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Page 1:
Castle Wolfenstein
Beyond Castle Wolfenstein

Page 2:
Wolfenstein 3D
Spear of Destiny

Page 3:
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory

Page 4:
Wolfenstein RPG
Wolfenstein (2009)

Page 5:
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

Page 6:
Spinoffs / Unofficial Remakes
Cancelled Games / Wolfenstein VR

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Unofficial Games, Mods, and Spinoffs

Like any other game with a long legacy, Wolfenstein plays host to a huge fan base that, not satisfied with what the developers hand to them once every six or so years, opts to make their own once in a while. Wolfenstein has spawned countless mods, unofficial sequels, and even remakes celebrating the game's rich history.


Not Quite Wolfenstein: Raycasting Engines

Wolfenstein 3D's engine, a vastly simplified 3D renderer using what John Carmack refers to as a "raycasting" technique, has inspired many people to recreate such an engine on platforms far less powerful than the 386 PC that the original game was built on. Raycasters like this have been developed for 8-bit computers and even graphing calculators; even if they don't set out to be accurate remakes of Wolfenstein itself, they certainly wear their inspiration on their sleeves. A few such attempts include Project-M for the Atari XL, Wolfenstein 3D for ZX Spectrum, Wolf 3D for C64, and Wolfenstein 3D for TI calculators. While not necessarily playable games in their own rights (most of the time), they stand as a shining example of programmers doing things for the fun of it, as opposed to for any real practical purpose.

Wolfenstein 3D (ZX Spectrum)


Wolfenstein 3D Super Upgrades Pack - IBM PC (1994)

Some time after Wolfenstein's release, Apogee Software contacted everybody that ordered the game from them with a special offer: for $39.95, one could buy the Wolfenstein 3D Super Upgrades, a pack of three applications that, according to the mail brochure, could give you "UNLIMITED LEVELS!" The Wolfenstein Super Upgrades included MapEdit, WolfMaster, and Wolf Creator.

MapEdit is pretty self-explanatory; it's a level editor for DOS. It's nice and high-res, shows the entire level on screen at once without need to scroll, and has clear icons (and a legend to refer to) for every wall texture, actor, and decoration in the game.

WolfMaster is Apogee's "hand-picked" selection of 815(!) new levels designed by third-party authors (read: they downloaded all of them from BBS sites). It's pretty much standard fare for one of these things - there's nothing particularly stand-out about these maps. It's basically the same thing as the various shovelware discs like D!Zone. Then again, not a lot of people could spare the phone bill money to download 815 levels on their own, so this might have been a major selling point, too.

Finally, there's Wolf Creator, which I'm sure is the main reason why people would have shelled out the price of a new game for this pack. Wolf Creator is a map generator that, after specifying the desired difficulty setting (or manually adjusting some sliders to determine how many guards, bosses, health, and ammo pickups will appear), generates 60 new levels for you and automatically installs them into Wolfenstein, with a handy shortcut file to restore the original levels should you wish to go back. The levels generated by Wolf Creator aren't terribly special; they could easily stack up to the ones included in WolfMaster, but not really to the level of the original game maps, and certainly nowhere near what the community is making today. Still, though, this was some pretty neat stuff back in the day. Nowadays, the entire Super Upgrades package is available for free download from 3D Realms' legacy page, having been previously declared, requiring only a registered copy of Wolfenstein 3D to run it with.

Wolfenstein Super Upgrades

Wolfenstein Super Upgrades


Wolfenstein 3D Part II: Rise of the Triad - IBM PC (never quite released)

While id Software was busy working on Doom, Apogee Software was given the Wolfenstein engine and asked to create a follow-up. Rise of the Triad eventually became its own separate thing, still based on the Wolfenstein engine, albeit with many, many enhancements; before it branched out, though, it was a more faithful sequel to Wolfenstein. Some features that were to be included were a few more weapons (a gas grenade launcher was planned at some point), destructible walls (tanks of water), office chairs that could be pushed around (to trigger touchplates and detonate land mines), and all new bosses like Heinrich Krist (who later showed up in the finished RoTT as Sebastien Krist). Even the returning elements from original Wolfenstein would have received a face lift, as detailed on the the Official Specs Sheet at 3D Realms' website.

Rise of the Triad


Wolfenstein VR - VR Hardware (1994)

In 1993, when "virtual reality" was the buzzword of the decade, a company called Alternate World Technologies worked on an adaptation of the Wolfenstein 3D engine, designed to work with head-mounted displays, under special license from id Software. AWT worked on three games: Wolfenstein VR, Blake Stone VR, and Cybertag VR, all based on the Wolfenstein engine code, with Cybertag being the only one playable in multiplayer for up to four players. There isn't much documentation online about these, but this video from back in the day shows two AWT employees facing off in Cybertag VR, with brief flashes of the title screens for Wolfenstein and Blake Stone. A 3D artist by the name of Tom Roe, who uploaded the video linked above, helped with some of the finer details of this project.

"The Wolfenstein VR game was developed by a small game development company based in Louisville, KY back in 1993. Through an agreement with Id, Alternate Worlds Technologies, Inc., (AWT) licensed the original Wolfenstein 3D engine and used Polhemus tracker technology to create a head mounted display version of the game. The design team also modified all of the animation sequences to look more like green alien blood rather than red blood; an attempt to reduce the apparent violence in the game. Amusing by today's standards for sure.

I was not personally involved in the design work on Wolfenstein as I arrived after they were already shipping arcade units with this title. They also created a similar experience with Blake Stone. The Wolfenstein VR game was a single player game, though the Wolfenstein engine was later used to create a multi-player game which you mentioned, Cybertag VR. Where four players could speak to each other through a headset while playing tag in a virtual environment. I began my work with AWT as a 3d artist developing levels for a new game engine which used character and level models designed in 3d Studio. I also used Deluxe Paint to create animation sequences for Cybertag VR."
--Tom Roe (411vids), via Youtube

Wolfenstein VR remains on the MAME project's "Undumped" list to this day.

Wolfenstein VR

Wolfenstein VR


[Unofficial] Wolfenstein 2600 - Atari 2600 (2004)

In perhaps one of the coolest bits of resourcefulness ever seen from the Atari community, there is a "port" of Castle Wolfenstein for the Atari 2600 - however, rather than write it from scratch, this port is actually a seriously elaborate hack of the 2600 port of Exidy's arcade game, Venture.

Wolfenstein 2600 similarly plays like the original Castle Wolfenstein, but given the Atari's less complex control method, your controls are now limited to merely moving and firing. When the game starts, you are on the overhead map of the castle, where you must avoid the patrolling SS and enter one of the four rooms on the map. There, you must fight all resistance, obtain the one item in the room, and leave. Once you have the items from all four rooms, you move on to the next level.

By default, your shot does not travel very far (since you don't start with a gun, but rather a knife), but collecting a gun will greatly boost your range and your survivability. If you take too long to finish a room, an indestructible SS will appear and kill you, unless you can escape. It sounds a lot like Venture on paper, but developers, neotokeo2001 and Robert M., made every effort to make it feel like Wolfenstein. It's actually not bad, and makes efficient use of the Atari 2600's highly limited computing power. It can be obtained from AtariAge.

Wolfenstein (Atari 2600)


[Unofficial] Coming of the Storm - Windows (2004)

Wolfenstein 3D's mod-making community has changed quite a bit over the years, and while it's not as active as other such communities, there are a number of "power players" that constantly wow the crowds. Since Wolfenstein's source code release in 1995, intrepid modders have learned how to recompile the game and alter its inner workings to allow for more weapons, more enemies, and additional map effects to make a game that is greater than the sum of its parts, despite the age of the engine.

Such is certainly the case with Coming of the Storm by Wolf Skevos-Jones, a "total conversion" of Spear of Destiny, featuring 21 brand new levels with tons of new enemies, tricks and ambushes. The major highlight is that every level leads directly into the next one. Instead of every level ending at an elevator, a level could end with you approaching the outer fence of the castle with the next level placing you just inside. The progression is almost Half-Life-esque in that regard. The level design is top-notch, with even Wolfenstein's static square wall tiles managing to take on the feel and layout of a real German castle and surrounding grounds. There are even levels that take place outdoors, with a starry sky to look up at. Just beware of the new sniper enemies, carrying Mauser rifles that will put you down in two shots or less.

While Wolf Skevos-Jones and other such modders have made newer mods that outstrip this one in terms of technical achievement, Coming of the Storm remains highly notable for being one truly great new mission for Wolf3D, and for being one of the first of many Wolfenstein mods that offers more than just new levels and graphics. It is freely available to download from The Wolfenstein 3D Dome.

Coming of the Storm

Coming of the Storm


[Unofficial] WolfenDOOM: Operation Rheingold - IBM PC (Doom II mod) (2000)

Laz Rojas is a somewhat famous figure among the Wolfenstein mod community. Having gotten his start making maps and total conversions for the Macintosh version of Wolfenstein 3D (so in-depth, that he actually sold some of them, though they are all now available as freeware), Laz eventually moved on to Doom II: Hell on Earth. Over the years since the Mac release of Doom II, Laz gradually released a series of Wolfenstein-themed total conversions under the collective title of "WolfenDOOM." While the earlier releases were merely conversions and ports of Wolfenstein 3D's Original Missions, Nocturnal Missions, the Second Encounter, and Spear of Destiny, and eventually conversions of his Mac Wolfenstein TC trilogy Astrostein, Laz eventually began making brand new Wolfenstein adventures for Doom II.

The very last release in this line was Operation Rheingold, named for the title of the war documents that the player was tasked with stealing in the very first Castle Wolfenstein for Apple II. Rheingold was to be released episodically, with each new episode containing three extensive new levels and its own set of graphics and sounds. The first episode is set at the Hotel de la Mort in France, just as you are supposed to be meeting up with a fellow OSA agent to retrieve vital information about the mysterious Operation Rheingold. As the game begins, you find said agent dead in the bathroom of his hotel room, and the Gestapo barges into the room, guns blazing. Your task is simply to make your escape from the hotel, fighting off the SS in the process. In the second episode, you've been captured by the Gestapo and thrown into prison (again), and you now have to escape from said prison, avoiding (or stabbing) hungry rats and stealing supplies. Unfortunately, this second episode was the last episode finished before Laz Rojas retired from modding and took up stage acting instead.

By 2000, the release of Doom's source code enabled people to create versions of Doom that lacked the original game's memory-imposed rendering limits, in order to make levels that were much larger and more detailed than before. In addition, many tricks with Doom EXE-hacking utility DeHackEd allowed authors to alter the behavior of certain enemies and weapons, in addition to changing in-game messages and other things. All of the above have been done in Operation Rheingold - despite certain limits in DeHackEd (such as the inability to create new bullet attacks beyond those already in Doom), Laz was able to make entirely new weapons like the StG-44 and Mauser Kar98 (even though these effectively just act like shotguns, their firing speed is altered to be a bit faster) and extra effects like tanks that will smolder and burn when you've destroyed them. This is all in addition to good old-fashioned mapping talent, and Rheingold does not disappoint here, either, as the depiction of the streets of Paris and the dungeons of the Gestapo are as realistic as possible, given the time period. If ever there was a Doom TC that was as un-Doom-like as possible, Operation Rheingold is it.

Operation Rheingold episodes One and Two are still freely available to download, requiring only a full version of Doom II: Hell on Earth to work. ZDoom or Eternity Engine are recommended to run.

WolfenDOOM: Operation Rheingold

WolfenDOOM: Operation Rheingold

WolfenDOOM: Operation Rheingold


[Unofficial] Castle Totenkopf SDL - Windows (2010)

From the same developer as the earlier-mentioned Coming of the Storm comes the Wolf4SDL-based Castle Totenkopf, featuring all new weapons, vastly improved sound and music capabilities, and best of all, the ability to run natively on Windows machines, rather than emulate it in DOSBox. Totenkopf is essentially a retelling of the original Wolfenstein 3D, where you are kept imprisoned by the SS and need to escape while taking down the entire Third Reich in the process. Castle Totenkopf SDL is itself a remake of Wolf Skevos-Jones' previous Castle Totenkopf, which was based on the original DOS version source code and had fewer features due to DOS' conventional memory limits.

Totenkopf's enhancements to the Wolfenstein formula include the complete overhaul of every bullet-based weapon in the game, and the addition of tons of brand new weapons as well. Weapons now act much more predictably, and the selection ranges from the Walther P-38 and MP-40 (which can now both be dual-wielded for extra punishment) to the Mauser Kar98 (which can be upgraded with a sniper scope!), a flamethrower, and a rocket launcher. The enemy AI is improved as well, or at least it does a great job of faking being improved, as enemies will speak proper German and actually pay notice to dead bodies lying around and hearing the player making noise in the next room over. The various boss enemies even have taunt dialogue that they will spew at you during fights. It feels as if WSJ wanted to back-port all the improvements from Return to Castle Wolfenstein to the game that gave birth to it.

Castle Totenkopf SDL is available for free download and does not require a copy of Wolfenstein 3D, and comes highly recommended to FPS fans in general.

Castle Totenkopf SDL

Castle Totenkopf SDL


ECWolf - Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Android, others (2012)

Using Wolf4SDL as a base, and with quite a lot of code and systems from the open-source Doom port, ZDoom, developer Braden "Blzut3" Obrzut set about correcting the biggest problem faced by Wolfenstein 3D fans: that their game was just not very customizable without frequent trips into the source code. ECWolf is a port that aims not just to make the game more accessible, but also more open to modification, with additions ranging from high resolutions to improved sound support (more than one sound channel), better strafing controls, an automap, and its own in-depth definition language for creating new weapons, enemies, and map tiles. This also includes most of the additions of Wolf4SDL like fog, floor and ceiling textures, and availability on all of the major computer platforms.

But perhaps the most important feature that ECWolf brings to the table hails from ZDoom: the powerful "Decorate" definition language. Decorate affords a very high degree of customization to weapons and enemies alike, allowing for more complicated AI and more detailed weapon behaviors. But to the end-user, it allows for some pretty elaborate total conversion mods, without needing to recompile a whole new copy of Wolfenstein and putting up with the memory limits imposed by the original MS-DOS executable. ECWolf's website includes not only the program itself (with only Wolfenstein 3D, Spear of Destiny, or Super Noah's Ark 3D data files required for operation, and support for Blake Stone and other Wolfenstein-engine games coming at some point in the future), but also a "tech demo" episode that demonstrates some of the new features of ECWolf while providing a hearty challenge on the way.

ECWolf - Operation Serpent TC (WIP)

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Related Articles


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Castle Wolfenstein
Beyond Castle Wolfenstein

Page 2:
Wolfenstein 3D
Spear of Destiny

Page 3:
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory

Page 4:
Wolfenstein RPG
Wolfenstein (2009)

Page 5:
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

Page 6:
Spinoffs / Unofficial Remakes
Cancelled Games / Wolfenstein VR

Back to the Index