Cover art of Shadow Warrior
Shadow Warrior is a first-person shooter video game developed by 3D Realms and published by GT Interactive Software. The shareware version was released for the PC on May 13, 1997, while the full version was released on August 31, 1997. Shadow Warrior was developed using Ken Silverman's Build engine and improved on 3D Realms' previous Build engine game, Duke Nukem 3D. Mark Adams ported Shadow Warrior to Mac OS in August 1997.
The game's improvements included introduction of true room-over-room situations, the use of 3D voxels instead of 2D sprites for weapons and usable inventory items, transparent water, climbable ladders, and assorted vehicles to drive (some armed with weapons). Although violent, the game had its own sense of humor and contained some sexual themes. A combination of Shadow Warrior and Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition was published by GT Interactive Software in March 1998, titled East Meets West.
In 2005, 3D Realms released the source code for Shadow Warrior (including compiled Build engine object code) under the GPL, which resulted in the first source port a day later on April 2, 2005. In 2013, Devolver Digital announced the game would be free to obtain for a limited time on Steam. Later, Devolver Digital announced that they would offer the game for free.
Lo Wang is a bodyguard for Zilla Enterprises, which has control over every major industry in Japan. However, this has led to corruption. Master Zilla, the president of the Zilla Enterprise, is planning to conquer Japan using creatures from the "dark side". When he discovers this, Lo Wang quit his job as a bodyguard. Master Zilla realizes the threat that Lo Wang poses and sends his creatures to battle him.
Later on in the game, Lo finds that Zilla's minions have killed his old mentor, Master Leep. Following his master's dying words, Lo must avenge his death. The game ends with Lo Wang defeating Master Zilla, who commands a samurai-like war-mech. However, Zilla is able to escape Lo Wang, promising a future encounter.
Shadow Warrior is a first-person shooter similar to Duke Nukem 3D as both use the Build engine. Players navigate the protagonist, Lo Wang, through three-dimensional environments or "levels". Throughout levels are enemies that attack Lo Wang, which can be killed by the player using weapons such as a katana. Shadow Warrior also features puzzles that must be solved to progress in various levels.
Lo Wang's arsenal of weaponry includes Japanese-themed weapons such as shurikens—which were "likely [to] be dropped in favor of [a] high tech fun weapon" in development—and a katana, and marked the first appearance of a sticky bomb in an FPS, an idea popularized later by Halo. It also includes guns such as Uzis, a riot gun that fires shotgun shells, and the Eraser-inspired railgun (Lo Wang frequently mentions "Time to get erased! Ha ha!" when picking up this weapon). In addition, the head and heart of certain enemies can be used as weapons.
Shadow Warrior was an ambitious game, containing many features not seen until later first-person shooter games. For example, the game features turrets and various vehicles (such as tanks) that the player can drive around freely in, climbable ladders, and multiple firing modes for various weapons.
Development of Shadow Warrior began in early 1994 as Shadow Warrior 3D, and preliminary screenshots were released with Hocus Pocus in May 1994. George Broussard in 1996 stated: "We want Shadow Warrior to surpass Duke Nukem 3D in features and gameplay and that's a TALL order." To this end, more tongue-in-cheek humor was added to the existing game in order to better match the style of the popular Duke Nukem 3D. Shadow Warrior was published in North America by GT Interactive Software on May 13, 1997. At E3 1997, an area in the GT Interactive Software booth was dedicated to Shadow Warrior.
3D Realms released the source code of the Shadow Warrior engine on April 1, 2005 under the GNU General Public License. Due to the timing of the source code release, some users initially believed that it was an April Fools joke. The first source port, JFShadowWarrior, was created by Jonathon Fowler and released a day later on April 2, 2005, including Linux support and improvements from his JFDuke3D source port. As of January 2015, there have been no new versions of JFShadowWarrior since October 9, 2005. Shadow Warrior for iOS was released on December 19, 2012 by 3D Realms and indie developer General Arcade.
- Wanton Destruction was created by Sunstorm Interactive and tested by 3D Realms, but was not released by the distributor. Charlie Wiederhold presented the four maps he created to 3D Realms, and was consequently hired as a level designer for Duke Nukem Forever. With permission, he released the maps on March 22, 2004. On September 5, 2005, Anthony Campiti—former president of Sunstorm Interactive—notified 3D Realms by e-mail that he found the Wanton Destruction add-on, and it was released for free on September 9, 2005. The add-on chronicles Lo Wang's adventures after the original game. He visits his relatives in USA, but is forced to fight off Zilla's forces again. The game culminates with a battle against Master Zilla above the streets of Tokyo, which ends with Master Zilla's death. The game features 12 new levels, new artwork and a couple new enemy replacements, such as human enemies; though they still act as their original counterparts.
- Twin Dragon was released as a free download on July 4, 1998. It was created by Level Infinity and Wylde Productions, and features music by Castles Music Productions. The game reveals that Lo Wang has a twin brother, Hung Lo, with whom he was separated in early childhood. Hung Lo becomes a dark person whose goal is to destroy the world. Similar to Master Zilla, he uses the creatures from the "dark side", criminal underworld and Zilla's remnants to further his goals. Lo Wang has to journey through his dark minions, reach his palace and defeat the evil Twin Dragon Hung Lo once and for all. The game features 13 new levels, new sounds, artwork and a new final boss, Hung Lo, who replaced Zilla.
- Shadow Warrior Registered is the original 1.2 version released on August 31, 1997 for MS-DOS and on October 1, 1997 for Mac OS.
- Shadow Warrior Classic Complete is the PC version of Shadow Warrior that was released onto GOG.com and includes the main game and both expansion packs, Wanton Destruction and Twin Dragon. While the Steam version is free (see below), the GOG.com version is to pay for, but for that has a digital copy of the game's soundtrack in MP3 and FLAC and the game's manual delivered with the game. Published by Devolver Digital, it was released on November 15, 2012, using DOSBox to run on modern systems.
- Shadow Warrior (iOS) is the iOS version of Shadow Warrior that was ported and published by indie developer General Arcade. It was released on December 19, 2012 to the App Store.
- Shadow Warrior Classic (previously Shadow Warrior Original) is the original MS-DOS version of Shadow Warrior that was released onto Steam using DOSBox. It is free to play and includes the original registered version but does not include the expansion packs. Published by Devolver Digital, it was released on May 29, 2013.
- Shadow Warrior Classic Redux is a PC version of Shadow Warrior, released on Steam for Microsoft Windows and OS X with the main game and both expansion packs, Wanton Destruction and Twin Dragon. Developed by General Arcade and published by Devolver Digital, it was released on July 8, 2013 with improved, OpenGL graphics and visuals, remastered audio and modern PC compatibility.
- Shadow Warrior (Classic) is the PC version rebuilt with Microsoft Windows and OS X support, published by 3D Realms as part of the 3D Realms Anthology Bundle, it was released on October 23, 2014 on their own website and on May 5, 2015 on Steam.
Lee Jackson who had already composed the soundtrack for Duke Nukem 3D also composed the soundtrack for Shadow Warrior. Shadow Warrior uses the audio tracks of the game's CD for music playback rather than the system's MIDI device, which allows for a higher general quality and the use of samples and effects not possible with MIDI music. This allowed Lee Jackson to include a wide variety of instruments which support the game's East Asian theme as well as to include ambient tracks which depend on advanced sound design. MIDI support including MIDI versions of five songs from the game's soundtrack was added exclusively to the shareware version which had to be kept small in size.
A special song called Lo Wang's Rap was included in one of the game disc's audio tracks. It was created out of sound bites and outtakes from recording sessions with John William Galt, the voice actor cast in the role of Lo Wang. This song was played during the credits sequence after completing the game. Jackson wrote and recorded a backing music track and then used a DAW to arrange the vocals over it in a way that made it sound like Lo Wang was actually rapping. The song was released as an MP3 on 3D Realms' website in 1999.
Two original novels featuring Lo Wang were published. For Dead Eyes Only was written by Dean Wesley Smith and You Only Die Twice by Ryan Hughes. The titles of the novels parody titles in the James Bond book series by Ian Fleming.
Reviews from critics are mixed and ratings vary from average to positive. User reviews are generally positive. Review aggregate platforms such as Metacritic, and even digital retail platform GOG.com indicate favorable review scores from users. Thierry Nguyen of Computer Gaming World commented: "Shadow Warrior is an average action game. While there are some good enhancements to the BUILD engine and some good level design and enemy AI, the rest of the game is mediocre." Tim Soete of GameSpot says "in the end however, Shadow Warrior's only merits are its gameplay." GamingOnLinux reviewer Hamish Paul Wilson decided in a later retrospective that Shadow Warrior was the weakest of the three major Build engine games, stating that its gunplay was the "least balanced and its levels the most likely to descend into tedium or frustration".
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- "Shadow Warrior on Twitter: "Shadow Warrior Classic (1997) is free on Steam for a limited time only. Follow and retweet, young grasshoppers."". Twitter. May 29, 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- "Shadow Warrior on Twitter: "Sorry for the Facebook promo issue earlier - after it was exploited we decided to just make the game free to play for all. #ShadowWarrior"". Twitter. May 29, 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- "Shadow Warrior on Twitter: "Looks like people are loving Shadow Warrior Classic (1997) so we'll just keep it F2P forever. Enjoy, retweet, and follow for more news!"". Twitter. May 29, 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
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- Siegler, Joe (May 19, 1999). "Lo Wang's Rap". 3D Realms. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- "Shadow Warrior (1997) for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- Soete, Tim (October 2, 1997). "Shadow Warrior Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- Wilson, Hamish Paul (June 23, 2015). "The Big Three Build Engine Games On GOG". GamingOnLinux. Retrieved January 7, 2016.