“Achtung, baby…” — Adolf Hitler, 1939 at Wilhelmshaven.
OK, the only reason I’m reviewing this game at all is because I have a pocket of time to fill and a third review that needs to be done. I’m not even at home as of writing and I don’t know what else to write about. I do know I played this game, again, recently, and since my half-serious reviews aren’t ever looked at anyway, I figure it’s my best shot at efficiency.
I’m not a huge fan of first-person shooters. Not for any real bias or bothering purpose—I just never really play them. So when I say the Atari Jaguar version of Wolfenstein 3D is the best first-person shooter I’ve ever played, take it with a grain of salt. In fact, stop reading this review altogether.
I enjoy Wolfenstein 3D on the Jaguar mainly for nostalgic reasons. I bought a Jaguar back in 1996 before the N64 came out because I had money and I totally bought the whole “64-bit” thing. This was also the first violent videogame I was allowed to own. Furthermore, I was getting into the computer thing at the time, so all the really good pieces of middle-school-age memories were starting to come together. I enjoy it because, even in those days, simple shoot-’em-ups were all I really needed. And boy, is this game simple. Doom is actually the definitive version of what a first-person shooter should be, IMO, and Wolfenstein just the blueprint precursor. You only get five guns, five different types of enemies, and basic point-and-click map editing design. It’s basic and pretty boring after a while, actually, and Doom really expanded outward, gave it a lot more creativity, and did the design justice.
Still, I find myself returning to Wolfenstein 3D for the Jag because that’s the origin of fun for the genre. No complicated puzzles and little if any backtracking through the levels. No tricks; just straight and simple Nazi-blasting. With such a fundamentally simple base, it’s easy to get creative and expand upon it further, even though this title only expands so much.
I’ve played other versions of Wolfenstein 3D, too, and let me tell you—this one tops them all. First, the graphics are MUCH better than in the other versions. The pixilation is way, way down, and the sprites just look much better overall. I don’t remember much of the music, but the music in this game is pretty good, even though it’s very minimalistic. Each song is just a simple theme with some build up, then modulated, then brought back down to the original key, then repeat. You get a lot of floors to blow through, about 32 plus two, and the game starts building to some intriguing and creepy qualities as you start fighting giant doctors and zombies.
You may argue that the PC version is, as always, superior, but that version is hard to look at and slow, and it has only three guns, no map (a huge problem in first-person shooters), and very different levels. I tried playing the PC version, and it just disgusted me. Every time I want to play Wolfenstein, I play this version, and I’m very very very happy.
But making someone happy as they play doesn’t mean the game is very good. Let me bring up the old Jeddy vs. Meteo argument again and give some Jeddy some credit, because if Joe Fuckface decided to play this game today, he would be quickly bored by it. I enjoy it purely because of its history and context, but that’s a personal thing that is isolated from the title itself.
Good memories aside, Wolfenstein isn’t much. You get to blast through Nazis for 34 levels, but it’s a one-note game that gets old quickly. There is some variety, but it just can’t defeat the fact that you’re only doing one thing in the game—blasting the same Nazis over and over again. Even I get tired of the game by about the fourth mission. This is a major caveat and it shows just how old the game really is.
Not really much else to write about. I love the game, but it’s not much fun and it’s mainly just a blueprint for DOOM. Next time I won’t get so busy that I have to shit out a review to make the deadline.