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Shadow Warrior, often known by its initials SW, is a first-person shooter computer game featuring Lo Wang, a master ninja assassin or "Shadow Warrior", developed by 3D Realms and released on May 13, 1997 by GT Interactive. Shadow Warrior was developed using Ken Silverman's Build engine and improved on 3D Realms' previous Build engine game, Duke Nukem 3D. The game's improvements included introduction of true room-over-room situations, the use of voxels instead of sprites for weapons and usable inventory items, transparent water, climbable ladders, and assorted vehicles to drive (some armed with weapons). Although ultra-violent, the game emphasized tongue-in-cheek humor and contained some sexual themes (although less blatantly than in Duke Nukem 3D).

Two original novels featuring Lo Wang, For Dead Eyes Only and You Only Die Twice, were published in the wake of the game's release.

On April 1 2005 3D Realms released the source code for Shadow Warrior under the GPL, which resulted in the first source port a day later on April 2 2005.


Shadow Warrior is a first-person shooter similar to Duke Nukem 3D; 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, these are killed by the player using weapons such as a Katana. Powerful enemies called "bosses" are usually present at the end of a level. Shadow Warrior also features puzzles that must be solved to progress in a level.

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. It also includes guns such as Uzis and the Eraser-inspired railgun. In addition, the head and heart of certain enemies can be used.

One of the outstanding features of the game are many taunts which Lo Wang yells at his defeated enemies. There are some loud spoken thoughts in certain situations too. Duke Nukem started this first with comments like: "Oh, that's gotta hurt" or "Piece of cake". Lo Wang vocalizes himself in a more sophisticated manner; he speaks in whole sentences, telling jokes and making context sensitive remarks. For instance, when killing an enemy with the sword Lo Wang may say: "There can be only one." (a reference to the sword-centric Highlander franchise).


Lo Wang, the protagonist of Shadow Warrior.
The preface of Shadow Warrior is that the protagonist, Lo Wang, worked as a bodyguard for Zilla Enterprises, a conglomerate that had power over every major industry in Japanmarker. However, this led to corruption, and Master Zilla - the president - planned to conquer Japan using creatures from the "dark side". In discovery of this, Lo Wang quit his job as a bodyguard. Master Zilla realized that not having a warrior as powerful as Lo Wang would be dangerous, and sent his creatures to battle Lo Wang.

Later on in the game, Lo finds that Zilla's men have slain his old master, whom he had sought out to help him. Following his master's dying words, Lo must also avenge his death. The game ends with Lo defeating Zilla, but allowing his weakened form to escape.


Three expansion packs to Shadow Warrior were started before its release, but disappointing sales compared to Duke Nukem 3D led the publishers to drop the projects. . However, two of them, Wanton Destruction and Twin Dragon, were ultimately released to public. The third one, Deadly Kiss from SillySoft remains unreleased, but screenshots were released in January, 1998. Unlike other two add-ons, the release of Deadly Kiss may be completely canceled.

Twin Dragon

Twin Dragon was released as a free download on July 4, 1998. It was created by Wylde Productions and Level Infinity, 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.

Wanton Destruction

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 forces again. The game culminates in Japan with the final battle against Master Zilla above the streets of Tokyo. The game features 12 new levels, new artwork and few new monster types.


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. A combination of Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior was published by GT Interactive in March 1998, titled East Meets West.


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 on May 13, 1997. At E3 1997, an area in the GT Interactive booth was dedicated to Shadow Warrior.

Source code

3D Realms released the source code of Shadow Warrior 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 was released a day later on April 2, 2005. Some source ports bring Shadow Warrior to new Operating Systems like Linux.

Mac OS port

Mark Adams, formerly of Lion Entertainment, ported Shadow Warrior to Mac OS. This was announced in August 1997. Adams had previously worked on Duke Nukem 3D, also by 3D Realms.


In a interview with GameSpot, Robert Parungao, a graduate student of the University of British Columbiamarker, cites that Lo Wang, the main protagonist of the game, along with several other characters of Asian background from different games, such as Grand Theft Auto III, Warcraft III, and Kung Fu, are examples of racial stereotyping persons of Asian background.


  • In Master Leep's Temple, Leep's advice is to "Follow the rabbit". The method of following the rabbit and falling down into a lake is not unlike Alice down the rabbit hole from Lewis Carrol's "Alice in Wonderland".
  • In Dark Woods of the Serpent in a secret area above the Ripper Valley is a scene with a dead knight, helmet, grail and an unordinary rabbit. This scene mimics that of the Killer Bunny from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".
  • In Dark Woods of the Serpent, down the abyss, in a cave is Lara Croft Tomb Raider trapped behind bars and chained to a wall.
  • Strangely, in the last level before the final boss, there is a secret cave passage that contains several killer rabbits and what appear to be the corpses of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


  1. Shadow Warrior - Coming from 3D Realms
  2. 3D Realms News: Shadow Warrior: Deadly Kiss
  4. Duke Teams With the Shadow - News at GameSpot
  5. SHADOW WARRIOR by Apogee
  6. GAMECENTER.COM - features - Shadow Warrior - Q&A
  7. 3D Realms Site: Shadow Warrior
  8. The Shadow Warriors
  9. Playing Shadow Warrior
  10. GT Interactive to unveil strongest lineup in company history at E3. - Free Online Library
  11. More Mac Games - News at GameSpot
  12. Student thesis pegs games as racist

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