Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Europa 3: The Dark Side of Vrack (EAEURO03.WAD)

EUROPA 3
THE DARK SIDE OF VRACK
by Erik Alm


Now here's an interesting piece of Doom history. This is an Erik Alm take on the Vrack series, as evidenced by the subtitle. If you're unfamiliar with Vrack - Fredrik Johansson's main claim to fame as an author - then the levels established a sort of orbital platform space station theme seen more recently in the Japanese Community Project. Europa 3 is also the third and final entry in Alm's EAEURO run, which began in 2001 and ends here in early 2002. As with the others, The Dark Side of Vrack is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II that is meant for play in a Boom-compatible port. Unlike Europa 2, it doesn't require the use of an independent texture pack.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Anomaly: Part II (ANOMALY2.WAD)

THE ANOMALY
PART II
by Varun Abhirama Krishna


Varun is Karthik Abhiram Krishna's younger brother by about five years. The two made their /idgames debuts at around the same time in 2001, KAK with Ick (closely followed by Chaos Punch) and VAK with The Anomaly: Part II. They would eventually go on to tag-team a PWAD - 2004's Reanimated - but that is a story for another day. There's no way to infer exactly why but it's clear when comparing the two side-by-side that Varun was a more natural level designer than his older brother. I wager that you'll come to the same conclusion, whether or not Karthik's relative naivete is more interesting as an outsider perspective. ANOMALY2 is an E4M6 replacement for the Ultimate Doom and should play back in any source port.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Toilet Break (TOLBREAK.WAD)

TOILET BREAK
by "Memfis"


2013-2014 was Memfis's most productive period as an author, at least in terms of the sheer number of releases. The true depth and breadth is obscured by how he held most of his available works off the archives until mid-2014, but both years feature something like twice the number of publications seen from 2011-2012. Toilet Break was made available on the Doomworld forums in May of 2013 and is a MAP01 replacement for Boom-compatible ports. It isn't always obvious to me whether his levels are actually -complevel 9 or just limit-removing and tested in PrBoom+ but there are a few clear instances of transparency to be seen.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

lilith (lilith.pk3)



In 2019 I wrote a review for Mark Klem's CRINGE! episode. I namedropped lilith while talking about stuff like glitches and Metroid's bug-derived "hidden worlds". I had not seen much of this 2017 episode outside of screenshots and maybe a video or .GIF that I only half-remember. I knew that it was going to be weird and visually noisy. It would not be wrong, however, to say that I had very little idea of what lilith actually feels like to play. I believe that all PWADs are made to be experienced but there is an inescapable essence to this 2017 Cacoward winner that cannot be communicated over a consumable gif or pithy video. I would even go so far as to say that you should play it with as little foreknowledge as possible.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Evil's Playground (Diabolique part two) (EVPL.WAD)


Time for another curveball in Pablo Dictter's portfolio. This publication primarily exists for Evil's Playground, released - I believe - in 2001. The subtitle is Diabolique part two, a reference to a previously-created level called - you guessed it - Diabolique. I'm not sure when the latter was created but it was included in the release of EVPL as something of a bonus, isn't available otherwise, and both were purportedly part of the Diabolique project. Pablo had his hand in like three or four different Doom avenues alongside his River of Fire series, Good V/S Evil (where An Infernal Place came from), and a couple of others that released later. Even if he was compelled to carve up The Gates as a failure. This dead-end PWAD couplet replaces E3M1 and E3M2 of the original Doom.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Blind Alley S., "Spirit World - Headquarters" (BNDALYS.WAD)

BLIND ALLEY S.
SPIRIT WORLD - HEADQUARTERS
by Gene Bird


Spirit World - Headquarters marks a bit of a turning point in Bird's published level design. I would characterize all of Gene's maps released thus far as stringy and linear with occasional hubs and spokes. BLNDALYS is not overwhelmingly different in its execution but there is one big change in how he executes this trope, somewhat heralded by his previous release, Monster Mansion. The "S" designator denotes the level's position in the overall running of what could have been a late-occupying episode for Doom II. BNDALYR would have been MAP27 and this would have been MAP28. Things change, though, as the letter "Y" was ascribed to MAP15. Spirit World - HQ is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II and was released in early 2003.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Trousled (TROUSLED_RC3.WAD)

TROUSLED
by A.o.D.


I was strolling through the Doomworld Forums in TYOOL 2021 as is my wont and saw a WAD name that caught my eye - TROUSLED. Someone tried to be helpful to the author and linked them to the mod posting FAQ without any context so I foolishly decided to be a bit of a wise-ass. In the process of doing so I dug a little deeper than I probably should have and raised some questions that I decided to answer for myself. In the process I saw the INTERPIC at which point I realized that the mood of the PWAD was probably Undertale-related. I'm tangentially aware of UT but not familiar enough for this mod's title to have clued me in. Trousled is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II meant for play in GZDoom.

Titan 1024 (TITA1024.WAD)


It feels like a long time ago but, back in 2014, the author of the Titan series pointed me toward his then recent entry: Titan 1024, a sort of re-imagining of the then ten-year old levels within the 1024 limit. I said that I would do one better and play both the original as well as Titan 2 before checking out TITA1024. Well, after six and a half years, here we are! Sorry for the wait, Ixnatifual. Titan 1024 is a ten-level episode for Doom II to be played in GZDoom. It was originally released in 2012, some three and a half years after his last publication. The author notes that jumping is acceptable, but crouching is forbidden. The number of situations where the former comes up is... not big, but try not to forget that it's an option.