If you’ve ever played the classic shooter Wolfenstein 3D and thought that all that Nazi punishment would be fun IRL, a small telepresence startup has a nice compromise for you. Cardboard Wolfenstein 3D is a boot-strapped browser game that gives a few lucky users the opportunity to physically beat down the Third Reich from a safe distance with a smartphone and pixelated paper.
The game recreates the classic aesthetic and level design of the early ‘90s iD Software game in the space of a tiny playset made of cardboard. A smartphone strapped to a small robot navigates the model’s corridors with a flapping fist to knock down the Nazi henchman standing in your way. The phone’s journey to a paper facsimile of Hans Grösse — the original game’s first boss — is controlled by a user through their web browser.
If you want to try it yourself, just go to this URL, but Cardboard Wolfenstein 3D is only available during the following times, and presumably only for one player at a time:
Wed Aug 26: 6:30 p.m. to Aug 27: 3:30 a.m. AEST
Wed Sep 2: 6:30 p.m. to Sep 3: 3:30 a.m. AEST
Thur Sep 3: 6:30 p.m. to Sep 4: 3:30 a.m. AEST
That may seem like a pretty small window to participate, but keep in mind that the project’s creator, Ross Atkin, has to clean up everyone’s mess while it’s being played. The short window also makes more sense when you understand that this is all a promotion for Atkins’ startup — Smartipresence — which is currently running a Kickstarter for tiny cardboard telepresence robots. It’s basically the Nintendo Labo of telepresence bots.
My visit to the site found a piece of notebook paper taped to the set explaining that the robot is being charged at the moment. It was later replaced with a browser popover telling me “Bot Connection Unavailable – Refresh the page to try again.” Logging actual playtime in Cardboard Wolfenstein 3D is a bit of a crapshoot, but watching the Nazi-smashing phone be controlled by someone else doesn’t necessarily dampen the experience.
If, like me, you’re unable to play the game, check it out in the video below: