Wolfenstein 3D 'Officially' Ported to iPhone

For many aging (sorry folks, it’s true) PC gamers, Wolfenstein 3D was one of the first truly compelling computer action games. Doom also fits into the same category, but Wolf3D was the grand daddy of it first-person shooters.

Now, 18 years since its release on 286 computers in 1991, Wolfenstein 3D has been ported to the iPhone by its original creator John Carmack.

Carmack has made it no secret that he wanted to have an iPhone game for launch of the 3G model and 2.0 firmware in July 2008. Due to time constraints, that never happened, but Carmack never stopped looking at the Apple device as a viable gaming platform. Of course, it also helps that he owns an iPhone.

“I had been frustrated for over a year with the fact that we didn't have any iPhone development projects going internally at Id. I love my iPhone, and I think the App Store is an extremely important model for the software business,” he said.

Electronic Arts was set to bring mobile game Wolfenstein RPG to the iPhone, but Carmack explained that he was unhappy with the software renderer that an EA team came up with.

“Using the iPhone's hardware 3D acceleration was a requirement, and it should be easy,” Carmack explained, and later continued, “The developers came back and said it would take two months and exceed their budget.”

“Rather than having a big confrontation over the issue, I told them to just send the project to me and I would do it myself,” said Carmack, going on to prove that he’s more than just a cut above the rest. “Cass Everitt had been doing some personal work on the iPhone, so he helped me get everything set up for local iPhone development here, which is a lot more tortuous than you would expect from an Apple product. As usual, my off the cuff estimate of ‘Two days!’ was optimistic, but I did get it done in four, and the game is definitely more pleasant at 8x the frame rate. And I had fun doing it.”

The id Software lead programmer then went on to apply his work to Wolf3D Redux, an upgraded “true 3D” version of his original built off the source code. The result we have today is an ‘official’ port of Wolfenstein 3D done by the series’ original creator, made for the iPhone.

You won’t find the it on the Apple App Store, however, as Carmack released it as a simple package for jailbroken iPhones. Also included is the source code, and Carmack encourages other able programmers to see if they can improve upon his work.

While the Wolfenstein 3D for iPhone is very faithful to the original of 18 years ago, there have been several changes -- not only to stay better in tune with modern gamers, but also for reasons surrounding the radically different hardware and input method. For one, the “open door” button has been done away with in favor of automatic doors. Ah, technology. The UI has been tweaked for the iPhone screen as well as the addition of an auto map, so that new players wouldn’t feel as if they were lost in a maze. Both lives and scores were also taken out, now replaced with “achievements” for 100 percent kills, 100 percent secrets and 100 percent treasures.

Check out Voodoo Extreme for the full 5,100 word release document from John Carmack detailing almost everything you could imagine. Download the iPhone port and source here, though it’s reserved for those who are knowledgeable about poking around an jailbroken iPhone.

Perhaps the best news of all is that this won’t be a one-off thing. Carmack said that if there is enough interest in this port, he shall make available the entire Spear of Destiny expansion. And even better, we’ll be getting Doom.

Carmack said in closing, “I'm going back to Rage for a while, but I do expect Classic Doom to come fairly soon for the iPhone.”

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • apache_lives
    haha so in 10 years we will see games like oblivion, farcry2 and others on phones?
  • shabodah
    Everyone seems to want to insist that the iphone is more powerful than the psp, yet, the psp has been running Wolfenstein 3d, Doom, Doom 2, Heretic, Hexen, and Quake for years without framerate issues.
  • Spanky Deluxe
    Shame we can't get it on the app store. :(
  • jsloan
    wow, the good old days, what about duke nukem 3d, that would be sweet...
  • spanner_razor
    He's a legend, sure he doesn't have a hip hair cut like Romero but Romero is stuck doing phone games because he has to not because he wants to.
  • My over-a-year-old Nokia N95 8GB can run Quake 3 without a hitch. The PSP can't, and neither can the iPhone (Not in the technological sense, but in the availability). Perfectly playable, and can be controlled by any combination of the following input methonds: Phone keys, Accelerometer, Bluetooth mouse, Bluetooth keyboard.
    And, of course, you can run Quake 2, Quake 1, Doom/Heretic/Hexen and Wolf3D too. Oh, and Duke Nukem 3D.

    Doom has been around on Symbian phones since 2002...
  • TheFace
    HILARIOUS that he would make it available to only HACKED iPhones!
    hmm I would buy it, maybe he should put it on the app store lol
  • It is now on the App Store.
  • city_zen
    jsloanwow, the good old days, what about duke nukem 3d, that would be sweet...
    Fret not, it's been rumored that Duke Nukem Forever will be released simultaneously for the PC and the iPhone

    And that should happen ... any decade now :D