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Have you played... 3D Maze?

A screensaver pretending to be a game - or vice-versa?

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Yeah, it’s a screensaver. Yeah, I played it for hours. By which I mean, watched it for hours.

3D Maze was a screensaver first bundled with Windows 95, notable primarily because:

a) it was one of the more instant ways to make your computer seem all futuristic after succumbing to the Win 95 hype

b) it looked a whole lot like an early first-person shooter, a Wolfenstein or Doom

Therefore, exciting, as my young mind had by then been programmed to think of anything involving a first-person perspective and lots of walls.

In the absence of money to buy new games, I’d fire up 3D Maze more often than I should. We lived in the country, the nearest friend was a half-hour bus ride away, there was no internet. I read a lot of books, but I was endlessly drawn to the PC. So 3D Maze it was. I watched and watched, forever feeling as though something magnificent was around the next automatically-navigated corner. It wasn’t. Sometimes there was a bitmap of a rat. Mostly it was just more low-resolution brick walls. Forever and ever, our maze.

I wonder about the thinking behind 3D Maze. Were its creators conscious that they had made something people would gawp at for hours, locked in a state of unmet anticipation? Or did they just think they were making some pretty walls?

Last year (it passed me by at the time, alas), someone even realised my fond dream of the time – to create a version of 3D Maze I could play myself.

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Who am I?

Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about videogames.

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