Wolfenstein History & Technology Info

The original Wolfenstein was an old game released for many different systems in 1983 as Castle Wolfenstein. A sequel, Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, followed in 1984. Both games consisted of a board on which you moved a little stick figure around trying to avoid guards. Its game play and graphics are nothing like those of Wolfenstein 3D, but the games share a similar story/plot/goal. The first-person shooter, titled Wolfenstein 3D, was originally released for DOS on May 5, 1992 by ID Software. It was later released in 1994 for the Macintosh. There was also a version released for the Super Nintendo and later for the Atari Jaguar. In 2002, it was even released for the Game Boy Advance. Someone also created a version for the TI-83 graphing calculator.

The game features the first-person perspective with which we are now so familiar. The items and enemies are sprites. Sprites are a collection of static images that are moved around, resized, and even animated. For example, an enemy's feet moving would be an animation only a few images in length, the enemy's traveling left and right would be movement of the sprite, and the enemy coming closer would be an enlarging of the sprite. The levels are single-layered; this means that even though the game is a "3D first-person shooter," you can only move in 2 dimensions: left/right and forward/back. In Wolfenstein 3D, you can not jump, crouch, climb stairs, etc. Since Wolfenstein 3D, games have steadily improved. Doom added the ability to walk up stairs creating differing heights. Descent and Duke Nukem 3D made the levels even more 3D by allowing rooms to actually be on top of each other; there is also jumping/crouching in Duke Nukem 3D. Quake added high-quality 3D items and enemies by using polgon models rather than sprites. Since then, game makers have been constantly improving on graphics and gameplay.

The first sequel to Wolfenstein 3D was released only for the PC in 1992. This 20-level game is called Spear of Destiny. Since then, there has been only one sequel to Wolfenstein 3D. In Fall 2001, Return to Castle Wolfenstein was released for both the PC and Mac. A free, online-only follow up to RTCW was released on May 28, 2003; it is called Enemy Territory.

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