What just happened? Someone has created a version of classic first-person shooter Wolfenstein 3D capable of running on an Intel 8088 chip that's nearly 45 years old. The mod renders the original source release in color graphics adapter (CGA) modes that are compatible with a range of old hardware.
Game developer and tech enthusiast James Howard has put the finishing touches on a Wolfenstein 3D demake, and you can grab it now over on GitHub.
Supported video modes include four-color RGB with red or magenta palettes, composite CGA mode for cards that support NTSC color output, an experimental Tandy 160 x 200 16-color mode, a monochrome mode with inverted colors and a 640 x 200 option for machines with widescreens like Palmtops.
Wolfenstein 3D is now fully playable in CGA!--- James Howard (@Jameshhoward) January 19, 2023
Full source code and binaries available on Github here: https://t.co/Ym2P0kFihM
A 286 is no longer required either as it will run on an 8088! ✨
Read the thread below for details on what is featured in this CGA-ified version! ' (1/7) pic.twitter.com/4lUAyezG4O
Howard even baked in support for a benchmark. Simply run "timedemo" from the command line to have the game run through the demo as fast as possible and report back your average frame rate. Think of it as a neat way to benchmark old hardware.
Intel's 8088 became the "good enough" cheaper option to its 8086 processor released a couple of years earlier. The 8088 halved the 8086's external bus from 16-bit to 8-bit for those with tighter budgets and customers seeking to extend the life of their 8080 and 8085-based systems and associated software. Its place in history was ultimately cemented when IBM selected it for use in the original IBM PC.
Related reading: History of the Microprocessor and the Personal Computer
Wolfenstein 3D, meanwhile, arrived in 1992. It is the third game in the series and was inspired by the original, Castle Wolfenstein from Muse Software. Wolfenstein 3D was id Software's second major release following the Commander Keen series.
Fun fact: the team that later went on to create id Software got started by creating a proof-of-concept PC version of the first world of Super Mario Bros. 3. The demo was donated to the Strong Museum of Play in 2021.
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