Man, remember when Apogee and 3D Realms were considered one of the coolest PC publishers? Then Duke Nukem Forever happened and now they’re just a shell of their former glory only to be laughed at. Where did it start going all wrong? Probably when they thought they could make a Duke Nukem 3D ripoff of their own. Ladies and germs, this is Shadow Warrior.
Released in early 1997 only on PC, it was an amazing flop. It didn’t sell as well as Duke 3D did. There were going to be three expansions, which only one — Twin Dragons — got a commercial release; the other two — Deadly Kiss and Wanton Destruction — would be cancelled after the poor sales of the original game. (Wanton Destruction did get released many years later as freeware, though.) Shadow Warrior is considered to be part of the “Holy Trinity” of shooters that used Ken Silverman’s Build engine: The others being Duke Nukem 3D and either Redneck Rampage or Blood, depending on who you talk to. (Some people consider all four to be important, making this a “Holy Quadrinity.” Which is totally not a word.)
I had already bought Duke, Redneck Rampage and Blood through GOG.com, but bizarrely Shadow Warrior was nowhere to be found on that service (as of the time I write this). The only ways to buy it were through 3D Realms’ online store at a ridiculous-for-an-old-game price of $10, or hunt down a copy on eBay or local shops. Well, luck was on my side when I finally found a copy at a Goodwill recently. After a little cajoling with DOSBox to get it to work properly, I was ready to play Shadow Warrior, told by the man himself that “You no mess with the Lo Wang.” I had heard from friends that this game wasn’t very good. Was this gonna be a repeat of the Blood II debacle, where I found enjoyment in a game everybody else hated? No, because where I can find some enjoyment and goofiness in Blood II, it is almost nowhere to be found in Shadow Warrior.