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Video Game / Wolfenstein 3-D

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"Schutzstaffel!"note  [gunfire] "Mein Leben!"note 
Dying SS soldier

Wolfenstein 3D is a shareware game developed by id Software in just two months, and published by Apogee Software in May of 1992. Often regarded as the first true First-Person Shooter; although very primitive entries in the genre had been available since 1973 (Including id Software's own Hovertank 3D and Catacomb 3-D), it's the Trope Codifier, and any modern FPS traces its gameplay lineage back to it (Apogee's Rise of the Triad was the most direct successor, being built on top of the Wolf 3D codebase).

The story is simplicity itself: American soldier B.J. Blazkowicz is imprisoned in the Nazi stronghold of Castle Wolfenstein, and must walk through endless corridors, find keys and shoot Nazis until he escapes. Following chapters, which could be mail-ordered, had somewhat more out-there storylines, with Operation: Eisenfaust requiring you to thwart a Nazi doctor performing horrible biological experiments, and Die, Fuhrer, Die! allowing you to take down Adolf Hitler himself. As he attacks you in an armored battle suit with quad-miniguns. There's also a prequel trilogy of episodes, entitled the "Nocturnal Missions", in which B.J. assassinates a Nazi chemical weapons scientist (A Dark Secret), uncovers his plans for a chemical war (Trail of the Madman) and finally kills the general carrying it out (Confrontation).

Wolfenstein 3D was made without the involvement or knowledge of the original Castle Wolfenstein creator, though it was envisioned from the start as a successor to those games. They were doubtful that they would actually get to use the Wolfenstein name, but they asked around. It turned out that the original game's publisher had gone out of business, and nobody had ever acquired the trademark; it had since expired. So the name was just free for the taking.

It was followed by Spear of Destiny in September 1992 (which is a prequel in which B.J. storms Castle Nuremberg to retrieve the eponymous spear from the Nazis), and in 1994 by "Return To Danger" and "Ultimate Challenge", two further missions for Spear of Destiny.

A company called Wisdom Tree created an unlicensednote  Christian-themed modification based on the SNES port. Titled Super 3D Noah's Ark, it changed the guns into a fruit-shooting slingshot and the enemy soldiers into animals. An Updated Re-release of this game (of all things) came about in 2014, based on the ECWolf source port following surprise interest in redistribution of the original SNES cartridge version, released on in May of 2014 and managing to make the jump to Steam in June 2015.

Console ports include the Super NES, Game Boy Advance, Jaguar, 3DO, Xbox 360 and PS3 (as a downloadable title on the latter two platforms). It is also included as a Game Within a Game in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, but with a Perspective Flip twist: titled "Wolfstone 3D", players assume the role of Elite Hans fighting rebels in order to kill "Terror Billy".

Followed canonically with Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which revived the franchise in 2001.

Get Psyched!:

  • 100% Completion: The game scores you on enemies, treasure and secrets found in each level, although getting all 100%/100%/100%s is physically impossible on at least one level (E2M8 due to a lot of mutually exclusive secrets) and technically impossible on a few (E5M5, E5M8, E6M2, E6M7 and E6M8 all have secret walls that, due to an engine bug, push a square too far, either blocking off an area containing treasure or parking on the treasure itself, rendering it inaccessible). It is possible to circumvent the bug with some trickery by pausing the game just as the pushback wall moves two spaces; if done correctly it should stop.
  • Actionized Sequel: The first two games in the series, Castle Wolfenstein and especially Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, focused heavily on stealth, and combat was sparse and easily avoidable if the player was skilled (or lucky) enough. Wolfenstein 3D tossed the stealth elements out the window and replaced it with fast-paced action. This decision ultimately helped put the First-Person Shooter genre on the map.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: Most of the game's bosses are fought in standard arenas with plenty of room to maneuver around them as well as pillars or walls to use as cover. The Uber Mutant in Spear of Destiny is the notable exception; the boss fight with him takes place in a series of long, narrow corridors with no place to take cover, so you need to be constantly retreating from him to avoid his attacks.
  • Alternate History: The third episode is all about killing Adolf Hitler.
  • America Won World War II: And even kills Hitler!
  • Artistic License History:
    • The Nocturnal Missions of Episodes 4-6 have you shutting down Nazi plans to engage in giftkrieg ("poison war" in German) or chemical warfare. But in actual history, while the Nazis did develop and use deadly poison gases such as Zyklon B, none of those gases were used as weapons of war by Hitler's own insistence (like many soldiers of the Great War, he had experienced the effects of chemical weapons firsthand). Instead, they were put to much worse use in the Extermination Camps that were used to murder over 2.7 million of the more than eleven million victims of The Holocaust.
    • Miniguns did not exist until 1963, despite their presence in many places throughout the game.
  • Artificial Brilliance: For its time, Wolfenstein 3D was amazingly realistic and immersive. Enemies would pursue you outside of their room, opening doors in their way and doing anything they can to chase you to the ends of the map. They'll react realistically to your presence (shouting something in digitized German) and will even feel pain when shot. They also hear your gunshots, even if you're not in the same room. At the time of its release, nothing was scarier than shooting a guard in one room and hearing a squad of SS troopers alerted in the next. Enemies also zig-zag and circle instead of charging directly at you in the shortest possible straight line; while most of the time their movement is still predictable, in the right room layouts this movement pattern can allow them to flank you if they get lucky.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The AI is rather simplistic for all enemies. Enemies will either stand still or patrol slowly along a given route before encountering you. If one spots you, they'll shout something in German (save the Mutant enemies; part of their danger is that they are silent) and start running toward you, pausing to raise their gun and shoot every so often. If they are hit mid-aim, they cancel that aiming. That's the entire extent of the AI, and most difficult rooms can be cleared through simply standing at an angle to a door and letting the enemies walk one by one through the door into your weapons. One of the best ways to skip large parts of a level is to alert an enemy on the other side of a locked door, watch him open it, and then shoot him down as he is crossing through. The door will be blocked open by his dead body and you can skip having to find the key.
    • In the Mac-family ports, there's a chance that the bosses may not have their attack state toggle, leading to absurd situations like the Death Knight just walking towards you without even trying to fire a shot while you unload your guns into him and win without even being in their line of fire. This tends to happen if you take cover around corners just in case they do fire.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Averted. All of the German in the game seems to be real (it's pretty hard to make out though due to the rather low fidelity voice clips).
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: The entire game takes place within a single, gargantuan multi-level building.
  • Big "YES!": The only line spoken by B.J. Blazkowicz is a loud, triumpant "YEAH!" at the end of episodes 1 and 5.
  • Blatant Item Placement: With ammo and food found on the floor.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The Hitler Ghosts in the last level of episode 3. They have boss-like health (about 33% the health of a normal boss), which is probably meant to fool you into thinking the first one is really the final boss.
  • Boss-Only Level: The only opponent in Level 9 of episode 1 is the boss, Hans Grosse.
  • Bootstrapped Theme: Due to the controversy of "Horst Wessel Lied" being known as the Nazi anthem, some ports changed the title theme by substituting songs like "Evil Incarnate" from the Spear of Destiny Final Boss (SNES) or "Tip-Toeing Around" first heard on SoD Map 1 (Atari Jaguar). The former was especially due to all Nazi references being removed from the game.
  • Brutal Bonus Level:
    • The Episode 3 secret level is pretty brutal, but brilliant fun too, while the Episode 4 secret level is practically a death trap unless you know the exact route to the exit (or are just plain crazy!). Episode 6's secret level is fairly easy if you just want to exit quickly, but if you are seeking 100% completion, it is the hardest map in the entire game.
    • Episode 4, level 10; no matter what the difficulty setting you choose, the entire level is swarming with upwards of 50-70+ Officers, that once you fire your gun (even using your knife [remember that this was made in 1992 and there is no such stealth feature to speak of in this game]), all of them will be alerted to your presence, and they will converge on your position if you stay in one place. Fortunately, there is a secret area that lies directly west from your starting point and takes only a little stroll to get there. This area contains an abundance of ammunition to replenish your guns when you're dealing with those officers. Unfortunately, the entire level is devoid of any health pickups, making this an absolute struggle for survival. Even worse, a limitation in the game engine causes the officers to temporarily turn invisible, making it hard for you to know where they will come from until you hear their gunshots as well as losing your health in the process, and the only way to solve this is to keep blindly firing until you hear their death cries; this gives this level a really bad case of Fake Difficulty Syndrome. And the exit to this level is far from your starting point, unless you know exactly the right path to get to it.
    • Episode 6, level 10; especially on Death Incarnate if you're challenging yourself to get close to 100% Completion. The mutants from Episode 2 are back only for this level, and mix it up with Officers, SS Guards, and three copies of Hans Grosse. It can be good fun to clear out all four quadrants of this map, but get ready for the pain your first time through. It's a subverted example, as you can trick a guard into open the exit door which it right behind the starting point if you'd like to get out early and carry on with the episode, or you only need to kill one of the three Hans Grosse copies to unlock the exit.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Guards can open locked doors at will. Normally this could be justified by the guards carrying the keys, except that you rarely find one that drops a key upon death. Still, it's very exploitable for Sequence Breaking.
  • Chest Blaster: The mutants in episode 2 have guns implanted in their chests, meaning they can fire at you instantly while other enemies need to take a half-second or so to aim first. The Ubermutant boss in Spear of Destiny has a chest-mounted chaingun and has a cleaver in each of his four hands.
  • Climax Boss: Adolf Hitler at the end of Episode 3, exactly halfway through the full game.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: All of the enemies have a distinct color theme so you can quickly identify them and evaluate their threat level (doubly important with the blue SS and the green Mutant).
  • Covers Always Lie: The box art is usually a reasonable depiction of the game's content (other than an insistence on arming people with post-war weapons), but the Super Nintendo cover depicts a Rambo-like guy dressed and kitted out like a Vietnam-era commando, while the in-game title screen shows a much more accurate representation with shirtless and muscular BJ firing a huge minigun at an unseen target.
  • Critical Hit: On occasion, if you manage to shoot a Nazi before he is alerted, you can kill him in 1-2 shots. This is especially noticeable with SS Guards who normally require several hits to die, as they have about twice the Hit Points of most guard types. This works both ways, unfortunately. If an enemy gets the drop on you and shoots you at point-blank range, you will almost certainly lose over half your health. The Mutants are the most infamous for doing this because of their total lack of an "aiming" state (they'll immediately skip to shooting instead of having to pull out and aim their weapon, since they have a third hand grafted into their chest that's always holding a pistol). They're also good at getting said drop on you owing to their utter silence.
  • Continuing is Painful: Aside from losing a life, dying also removes all your weapons and ammo except for what you started the episode with - a knife, a pistol, and 8 bullets. Good luck fighting your way to the nearest machine gun.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: It's not as bad as its top-down predecessors, but still pretty guilty of this because the types of levels it can handle leave little room for originality; there's even at least two or three maps that consist almost-entirey of mazes made out of overlaying swastikas on top of each other like some kind of anti-Semitic Tetris.
  • Dark Reprise: A softer, creepier rendition of "Horst Wessel Lied" greets you at the start of E2M1, perfect for setting up your first encounter with the Mutants.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The mutants, while undead-looking, are a result of scientific rather than supernatural experimentation, and the flying, fireball-shooting Hitler Ghosts are, according to the Return to Castle Wolfenstein manual, decoys hung from the ceiling by wires.
  • Dog Food Diet: You can eat dog food for health.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: For the FPS genre as a whole. Unusual elements include the following:
    • A score counter.
    • Items that do nothing but increase said score.
    • Finite lives.
    • Warp Zones.
    • Abstract, maze-like level design.
    • All enemies always face the player when shooting (though not when running or patrolling, save in the Mac versions) and exclusively use hitscan attacks; consequently, enemies' shots will always hit the player if they are given the chance to fire.
    • Weapons that don't differ except for rate of fire. Accordingly, weapons are arranged in a strict hierarchy, going, from weakest to strongest: knife, pistol, machine gun, and chain gun. There is never any benefit to switching to a weaker weapon.
    • All weapons use a single ammo pool; if you have 50 bullets, you have 50 bullets regardless of which gun you have out.
    • This game lacks the assortment of sci-fi weapons that would become a staple of the series. Return to Castle Wolfenstein brought the Tesla Cannon, while later installments would feature even more sci-fi weapons to cause mayhem with.
    • No map, radar, or any kind of in-game guiding system. The player must navigate through each level with nothing but their own sense of direction, memorization of landmarks, and the corpses of slain enemies.
    • While Wolfenstein is one of the earliest 3D games to feature mouse controls, they work differently than in later games, owing to the game's complete lack of verticality; while the mouse's X-axis swivels the player around (as would become standard in later FPS games), the mouse's Y-axis is used to move the player forward and backward. This means the game can be played without ever touching the keyboard, although the mouse must be often lifted and repositioned in order to keep moving forward. The options allow the Y-axis to be disabled, bringing the controls very close to the now-familiar keyboard & mouse FPS control scheme.
    • In the original version of the game, it is impossible to strafe without holding down an additional key. However, modern single-key strafing is included in practically all modern ports.
    • There are no environmental hazards of any kind; enemy fire is the only thing that can harm the player.
    • All levels are flat and consist entirely of 90-degree angles.
    • No lighting effects - everything is fully bright.
    • The jarringly cheerful sound effects when getting a pick-up.
    • If his health is in the single digits, Blazkowicz can slurp up blood off of the floor for an emergency heal. This mechanic has yet to re-appear in later Wolfenstein games despite the dog food staying.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: The easiest level, "Can I play, Daddy?", is symbolized by an icon of Blazkowicz in a baby bonnet.
  • Elite Mooks: Three enemies qualify:
    • SS Soldiers use submachine guns and are much tougher than normal guards (as tough as the player character, in fact).
    • Officers move and fire much faster than guards, though they aren't very tough.
    • Mutants are completely silent until they attack, making them good at ambushing the player, and they don't need to raise and aim their guns like the other enemies, but can open fire immediately and just keep shooting as long as they see you (this also makes them impossible to stab without them successfully retaliating at point-blank range).
  • Emergency Weapon: A simple army knife for when the bullets run out or are being saved up.
  • Endless Corridor: While not endless per se, the visual effect is invoked in most of the levels.
  • Every 10,000 Points: Forty-thousand in this game's case.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Die, Fuhrer, Die! chapter has a souped up Hitler as the boss.
  • Expansion Pack: The "Lost Episodes" of Spear of Destiny, which consist of two new 21-level episodes with most of the graphics and sounds replaced (and a rather thin plot consisting of "the Nazis stole the Spear back; go get it again"). None of the "new" weapons or enemies actually behave any differently due to that data being hard-coded into the executable, however, and the second expansion inexplicably features the same bosses as the first.
  • Expy: Staatmeister is a barely veiled version of Adolf Hitler in SNES edition of the game, with a generic Take Over the World motivation being the plot that BJ has to foil. However, all of his boss lackeys retain the same names as their predecessors but with different roles more or less.
  • Eye Scream: As B.J. takes damage, his left eye gets more and more messed up. At very low health, it's so fucked up you can't even see the iris, it's just a reddish mess.
  • Fat Bastard: General Fettgesicht (Fat Face) from Episode 6: Confrontation.
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • Unfortunately, the game engine can only support a certain number of sprites on screen at any one time before it stops drawing them. Certain levels, notably E4M10, suffer from this when the enemies turn invisible.
    • A large part of the challenge of playing the game on the PC is the inability to strafe sideways like in a modern FPS, even when using mouselook (you have to hold down a separate key to strafe, which also prevents you from looking left and right); this is corrected on the modern console ports of the game, as well as the unofficial Open GL port.
    • The Mutant enemies can fire instantly, in addition, enemies can instantly shoot you through doors the instant they're opened, while the player has to wait for the door opening animation to actually see through them, this means mutants behind doors can instantly shoot the player before they can even see them due to the door opening animation.
  • Fictional Mystery, Real Prize: The game had the "Aardwolf" contest organized by Apogee Software: by finding deep in a secret area a sign saying "Call Apogee Say Aardwolf" and following this instruction, players could win a prize. The contest was abandoned, however, since cheat programs popped up within days of the game's release, allowing anyone to see the sign without effort. The Steam rerelease removed the sign.
  • Foreboding Architecture: The original blueprints were leaked from Apogee and now everybody's doing it.
  • Fragile Speedster: The German Shepherd guard dogs move faster than any human enemy, but do only token damage when they bite you and die to a single bullet or knife stab.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Enemies cannot hit each other, and their shots will go straight to you even if blocked.
  • Game Mod:
    • There's a mod community for the game; while not as expansive or well-known as that of Doom, they still have created a lot of mapsets and entire new games (thanks to the code being released, most mods modify the game code in extensive ways).
    • A number of source ports exist to allow the game to be played with modern Open GL rendering, modern controls (modern strafing), and modern resolutions. NewWolf was for a long time the most functional source port, but the creator stopped work on it before fully completing it. It also added blood effects and a map feature, which purists disliked. Currently ECWolf (sharing development origins with ZDoom) seems to be the source port of choice, and is fully functional for Wolfenstein 3D, Spear of Destiny, and the extra map packs.
  • Gatling Good: Aside from the bosses, the vast majority of which attack you with weapons of this variety, the Gatling Gun is the player's ultimate hitscan weapon.
  • Genre Shift: The first two Castle Wolfenstein games are top-down stealth games, while the games from 3D onward are First Person Shooters.
  • Ghostapo: The supernatural occurrences in Spear of Destiny, what with Blazkowicz facing Satan himself. Subverted in the vanilla episodes, where the ghostly fire-shooting copies of Hitler are stated to be elaborate decoys with mounted flamethrowers.
  • Giant Mook: In terms of attack pattern, damage output, and health, the bosses are equivalents to a modern FPS Giant Mook.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • The player. You can die very easily in Wolfenstein 3D, especially at close range, but your enemies are even more fragile. If you're quick you can mow down droves of Nazis with the chaingun before they get the chance to react.
    • Officers (the ones in white) don't take much damage before dying, but they have much to give. They're also the fastest human enemies in the game.
  • Gorn: Some of the boss deaths are surprisingly graphic and over-the-top (complete with a "Let's see that again!" replay.)
  • Gratuitous German: Someone even compiled a list with all of the instances. This was fixed in the Spear of Destiny's "Lost Episodes" with actual German actors.
    [is shot] "MEIN LEBEN!"
  • Guide Dang It!: E4M5 has a mandatory key located behind a pair of obnoxiously hidden secret walls.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: The quotes when you try the exit the game, which Doom also copied.
    "For guns and glory, press N. For work and worry, press Y."
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: Most of the bosses aren't particularly more dangerous than standard enemies; just a lot tankier. It doesn't help their case that a lot of them use projectiles rather than hitscan, which means you can actually duel them in the open.
  • Hitscan: Given its primitive status, almost all weapons (with the exception of the projectile weapons wielded by some bosses and the Fake Hitlers' fireballs) are done like this.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Just a quick glance at the list of potential titles id Software had considered before choosing the Wolfenstein name reveals several groaners, including Luger's Run, Luger Me Now, Tank You Very Much and Castle Hasselhoff.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Food restores health.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal:
    • Just barely counts as an example in the DOS port. The knife, Luger, and MP40 are all things you could reasonably expect someone to carry all at once. The Chaingun? Not so much.
    • It definitely counts as an example in the Mac Family ports. With an Ammunition Backpack, you can carry up to 300 bullets, 100 fuel units, 100 rockets, and the accompanying mini-gun, flamethrower, and bazooka.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: "Can I play, Daddy?", "Don't hurt me!", "Bring 'em on!" and "I am Death incarnate!", each complete with a mugshot of BJ giving an idea of the difficulty (e.g. "Can I play, Daddy?" has him with a baby bonnet and pacifier, while "I am Death Incarnate!" has him sporting a Slasher Smile and a Kubrick Stare with his eyes glowing red).
  • I'm a Humanitarian: If your health is in the single digits, you can drink human blood for an extremely small (only one point) health boost.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Due to the the Random Number God adding a lot of luck to the accuracy calculations in the game, it's very possible to take on a a large group of Officers and come out only a little worse for wear. The demo reel in version 1.2 of the DOS shows this of with the player taking on what should be an overwhelming group of Officers on E4L8 using only a pistol and surviving due to a huge amount of missed shots and an insufficient number of glancing shots to kill the player.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms:
    • Box art for the game has a bizarre tendency to depict Nazis as using American M16s, which even at earliest would be 15 years too early.
    • The box art for the SNES port in particular makes it look like a game set during The Vietnam War, including BJ holding an M16 and a Beretta 92 while also having an Uzi hanging off of him. At the same time, you're actually fighting Staatmeister's forces in this port so the setting is presumably more forward in time.
    • The Atari Jaguar port tried to "upscale" several of the sprites, which in the case of the basic pistol happened by taking the sprites for Doom's Beretta-esque pistol and chopping off several columns of pixels to both sides of the barrel to make it very vaguely resemble a Walther P38.
    • The box art for Spear of Destiny features BJ smashing open the glass case for the eponymous spear with what is clearly an AK.
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: Other than first-aid kits, all health-replenishing items in Wolfenstein 3D are food, and all of them are just lying around on the floor, sometimes even sitting in hidden passageways (though at least they're left on plates and bowls.)
  • Joke Level: E3M10, a Pac-Man stage also known as "Wolf Pack".
  • Kaizo Trap
    • Some of the exit elevators have Elite Mooks waiting in them, or are outright fake, so don't let down your guard.
    • Most episodes end once you kill the boss. At most, the boss drops a key that opens the door to the end of the level. The main exception is Episode 5. After you beat Gretel Grosse, the key she drops leads to a room where an entire platoon of Elite Mooks is waiting for you. This can be quite a nasty surprise if you were expecting a clear run to the exit.
  • Large and in Charge: The bosses are all about 8 feet tall. Even the two scientist characters. The only exception is Hitler himself, and even he is about 7 feet tall once you get him outside of his Power Armor.
  • Limited Wardrobe: B.J. wears the same shabby gray prisoner outfit in all six episodes of Wolfenstein 3D, and all of Spear of Destiny and its mission packs.
  • Loading Screen:
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • The Uber-Mutant from Spear of Destiny (and his Lost Episodes palette-swapped counterpart, Hans "The Axe" von Schlieffen), is even tougher than a regular boss and moves faster than any other enemy in the game other than the attack dogs.
    • As far as Elite Mooks go, the Officers move fast and deals a lot of damage.
  • The Maze: Quite a few of the levels have mazes, but the most extreme example is the Aardwolf maze in E2M8.
    • E3M7 has a very large one you need to clear to find the secret exit. The entrance to it is also hidden, as there is no key to the locked door that leads to it (there's a pushwall just to the left of the door). Even with a map, you'll still probably get lost a few times.
  • Meaningless Lives: Dying puts you back at the beginning of the level with only a pistol and 8 rounds, and you have the ability to save anywhere, so...
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Spear of Destiny, technically a Mission Pack Prequel, which also received two Mission Pack Sequels of its own, Return to Danger and The Ultimate Challenge.
  • More Dakka: All three weapons are effectively the same weapon and use the same ammo. The only difference is the firing rate.
  • Nazi Gold: Collect it for points.
  • Nintendo Hard: A classic example. This is an old school game with an old school difficulty level. Enemies can kill you in just 3 or 4 shots at full health, are all equipped with hitscan weapons, and health and ammo is a lot more scarce than in Doom or Quake. Charging blindly into a room guns blazing like in Doom is a good path to "Nazi bullet bumrape". Instead more methodical room-clearing is encouraged, especially on the higher difficulties.
  • No Fair Cheating: Cheating by holding down the M,L and I keys (which gives full health and ammo, all guns and both gold and silver keys) will deny you the chance to get a high score by resetting it to 0. Cheating through the debug mode (which includes a legit God Mode) is a-okay, though.
  • No-Gear Level: Sort of. The game starts with a prison break, but the player quickly obtains 2 of the 3 guns in the game. However, the start of every episode after that still leaves you with only a pistol and 8 bullets, even though you'd expect to have access to better weapons before you arrived.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: While it doesn't end your game, if Dr. Schabbs, the boss of episode 2, kills you with his syringes, then instead of your head being all caved in and dead, it turns gray and zombie-like (the stuff in the syringes turns you into a mutant). Can see it here.
  • No Swastikas: The SNES version was, by Nintendo's request, subject to this trope. The Nazi banners were edited into blank red curtains and Hitler was edited into a generic clean-shaven dictator with the title of "Staatmeister". On an unrelated note, the attack dogs were edited into giant rats.
  • Oh, Crap!: Hitler himself exclaims "Scheisse"note  after you destroy his Mecha Suit and thus becomes more vulnerable.
  • One-Man Army: Blazkowicz, who storms the Nazi facilities all on his own and always succeeds.
  • Path of Greatest Resistance: If a room is filled with bodies, you've already been there.
  • Patriotic Fervor: One of the boss themes mixes in bits of Yankee Doodle and Star-Spangled Banner with the main Wolfenstein theme.
  • Planet Heck: Spear of Destiny has its last level take place in Hell and feels somewhat like a forerunner to Doom. Given how id Software decided to use this level as inspiration for their then-newest game after an attempt to do an Aliens-based FPS fell through, it makes sense.
  • Player Nudge: Since the game is full of secret areas that will benefit the player, the game drops a subtle clue to new players by having a Nazi soldier coming out from a nearby wall. Investigating the wall and pressing the Use key will reveal its a secret doorway with some goodies stashed behind it, encouraging the player to experiment and try finding more secrets like this throughout the level and the rest of the game.
  • Prequel: Spear of Destiny takes place chronologically before Wolfenstein 3D.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: All the bosses.
    Hans Grosse: Guten tag!note 
    Dr. Schabbs: (Evil Laugh)
    Adolf Hitler: Die, allied schweinehund!note 
    Otto Giftmacher: Ein kleine Amerikaner!note 
    Gretel Grosse: Kein durchgang!note 
    General Fetgesicht: Erlauben sie, bitte!note 
  • Prison Level: The entirety of the first episode is about B.J. Blazkowicz escaping from a Nazi prison.
  • Puzzle Boss: The secret level in Episode 4 looks like a run, shoot and hope job. It's actually a maze - there's a path from start to finish that goes past the backs of the guards without any of them seeing you. (Follow the blood spatters on the walls.)
  • Random Number God: Not only is the damage done by enemies random, the variation is huge; a basic pistol shot can take off anything from 3% of your health to almost half of your total health. Shots from longer range generally do less damage, but a close-range shot can still just wing you, and a long distance shot can seriously hurt you. The damage of your own bullets is random as well.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: While not every boss is a High Value Target/commander, every one of them is a huge, hulking badass, even the scientist characters.
  • Rocket-Tag Gameplay: The mooks don't take many shots to go down, and die even faster to the gatling gun, but the player can get easily killed within a few shots. Getting the initiative as well as finding cover or choke points is thus imperative.
  • Schmuck Bait: E4L9 has a trap with a lone Guard guarding two keys and three doors nearby. Killing the Guard alerts up to 30 troops composed of a max of 24 Officers and 6 SS, giving you one of the most heated battles in the game. However, you can bypass this by taking an identical set of keys from behind a nearby pushwall.
  • Secret Level: Once an Episode, literally (each episodic game has Floor 10 play this role). There are two in Spear of Destiny (Floors 19 and 20).
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • Guards can open locked doors at will, and if you're clever (or lucky), you can use this to your advantage by killing them in the doorway, leaving it wedged open, thus allowing you to progress without the necessary key. In fact, one level (E4M7) is designed with this in mind.
    • Other levels have secrets that bypass a good portion of the level; for example, in E3M6, a secret allows you to obtain the silver key without having to face the room of Elite Mooks right before it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • E3M10. Wakka wakka.
    • A couple to id's previous game, Commander Keen. The hint sheet for the game gives a brief biography of B.J. Blazkowicz, including revealing that he's Keen's grandfather. Also, try inputting the cheat code from episodes 4-6 and you'll get a message saying "Commander Keen is also available from Apogee but then, you already know that - right Cheatmeister?!" It even still works in versions not sold by Apogee. See a pic of the box here. The two Expansion Packs also feature a Robot Boss in the place of the Death Knight that is similar to the Robots from Episode 1 of Commander Keen.
    • One of the quit messages is a reference to Zork and the rest of the Infocom text adventure seen here [1]
    • The cross artifacts look roughly similar to The Cross of Coronado from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The chalices are also reminiscent of a fake Holy Grail. Likewise, the plot to recover the Spear of Longinus is like a nod to the quest for the Holy Grail.
  • Shows Damage: As you soak up damage, the face in the status bar becomes more beaten and bloodied.
  • Sigil Spam: Well, the real Nazis emblazoned swastikas onto everything too, although we're pretty sure they didn't actually create an entire floor of a castle shaped like them (E6M3).
  • Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: Each soldier uses a different Gratuitous German phrase, except for the AppleMacintosh port, where they all share the same pool of phrases, and the SNES port, where, due to being Bowdlerised, they don't even speak German. Like the Mac port, they all use the same generic sound pool, but with the thoughtful addition of having different human enemies speak with different voice-pitches.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Surprisingly, the Pac-Man music on E3M10 is quite sharply contrasted with you running for your life!
  • Theme Naming: All of the treasure items (save for the 1-UP) begin with the letter C:
    • Cross (100 points)
    • Chalice (or Cup if you're feeling simplistic) (500 points)
    • Chest (1,000 points)
    • Crown (5,000 points).
  • Third Is 3D: With easy Sequel Displacement.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: This game started the trend of Wolfenstein characters being able to wield absurdly massive weapons, along with BJ foiling some sort of super-science scheme. There are bosses who can Dual Wield miniguns like they're pistols, the Death Knight's Power Armor with both dual miniguns and twin shoulder rocket launchers, and Hitler's minigun mecha. The Macintosh-Family ports upgraded Dr. Schabb's with "rocket-syringes" to go with his dead-raising serum and mad science. The Nazis have even captured the Spear of Longinus in Spear of Destiny and it's up to BJ to recover it.
  • Turns Red: Once you smash his Powered Armor, Hitler runs out to fight you. He's noticeably faster on foot, and is in fact faster than any of the other bosses in the original 6 episodes. He has somewhat less health, though.
  • Unbroken First-Person Perspective: This game pre-dates the tendency to switch camera perspectives in gameplay or to feature cutscenes, so the entire game is from BJ's perspective, aside from a closing "cutscene" depicting him triumphantly jumping into the air.
  • Unbuilt Trope: This game is in many way more realistic than later FPS franchises, averting many Acceptable Breaks from Reality typical to the genre. The ammo is extremely limited, the player character is nearly as easily killed as in Real Life, and there is no automatic Regenerating Health or Level-Map Display.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: According to the official strategy guide, Episode 4 Floor 10 is intended to be played as a rudimentary stealth level (bloodspots on the walls show you the right path to take to reach the exit without alerting any guards.)
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: In certain places, such as the health room in E2M9 (Schabbs level), you can push a secret wall and then quickly run into the square it is destined for. If you succeed, the wall parks on top of you. Congratulations! You are now stuck in a wall, totally immobilised, treated with a view of broken vertical lines and with enemies unable to shoot you, hence no way of dying or progressing.
  • Universal Ammunition: The three original guns all share the same pool of ammunition, though in the case of the first two it's justified (the Luger and MP40 do both fire 9mm bullets). The Mac, 3DO and SNES ports added a flamethrower and rocket launcher which had their own ammo pools.
  • Unwinnable by Design:
    • Whatever you do, in the pushback mazes of E2M8, E4M2 and E6M10, don't box yourself in! If you do, let's hope you saved at the start of the level, otherwise you have to start the episode all over again.
    • You can do something similar in E2M9 and trap yourself in the health room if you push the three secret walls in a particular way.
    • E4M7 has locked doors but no keys. The only way to proceed is to aggro Nazis into opening doors and then kill them so their corpses block them from closing. If you screw that up, the only way to free yourself is a pushblock maze that is A) hidden behind an unmarked secret and B) even easier to make unwinnable.
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: A notable aversion. The Flamethrower — added since the Mac-family port was released — is a powerhouse, functionally like a Plasma Rifle with visible flame puffs. It'll make short work of an entire room-full of heavy opposition.
  • "YEAH!" Shot: The ending of episodes 1 and 5.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Inverted. Adolf Hitler's death animation has everything except his head reduced to mincemeat.

Alternative Title(s): Spear Of Destiny