Is Wolfenstein 3D The Best Game Ever?

Wolfenstein 3D poster in the blog, Is Wolfenstein 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.

Still of Macintosh Plus
Macintosh Plus (1986)
Screengrab of Saboteur 2
Saboteur 2 (1987)
Screengrab of Airborne Ranger in the blog, Is Wolfenstein The Best Game Ever
Airborne Ranger (1987)
Still of mutant in Wolfenstein 3D, the best game ever
Unlike the other characters, mutants are silent killers

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.

Screengrab of Nazi captain dying in the blog, Is Wolfenstein The Best Game Ever
Stabbing a Nazi captain in the face
Screengrab of Hitler dying in the blog, Is Wolfenstein The Best Game Ever
Hitler wearing his guts on the outside
Screenshot of Wolfenstein 3D secret chamber in the Is Wolfenstein The Best Game Ever blog
A secret chamber filled with treasure

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.

Still of Rambo firing machine gun
Rambo, a one man army (1985)
Still of Castle Wolfenstein in the Is Wolfenstein 3D The Best Game Ever blog post
Beyond Castle Wolfenstein (1984)

Read more on Games Radar here.

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.

For more cool things from the 90’s, read 10 Things That Make The 90’s Nostalgic.

What are your thoughts on Wolf 3D? Let me know in the comments section below.

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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. 

Please note that I am an Amazon Affiliate and receive a small compensation if you use my links, but it will not increase your purchase price. If you use my links, I truly appreciate it 😉

Wolfenstein Beer Mug

Still of Wolfenstein beer mug which is a nice nostalgia present for a man

Drink beer the way Blaskowicz would. Great for a father, husband or son desperately needing to rekindle his glory days. Can be personalized. 

Check it out on Amazon

Wolfenstein Beer Mug

Still of Wolfenstein glass beer mug which is a nice nostalgia present for a man

This one isn’t quite as hardcore, but I guess it’ll do as long as you customize it with anti-Nazi epithets and slurs.

Check it out on Amazon.

Wolfenstein T-Shirt

Still of Wolfenstein shirt which is a cool nostalgia present for men

With this Wolfenstein Tee you’ll prove to the world which side you’re really on. 

Check it out on Amazon.

30 thoughts on “Is Wolfenstein 3D The Best Game Ever?”

  1. To start a discussion on the best game ever,  I think it depends on who you ask. As a true gamer myself, I think it’s all about the experience and quality… I’m personally a big fan of NBA 2K and Call of Duty, but I still believe that the best game ever made has to be Grand Theft Auto V.

    The graphics, the storyline, the real life interactions has it still as the number game ever sold.

    Wolfenstein 3D might be great, but the new Grand Theft Auto is coming out at the end of the year… It’s gonna be the best thing ever!


    1. Hi Lorenz, I haven’t played NBA but I did enjoy Call of Duty. Grand Theft was fun too. I guess I’m just referring to how groundbreaking Wolf 3D was at the time. Sure, these other games are more fun now, but they haven’t done as much, in my opinion, to impact the gaming industry as a whole.

  2. Loving this walk down memory lane. Really brings back good memories. Especially, having played Castle Wolfenstein back in 1982.

    1. Hi George, I’m glad you enjoyed the walk. Castle Wolf was a bit before my time, but my brother played it at school and absolutely loved it.

  3. Love this blog! So well written and such a great source for gift ideas. I have so many male family members and am always struggling with ideas for what to get them. Men are so hard to shop for. I remember my brother loving this game when we were kids! Talk about a #throwback. His birthday is coming up in a couple months so the timing is perfect. Gonna go ahead and chuck one of those newer versions of Wolfenstein into my Amazon cart. Thanks Murray!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Katie and I hope this site will be of use to you. Nostalgic gifts always hit the sweet spot. Please visit again 😉

  4. I’m really enjoying your blog Murray. I was with you all the way – your story about storing up a stash of junk food, having your loving dog Ferris by your side, (albeit needing to reach for the Fresh Air canister) and playing into the night. What a magical experience. You must have become quite adept at blasting those silent moving mutants into smithereens.

    I have a brother too who enjoyed playing Wolf 3D. He was brilliant at it, just a bit annoying that he was better than me. Hey, that’s life!!

    1. Hi Nigel, thanks so much for your comments and I’m stoked you’ve shared in the magical Nazi-slaying adventure that is Wolfenstein. Perhaps you can tell your brother to visit too since he appears to be quite the fan. Don’t feel annoyed because I have a nephew who kicks my butt on every gaming platform out there. The youngsters rule in that arena. Such is life.

  5. Hi! I’m absolutely with you when it comes to how groundbreaking Wolfenstein 3D was. I also remember playing it as a kid. I’m 33 right now and I recall aspects of my childhood linked to the game. I remember my mom telling my dad, “Look this boy is constantly moving his jaw like the man in that video game”.

    1. Yeah, I know what that’s about. I used to dream inside the walls of Castle Wolfenstein. I played it so much back then, that I might still do now.

  6. This feels more like an honour to know about this such historic and great game. To be honest, this is the first time I am hearing about wolfenstein and it feels more like this had been a great game. Being a gamer myself, I would suggest that you share something of this nature with us more and is there a way to get the retro? Thanks

    1. Hi Sharon, you’ll have to just play it for yourself to understand what the fuss is all about. Although, it might not have the same effect on you because you don’t have any nostalgia at play since you’ve never played it before. As mentioned in the article, it’s available on Steam.

  7. Hello there! This is an awesome review you’ve got. When I was a kid, I and my friends won’t concentrate in class simply because of “Castle Wolfenstein” which for us then, was the most interesting game so far.

    I had already saved this post so I can show my friends to remind them of old school days. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Hi! Thank you for this very nice post. I was captivated by your story. Unfortunately, as a kid from the 90’s, I didn’t experience the evolution of the games from the 80’s. 

    However, I totally understand your nostalgic feeling when you have downloaded this game again, now in 2020. I really like playing Call of Duty, but it was not the first game of FPS shooting. Last Year, I really wanted to play the games of my childhood, and the feeling is indescribable. 

    A few years ago, I downloaded the first Doom again, it was so nice to play it. Most of the games from back then are simple and pixelated but how good is that to feel like returning to the time of this innocent child discovering the gaming world again. 

    1. Yup, I know the feeling well Lauranne. Every time I wax nostalgic about something, I feel as though I’m checking in with my child version of myself. I think it’s important to do that every now and again. 

      Doom was a favourite of mine too as well as Duke Nukem and Quake. I actually had to redo my major in college because of Quake 😉

  9. Edwin Bernard

    You mentioned your Dad got the family a Macintosh Plus in 1986. I got a Radio Shack TRS 80 in 1978. I loved playoing Pac Man in the arcades, And I wrote a piece of Basic for a dice program for the TRS 80. In those days there was virtually nothing. i remember buying games and software on floppy discs. 

    Wolfenstein 3D is light years away from those days. Prior to computers, there were dedicated game platforms like Atari who dominated the game scene. In fact, some of those game systems formed the basis of early home computing. 

    My first serious computer was the Apple Power Mac. The game that caught my attention was Myst. Do you remember that? Not your action, shoot ’em up variety. More a brain game. 

    Personally I don’t much care for shooting games. However, I can see why these would be popular. I like the fact that computer games today have taken over the imagination of adults. 



    1. Hi Edwin, you know your stuff. It’s awesome to share those early gaming experiences with someone albeit yours go back a bit further than mine. I never played Myst but I did also enjoy the strategy games in particular Dune 2 and of course Age of Empires which came a bit later. 

      My favourite arcade game was either Jail Break which was incredibly hard or Mr. Do which was a bit like Dig Dug. But Pac Man was always up there.

      Thanks for your interest in this post.

  10. primoz pticak

    Hi! Wow you kiced me back 25 years ago, to my childhood when we were playing wolf and doom all the time. I remember when we were talking about how realistic it looks like. Oh not to mention PC 386 – we had the same one , and do you remember software MS DOS – its navigation in blue window? How cool was that, thank you for this article, I just rembered where we had PC in our room – awesome

    1. I remember, Primoz, a world away from where we are now. Glad you enjoyed the article. I’ve actually played a few other MS DOS games recently, like Airborne Ranger and Red Baron. Still pretty fun.

  11. I’m a gamer of a younger generation who only received his first PC in the new millennium.

    I was hooked on Dungeon Keeper 2 then. The nostalgia I feel now is exhilarating! Slapping your minions silly and defending your dungeon from knights was so much fun back then.

    Although I have never played the Wolfenstein series, it is on my wishlist for some noble soul to buy it for me one day on Steam and experienced what you did.

    Wolfenstein is one of those games I imagine playing for an entire day and just taking the time to get to know the story behind it. Stories in games have always been more important to me than grinding for the shiny relics.

    1. I hear you Ian on the feeling of nostalgia that Dungeon Keeper 2 invokes. I’d like to play that too sometime since I somehow missed it. Wolfenstein 3D on Steam is pretty cheap so you should look into acquiring it. Be warned though because you might get hooked and then you’ll have to play every installment which will keep you busy for a few months at least. 

  12. I like the way you site is and the way you detailed your memories on the gaming experience, but though back then, i was much into playing Grand Theft Auto V, Call of Duty and sometimes NBA. But you did a great job putting this review together, it brings back old memories, but the wolfenstein 3D as seen from your graphics looks great.

    1. I haven’t played NBA, but I did play other sport games like Mike Ditka’s ultimate football and Johan Lomu Rugby on PlayStation. Great memories of both of them. Give Wolfenstein 3D a go, if only to see what all the fuss was about. 

  13. I know that finding a good article does not come by so easily so i must commend your effort in creating such a beautiful website and writing an article to help others with useful information like this.Wolfenstein 3D was a critical and commercial success and widely considered to be one of the greatest video games ever made.I remember during a little reunion with my friends,a friend of mine was a gaming nut and had most of the games in the Wolf franchise Wolfenstein 3D: Spear of Destiny,Wolfenstein Youngblood,Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory,Wolfenstein: The New Order,Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. All these games were and are legends and I sampled them all. 

    1. Once you start going through the Wolfenstein franchise, you’ll be absent from the physical world for a long time 😉 Fortunately for me, my laptop is 8 years old which prevents me from playing a lot of the awesome more recent installments. This saves me a lot of time 😉 

  14. An amazing and well written article proving that Wolfenstein 3D is the best game ever. I must affirm the fact that I have not played Wolfenstein 3D myself. This is because I wasn’t born on time, haha 🙂

    But my favorite games of all time is The One on n-Gage. I actually played this game on a symbian phone with an n-Gage emulator installed. It has amazing and excellent graphics, beautiful characters, superb story line plus the voice is something that truly amazes me “Ready? Fight!” Haha.

    Well, we’ll certainly call different games, the best as we all have different tastes and opinions. 

    1. I haven’t played The One as yet, but will find it and check it out. It’s never too late to give Wolfenstein 3D a go, even if the graphics aren’t quite up to par with modern games. The story and legacy make up for it.

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