustachioed plumbers, Persian princes and adrenaline-junkie frogs.
5. It pioneered the World War 2 shooter
In the world of 80’s gaming, WW2 was themed in historical
classics like the Red-Baron, Silent Service and of course the prequels, Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein. But these games never really came to terms with how horrific the Nazi regime was and how ruthless the comeuppance needed to be.
Wolf 3D shamelessly and irreverently pulled up the rug and unleashed redemptive hellfire on the guilty minions paving the way with guts and gore so other games could do the same. Apart from its banning in Germany where Nazi iconography was illegal, the rest of the world didn’t seem that phased by it.
Wolfenstein Gift Ideas
Most of the Wolf 3D memorabilia on Amazon is old, pretty much useless gaming cartridges. I did manage to find a few pretty cool items though.
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