2002: Strangemaze 3D game for Java Mobile Phones

StrangeMaze 3D

StrangeMaze 3D was the world's first 3D first person maze puzzle racing game designed for J2ME Java mobile phones first released in 2002. The aim of the game was to race against the computer-controlled opponents to the maze exit. If you win, you are then promoted onto the next level with a new randomly generated maze each time. The 3D view from inside the maze offers more escapism and immersion than you typically get with most 2D top down or side view games.

StrangeMaze was aimed at the broadest audience possible, from the serious to the casual gamer and even non-gamers young and old. The advantage of maze games is that most people are already familiar with mazes and can understand the concept of the game immediately. The advantage of StrangeMaze's randomly generated mazes is that every game was different and offers a new challenge - a maze game you can play again and again. For those who don't feel like racing out of the maze, the practice mode allows you to take your time to solve the puzzle.

StrangeMaze was released around the world, including via telecoms operators in China, India, Thailand, Europe and the USA for a wide variety of mobile phone devices and screen sizes, mono and colour versions. Whilst the game had little text, e.g. menus, that text was translated into Simplified Chinese, French, Italian, and Spanish.

StrangeMaze was available for most colour and mono Java phones including:
Nokia 3410, 6310i, 3510i, 3300, 5100, 6100, 6610, 6800, 7210, 7250, 7650, 3650, 8910i, 3530
Motorola v60i, v66i, T720, T720i, T280i, v300, v500, v600
Siemens SL42i, SL45i, M50/MT50, C55, S55, SL55, MC60
Sony-Ericsson T610, T616, Z600, K700i, S700i, P800, P900
Sharp GX-10, GX-10i, GX-12, GX-20
Samsung S100, S300, C100
Motorola iDEN i95cl, i90c, i85s, i88s
Sagem MY V-55
Sanyo 6400, 8100

To work on as many phones as possible, the total app download size of StrangeMaze was 32K! including game, 3D engine, randomly generated maze design and fractally generated landscape code for unlimited and different levels, and robot AI pathfinding code. To put that 32K game size into perspective, the static banner image at the top of this web page is 3 times bigger than that, weighing in at around 100K.

"A unique game that should keep you entertained for hours ... 8/10"  (Midlet Review)

The generic 2.5D raycasting engine developed for StrangeMaze was similar to the original 1992 Wolfenstein 3D engine, but with simple procedural chequered textures, simple procedural game objects (robots), fractally generated landscape backgrounds, and a design that could work on slow devices, within the limitations of J2ME (no floating point arithmetic so fixed point integer math was used, no sound), with a minimum of a 96x56 mono pixel display. The engine was re-used in a number of other R&D game prototypes. To ease initial development, the J2ME raycasting engine was developed alongside a VB raycasting engine, and for other internal R&D purposes, the VB version of the engine was progressed further with an advanced full-colour texture raycasting capability, with many other features too, including map editor, 360 scrollable panorama wall textures.

The Java J2ME mobile phone market had a good run until the phones gradually started to lose market share to modern smartphones after the first iPhone was introduced in 2007, and the first Android mobile phone was introduced in 2008.

In 2011, the procedural maze generation and maze AI solving Java code classes that were developed for StrangeMaze, were translated over to Javascript classes to be re-used in the Maze Racing Robots top down 3D Smart TV game.