Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reunion 01 (REUNION1.WAD)

REUNION 01
by Ed Cripps


Ed Cripps is mostly known for wild-ass detailing and geometry that uses the most advanced Doom source ports available, crawling colossusi notwithstanding. His level design is usually compared to Quake II's, even if it's a twisted Shores of Hell-styled base (Warp House). Reunion is something quite different, aiming for a vanilla-oriented series of levels for the original Doom. While Ed describes it as a series, his interest must have waned, because he only released one other Reunion level (Reunion 02). This initial iteration, Reunion 01, is an E1M1 replacement released mid-1999.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Icon of Sin (2) (ICON2.WAD)

THE ICON OF SIN
(2)
by Ed Cripps


If I had to guess, I would say that the Icon of Sin is the most reviled of all the Doom II level "themes" where the them describes the action. Plenty of people try to do interesting things with the "Dead Simple" triggers in addition to the usual "Dead Simple" motif, and appearances of Wolf3D stuff in Doom usually presents with some bemusement, but I haven't seen a great many words about players really appreciating the perfunctory MAP30 standard. How odd, then, that Ed Cripps of Sin City fame elected to make an IoS map for his second released level! I guess we just weren't as wore out then as we are now. The Icon of Sin (2) is a MAP01 replacement for Boom-compatible ports, released in early 1999.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Don't Drink the Water (DDTW.WAD)

DON'T DRINK THE WATER
by Ed Cripps


Ed Cripps is now known for making engine-popping GZDoom levels with wicked cool geometry and architecture. Back in 1998, though, he was bumming around with the rest of us. Don't Drink the Water is a MAP01 replacement for what was Boom at the time but should work with Boom-compatible ports. Apparently there were roughly 12 MB worth of new resources in the original DDTW.WAD, all of which the author describes as "cheezy"; given the relative simplicity of the level, I'd be interested in seeing just how all these things dressed the original incarnation up.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The KZDOOM Series

THE KZDOOM SERIES
by Kurt Kesler

as featured in Serial Killing
KZDOOM1KZDOOM2KZDOOM3
KZDOOM4KZDOOM5KZDOOM6
KZDOOM7

Kurt Kesler was a pretty prolific author who eagerly embraced several source port standards, cementing him as an early adopter and experimenter. Most of his levels were made for the original Doom and collected in KMEGA1, but he also horsed around with the Boom format as per KBOOM and, on a few occasions, source-port agnostic (limit-removing) as in KHILLS. KZDOOM is, you guessed it, his series of levels for Randi Heit's ZDoom. This seven-level series was released over a period of time spanning 1999 to 2001, with the unfinished scraps of KZDOOM8 released in his k-maps collection in 2003.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

KZDOOM7: The Power Plant (KZDOOM7.WAD)

KZDOOM7
THE POWER PLANT
by Kurt Kesler


Kurt Kesler made a bunch of maps. The vast majority of them were released as single entries, though Kesler eventually gathered up all of his vanilla levels into a collection - KMEGA. The others had names as befits their target ports: KBOOM for Boom, of course; KZDOOM for ZDoom; and KHILLS for... limit-removing? KZDoom7, internally titled as "The Power Plant", is his final solo ZDoom release, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II. There was a KZDOOM8 in the works, but Kesler did not finish it at the time he released k-maps in 2003. KZDoom7 isn't the last Kesler level; he continued to work on two larger projects, Frenzy DM and Ni'mRoD - IXNAY on the HOMBRE, before Still Kickin' in 2005.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Shadow of the Wool Ball (SHADOWO*.WAD)


Making a full-fledged Doom clone with all new resources... Well, that's hard. Making a Wolf3D clone, though, that's a different story. I'm still not going to pretend that it's easy, but Wolf's much simpler level design sets the bar much lower and not having to make full rotations for monster sprites (since they only have to be focused on you) can only be a boon for working sprite artists. 2016's Shadow of the Wool Ball is a passion project from MSPaintR0cks featuring retro Wolfenstein action rendered in a clean, cartoony art style. A ZDoom release, it's three episodes of six levels for a grand total of eighteen that's meant to run with the Doom II IWAD, but can run just fine in the original Doom excepting a surprise guest appearance from the end text from Doom's Inferno.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Unhinged (UNHINGED.WAD)

UNHINGED
by "darsycho"


Back in 2012, the dude who would become darsycho made a pretty weird but goofy Doom mod by the name of Beyond Reality. I liked it; some of the spots were pretty off-the-wall but it was more about being silly than weirding the player out. Then, toward the tail end of the same year, he published another surreal Doom mod but with a very different atmosphere. Enter: Unhinged. On its face, it's a two-map offering for Doom II to be played in the ZDoom family of ports with the second map purely existing for the end sequence, and the initial impression - a lonely stretch of urban road built from vanilla Doom II textures with some Duke3D stuff for building facades - is underwhelming. But there's more.

Monday, December 5, 2016

maintenance mode

CURRENT STATUS: backfilled through October 2014

I've been using Imgur.com to host the screenshots seen on this blog since back in 2011. However, unbeknownst to me - not that ignorance is any excuse - using it in such a manner is forbidden by the Terms of Service. As a result, and due to an inquiry I had made recently, Imgur has salted the earth and blocked any viewing of said screenshots on this blog. That sucks! Especially since they didn't tell me about it, not that they needed to since what I was doing was forbidden by the ToS. I don't know if that used to be the case, back when I started using it, but that's the way it is now! And to think, I used to have an Imgur Pro account.

The Good News: I already had a Dropbox account with more than enough storage space, and I'll be slowly going through and backfilling all of those beloved screenshots.

The Bad News: This is going to take a long time, during which this blog will be nothing but sweet, sweet words.

I've had my work cut out for me, gentle readers. You'll probably see some reviews, but I'll be spending a lot of time bringing these hard-won screenshots back to you.




Addendum 12/8/16: If you are dying to see some screenshots, they are still where they've always been. Finding the appropriate album at https://kmxexii.imgur.com should load them all, after which you can refresh the review post and see it as it was originally intended. I'm systematically deleting the images and albums as I update the links to Dropbox-hosted material, though, unless someone has a really good argument that can convince me otherwise. Virtually no one has trawled the more recent albums so keeping them around doesn't feel palatable after Imgur's stealth-ban.

The plus side, unless you have a really slow internet connection: No more 640 x 480 images! Everything is being linked at the 1280 x 960 I took it at, at least until I get to the stuff where the Imgur copy is the only surviving backup. Go take a look at Ancient Aliens in gorgeous, hi-res.

Mayhem Mansion (MAYHEMM*.PK3)


(This review is an expansion and edit of my review for the original, single-level release of Mayhem Mansion. The original is still available here.)

Mayhem Mansion had an original release back in 2013, a single level drawing inspiration from the notorious and obscure FPS, Exploding Lips. In 2016, the saga of Mayhem is complete, and while it's still full of magical-thinking moon-logic, I feel like I have a sense of closure. The final iteration of Mayhem Mansion has a grand total of eight levels for ZDoom, the last two being the final boss and credits maps. It's got enough puzzling and exploration to make for a full megaWAD's worth of time, though. If you are looking for something that plays like Doom, well, you should probably just look elsewhere. This is a fantastically different experience.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Warp House (MA_WRP.WAD)

WARP HOUSE
by Ed Cripps


Ed Cripps may only release one level a year, but if anyone has shown where GZDoom can push the level design of Doom, it's him. Mostly known for his Sin City series, which rolled on into stuff like Valhalla and the Quake II-like Putrefier, Ed's levels typically feature painstaking level design including architecture, detailing, and lighting. 2016 is no exception with the publication of Warp House. It is, unsurprisingly, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II. It's also saturated with only the finest eye-candy that slopes and 3D floors can produce. Alas, there is no framing narrative to set the scene; I guess the least you can do is come up with your own after Ed did all the hard work!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lilium (LILIUM.WAD)

LILIUM
by "Lainos"


Lainos graced us with three releases in the 2016 season. Comatose was a continuation of his exploratory style, further expanding the world of Sacrament. Urotsuki 2 took the broad architecture and texture experiments of his Urotsuki trilogy and folded it into the mythology of the Object series. Lilium has something from both but belongs to neither. It is not an invitation to explore one of Lainos's very personal worlds but rather a chance  to share in something intensely personal. That said, it's still a Doom II level, a MAP01 replacement that's meant to be played in a limit-removing port that can play .OGG files. As always, pr-boom+ is recommended by the author and I concur since pointing yourself toward the park crushed my framerate in ZDoom.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

THT: Threnody (THTTHREN.WAD)


You don't maintain the /idgames archives for eighteen years, marshal the Doom community's longest-lived and most productive authorship collective, and found what became the de-facto standard for "advanced" source port features without getting some kind of a send-off. While we were fortunate enough to pass him the Espi award in 2014, it wasn't until he died in 2015 that the community attempted to pay tribute in a more familiar format. The end result of the Ty Halderman Tribute Project: Threnody, a 20-level megaWAD for Boom released in 2016.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Echelon (ECHELON.WAD)


Sverre Kvernmo has an authorship career that began with his Cabal series, split between solo releases and the Master Levels for Doom II, and seemed to end with the first edition of Eternal Doom, authoring among other things the enormous, intricate MAP12, "Darkdome". He went full in to game development but never truly left the fold, peeking in every now and then. Sverre returned in 2013 with the visually striking Plasmaplant and at some point began his PAR project. PAR was to be a Doom II megaWAD whose casual 100% completion times could be accomplished within the original Doom II's par times as set by John Romero. The restriction must have lost its lustre, though, and what was once PAR evolved into Echelon.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Vectra, the Last Mystery (VECTRA.WAD)

VECTRA
THE LAST MYSTERY
by Paul Corfiatis


Paul has a listing of pretty much all of his PWADs on his homepage, www.paulcorfiatis.com, including the jokewads he has just about disowned. Vectra is not among them, and after playing it, I can see why. 1999 was a pretty busy year for Paul, kicking out The Twilight Zone II: Final Dreams as well as releasing Death Tormention and Death Tormention II, plus a bunch of other little scraps. Vectra is... a MAP01 replacement for Doom II. While I suspected that PC_WOLF's sky was Star Wars-related, there is no question about Vectra's, since it's spelled out in a comparatively extensive backstory.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Toxin Refinery (PE1_TOX.WAD)

TOXIN REFINERY
by Paul Corfiatis


Before embarking on Simply Phobos in 2004, Paul Corfiatis was no stranger to kickin' out the love for Phobos-themed maps. Some of these ended up in The Twilight Zone and The Twilight Zone II megaWADs, but this map marks Paul's first standalone Romeroian excursion. Toxin Refinery is an imaginatively-titled remake of the original Doom's E1M3, released in 1999 along with a bunch of other odds and sods. Also, like a "Bad Dream", it's got a secret level for the secret exit; more fun in the Martian sun. I'm guessing that the bonus level's name is "Magna", since it's written into the level geometry.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

PC_WOLF, a Wolfenstein Classic (PC_WOLF.WAD)


I grew up playing Wolfenstein 3D, and while I'm not against playing it, it's not something I look for in Doom II levels. There are some who can't get enough of that shit, though. Paul Corfiatis continues to cram Wolf3D-themed maps into his work as late as 2015; back in '97, he was doing the same thing with his his brother Joe. PC_WOLF is a collection of what Paul calls his brother's best levels - MAP01-04 - and two that Paul hadn't yet shown to the world. Released in 1999, this six map episode will probably find favor with a select few Doomers who, like Paul, enjoy slaying SS Nazis in boxy rooms ad nauseum.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

PC_PLAN (PC_PLAN.WAD)

PC_PLAN
by Paul Corfiatis


Paul Corfiatis has made a ton of Doom levels. PC_PLAN has the earliest beginnings of any of them, but was released in 1999. That's because it was the first level Paul ever designed; the medium, however, was paper. This MAP01 replacement owes its existence to its sentimental value, then, since PC_PLAN is pretty basic when compared to the maps from The Twilight Zone, which Paul had released in 1998. I suppose he felt honor-bound to commit his plan to WAD. According to the author's notes, the thing placement has not been tinkered with in any way, bringing the pencil sketch to life exactly as conceived.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Big Boy (BIGBOY.WAD)

BIG BOY
by Paul Corfiatis


Paul made a fairly big splash in 1998 with the original Twilight Zone megaWAD, but it wasn't the first thing he'd done in an editor. I'm not sure that Big Boy is, either, but it was among the first of his works pre-TWZONE that he deigned to release afterward. It also apparently began life as a big Doom II level with a ton of Wolfenstein 3D textures and SS Nazis, a detail that doesn't really surprise me given what I've seen from most of Paul's other, larger projects. As published, BIGBOY is a single level for E2M4, so all the Doom II resources are no longer present. Some of the Nazi stuff is still baked into the level's architecture, but both details are very easy to miss.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Verada (Please Consider) (VERADA.WAD)

VERADA
PLEASE CONSIDER
by Paul Corfiatis


Apparently, a vocal portion of the Doomworld community thought that some of the levels of Paul Corfiatis's Death Tormention were too easy. I can see that such might be the case while playing straight through, but I recall pistol starting the maps to be very dangerous. pcorf's response to the criticism was, naturally, to make a hard level for the critics! So hard that even he couldn't beat it in UV. That's not a hard task to accomplish, though, and you'll see why. The end result is Verada, alternately titled Please Consider. It's a single level for Doom II released in early 1999 in a sort of starbase / techbase style.

Friday, October 21, 2016

StarCove - A Tribute to Ty Halderman (STARCOVE.WAD)

STARCOVE
A TRIBUTE TO
TY HALDERMAN

by Michael Jan "valkiriforce" Krizik


Ty Halderman passed away in 2015. He remains an Essential Pillar of the Community for a variety of reasons, the most prominent in my mind functioning as the steward of the /idgames archive for nearly twenty years; the only reason he stopped was because his terminal illness dealt him such a blow that he could not even tell the Doom community why their regularly scheduled updates had ceased. It was no surprise to see Doom authors gathering together in an attempt to pay tribute to the man, many of whom gathered under the banner of Christian Hansen's THT: Threnody (Ty Halderman Tribute) project. Classic megaWAD officiando valkiriforce had a slightly different idea, likely because Threnody was a Boom-compatible release and Krizik is more of a Chocolate kind of guy.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Absolute Dishonor (ABSOLDIS.WAD)


valkiriforce was one of 2011's biggest darlings, churning out map after map of vanilla Doom II goodness, but tapering off in 2012, with an apparent last gasp in 2013 with what appeared to be a sort of rarities collection. 40oz made a huge splash in 2010 with UAC Ultra but took several sabbaticals from the community related to the development of Doom the Way id Did and the hotly anticipated UAC Ultra 2. You can only resist the siren song of Doom for so long, though, and both authors are back in 2016. Though they've had their own solo stuff, they brought their heads together for Absolute Dishonor, an eight-map episode for vanilla Doom II.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Mutiny (MUTINY.WAD)


40oz had a dream, a dream of making a megaWAD with a dystopian Cyberpunk theme that leveraged the gimmick of collaboration. It was a great idea, and Vail obviously had his expectations dialed back early since he was looking to compile sixteen levels. However, while bromancing levels worked pretty well for his and Super Jamie's UAC Ultra, I feel that the vast majority of Doom authors are more inclined to tag-team megaWADs a la Speed of Doom than trust their artistry to a complete stranger. I can only assume that this issue was compounded by people perhaps taking up slots and then having others too skittish to follow. The end result is that Mutiny took longer than 40oz really expected, releasing more than a year later in 2016. It's still pretty fuckin' cool, though.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

END POINT (ENDPOINT.WAD)


Another year, another Eternal mapset. Some times, Russia's favorite son loves to push Doom's boundaries, like the visionary Voodoo Guns. At other times, he's content to pay tribute to the golden age of the community, as was the case with last year's ICAR2015, a loveletter to Icarus: Alien Vanguard. END POINT, released in 2016, seems to pull inspiration from the classics though not from any particular PWAD. As enigmatic as Eternal is, he's pretty good about pointing out his authorial allusions. It's got its own complementary texture set and features seven levels of hard-hitting Doom II action.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Alpha Accident (AA_E1.WAD)


Most of what I know about Wraith came from a megaWAD I haven't played yet but know due to its subject matter: Wonderful Doom, a loving tribute to the Ultimate Doom, which many have enjoyed with others slagging it for its... thorough level of devotion. Enter Alpha Accident, another megaWAD for the original Doom that's been in development for... quite some time. I remember playing the crazy demo level, but I've also had the opportunity to play each level as it's been completed, and as of 2016 the first episode is complete. It's basically source port agnostic, especially thanks to some extra work from some helpful forums goers, but is limit-removing due to the dreaded visplane overlord (plus some levels break game saves).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Asylum (ASYV10.WAD)

ASYLUM
by "Angry Saint"


Angry Saint's Doom debut was as a participant in Tormentor's Doomja Vu contest. Black Magnetic was an interesting, complex techbase as far as its twisted and winding layout intersected with Saint's use of 3D floors. Asylum, released in 2016, dials the choice of engine all the way back to vanilla (or, as the text file advertises, Chocolate Doom), but the author continues to evade the familiar ideas of Doom, this time experimenting with textures originally created by an individual using the handle DethteX and then converted to a set by ZDoom whizzard Rick Clark, THE ULTIMATE DOOMER. The level shares the same name as the texture pack. Like so many single level releases, it's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ancient Aliens (AALIENS.WAD)


About a year ago, I think, I was treated to some really cool screenshots from a secret skillsaw project, coming strong even after he had released Valiant in 2015. The color scheme was incredibly unique, looking somewhere between a coastal sunset and a Lisa Frank trapper keeper and using a lot of... alien imagery. It wasn't originally to be a full megaWAD, but I guess a bunch of people couldn't wait to play around with the texture set. Thanks to skillsaw and friends, we now have Ancient Aliens. Released in 2016, it's a Boom-compatible megaWAD with some ZDoom / Eternity extras that only serve to enhance the experience.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Vispire (VISPIRE.WAD)


After an enormous outpouring of material in 2011, valkiriforce's enthusiasm seemed to taper off, apparently ending in 2013 with the release of PULSE, sort of a rarities collection of rejects and stuff he had laying around from various efforts. They always come back, though, and while the majority of 2016's Vispire may be rooted in a collection of speedmapping sessions in 2013, the rest comes from a few sporadic bursts in 2015 and 2016. Altogether, it's a new 17-level megaWAD for Doom II, though I've gotta warn you if you're expecting something like Doom Core or Reverie. Vispire has a style all its own.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Somewhere in Time (INTIME.WAD)


At the risk of repeating myself... Plenty of Doom authors have opened up the editor and, imagination brimming, set out to make a full megaWAD. Sometimes, things work out! Often, though, they don't. In Katamori's case, his vanilla megaWAD - Somewhere in Time - suffered a major setback when he lost some of the work around the MAP15 hump and beyond, I believe due to a computer malfunction / hard drive failure / something of the like. After attempting to muster enough gumption to push through, Schmidt gave up, instead capping off the work he had finished and released this fifteen (well, sixteen) Doom II map set in 2016.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Nex Credo (NEXCREDO.WAD)


Lots of Doom authors set out to make a megaWAD. Many never make it to replacing all 32 levels, and oftentimes the half-finished works languish in obscurity, something to be worked on a rainy day. Occasionally, the author sees fit to put the finishing touches on it and shove it out the door, grateful to be clean of it. The players may despair of what may have been, as was the case with Vanguard, but at least they have something that is. Released in 2016, Jay Townsend's Nex Credo follows in that grand tradition. It's an 11-level episode for Doom II and it appears that the intention was to pattern a megaWAD after Doom II's themes, but sketched with Jay's hand.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sins of the Flesh (A_SOTF.PK3)

SINS OF THE FLESH
by "zrrion the insect"


When I committed myself to reviewing zrrion's back catalog in preparation to the curiously strong Mouldy Old Void, I did not know that he had another release languishing somewhere in a half-assed (but good-intentioned) community project. Thankfully, he was kind enough to pull this level back out for a solo publication and a gentle reminder to me that it was now out in the wild. Sins of the Flesh is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II to be played in GZDoom. Made sometime in 2014 but released to the archives in 2016, it's also sort of an aesthetic sequel to his previous The Blood of Virgins.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Japanese Community Project (JPCP_V1*.WAD)


The Doom community has a distinctly international flair. It isn't immediately obvious since many of them are pretty good English typists, but a considerable number have their own personal forums, like the massive Russian Doom community and the smaller but no less treasured French Doom community. Enter the Japanese Doom community, a group of individuals that I assume must be tightly knit. I'm no games historian, but I understand that PC gaming has been a niche activity in Japan, and while Doom has been ported to what seems like anything and everything, the tools used for content creation - specifically, levels - are an entirely different matter. The JDC is no less passionate, though, and from them comes one of 2016's biggest surprises: the Japanese Community Project, a full-fledged megaWAD for limit-removing ports.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Flay the Obscene - Part Two (FLAYOBS2.WAD)

FLAY THE OBSCENE
PART TWO
by Christian Hansen


While Hansen eventually collected the pre-2014 portions of Flay the Obscene into one concrete episode, its maps were originally released separately, spanning from 1999 to 2001 and interspersed with his work on 2002: A Doom Odyssey and his own CH Retro Episode. Where the first outing involved a little introductory level to set the scene coupled with the main event in devil-land, Part Two is a MAP01 replacement, originally released in 2000 but only uploaded to the archives in 2013. It had been kicking around as part of Chris's Flay the Obscene compilation, but for whatever reason he elected to make it available on its own, though he moved it from the MAP14 slot, which means you'll hit the ground D_RUNNIN.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Flay the Obscene (FLAYOB01.WAD)

FLAY THE OBSCENE
by Christian Hansen


Chris Hansen's final release in 1999 marked a turning point in his authorial career that involved contributions to 2002: A Doom Odyssey and his own virtual Cacoward with CH Retro Episode. While his Flay the Obscene series was not immortalized in Doomworld's Top 100 WADs of All Time, it enjoys a reputation by sheer word of mouth that brings it to the forefront whenever someone asks for something just off the beaten path. While eventually collected into a compilation (which does not include Hansen's 2014 follow-up), the series began with - what else but - Flay the Obscene, a two-level minisode for Doom II. The version available on the archives is version 0.1, which added some extra areas and I imagine tinkered with the thing placement. It's also the edition that made it into Hansen's compilation. If you're interested in viewing the original iteration of the mapset, you can find it on the Doomed Speed Demos Archive as FLAYOBSC.WAD.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Unaided Eye (ENNUI.WAD)

THE UNAIDED EYE
by Christian Hansen


Chris Hansen thought he was done with Doom as early as 1999, but its siren sectors lured him back. After the very short quasi-deathmatch level, That Urban Sence, he published The Unaided Eye, a MAP10 replacement for TNT: Evilution. He'd previously worked with Evilution for his remake of his tribute to Star Trek: Voyager, Antithesis. ENNUI is far more grounded in the story and architecture of Doom, however, and its presentation makes it feel like the longest of Hansen's levels up to this point, on top of the fact that it's furnished with what is the most detailed authorial backstory... up to this point.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Nihility: Infinite Teeth (NIHILITY.WAD)


Nihility is a work in progress, by which I mean that author Years has finished the first episode in 2016 - occupying Doom's second episode - and is looking to turn it into a full-fledged megaWAD as time wears on. And, uh, I don't mind telling you that I am looking forward to what nightmares may come. The recipe is sort of Shores of Hell, mixing in some of the elements from Doom's alphas and betas and then working in a bit of S.T.R.A.I.N.'s philosophy of adding in new blood to jazz up the otherwise familiar vanilla experience. Oh, yes - Nihility is vanilla compatible, crowbarring its gameplay changes both shocking and subtle in with DeHackEd.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Strange Aeons (STRANGEAONESV53.PK3)


(This review is an expansion and edit of my review for v3.x of Strange Aeons. The original is still available here.)

Strange Aeons was originally released in 2015 as a three-episode megaWAD for the original Doom. Since then, Impie has added two additional episodes, bumping it up to a full 45 levels and including a patch so that it can be run in either Doom OR Doom II. As it requires ZDoom, it's something much more than a plain ol' Doom mapset; its almost exclusive use of textures from Chasm: The Rift, coupled with a few new weapons and a basically brand new bestiary, puts it right alongside the other "total conversions" of yore... and recent memory. It also has a plot, set up in the PDF and expanded in the end text of each episode, so you're free to get as invested as your imagination will allow.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Absolutely Killed (KILLEDC2.WAD)


Previously, I had not had the pleasure of experiencing Ryathaen's work. I know that he made a handful of maps for 1 Monster, but that's one of the many megaWADs I have yet to play. In 2016, he published Absolutely Killed, an episode one replacement for the original Doom to be played in limit-removing ports. The title sounds something like a monster-heavy experience, evoking shades of those slow-rolling OG Doom slaughters. Absolutely Killed is decidedly oldschool, however, in its design sensibilities. I don't mean that its design is 1994 randomness; quite the contrary. Ryathaen's layouts are, for the most part, tight and quite efficient. The difference is in the way it plies gimmicks instead of and in addition to ordinary combat.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

rf 1024 (RF_1024.WAD)


Exquisite Corpse begat Congestion 1024, which begot the now maligned 1024 fad of Doom mapping. Jason Allison, aka rf`, was on the train back in 2006, adding an additional constraint. Now, ten years later, he's created a whole megaWAD for ZDoom and Eternity (make sure you have infinitely tall monsters off) - rf 1024. If you didn't already know, the premise of a 1024 map confines the area available for player movement to a size of 1024 by 1024 map units. The map itself could be as big as you wanted, and indeed many 1024 levels involved copious amounts of teleport coffins to turn a tiny level into a full-fledged slobberknocker, or various ledges and elements outside the playing area for detailing, world-building, and monster perches.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Urotsuki 2: Cargo Cult (UR2CARGO.WAD)

UROTSUKI 2
CARGO CULT


Lainos's 2015 arc was the enigmatic Urotsuki trilogy, a series of post-apocalyptic levels that owed some amount of aesthetic inspiration to the infamous Urotsukidoji anime. The main drive was to experiment with a new style, a sort of horrific technological creep dominated by mysterious pyramids. Urotsuki 2: Cargo Cult begins his new phase in 2016, exploring the same themes but adding just enough additional information to cast deep shadows into his fascinating setting. Like the rest of the Urotsuki series, it's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II meant to be played with limit-removing ports - specifically, PrBoom-plus's -complevel 2.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Extinguished (EXTNGSHD.WAD)

EXTINGUISHED
by "Stormwalker" aka "Vordakk"


Doomworld Forums expatriate Stormwalker has been cranking out some pretty solid mapsets over the past few years. Extinguished, a single MAP01 replacement released in 2016, has a few things in common with his previous Doom II release, Flashback to Hell. All of the Earth-based levels in FTH666 owed no small amount of inspiration to the levels they replaced. EXTNGSHD is similarly a riff on Doom II's MAP21, "Nirvana", down to the thesaurusized map name. Apparently, it started out as something of a remake, but the final product got further and further away from the original. You'll probably recognize the homages, most obvious at the beginning. Afterward, things deviate further and further.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

That Urban Sence... (URBAN.WAD)

THAT URBAN SENCE...
by Christian Hansen


Chris Hansen released a bunch of shorter levels for Doom II through 1998 and 2000, but That Urban Sence - a MAP15 replacement for Doom II published a mere month after Hansen's retirement from level design in 1999 - may be the shortest. It only figures, since it's an attempted deathmatch level that's also populated with monsters to court the single player crowd. While Chris notes that URBAN has the accoutrements of a deathmatch WAD, you'll see manic acknowledgement that he never actually tested it as such. If you've had some experience, then by all means, write in! Otherwise, it's getting the same treatment that Hansen gave it.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Elf Gets Pissed (ELFGP.WAD)


Everyone loves Doom. Sadly, Heretic user levels are few and far between. Is it because of the bestiary? The colorful but muted impact of its weapons? Or does juggling an inventory get in the way of fantasy run and gun? Whatever the reason, Heretic faithfuls such as myself are so blessed that Doomworld Forum superstar RottKing has been nursing his Heretic fetish over the past few years. The end product, released in 2015, is Elf Gets Pissed - a Heretic episode one replacement to be played in ZDoom. RottKing's last big dance was his 2011 duet with Ralphis, Double Impact. But, uh, I can't really compare DBIMPACT with ELFGP as Heretic's gameplay carries certain inalienable elements that prevent it, for better or for worse, from being a mere fantasy reskin of Doom.

Monday, May 23, 2016

No Sleep For the Dead (NOS4DEAD.WAD)


Jan Van der Veken made a big splash in 1997 with Dawn of the Dead, an episode replacement for the original Doom, and followed through with contributions to The Darkening, The Darkening E2, The Classic Episode, and finished with the latter's sequel, Singularity Complex I. That was, of course, before No Sleep For the Dead. Released in 2016, NOS4DEAD is Veken's first mapset in more than ten years... and it's wicked cool! Jan replaces the entirety of Knee Deep in the Dead, along with a bonus map in the E2M1 slot, for another trip to the likeness of Phobos that's sure to delight Doom players from all walks of life.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Bloodstain (BSTAIN.WAD)


There is a small but potent Doom Czech community, and with Pavel Hodek of Galaxia fame for a godfather on the cutting edge of 1994, they have something of a reputation... even if a lot of that reputation was established by the two guys from Androm- I mean, the Czech Republic, Adolf Voltja and Jakub Razák, the creators of Kama Sutra (and hopefully Kama Sutra 2) and the resurrectors of Plutonia 2. It's a legacy that their compatriots felt compelled to measure up to, producing Zones of Fear in 2012. Pavel Tvrzník worked with Adolf and Jakub for Plutonia 2 and had his own entry in Zones of Fear. Now, with 2016's Bloodstain, he's cementing his own prestige with a one-man megaWAD for Doom II, to be played in Boom-compatible ports.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Fait Accompli (GOTHIC.WAD)

FAIT ACCOMPLI
by Christian Hansen


This level made me smile before I even played it; reading through the .TXT, I believe that this was intended to be Christian Hansen's final level, back in mid-1999. The Danish dude has of course gone on to have a long and storied authorship, releasing many beloved works, the most recent one at the time of this writing being Monument. No, I haven't played it yet, but I'm working on getting there! Fait Accompli is a MAP19 replacement to be played with The Plutonia Experiment. It's not related to the two Plutonia squeakuels he released before; it's actually something of a remake of the first level he ever released, The Revenge of Avind, but with eight levels worth of hindsight backing his imagination up.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

InstaDoom (INSTADM.ZIP)

INSTADOOM
by Andrew "Linguica" Stine


If you bore witness to any aspect of the InstaDoom craze back in 2015, it was probably its included add-on, Selfie Doom. Given the mod's title, it's clear that the selfie stick wasn't the original focus, but for awhile it was One Hot Topic. I was right there, too, taking a number of Doomguy selfies for the Doom WADs Tumblr until some people became especially tired of them. Like Vuvuzela Doom, the star burned bright, searing its place in the big book of Doom history as one of the more humorous footnotes, to be resurrected for a laugh when the need presents itself.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Star Trek: Voyager: Antithesis (VOYAGE1.WAD)

STAR TREK: VOYAGER
ANTITHESIS

by Christian Hansen


Chris Hansen is part of a talented stable of authors who got their start in 1998 and kicked around through the early '00s; he continues to walk among us, releasing maps pretty much every year since his debut. This one is, uh, a lot of things. After cranking out a couple of maps using the Plutonia IWAD, Chris decided to employ Evilution and spruce up one of his earlier releases, A Time to Face Your Fears. The result is Antithesis, a MAP13 replacement for TNT: Evilution. The title is apt on a variety of levels; TNT versus Plutonia, long title versus short, old map versus new, and fanfic versus no fic.

Monday, May 2, 2016

UAC Nukage Processing Area (WASTE1.WAD)

UAC NUKAGE
PROCESSING AREA

by Christian Hansen


After cutting his teeth on a bunch of Doom II maps in 1998, Chris Hansen turned his eye toward the official Doom II expansion, Final Doom. The aptly named UAC Nukage Processing Area is a MAP18 replacement for The Plutonia Experiment released in early 1999. It's kind of part of a series along with his previous release, The Aqueous Rise and Fall, but like his Doom 3: Ad Infernos, there isn't a whole lot tying these maps together apart from the block of narrative text. I will say that WASTE1 has some stronger parallels with Plutonia as far as the combat style goes, even if a lot of it is easily bypassed. More on that later.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Phobos Mission Control (E1M4B.WAD)

PHOBOS MISSION CONTROL
by John Romero


The man with the blood on his hands is back again. Romero released his first Doom map in, like, nineteen years with Tech Gone Bad. Just as that one was an E1M8 replacement, Phobos Mission Control - John's newest publication - slots into E1M4. And, like E1M8B, it requires some kind of limit-removing port to run. As Romero points out, E1M4 was built on top of a framework supplied by Doom co-conspirator Tom Hall; E1M4B completes the clean sweep, giving his fans something they'd (probably) always wanted, an entire episode of Phobos-themed Doom maps. I can only hope that his Kickstarter campaign for BLACKROOM continues to yield such dusky jewels.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Aqueous Rise and Fall (AQUEOUS.WAD)

THE AQUEOUS RISE AND FALL
by Christian Hansen


Christian Hansen made a lot of single level maps during 1998 and 1999, originally publishing them on the now defunct "Doom Zone", but uploading them to /idgames in 2000. While all of these were made for the collective experience we've come to know as Doom II, some made use of the Final Doom IWADs. The Aqueous Rise and Fall is part of this category, being a MAP13 replacement for The Plutonia Experiment released in 1999. While it uses the textures, it's actually pretty far from the Casali style of gameplay, not that that's any surprise if you've played any of Hansen's previous releases. And, like a Doomer after my own heart, he's included an in-depth narrative.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Quail (QUAIL.WAD)

QUAIL
by Christian Hansen


Chris Hansen was one of the original members of the 1998 crew; don't let that 2000 time stamp fool you. Falling into the same crowd as Paul Corfiatis and Kristian Aro, he's had his work featured plenty of times in the several incarnations of the Cacowards. Quail is his fifth released level, made toward the end of 1998. It's also the fourth and last level in his Doom 3: Ad Infernos series, slotted in at MAP25. For those following at home, that's MAP01 to MAP22 to MAP03 to MAP25. Kinky! Quail differs from the previous three levels in a lot of pretty important ways; before that, though, here's the pitch.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Star Trek: Voyager: A Time to Face Your Fears (VOYAGER.WAD)

STAR TREK: VOYAGER
A TIME TO FACE YOUR FEARS
by Chris Hansen


I wouldn't have known it looking at the maps he makes nowadays, but the .TXTs in Chris Hansen's early levels reveals an unabashed love of several things, as well as Sandra Bullock. He is (was?) a hardcore science fiction enthusiast, and liked Star Trek: Voyager enough to make a Doom level inspired by it. A Time to Face Your Fears happened toward the end of 1998, a MAP08 replacement for Doom II. Unlike his Doom 3: Ad Infernos maps, which were made around the same time (this one between The Unknown Chasm and Quail), VOYAGER has a strong tech / space ship feel, which is completely understandable.