Wolfenstein 3D / CrossFire
Man. I’m really liking this once-a-year update schedule.
So hey, welcome back! I’ve got some new versions of old games to show off.
This is a prototype cartridge of id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D for the Super NES. I bought it off an eBay seller in Spain earlier this year. Here’s a digital copy.
A different pre-release version of SNES Wolfenstein 3D was released on the Internet as a ROM file years ago. The SNES version of Wolfenstein 3D was fairly well-known for its cut content – the attack dogs from the 1992 DOS version were changed to giant rats in the 1993 SNES release, enemies no longer bled when shot, and Nazi imagery was removed entirely, among other changes.
My cartridge was apparently produced in between the initial beta and the final release. The changes between the two versions reflect a first round of content cuts – possibly made by request during Nintendo’s famously strict approvals process. The dogs were the first to go; the giant rats were already implemented in the earlier beta, though both prototypes produce a growl when they’re killed, rather than the rat-like squeak featured in the retail version. The guard enemy shouts were also changed in between betas.
While the majority of Wolfenstein 3D’s Nazi imagery isn’t present in either build, some additional cuts were made in between the first and second betas. The prologue text in the earlier beta refers to an antagonist named “Hister” – subsequently changed to “Staatmeister” in the later beta and final versions.
Notably, the later prototype still has its blood and gore intact. Given that Nintendo was on the verge of relaxing its standards for the largely uncensored SNES versions of Mortal Kombat 2 and Doom, it makes sense that Wolfenstein 3D’s violent content was still considered for inclusion until a last-minute change. This beta gives rare insight into Nintendo’s evolving policies and content standards during a time of rapid change leading up to the 32-bit era.
The later beta also switches out the earlier beta’s 5-character password for a 6-character one, and passwords from the retail release are non-functional. Otherwise, both betas share many elements that were changed closer to release. The wall texture above, for instance, was included in both betas before being changed to something less Iron Cross-like in the final edition.
The betas also share level designs that were changed in the final release. These early designs more closely resemble level layouts featured in the original DOS version. I’m actually not that familiar with Wolfenstein 3D, so if you notice any other differences between the three versions, please let me know.
I’ve got something else, too.
This game has kind of a strange history. CrossFire for the Sega Genesis was the only game obscure Japanese studio Kyugo published in North America. Kyugo also planned to release a completely different NES game called CrossFire in the United States, but never did. That version made it to retail in Japan for the Famicom.
Genesis CrossFire was released as Super Airwolf in Japan, with the TV show license and the theme song and everything. It saw minimal changes when it was released stateside as CrossFire.
This prototype is mostly similar to the released version – the mangled English throughout (ie, “Guatamara”) was never fixed, and both report incorrect internal checksums when loaded in emulators.
There are differences, though. The prototype’s title screen is missing some copyright text, cheat codes from the retail version don’t work, and you’re skipped straight to the ending after finishing the first set of levels. In the released version, there’s another set of levels and a final stage before you get to see the ending.
The prototype ROM is the same file size as the released version, so I’d imagine the data for the final levels is still in there. Anyone with technical know-how want to check and confirm that? This cartridge was likely produced for preview purposes, which is possibly why the second half of the game can’t be accessed.
[Update: Lost Levels user hybrid confirmed that the final levels are present in the beta version and can be accessed by modifying RAM values. Two of these levels aren’t yet complete, though the final mission can be played through and finished.]
And that’s all I’ve got for you today. Have a great 2015!