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Retro gaming fan gets ‘Wolfenstein 3D’ up and running on a Game Boy Color

Wolfenstein 3D for Gameboy Color, WIP 5
DOS gamers, this one is for you. Homebrew software developer Anders Granlund produced a playable Game Boy Color version of Wolfenstein 3D using a custom game board fitted with a co-processor chip.

The results are surprisingly fluid and playable, especially considering that the game fits into 128k of memory and runs smoothly on hardware that is only slightly more powerful than the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System.

Id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D was a landmark release in its era, effectively serving as the genesis of the first-person shooter genre. Wolfenstein 3D‘s creative team later followed up on its success with Doom in 1993, revolutionizing a style of first-person gameplay that dominated the PC gaming marketplace for decades afterward.

Wolfenstein 3D was ported to multiple home consoles in its heyday, including the 3DO and Atari Jaguar. A heavily censored port later made its way to the 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System, removing the original game’s blood and gore in addition to exchanging its German Shepherd enemies for giant mutant rats.

Over the decades since its initial release, Wolfenstein 3D found its way to many more unlikely platforms, including Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance in 2002. While the GBA’s hardware is capable of powering Wolfenstein 3D on its own, the same can’t be said of its predecessor, the Game Boy Color.

Granlund faced difficulty in porting a 3D first-person shooter to an 8-bit platform with a maximum display resolution of 160 x 144 pixels, leading him to craft a custom game board featuring a KE04 co-processor, an AM29F040 EEPROM, and an MBC1 memory mapper salvaged from a mass-produced Game Boy game.

The game in its current state fills 123k out of an available 128k of memory, allowing enough room to include 10 levels and three enemy types. Granlund plans to add features like victory screens, menus, and advanced enemy artificial intelligence in future updates.

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