IMG_0473Originally inspired by the 1981 classic Castle Wolfenstein, id Software's Wolfenstein 3D has seen many sequels, ports, spin-offs, and references in other games over the years since its original release in 1992. In its latest version brought to the App Store, Wolfenstein makes a small genre jump to Wolfenstein RPG [App Store]. I say a small jump because while technically being branded as an RPG, there remain a lot of first person shooter elements despite the removal of twitch-based gameplay in exchange for a much slower paced turn-based system.

Wolfenstein RPG was originally designed for J2ME devices which typically lacked the input methods required to control any kind of fast paced game, much less anything that required any precise aiming. Instead of things happening in real time, each movement or combat action you make counts as one turn. This not only makes Wolfenstein RPG much friendlier to the casual gaming audience, but also is the perfect game to play while you're doing something else as even if you're in the middle of a massive gun fight, the game is essentially on pause until you make your next action.

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The controls couldn't be more simple. Changing weapons can be done by tapping the weapon in the status bar along the bottom of the screen, and accessing and using items such as health packs is done through a menu that comes up after tapping your health on the same status bar. Movement is controlled using a large on-screen D-Pad and you can strafe by swiping in that direction on the screen. Tapping the screen attacks with whatever weapon you have equipped, including punching and kicking if you have your firsts or boot selected. Objects in the game such as switches and doors also sometimes can be activated by touching them.

Because there isn't really any way to tell if whatever you're standing in front of is interactive or not, I found that it's usually best to have your boot equipped most of the time to save ammo since tapping on screen will always fire unless there is something else that can be activated. Other than that one issue, the controls work great. Turning right or left always turns 90 degrees, and moving any direction always moves the same amount. The game as a whole plays very similar to those ancient "3D" dungeon crawling games, which isn't a bad thing at all as long as you're not going into Wolfenstein RPG expecting the same fast-paced action as Wolfenstein 3D.

IMG_0459As expected, the game takes place in Castle Wolfenstein and you play as B.J. Blazkowicz just like in Wolfenstein 3D. Instead of the serious setting found in the original where you eventually take on Hitler himself after fighting your way through countless Nazis, Wolfenstein RPG comes with a much more tongue in cheek storyline where you slowly discover the wacky experiments taking place with soldiers, mutants, and even chickens. After escaping your cell, you make your way through the Castle Wolfenstein to put a stop to the weapons program that is creating all of these monsters. In the process, you uncover clues along the way through interrogating various scientists and reading clipboards on the wall. Wolfenstein RPG likely won't be winning any awards for the plot, but it's by far entertaining enough to keep you playing, especially if you appreciate games with a silly tone to them.

Wolfenstein purists should also be aware that all traces of the original Nazis and Hitler have been removed, and instead you're fighting against the generic "Axis" army. I didn't feel this detracted from the game at all, but it has been a point of contention among people in our forums.

Part of porting Wolfenstein RPG to the iPhone was a substantial upgrade to the sprites that are pasted on top of the 3D game world. Where the original game had vague brown blocky looking sprites for soldiers, the iPhone version has high resolution sprites which really stick out from the comparatively low resolution and polygon count 3D background, adding to the silly charm of the game.

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Original J2ME game on the left, iPhone on the right, click for full resolution.

For a game with "RPG" in the title, Wolfenstein RPG is actually fairly light on the RPG elements. You do slowly level up as you play, but you have no control over any kind of character customization. Again, much like the goofy story, this doesn't really detract from the game though you should just be aware that you're not going to be getting the intense customization and role playing experience that you would usually expect with a game that has "RPG" in its name. Aside from the main quest, also included are two mini-games, Kick the Chicken and War. War is a guessing game of sorts, and it doesn't take much imagination to guess what you do in Kick the Chicken.

IMG_0461The only two problems I've come across that I felt need to be addressed are the lack of multiple game saves, and some minor graphical issues. While a single slot for saving your game may have been acceptable in a J2ME device, I find myself passing my iPhone around quite a bit with other iPhone owners as we check out each other's games, and only having the options to continue an existing game or start a new one doesn't work for me. In the graphical department, I've noticed a few bugs with the floor in Castle Wolfenstein and have experienced some texture tearing. Nothing game-stopping by any means but still worth mentioning as it did happen quite a few times.


Video by AppBank

The iTunes description claims that Wolfenstein RPG has 8+ hours of gamplay, but people on our forums largely seem to be finishing it in significantly less time than that. Regardless, Wolfenstein RPG is a fun re-imagining of the Wolfenstein universe that will likely really appeal to both retrophiles and casual gamers.

I've enjoyed myself playing through Wolfenstein RPG, and as long you're not expecting something that the game is not, I believe most people will not only enjoy this game, but also anxiously await the arrival of Doom RPG. While the gameplay is fairly basic coming from its J2ME roots, you'll find it to be a whole lot of fun.

App Store Link: Wolfenstein RPG, $4.99, Wolfenstein RPG (international version)

TouchArcade Rating

  • maximus808

    I actually enjoy the game. Although it might not be a present time game, it works. The controls, graphics, and sound are great and work well with the iPhone (3gs.) I look forward to more great titles from id. They seem to have a great handle on what it takes to make games tailored for the iPhone.

  • maximus808

    I actually enjoy the game. Although it might not be a present time game, it works. The controls, graphics, and sound are great and work well with the iPhone (3gs.) I look forward to more great titles from id. They seem to have a great handle on what it takes to make games tailored for the iPhone.

  • http://www.peitsch.de Sebastian

    So basically what you are telling us this is is a good port of a shitty game from a totally constricted platform, that it has not been adjusted in any way when it comes to graphics and that without the Retro Bonus this just a bunch of crap nobody would believe you'd pay for in the first place but on platforms like tiny screen Nokias and Samsungs you'd rather take it instead of having nothing to spend your time with.

    This is the _iPHONE/iTOUCH_ platform. Look at what they made out of Space Invaders.

    Your last paragraph speaks volumes. If you don't treat it as something that it is not, an actual iPhone/iTouch game (!) then you won't be disappointed.

    In other words: play it on a shitty Nokia phone and you'll be happy. Otherwise you wonder how the hell you could've been coaxed into buying something that's absolutely wrong for this platform or should age another 15 years to get an actual retro feel. This game looks like a Mazda Miata.

    • cookiekixx

      omg thats hilarious.
      yeah this game is kind of an insult to our intelligence.
      those chickens and stupid books... kind of not as good as any game.

      mazda miata for sure but i think wolf3d will hold up as a much better game through time

    • Thaurin

      You misunderstood Eli. In his lart paragraph, he meant "as long as you're not expecting Wolfenstein 3D" and many people seem to be doing just that. The game is fun and does look pretty decent for an iPhone game. If it's not your cup of tea, fine, but it's a good port of a decent game, not a shitty game. But to each their own, I guess.

      • http://www.peitsch.de Sebastian

        How could you possible confuse the two when Wolfenstein 3D is already in the Appstore? *sigh* Do you really believe people who are this "confused" manage to read this article until the end and then get the meaning of that sentence? I guess not.

        I didn't say the game was shitty. I said it looks shitty. I expect more from Carmack than this. I mean if the iPhone is capable of producing graphics like in "Real Racing" how on earth can you defend these Dungeon Graphics? They look like "Lands of Lore" which is Fifteen years old. If this WERE "Lands of Lore" then I'd give it a 5/5 star rating because it would be a port. But this is a game developed for shitty Nokia phones and they are not "Retro".

      • spiffyone

        Re-read that last statement you wrote, because it doesn't make much sense.

        Port =/= retro. A port is merely a port from one hardware to another. So this is, in fact, a port. Of a J2ME game. There have been others on this platform (*points at Galaxy on Fire). If you meant otherwise, then perhaps you should've written out your thoughts in a clearer manner, because, as written, it seems to allude to the idea that if it ain't retro it ain't a port, or if it ain't a port from PC it ain't a port. Doesn't make much sense.

        Plus, y'know...the game has, in fact, been upgraded for the platform from the original J2ME game, as Eli pointed out...with a comparison pic no less. All the artwork has had a pretty massive face lift, and the resolution of said artwork has been bumped up considerably to boot. Or do you think 2D sprite graphics don't show off the platform either? Just because Sony attempted to put that in the minds of gamers two gens ago doesn't make it so.

        Sure, it would've been just GREAT if they changed everything to DOOM Resurrection or Real Racing quality with 3D polys and great texture and lighting work and blah blah blah, but, y'know what? Would that have been worth it on the monetary end for the developer? Probably not. Would it have made much difference in this game, which is SUPPOSED to remind people of old school dungeon crawlers to begin with? No, not really. Unless you're a graphics whore, and a polygon graphics whore at that.

        BTW, did you complain this hard when Wolfenstein 3D Classic came out? Because, y'know...that game ain't exactly a looker.

        As for the texture seams...those can be fixed with an update similar to how it was fixed in other iPhone/touch games.

    • XLM

      Hey Sebastian,

      Carmack made a dungeon crawler game just like this called Orks & Elves for the Nintendo DS (hardly a constricted platform) and it was fun. The mechanics of this game mimics RPGs from the 80s and 90s.

      I think you're getting hung up on two things.
      This was originally on a tiny screen old phone. (big deal, it was fun then.. fun now)
      It's using Wolfenstein 3D as it's universe.

      • http://www.rpg-fanatics.de crishnak

        And by the way: Orcs & Elves DS was an updated port of the mobile game. And according to Carmack they will also make a version for the iPhone.

        Old school dungeon crawlers FTW! :D

  • http://www.peitsch.de Sebastian

    So basically what you are telling us this is is a good port of a shitty game from a totally constricted platform, that it has not been adjusted in any way when it comes to graphics and that without the Retro Bonus this just a bunch of crap nobody would believe you'd pay for in the first place but on platforms like tiny screen Nokias and Samsungs you'd rather take it instead of having nothing to spend your time with.

    This is the _iPHONE/iTOUCH_ platform. Look at what they made out of Space Invaders.

    Your last paragraph speaks volumes. If you don't treat it as something that it is not, an actual iPhone/iTouch game (!) then you won't be disappointed.

    In other words: play it on a shitty Nokia phone and you'll be happy. Otherwise you wonder how the hell you could've been coaxed into buying something that's absolutely wrong for this platform or should age another 15 years to get an actual retro feel. This game looks like a Mazda Miata.

    • cookiekixx

      omg thats hilarious.
      yeah this game is kind of an insult to our intelligence.
      those chickens and stupid books... kind of not as good as any game.

      mazda miata for sure but i think wolf3d will hold up as a much better game through time

    • Thaurin

      You misunderstood Eli. In his lart paragraph, he meant "as long as you're not expecting Wolfenstein 3D" and many people seem to be doing just that. The game is fun and does look pretty decent for an iPhone game. If it's not your cup of tea, fine, but it's a good port of a decent game, not a shitty game. But to each their own, I guess.

      • http://www.peitsch.de Sebastian

        How could you possible confuse the two when Wolfenstein 3D is already in the Appstore? *sigh* Do you really believe people who are this "confused" manage to read this article until the end and then get the meaning of that sentence? I guess not.

        I didn't say the game was shitty. I said it looks shitty. I expect more from Carmack than this. I mean if the iPhone is capable of producing graphics like in "Real Racing" how on earth can you defend these Dungeon Graphics? They look like "Lands of Lore" which is Fifteen years old. If this WERE "Lands of Lore" then I'd give it a 5/5 star rating because it would be a port. But this is a game developed for shitty Nokia phones and they are not "Retro".

      • spiffyone

        Re-read that last statement you wrote, because it doesn't make much sense.

        Port =/= retro. A port is merely a port from one hardware to another. So this is, in fact, a port. Of a J2ME game. There have been others on this platform (*points at Galaxy on Fire). If you meant otherwise, then perhaps you should've written out your thoughts in a clearer manner, because, as written, it seems to allude to the idea that if it ain't retro it ain't a port, or if it ain't a port from PC it ain't a port. Doesn't make much sense.

        Plus, y'know...the game has, in fact, been upgraded for the platform from the original J2ME game, as Eli pointed out...with a comparison pic no less. All the artwork has had a pretty massive face lift, and the resolution of said artwork has been bumped up considerably to boot. Or do you think 2D sprite graphics don't show off the platform either? Just because Sony attempted to put that in the minds of gamers two gens ago doesn't make it so.

        Sure, it would've been just GREAT if they changed everything to DOOM Resurrection or Real Racing quality with 3D polys and great texture and lighting work and blah blah blah, but, y'know what? Would that have been worth it on the monetary end for the developer? Probably not. Would it have made much difference in this game, which is SUPPOSED to remind people of old school dungeon crawlers to begin with? No, not really. Unless you're a graphics whore, and a polygon graphics whore at that.

        BTW, did you complain this hard when Wolfenstein 3D Classic came out? Because, y'know...that game ain't exactly a looker.

        As for the texture seams...those can be fixed with an update similar to how it was fixed in other iPhone/touch games.

    • XLM

      Hey Sebastian,

      Carmack made a dungeon crawler game just like this called Orks & Elves for the Nintendo DS (hardly a constricted platform) and it was fun. The mechanics of this game mimics RPGs from the 80s and 90s.

      I think you're getting hung up on two things.
      This was originally on a tiny screen old phone. (big deal, it was fun then.. fun now)
      It's using Wolfenstein 3D as it's universe.

      • http://www.rpg-fanatics.de crishnak

        And by the way: Orcs & Elves DS was an updated port of the mobile game. And according to Carmack they will also make a version for the iPhone.

        Old school dungeon crawlers FTW! :D

  • foolishwolf

    The fact Hitler is altered and the Nazi symbol is gone doesn't really bother me. I am addicted to this game and the controls are solid. It's a good title. Pick it up.

  • foolishwolf

    The fact Hitler is altered and the Nazi symbol is gone doesn't really bother me. I am addicted to this game and the controls are solid. It's a good title. Pick it up.

  • Jovrick

    @Sebastian: The game does not look shitty. Developing a game under limitations does not make it worse. Not everything has to have modern graphics, not everything should. There are several hundred million billion generic first person shooters and racing games released every month on the Xbox 360 and they have all the motion blur and bloom lighting you could possibly want if thats what you're looking for.

    The app store is great because you can actually get games like Wolfenstein RPG that use intentionally old school graphics. You can get games with stylized or intentionally minimal graphics, and developers actually work under limitations instead of just shoveling massive amounts of post-processing effects over generic, homogenized art and calling it good. I think it’s fantastic that Carmack made a game with cartoony sprites instead of trying to do the same exact thing everyone else does.

    I’m sure there was likely nothing stopping the developers from just replacing those sprites with some generic 3d models when they ported it to the iphone and making the game look all gussied up for you. But they didn’t, and that’s why its good.

  • Jovrick

    @Sebastian: The game does not look shitty. Developing a game under limitations does not make it worse. Not everything has to have modern graphics, not everything should. There are several hundred million billion generic first person shooters and racing games released every month on the Xbox 360 and they have all the motion blur and bloom lighting you could possibly want if thats what you're looking for.

    The app store is great because you can actually get games like Wolfenstein RPG that use intentionally old school graphics. You can get games with stylized or intentionally minimal graphics, and developers actually work under limitations instead of just shoveling massive amounts of post-processing effects over generic, homogenized art and calling it good. I think it’s fantastic that Carmack made a game with cartoony sprites instead of trying to do the same exact thing everyone else does.

    I’m sure there was likely nothing stopping the developers from just replacing those sprites with some generic 3d models when they ported it to the iphone and making the game look all gussied up for you. But they didn’t, and that’s why its good.

  • Bilal

    Carmack has been mention a few times in these posts... did Carmack even port this. I was under the impression that firemint handled the porting. Anyways i love the dungeon rpg ports from the doom rpg homebrew on my psp years ago to this game. I love it.

  • Bilal

    Carmack has been mention a few times in these posts... did Carmack even port this. I was under the impression that firemint handled the porting. Anyways i love the dungeon rpg ports from the doom rpg homebrew on my psp years ago to this game. I love it.

  • Aethereus

    Maravilloso!!!!

  • Aethereus

    Maravilloso!!!!