Monday, June 27, 2011

The Lost Episodes of Doom (JPTR_V40.WAD)

Chris Klie, one of Doom's pioneer authors, was steadily cranking out levels for the original Doom in 1994. At some point, he caught the notice of Jonathan Mendoza, who wanted to write a story and strategy guide around it. Klie, excited to have his work published in a commercial format, agreed and suggested that they include Bob Carter in the project, another early player in Doom's burgeoning mod scene whose work Klie fancied. Both authors contributed much of the publicly released WADs they'd put out at the time. Together, they became The Lost Episodes of Doom, regarded as the first "commercial" megaWAD... even though the /idgames archive makes this 1995 collection of 24 levels almost entirely shovelware.

Mendoza's story runs concurrently with the events of Doom. You're a scientist returning from deep space when you receive two different distress signals, one from the scientific outpost on Phobos, the other from a smaller installation stationed on Jupiter's moon, Callisto. You draw an immediate connection - Phobos and Deimos were built primarily for their proximity near space time anomalies whose research was hoped to lead to breakthroughs in instantaneous transportation. You voiced your personal opposition to experimenting with human test subjects, but the corporation is an animal hungering for profit by any means necessary. Many of the other conscientious objectors were relocated to the distant bases of Callisto and Jupiter. Something must have happened during your trip. Mars has a garrison of marines that can be quickly en route, whereas the Jupiter facilities have no such luxury, so you decide to flock hard to Callisto.

Virtually all of Klie's contributions can be traced back to CHRISK.WAD (originally released in '94 as CHRIS_E1.WAD, minus the E2 maps) with one appearing in a Doom II version in BF_THUD!.WAD. I assume that the Doom release is its original incarnation. Bob Carter's stuff came from BOBKDV_2.WAD as well as B21.WAD. Here's a breakdown:

E1M6CHRISK.WAD / E1M6    E2M6BOBKDV_2.WAD / E1M9    E3M6B21.WAD / E2M1
E1M7CHRISK.WAD / E1M7    E2M7BOBKDV_2.WAD / E1M1    E3M7Bob Carter Original?
E1M8CHRISK.WAD / E1M8    E2M8BOBKDV_2.WAD / E1M4    E3M8CHRISK.WAD / E1M1 (base)

Only E3M7 cannot be found in the archive in any form I'm familiar with. Also, according to Klie, Bob Carter's contributions underwent some edits by him in order to get them up to snuff. I believe most of them underwent some texturing touchups, if anything.

The Lost Episodes is a fusion of two different sensibilities, owing to its two different authors. Both represent the 1994 era of PWADs in a big, big way, but they're not the worst Doom maps you'll ever play, just not as good as, say, The Innocent Crew's stuff (Slaughter Until Death / The Evil Unleashed). Klie's levels run up until the middle of the second episode, after which Carter's stuff takes over, so while you get a fairly jarring shift between their two styles, you're locked in once you've made the switch. Given the differences, an alternating format may have worked better for pacing, but would have resulted in a lack of cohesion, and given that Mendoza's main draw to the project was the story that Klie's presentation suggested, such an arrangement was never to be.

Klie's levels seem slightly more oriented toward that Phobos feel, but don't really resemble anything the author would go on to do in BF_THUD! or The Master Levels. At least, from a layout standpoint. They're all pretty short and peppered with claustrophobic action as well as map trickery gimmicks like collapsing floors, teleportation puzzles, and other bits of certain death, like one particular Cyberdemon death pit. They're also a bit stringy, having a lot of corridor-shaped rooms and corridors connecting the more interesting bits. Klie's Doom II levels, on the other hand, tend to feel like he started with a small square and then packed as much map as he could inside of it. 

Bob Carter's design principles feel rooted in the opposite. There are a lot of large, open areas and pretty interesting level geometry. On the other hand, while the levels are double-wide, Carter doesn't increase the monster count in proportion, leaving many of these levels feeling almost abandoned in comparison. You can look at this in one of two ways, as I've come to realize. On the one hand, you could describe Carter's levels are boring, spacious slogs lacking any excitement. On the other, you're free to enjoy the haunting atmosphere of Hell's outpost on Jupiter without too much bother. On a recent retread of these sinister halls, I was struck by the simple strangeness of Carter's levels. Perhaps you will be, too. Regardless, I've kept my original level commentary and its juvenile cries for "more detailing!".

If you have a burning passion for '94 levels and don't mind some plain-looking maps, The Lost Episodes is a good WAD. It's a very easy and very quick play excepting some obtuse puzzles. Otherwise, unless you're digging into WADs for sheer historical curiosity, steer clear. You'll probably get bored.

by Christen David Klie and Robert Kiana Carter


UAC SpaceportE1M1
by Christen David Klie
Small techbase level with a distinct N/S/E/W winged layout. More difficult on UV than the usual M1. The first fight is a shootout over a pit that won't raise until you dispatch all the enemies. The only other wing of note is southern wing, which houses the blue key; it's an odd 45 degree angle computer maze. None of the secrets in these levels are fairly obvious except for the one in the first room. They're not even marked on the map. Feels like old times – pushwall hunts ahoy!

E1M2Fusion Power Plant
by Christen David Klie
More techbase, a bit larger this time, with two possible paths after picking up the red key. If you don't do the northern before the southern, you'll end up backtracking, but that's life. It's a bit easier than E1M1 and opens with a needlessly complicating switch puzzle. Granted, the way Klie has it set up, you can just ride the blue switch up and jump either north or south, but it's the principle of the thing. I like the rocket launcher puzzle and the southern section which leaves you stranded on a pillar, forced to plunge into the surrounding monsters. There's a couple of cute semi-secrets involving teleport puzzles here but the architecture is fairly bland.

Jovian Deuterium PlantE1M3
by Christen David Klie
Techbase with some other stuff like green marble. It has a similar N/S/E/W layout, a trend of Klie, as I'm noticing. He's spiced up the architecture a bit here with things like the entrance/exit rooms and plays it clever with switches on the computer consoles in the northeastern section of the map. Otherwise pretty sedate with two big but fairly obvious secrets in the opening area. Biggest issue – backtracking to the starting room in order to reveal the blue key, albeit facilitated by a teleporter on the way there.

E1M4Jupiter Control Center
by Christen David Klie
Techbase with some hellish features, like the western room, which is a pretty nice firefight. Klie unfortunately has a death trap in the northwestern room. If you see a giant pit, 300 cells and an invulnerability artifact, your first instinct may be to jump in. No dice. Turn around and hit the switch behind you to raise a floor, because when you drop into that pit, there's no getting out, and there's six Cyberdemons in there on top of damage floor. Otherwise, there's not much to it.

Weapons Research CenterE1M5
by Christen David Klie
A little bit of techbase and a lot of blood, featuring some teleporter shenanigans. Besides the teleporter checkerboard in the map's center there's a one-shot opportunity to unlock a ridiculous amount of soul spheres, an unusual BFG teleporter puzzle, and three different portals in the toxic room that comprises about half the level (only one of them grants you access to the blue key). It's a very short level, and a lot of it is entirely optional, like the computer basement locked behind a "secret" key.

E1M6Halls of Injustice
by Christen David Klie
Basic techbase. I like the teleport ambush at the beginning and the descending trap in the first big room. Most of the fun stuff is in the northwest section, which houses oddities like a Willie Wonka staircase and a decent, uncomplicated switch puzzle. The eastern side of the level is kind of boring, with a large, quartered outdoor yard. All in all, there are a few interesting structures and puzzles but this is mostly just large sparsely decorated rooms filled with easily killed enemies.

Core of EvilE1M7
by Christen David Klie
I guess this is a battle inside Jove's computer core? There's a Spider-Mastermind in the center room and a few soft bodies. It's a very risky pistol start that requires you to grab some health, let the big boss tether to the fleshies, and then quickly hunt for the room containing the BFG, after which you've won. Otherwise this could get very frustrating, and leave you very dead. The level is otherwise symmetrical, flat, lightly detailed, and features a drawn-out switch "puzzle".

E1M8Callisto Consecration
by Christen David Klie
It looks promising at first, a giant outdoor area with a floating pentagram, several boxes of rockets and soul-spheres at the points of the star. Then you step through the teleporter and find that this level is entirely cinematic. You warp into a dark room with several Spider-Masterminds, several Cyberdemons, and some barons for good measure. Yeah, when you die you win, but still, it feels like a waste of a map slot.


E2M1Io Anomaly
by Christen David Klie
Pretty good compared to most of E1, imo. It's basically a brown techbase with a couple of goofy puzzles like the 3x3 pit room or the teleporter room in the southeastern corner. It's a little tougher than Klie's earlier stuff. My only beef is with the annoying walkover lifts in the first room. I hate segmented walkover lifts.

Io Munitions WorksE2M2
by Christen David Klie
Techbase level of concrete and computer guts with some crates mixed in here and there. No real standout fights, just some neat puzzles like the red key teleporter puzzle or the room with the yellow and red key doors, my most memorable encounter, though the imps are frankly wasted with the layout. Like a pro, Klie dumps you off at the level exit, at the start of the level, after flipping the switch to reveal it.

E2M3Io Toxic Disposal Plant
by Christen David Klie
As indicated by the title, it's brown techbase featuring ample nukage floors and barrels. It's got a bit of challenge to it, mainly in handling close quarters combat where barrels are involved. Several blind jumps become much more dangerous than one might initially suppose. The opening room looks really nice. Also note the appearance of a fairly telegraphed crusher trap.

Weapons Testing FacilityE2M4
by Christen David Klie
Short, strange techbase level with some Hell mixed in. There are two major puzzles in this level, a lift-based hidden alcove section and a warp puzzle to various alcoves that Klie's used elsewhere, so it's not nearly as muddling. The most memorable part of this map is the southern section, which houses a short obstacle course leading to some fairly realistic crew quarters laid out with beds, water closets, and closets full of goodies. I'm not sure what the huge stack of yellow keys was about. The end runs you through collecting every weapon besides the BFG so you can properly slaughter the rest of the mapset (unless you're running from pistol start). What this really needed was, say, a shooting range or some location where the weapons might actually be tested, it might tie the map together a bit better.

E2M5Io Training Camp
by Christen David Klie
Klie's final level of the mapset, released as part of the THUD series (and in the BF_THUD! collection). As to the level – it's mostly techbase with some Hell tunnels, the techbase split into blue techbase for the hub and brown for the blue key compound. I think it's the best of Klie's maps featured in the WAD. It's pretty short, but has some difficult parts, like the initial portal into the Hell cave. There's a really inspired section where you warp from raised column to raised column in a darkened room, telefragging sergeants. I'm not sure what he was aiming for, but it's something I haven't seen before.

Io Military GarrisonE2M6
by Robert Kiana Carter
Bob Carter opens up with a very spacious map. It's got a large central compound in the middle of a yard which offshoots into a more varied eastern area. It's too big, really, and there's way too much health, ammo and powerups for the number of monsters in the level (122, and yet it's the most monsters found in a map so far). The eastern section of the map is decent, though, with a monster trap that caught me off-guard as well as a snaking walkway over some nukage. There's also a maze section, I guess, that's very short. It's really underdetailed, though, and stands in stark contrast to Klie's offerings.

E2M7The Draining Pit
by Robert Kiana Carter
It's a semi interesting theme, dark gray bricks and a nukage river running through it with a techbase section dominating the central southern portion. All the problems with size and monster content are here but even worse. There's a giant featureless lake with maybe eight monsters in it in the northwest. I mean, I like the theme, and if Bob could run his level through a shrink-o-matic and maybe throw in some more monsters, that would be great. But this is kind of bland. The exit is an interesting concept, though. It's located in the nukage river, and unless I'm mistaken, the moment you can access the river you can leave.

Late for SupperE2M8
by Robert Kiana Carter
It's an odd techbase level with two main parts. There's a mock dining hall complete with dinner table and a semi-interesting large maze that makes up the majority of the level. The maze isn't very mazeish, more some criss-crossing roads, but there are little goodies hidden in some of the alcoves that make the end of episode Cyberdemon easier, but how much easier can it get when there are literally three invulnerabilities at your disposal? Only wish – way more toughs. The dining hall could have used more resistance and some cacodemons choking up the maze hallways would have done a lot to liven the level up.


Jovian StonehengeE3M1
by Robert Kiana Carter
Carter has a very distinct level here, an octagonal area dominated by four large concrete structures and featuring several moments where monsters either teleport into the map or are simply introduced. Of course, as with most of Carter's stuff, it's way too spacious for the amount of monsters he puts into it, and there's a plethora of powerups. There's a great idea here, though, and a couple of decent puzzles, though you don't have to solve them all to fully clear the level.

E3M2Pillar of Peril
by Robert Kiana Carter
A successful techbase level. The opening has a nice room with a satanic star, though it kind of peters off into some large, drab hallways. The meat is in the northern section, some computer stacks with some cannon fodder and some actual toughs. Granted, you're rocking a full plasma rifle by that point, but it's relatively fun. The southeastern concrete section by the exit is a nice change as well, though Carter placed a monster-blocking line removing most of the imps (and a demon) from play.

Subterranean StoneworkE3M3
by Robert Kiana Carter
Starts off with a techbase crate maze, moves on to a very large underground cavern with two small buildings inside of it, and finishes off with some decent marble architecture by a toxic aquifer (my favorite area). The beginning and end are alright, just the giant underground cavern is, well, too vast and empty. No real fun fights, but there are a few barons mixed in there for you to dump some ammo into, but really he could have thrown in a Cyberdemon or two in the outer area without changing much.

E3M4Pools of Despair
by Robert Kiana Carter
Another spacious Carter level. It starts out with some tall, dark gray brick hallways, moves on to a crate maze, and spends the rest of the time in the meat of the level, the two Pools of Despair, which are bookended by marble hallways that feature a number of off-rooms that must be explored to open access to the map's exit, located between the pools. To his credit the areas with monsters are actually thicker with them than previous levels. Unfortunately, places like the aforementioned Pools of Despair are ominously devoid of Hellspawn. The only threatening thing here is a caged Cyberdemon, and you've got two invulnerability artifacts (technically three) to work through him, so the real meat is the switch hunt. Just don't miss the switch that lowers the wall that blocks the exit door.

The Cat-Skinner BoxE3M5
by Robert Kiana Carter
Everything bad I have to say about this map I've already said about other Carter maps. So, I'll mention the stuff I think is good. The easternmost room comes packed with a ton of monsters, including several waves of baddies for you to take out as the room becomes more exposed. They could be a bit stronger, though. There's also a sequence where you enter a teleporter and warp through copies of the same room four times before you can actually leave. It's a nice mindfuck trap but it would be better if Carter stuffed each room with a different encounter. Finally, there's a trap involving a Spider-Mastermind and a Cyberdemon. The trap is, you may be inclined to simply waste your invulnerability attacking the Spiderdemon from an unassailable position. You're much better off using it to grab the BFG on the thing's platform, though. Jumping across the pit that surrounds its perch will introduce the Cyberdemon to some juicy infighting where a BFG shot should remove the victor.

E3M6Somber Io Promenade
by Robert Kiana Carter
Ditto for gripes on this level. And don't get excited when you see the monster count (nearly double the highest of Carter's levels). The good: The opening encounter is a climb down a series of cliff faces that would otherwise have some potential. Most Doom maps have you climbing up a winding trail rather than descend it, and exposing Doomguy to enemy fire as he tries to make his way down would be a neat twist. The most effective moments in this level use little or no lighting to finally throw off the advantage of wide open spaces, but there are only two instances of this, and one of them is easily mitigated by some light goggles close by; in fact, the only exit from the light goggles area is a direct warp to one of the darkened rooms. The warp room with the plasma rifle, though, actually enforced Doom's feeling of dread.

Jovian KilljoyE3M7
by Robert Kiana Carter
A dark-grey brick level with some semi-interesting architecture. It's still dominated by low-tier enemies and wide-open spaces but the lack of health and armor actually had me playing a bit carefully. There's a rather non-intuitive portion where grabbing a yellow key opens up the exit door which doesn't actually require the yellow key to function. It's kind of telegraphed on the map, but still. Favorite moment is the teleport trap that occurs around the center of the map.

E3M8Jovian Deja Vu Again
by Robert Kiana Carter and Christen David Klie
Seems different at first, then looks exactly like E1M1 (Massacre on Callisto), except then you hear a Spider-Mastermind in the pit. It plays out fairly cleverly. You have to use invul artifacts to dodge around the Spiderdemon and get to one of two weapons to use to take it down, the plasma rifle or BFG. It's not necessarily an epic battle but it's a breath of fresh air (neglecting the fact that it's a rehash of the very opening map). The layout is exactly the same save a couple of invulnerability powerups and loads of medikits, and a berserk to start.


Well, hey, since I've already done nearly every map from BOBKDV_2.WAD, I figured I might as well finish it out by showcasing the one map that didn't make it into The Lost Episodes. In all honesty, I can see why it didn't make it into the collection, though spatially it's quite unlike anything else I've seen Carter put out.

by Robert Kiana CarterE1M2
As opposed to all of Carter's other maps, this is a short, squat maze-like level with gray techbase walls. You've only got to hit one switch in order to make it to the exit, which features a baron showdown if you're so inclined (unless you smoked him earlier). The rest of the maze is fairly underdetailed but the cramped nature ups the ante encounter-wise. It's interesting to see what Carter did with significantly less real estate.



  1. I get this review when I click on CHRISK.wad (Final Insult, The).

    1. thats because, as demonstrated by the table in the overview, the entirety of CHRISK can be found within JPTR_V40

    2. and now they aren't on the table anymore because doing pwad tallies was fucking with my head

  2. I actually managed to track down a copy of the book. Aside from being useful for figuring out some of the more obscure secrets (such as how to complete certain levels) it also provides some insight by Klie and Carter themselves about their maps.

    1. it would be a fairly interesting read, i imagine

  3. These are good but sort of abandoned maps, in terms of enemies. I liked them but also got bored at some time. Too much ammo if you don't do every level from pistol start. A very nice bosses-infighting (the Spidermastermind won by far). Some unaccessible secrets (or maybe I didn't press their corresponding switches idk). Overall, it's a 6/10 for me.

    1. i was originaly cool to them but later on they have a certain haunting quality about them, much like Return to Phobos.