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Mac users will recognize this as the opening screen from the Mac version. PC users, um, won't.

Wolfenstein 3-D

Ugh...where to start?

What American gamers never really knew until emulators made fantranslations of console games available was that up until the Nintendo 64 era, Nintendo had some pretty strict rules about what they would allow on their consoles. Swearing was very censored, with pretty much a limit of one minor word per game, and usually not even that. (For instance, in Megaman X3, when X, at the end, is being backed into a corner by Sigma, he says "Damn! It's a dead end!" With a whole game full of moments where he would probably say "Damn!," I tend to think that he actully said it a lot more in the Japanese version, especially because everybody says "Damn!" so often in X4, the first MegaMan game on a non-Nintendo system.) Pretty much any reference to organized religion was disallowed; the "Clinic" in Final Fantasy was originally a church. (Curiously enough, such references weren't removed from Breath Of Fire II. Huh.) Blood and gore were out, except for a few instances that slipped by the censors (the end sequence and end-level screen from Monster Party, for example.) Nudity was right out. And no references to historical wars were allowed (except, apparently, the Crusades in Defender Of The Crown.) Now, nobody really noticed until they had fantranslations of Japanese games to compare with, but there were a few cases where a PC game would be ported to a Nintendo console and gamers would realize that something was amiss. Maniac Mansion was one such game. Wolfenstein 3-D was another.

Wolfenstein 3-D, for those of you who were hiding under a rock in Tibet in 1992, was the first practical first-person shooter. There had been one other such game, Catacombs Abyss, before then, but it was slow as molasses and painful to look at. Wolfenstein 3-D ran efficiently, with framerates high enough to induce motion sickness in some players, and featured gorgeous 256-color graphics. Essentially, it revolutionized the gaming industry and served as the definitive FPS. So naturally, Nintendo wanted a piece of the action and managed to get an SNES port of the game. There was only one small problem: the content didn't pass Nintendo's standards. Not only was there a small amount of blood when enemies were shot, but...the game dealt with a historical war, World War II. So, the censors went to work and soon the SNES version was down to par.


I think that might be...uh...two columns of chunky pixels?
You are William J. "B.J." Blazkowicz, an American spy who is certainly not part of the Allied forces and certainly did not exist at all during World War II. You were sent to a country that is certainly not Germany to investigate a rumor that the diabolical Dr. Schabbs had perfected a technique for the reanimation of the dead. You were to infiltrate the certainly-not-Nazi fortress of Wolfenstein (which is certainly not a German name,) and find out if there was any truth to the rumor. However, you were caught by agents of the "Master State," who only look like Nazi soldiers by purest coincidence, and must escape from deep within the castle dungeons. Oh, and did we mention that this whole thing has absolutely no connection to World War II? You can take it to the bank. Honest!


This is Hans Grosse. Oh wait, he can't be German, can he? Okay, um..."Hank Grossman."
If iD Software was ticked at Nintendo for their censorship policies, that would certainly explain a lot. Most of the levels from the original game are missing entirely, (Hans' floor is number 3 instead of 9,) and those that aren't have been either slightly or mostly messed up. Many other facets of gameplay have been messed with, too. Enemies are now always facing you, meaning that you can't sneak up on anybody. You can't switch to a lesser gun to save ammo, so once you get the chain gun you'll always be using the chain gun. You are given two new weapons, a rocket launcher and a flamethrower, but they have exactly the same functionality as the original guns, making them essentially useless. The only positive change is the addition of the backpacks from Doom, which add 100 to your maximum ammo capacity, up to a maximum of 299.


Beware the amorphous mass of blue pixels!
Actually, in stark contrast with the rest of the port, the music is slightly improved over the PC version, though some of the songs are missing. The sound effects, however, have been ruined, partly by censorship and partly by inexplicable laziness. Not only have all German phrases been replaced with English ones, but every item pick-up sound has been replaced by a "ding" sound that I think is the ding.wav from Windows 3.1.


Well whaddya know! The "Master State" is run by George Clooney!
The graphics are, of course, the funniest part of the censorship changes. I'll give them the fact that the renderer is much worse than the PC version, simply because the processor on the SNES is far too slow to run at full resolution. But the graphic changes... hahahaHAHAHAHA! All Nazi imagery has, of course, been removed from the game, except for the fact that the soldiers still look like Nazi soldiers. Hitler's portrait has had its mustache removed, in a striking example of reverse vandalism; however, this has the frightening effect of making it look like the "Master State" is ruled by O Brother, Where Art Thou?'s Ulysses Everett McGill. The minor blood spillage when soldiers are shot has been changed to white, making it look like you've either shot their teeth out or they have a barely-contained slobbering problem. Since the crucifix treasures in the original consitute "religious imagery" by Nintendo's standards, they and the crowns have been changed to scepteres. (??) And, for no apparent reason at all, the German Shepherds have been changed to...gigantic rats, though they still emit a very canine growl. (Wait, "German" Shepherds? If that's their reasoning, it's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of.) On the upside, the weapon pictures are nicer than the PC version, but that's about the only good thing about the game.


Ugh. Look, I know that including Nazi imagery in the game would prohibit its release in Germany, but (A) that's only one small market for the gaming industry, and (B) Nintendo's ridiculous policies go much further than that. This game is a badly-implemented, ugly, lazy, screwed-up pile of crap and that's all there is to it. Get the PC version instead.

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