Under the Microscope: Wolfenstein 3D

posted in: Games | 0

A while back we took a look at R-Comp’s re-release of their Doom Trilogy game bundle that had been updated for modern RISC OS systems and made available for purchase through the Pling Store.

That pack saw Wolfenstein 3D bundled with it. Tt wasn’t compatible with modern machines at the time, with it only being compatible with older 26-bit RISC OS systems. R-Comp have been busy since then however, they teamed up with Jon Abbott of JASPP to get the game running on newer RISC OS systems – including the Raspberry Pi and Titanium.

In addition to improved compatibility, the game has received a number of enhancements that improve the gameplay experience, namely new sound effects for collecting food, ammo, treasure and so on. The original PC version had these features in place, but the RISC OS port did not.

The music has been adjusted to better match the PC edition too, and the damage indicator has now been upgraded so the screen flashes red to indicate that you’re taking damage. Another neat upgrade is Wolfenstein now runs at a high resolution mode for modern monitors.

If you’ve already bought the Doom Trilogy re-release through the Pling Store, you can upgrade through the !Store app for free, which will bring your copy of Wolfenstein 3D up-to-date.

What is Wolfenstein 3D?

Released in 1992 by iD Software, Wolfenstein 3D is generally regarded as the first first-person-shooter game, and it laid down the foundations for later shooters from iD such as Doom and Quake.

The player controls an American soldier named BJ Blazkowicz, who is attempting to get out of a building controlled by Nazis during World War II through avoiding or killing guards and dogs. Blazkowicz runs through admittedly repetitive mazes looking down the barrel of his gun, blasting Nazi soldiers, and munching on turkey legs that you’d hope had been cooked thoroughly before consumption.

It may be a little basic now, but the game was revolutionary back in 1992 and was quite popular on RISC OS when it was ported over in 1994.

The game itself

While the graphics and audio may be very dated now, and the maneuvering feels very robotic and unnatural (you can only look around horizontally) the nostalgia value of playing through Wolfenstein 3D is still great. Everything from the graphics to the music to the sound effects is a blast from the past, and the things that were satisfying back in 1992, such as nazi blood spurting up against walls and discovering secret corridors you can’t believe you missed the last ten times you walked past it, are still just as satisfying now.

Something that I’d forgotten was a big part of what made Wolfenstein such an addictive, yet infuriating game, was it’s lack of a map, making it incredibly easy to lose yourself in its endless corridors and prison cells.

When entering a new room a Nazi will likely be hiding to one side of the entrance, but Blazkowicz can’t turn around very quickly so if you choose to aim at the wrong side the enemy will be shooting you in the back. Your health does not regenerate in between levels, although when you die you just restart the level you were on when you perished.

Performance & Compatibility

Wolfenstein 3D is now fully compatible with Titanium and other systems that require RGB/BGR colour swapping, meaning that this release will run on anything from a battle-worn RiscPC to a an ARMini, TiMachine or Raspberry Pi. It also seems to run well under RPCEmu emulation.

In terms of performance, the game runs just as well as it did when I last played Wolfenstein 3D – which was some 15 years ago on an Acorn A5000.

If you’re looking for a trip down memory lane as well as a good Nazi-killing section, then look no further.

Wolfenstein 3D is available as part of the Doom Trilogy pack from R-Comp. It can be purchased from the Pling Store for £14.99.

Update (December 2018): The updated 32-bit version of Wolfenstein 3D is now available for free from here.

RISC OS Games Month 2018

August is Games Month on the RISC OS Blog, where we focus exclusively on gaming, be it reviewing new games or taking a trip down memory lane with a look at a classic title. Stay tuned for more games articles throughout August!

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