Video Game: Castle Wolfenstein
Welcome to Castle Wolfenstein, mate! The Nazis brought you here to get information out of you before they kill you. That's what this place is for — if you listen you can hear the screams. They've already worked me over and I'll never get out alive, but maybe you can with this gun. It's standard issue — each clip holds 10 bullets, and it's fully loaded.
Be careful, mate, because every room in the castle is guarded. The regular guards can't leave their posts without orders, but watch out for the SS stormtroopers. They're the ones in the bulletproof vests and they're like bloody hounds. Once they've picked up your trail they won't stop chasing you until you kill them and you almost need a grenade to do that.
Castle Wolfenstein is full of supplies too. I know one chap who found a whole German uniform and almost sneaked out past the guards. He might have made it if he hadn't shot some poor sod and got the SS on his trail. If you can't unlock a supply chest, try shooting it open. Now I wouldn't go shooting at chests full of explosives…
One more thing. The battle plans for Operation Rheingold are hidden somewhere in the castle. I'm sure you know what it would mean to the Allied High Command if we could get our hands on those…
They're coming for me! Good luck!
(1981) was a computer game written by Silas Warner for the Apple ][
, Atari 8-Bit Computers
, and the Commodore 64
. It is regarded as one of the first stealth-based games ever
, and is the direct inspiration for the Wolfenstein
The player is an unnamed U.S. soldier during World War II; he has been captured by the Nazis and imprisoned in Castle Wolfenstein. When the game starts, he has managed to get a gun and ten bullets from a dead cellmate. Once the player starts moving, he attracts the attention of the guards, who will try to shoot or apprehend him. The player's objective is to avoid being captured or killed, find the secret war plans, and escape alive. The player can wear uniforms to sneak past (some) guards, ambush patrols, and find helpful items such as keys, food, drink, bullets, grenades, and bulletproof vests. The game is played from a top-down perspective, but the characters are seen from a side view.
The success of Castle Wolfenstein
prompted a sequel, Beyond Castle Wolfenstein
(1984). In this game, the player must infiltrate a secret Berlin bunker where Adolf Hitler
is holding secret meetings; he must find a bomb hidden somewhere inside the bunker, plant it in Hitler's meeting room, then escape before the bomb explodes.
The Castle Wolfenstein games provide examples of the following tropes:
- Autosave: In the original 1981 version the game saved your situation every time you entered a room or died. If you died you could prevent this by opening the disk drive's door, then re-booting. The game would start up again right where you entered the room.
- Back Stab: You do double damage to opponents if you attacked them from behind. In the sequel, your character could backstab and kill any Nazi soldier in one hit if you had the dagger equipped.
- Beat Them at Their Own Game: A common tactic is to stick up a guard with an empty gun, rob the guard for any bullets, then shoot him immediately afterwards.
- Collision Damage: If a Nazi knows you're an enemy and touches you it's an immediate Game Over.
- Cut-and-Paste Environments
- Deadly Walls: Bumping into a wall stuns the player for several seconds. Not particularly lethal unless he's being chased by a soldier at the time…
- Die, Chair! Die!: All of the walls (except for the four main ones) in each room, along with all of the chests, can be destroyed with grenades.
- Dressing as the Enemy
- Elite Mooks: Unlike regular Nazis, the SS Soldiers can see through the uniform you might be wearing. They're also harder to kill due to their bulletproof vests.
- Equipment-Based Progression: The Ur-Example for FPS games.
- Every Man Has His Price: In Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, the player can bribe any of the soldiers inside Hitler's bunker with a few marks if he doesn't have the correct pass.
- Featureless Protagonist: The player's character is never actually named in the game.
- Flip Screen Scrolling
- The Guards Must Be Crazy:
- In the original game, you can steal a uniform and wear it; the regular guards would ignore you, but the SS would spot you instantly.
- Averted in the sequel. If the guards see you with a weapon out, they'll start shooting immediately. Also, if you don't remove dead guards before the others see it, they'll head for the alarm and set it off. Finally, they'll periodically ask you to show a pass.
- Gratuitous German: The original Castle Wolfenstein was noted for its unprecedented use of digitized German voices.
- Heal Thyself: In Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, the player can recover from being shot by using a first-aid kit.
- Hyperactive Metabolism: Schnapps (alcohol) screws up your shooting accuracy, and bratwurst fixes it.
- Loading Screen: The game displays four pages of unskippable introductory text (as shown in the page quote) while loading.
- Locked Door: In the original game these could be shot open by bullets or blown open by grenades.
- MacGuffin: The war plans in the original game.
- Master of Unlocking: In the original game, if the player finds a locked chest he has to "lockpick" it (wait for a timer to count down) before it will open. The player can shoot the chest to speed up the timer; unfortunately, this uses up bullets, and may attract nearby guards. It's also bad news if the chest has explosives (ammunition, grenades, cannonballs (???)) in it.
- No Swastikas: Averted; the regular Nazi guards had uniforms with large swastikas across their chests. SS Solders wore uniforms with "SS" instead.
- One Bullet Clips: The player only has one pistol and can't store any extra bullet magazines. Thus if he came across enemy bullets, he only reloaded if they had more bullets than he currently had.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder:
- Played mostly straight in the first game — while a single shot will kill the player, the probability that a shot will hit depends on several factors, such as the distance of the gunman and whether the player is wearing a bulletproof vest.
- In Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, getting shot actually caused you to limp and slow down.
- One-Man Army: Somewhat averted; it's entirely possible to play the game without killing every Nazi in sight.
- Optional Stealth: The original Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein. It was a good idea to sneak through as much of the castle(s) as possible, because fighting German soldiers was a good way to get killed. However, you could fight them if you wanted to, and at times it was actually necessary (e.g. before you got a uniform or passes, or to "clean out" the room where the alarm box was located).
- Patrolling Mook: If one of the guards sees you while you aren't wearing a uniform (and for SS guards, even if you are), he will call out to alert other guards and possibly activate an alarm.
- Randomly Generated Levels: The game has pre-generated rooms whose layouts didn't change; however, the order and connection between rooms was randomized at the start of each game.
- Rewarding Vandalism: Averted; blowing up a chest with a grenade causes everything within to be Lost Forever. Blowing up a chest with ammunition results in a Non-Standard Game Over.
- Stick Em Up: The player can surprise guards and hold them at gunpoint, even with an empty gun.
- Top-Down View: Somewhat; the layout of each room is a top-down view, but the player, the soldiers, and furniture are depicted in 2D profile.
- Unwinnable Joke Game: In Castle Smurfenstein, a hacked version of the original Apple II Castle Wolfenstein, the game was deliberately modified so that it's impossible to get past the first level.
- Utility Weapon: In the original game bullets can shoot out locked doors and help open chests faster, and grenades can blow open locked doors and destroy interior walls and chests.
- Video Game Stealing: You can steal the uniform of a guard or an SS trooper's bulletproof vest, then put it on and use it, all while holding the guard at gunpoint. This was the best way to kill an SS Trooper, since it usually took a full clip or more to take one down. Sneaking up on them, telling them to give you their bulletproof vest and then shooting them? One bullet.