Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Samsara (SAMSARA-V0.3666-BETA.PK3)


Samsara allows you to play as a formidable complement of classic FPS heroes and either duke it out in deathmatch or slay monsters alone and in co-op. The intent was to provide something like Marvel vs. Capcom for Zandronum. Term eventually discontinued development when he moved on to a new project to drive all the Doom players crazy - Demonsteele - but Kinsie of Reelism fame eventually took up maintenance of the mod so that you can use the same package in both GZDoom and Zandronum just as easily as you can use all of the heroes in any of the idtech1-derived games.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Green Day (GREENDAY.WAD)


Memfis has a lot more going on than being a dude who makes tightly-balanced maps with relatively light action. To be fair, though, it seems like the sort of gameplay that he tends to target. Green Day is no different and thus follows in the tradition of Kashimir which he published earlier during the same year in 2011. This minisode for The Ultimate Doom was meant to be played in limit-removing ports and features two levels in the first couple of slots for Thy Flesh Consumed. They're linked by theme and have an intro map / main attraction dynamic going on but the author has elected to exclude any sort of a framing narrative.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Short and Hard (SHRTHARD.ZIP)

SHORT AND HARD
by Malcolm Sailor

Quick is GoodBaron GateCenter

3PACK_1 and DS-61-2 (later updated to DS-61-3) were among Malcolm's earliest releases in 1995. Both consisted of ZIP packs containing multiple, separate PWADs. In 1997 he released Short and Hard, the third and final of his collections prior to the largely archival MSSCRAPS. SHRTHARD has one thing in common with 3PACK_1 in that it contains Quick is Good, which was released nearly a year earlier in 1996, but the overall experience has been streamlined. There's only one .TXT for all three PWADs and none of them occupy the same map slot so they can be loaded together. They don't follow any sort of serial pattern, though. QUIKISGD occupies MAP01; Baron Gate has MAP27; and Center can be found in MAP31.

Center (CENTER.WAD)

CENTER
by Malcolm Sailor

SHORT AND HARD
Quick is GoodBaron GateCenter


SHRTHARD was the last of Sailor's "compilation" zips prior to dumping all of his unreleased material at the end of 2000 as well as his last non-CHORD series release. The 1997 package includes the considerably older Quick is Good as well as two new deviations, BARONGAT and CENTER. This one is a MAP31 replacement for Doom II and like the other two was grouped together based on Malcolm's perception of their relative difficulty as well as their length. It definitely qualifies as short when placed up against NOSUN and 3, both of which the author had under his belt before uploading this .ZIP.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Baron Gate (BARONGAT.WAD)

BARON GATE
by Malcolm Sailor

SHORT AND HARD
Quick is GoodBaron GateCenter


Whatever the final release order looks like on /idgames, it appears as though Sailor hadn't made NOSUN5 before compiling Short and Hard. The 1997 collection of three individual PWADs - much in the spirit of his earlier 3PACK_1 and DS-61-3 - gathered 1996's Quick is Good and threw in two new punchy, pint-sized Doom II adventures. CENTER will be covered in a different review; this is all about Baron Gate. Sailor was very happy with the way his MAP27 replacement played but felt self-conscious about its appearance based on the layout as drawn from the top down. I can agree with him that the automap is not the important thing when it comes to levels.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Caverns of Darkness (COD.WAD)


The Chaos Crew may not have started out as Christopher Lutz's baby but it ended up that way. Three authors of incredible power - Chris, Pedro Puicón (NokturnuS), and Emil Brundage (NaturalTvventy) - were gathered together with one Joel Murdoch. The last was a programmer during the source port boom and had his hand in a lot of engines that were created for the sole use of one Doom mod. You know, stuff like Mordeth, Millennium, and Eternity. He also worked on Caverns of Darkness which has a leg up on the previous three projects because it was actually released some sixteen years ago as of this writing. Published in 2002, it's a twelve-map episode for Doom II. We have been spared from having to use its custom source port because of Graf Zahl's painstaking work in translating its effects to ZDoom with an indispensable patch.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Not In My Courtyard (MAP18MEM.WAD)

NOT IN MY COURTYARD
by "Memfis"


The author's previous release, Sticky Blood, featured a yard as the vast majority of its playing area. Here, Memfis is a bit more literal. 2011's Not In My Courtyard wears its inspiration on its sleeve. It's inspired by Doom II's MAP18, occupies the same slot and thus leverages the burning city sky of the second episode, and uses a FreeDoom track that's a slowed-down derivative of "Waiting For Romero to Play". There are definite differences, though, which you'll find out as you make your way through. My memory of the original isn't perfect but I'm pretty comfortable in saying that this Russian remodel is much harder.

Monday, December 24, 2018

No Sun Series

THE NO SUN SERIES
by Malcolm Sailor

as featured in Super Serials

NOSUNNOSUN2
NOSUN3NOSUN4
NOSUN5

Malcolm is much better known for his CHORD series - specifically CHORD_NG, CHORDG, and CHORD3 - but he had another span of single-level releases that spanned from 1996 to 1997. The NOSUN levels are an interesting bridge between his early works, which felt increasingly aligned with the authors of Master Levels for Doom II, and his time spent working as part of Black Star Coven and John Bye. I assume that both Bye and Anderson served as an influence in the way Sailor approached lighting as detailing. While the location / adventure-oriented level design did not survive through to the final stage of his authorial career it's an interesting period to consider.