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Happy Birthday Wolfenstein 3D!!! And welcome to Browser!!!

It was in the 19th week of 1992 that controversial first-person shooter Wolfenstein 3D made its first splash. Twenty years later and it’s back, reprogrammed for the browser age.


Wolfenstein was released as DOS shareware in 1992. It was designed by John Romero. The web was largely unknown and bulletin boards were the reserve of rich geeks but, despite a lack of social networks and online file sharing, word spread and so did thousands of 720kB floppy disks. Suddenly, there was a reason to use a PC for more than Lotus-123 spreadsheets.

The game was fun; you played a prisoner trying to escape from a Nazi-controlled castle in World War II. The VGA gore was amusing and you could defeat a robotically-enhanced Hitler at the end of the game.

iD Software’s success with Wolfenstein led to Doom a year later — it’s fair to say you wouldn’t be playing Call of Duty today if it weren’t for those two ground-breaking games.

A version of Wolfenstein was released on almost every computer and gaming platform (even Nintendo permitted the gore-fest on their family-friendly consoles, although iD were instructed to replace guard dogs with large rats). The browser version is faithful to the original DOS version and permits you to play every level. Actually, it probably plays and sounds better than it did on the latest 386 PCs we had in 1992.

Technically, in the browser mode, the game is implemented using JavaScript and HTML5 audio. The full page weight is a little over 800kB of mostly uncompressed JavaScript — impressive given that most sites use that for their home page.

But who cares about the technical details … Happy Birthday Wolfenstein 3D and thanks for 20 great years of great gaming.



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