Wolfenstein 3D Classic in Review – Generation X Nostalgia

Let’s rewind to 1996 shall we? 12 years ago, I had an archaic Packard Bell Desktop Pentium that ran at a snail’s pace of only 75 MHz, but I played lots of games on it. One of those games was Wolfenstein 3D. This game was unlike any other PC game I had played before because it had this new gaming experience of first person perspective! Since the character in Wolfenstein had a gun, this became better known as FPS or First Person Shooter. I was instantly mesmerized by this graphic wonder of FPS!

I could actually look around the Wolfenstein prison, left, right, strafe and even open doors! It put me front and center into a whole new level of gaming. Not only that, but I had a bunch of guns to kick Nazi butt with! Little did I know that Wolfenstein 3D, only a few years old when I first played it, was about to change my life…

wolf3d_2The Daddy of all FPS games, Wolfenstein 3D was originally released for DOS in May 1992 by id Software and put the software developers permanently on the game world map. No one had played a game quite like Wolfenstein 3D before. Previously, gamers only had the option of controlling a character on the screen and making that character move in one dimension. In Wolfenstein 3D, the player is the character still but this time, you are viewing the game in his perspective, which really immersed me along with millions of other players into 1940’s Nazi occupied Germany.

wolf3d_5There were only two sequels to Wolfenstein 3D, Spear of Destiny released the same year 1992 and 2001’s Return to Castle Wolfenstein with much different updated FPS look. Never fear fellow Generation X players and retro game fans.  Wolfenstein 3D Classic does not get a facelift of any sort. This is the real deal, the original Wolfenstein 3D in all its glory. You will swear you are back in the day playing it with the only thing missing, your keyboard.

In Wolfenstein 3D Classic, there is an actual story behind the game and some younger players who never played the game before, don’t have any idea why they are in the prison to begin with. You start the game as Captain William J. Blazkowicz, you were on a very important reconnaissance mission to infiltrate the Nazi fortress and find plans for Operation Eisenfaust. You were taken to their prison awaiting your execution. You start off the game having used a knife you kept hidden to kill a prison guard and you steal his gun. Your mission is to steal the plans, escape prison Wolfenstein because if you don’t, everyone is totally screwed!

wolf3d_31First, you have your choice of 4 control schemes for your iPhone or iPod touch with the ability to adjust the sensitivity along with tilt move and turn speed. That is pretty nifty. #1 control option is a terrific blend of old and new. With the first control scheme, you are able to move left, right, forward, backward and strafe all in one, on the left side of your screen. I found this personally to be the best for me. It gave me that old school feeling while keeping the shooting button on the bottom right part of the screen. It took awhile to get used to but when I did, it felt perfect.

#2 control option is the same as #1 except you shoot on the left side of the screen. #3 is the closest you are going to get to playing Wolfenstein 3D on your old 90’s computer. On the left you move left, right etc. and on the right side of your iDevice screen is the strafe control. Playing this way, really made me feel like I was back in 1996 but the only thing I don’t like about this control set up is that the shooting button is on the top right corner of the screen. This made it awkward for me but I’m sure others will dig it more than I did. Lastly, #4 controls are once again the same as #3 but reversed so strafe is on your left. These controls for Wolfenstein 3D Classic IMO, are the smoothest out of all the FPS and third person games in the itunes app store. Every FPS game should have them!

wolf3d_4Wolfenstein 3D Classic on the iPhone/iPod Touch, graphically is exactly the way I remembered it, all the character sprites are crisp and your character’s face at the bottom of the screen still changes expression according to which direction you are going. All the original weapons are reproduced accurately as well including your basic pistol, machine gun and chain gun. Sorry, the Rocket Launcher and Flame thrower that were in the Mac version as well as the Atari Jaguar version, are not in this PC port. Also the interior of the game, like the blue walls in some of the secret rooms look wonderful, all the original pictures on the wall including Hitler’s are all here. The Nazi SS troops along with Hitler himself also all look the same. As you are walking around the Wolfenstein prison trying to find a way out, you will encounter the following Nazi’s:

  • Guard,
  • SS Soldier
  • Officer
  • Hans Grosse
  • Gretel Grosse
  • Adolph Hitler
  • Flying Hitler (Yes he flies)
  • Otto Giftmacher
  • General Fettgesicht
  • Barnacle Wilhelm
  • Death Knight
  • Angel of Death

wolf3d_6The Nazi symbols have not been censored at all, the pictures of Hitler are all here too and all the german speech is preserved as well. Hitler even curses in German uttering the word, “Scheisse”, which is the German curse word for our “S” swear word. The sounds of the original Wolfenstein 3D are also preserved faithfully here and when a door closes, you really hear it pretty clearly. It all sounds like the good ole Wolfenstein that I remember in the past. Also in case you are wondering, there are cheat codes just like in the original Wolfenstein 3D PC game that remains but as to not ruin it for others, I will leave that up to you to find out how to input them.

What I love about Wolfenstein 3D Classic is that it’s a very fluid game; it is extremely easy to get into the game and really get going with it. The smooth control options as I mentioned before, are a true joy to use just further enhancing an already fun gaming experience.

wolf3d_7What I really think was a good decision on id’s part, was allowing the player to go to any of the original Wolfenstein 3D level they choose via the menu screen. There are plenty of secret levels that are not on the level option screen until you unlock them.

This game changed my life in that, it made me even more of a gamer and opened up my mind to a new style of Game! id software came out of nowhere literally and soon were sitting on top of the world in the mid to late 90’s. Wolfenstein 3D spawned or influenced the creation of such FPS games as the classic Doom, Quake, Hexen, Unreal Tournament and of course the super popular X-box game, Halo.

wolf3d_8There is SO much to love about Wolfenstein 3D Classic that it was hard to find anything I didn’t like about the iDevice game. I wished they had included a classic part when Hitler utters the words, “Eva, auf wiedersehen” which means “Goodbye Eva” before a big scene in the game. That’s a small part of the game that is not included for whatever reason and rest assured the full game seems to be all here on our iPhones/iPods. Also, some people who are not into retro games might find the very pixilated sprites and graphics not polished enough for them and might be a turn off. I wouldn’t hesitate to remind anyone who finds the old school graphics not to be deterred! This is the way it was back in 1992 and Wolfenstein 3D didn’t become a much beloved game for nothing. It is a solid fun game.

The release of Wolfenstein 3D Classic on the iPhone/iPod touch makes this a very exciting time for the iDevice in the portable gaming community. Doom is on its way too to the iDevice (one we can’t seem to live without) and hopefully even more classic games will have made it to our beloved portable device by then . So, all you Generation X folks and you younger gamers too, sit back, start your Wolfenstein 3D Classic game and enjoy one of the greatest and most influential games ever to come to the iTunes App Store. Guten Tag!


App Summary
Title: Wolfenstein 3D Classic (v1.0) Developer: id Software
Price: $4.99 App Size: 9.9 MB
  • Faithful port that includes the full game and everything else nearly
  • Solid game play
  • Perfect choice of classic controls scheme combined with updated controls.
  • Can start the game off by going to your choice of any level you want (aside from locked ones)
  • One of the most influential and greatest retro games to come to the idevice
  • Will bring back many good memories to Generation X players
  • Original graphics may turn some younger game players off who are used to fancy graphics of newer games
  • No rocket launcher or flamethrower weapons


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