Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Xmas Doom (XD1.WAD)


Joe Wilcox has enjoyed something of a monopoly over the early days of FPS add-on content. As Simply Silly Software, he's been responsible for several utilities, including the D!Zone and H!Zone frontends, later going on to produce two commercial addons for Duke Nukem 3D, the better known of which being Nuclear Winter, a Christmas-themed production that ultimately pits Duke against a mind-controlled Santa Claus who is backed by aliens and the Feminist Elven Militia. Nuclear Winter will never win a popularity contest against Duke it Out in DC and Duke Caribbean, for reasons that vary from player to player, but it wasn't even the first Christmas-themed expansion that Wilcox had a hand in.


Enter Xmas Doom, a three-map holiday-themed minisode for Doom II, released in 1994, that features the mapping talents of Wilcox, "Firehawk", and "Vortex", as well as the artistry of "Mal". The plot: Hell is mad because humans done beat them time and time again. What better way to take revenge than to ruin Christmas? Hellspawn invade Santa's Workshop, and it's up to you to wrest control back and save the holiday season. The monsters have even dressed for the occasion, with imps and demons bearing jolly Christmas caps and the cacodemons appearing as belligerent baubles.


Xmas Doom is not without its difficulties. You'll need to run an installation utility in some sort of DOS shell in order to create XD2.WAD, which is run along XD1.WAD for the full Christmas experience. Perhaps some kind soul will repackage the darn thing and upload it to /idgames. The PWAD will run just fine without it, but you'll miss out on the snow covered ground, the altered monster sprites, enduring snowball fights, and the new pickup graphics. Oh, and a few stunted trees that have been jollified.


So, some neat work was put into the sprites and some of the texture edits. I really like that snow midtexture effect, used sparingly in MAP03. MAP01 and MAP02, though, are short and not much to play or look at. Firehawk's is loaded with monsters, with Vortex providing a more sedate experience with a few inventive gameplay experiences. All of the pizazz is in MAP03, even if it ends in a weird Icon of Sin style battle. Certainly, H2H-Xmas provides a more stable visual experience in spite of its myriad pieces of filler, and Wilcox had a bit of a hand in that package, too.

The zombies were snoring
Asleep in their beds
When Doomguy's three shotgun shells
Blew through their heads

Should you play Xmas Doom? Well, it won't take much of your time. It's an interesting historical curiosity, as a year later Jim Elson would absorb Xmas Doom into the H2H-Xmas project, using some of the textures and even grabbing Wilcox for the grand finale, and we all know what Wilcox would go on to produce in the future. Stay away if you loathe Doom's '94 era, however. The first two monotextured levels will be more than enough to turn most prospective players off.



XMAS DOOM
by Simply Silly Software Software

MAP01by "Firehawk"
Pretty tough but short. Texturing is very bland, it's mostly concrete that's been altered with a bit of snow which looks pretty stupid when the textures tile, but it's okay at ground level. Rooms are very rectangular though a few staircases and such keep it from being a total snore. A skybox in some places would have really helped things out. Main difficulty comes from the fact that, despite handing you an SSG and two boxes of shells at the opening, there are reams of heavy-hitting monsters (especially in the courtyard) and you've got to fight your way to one of two ammo caches in order to stand a chance, one of them actually located within the aforementioned courtyard. Getting the cache with the plasma rifle makes things much easier, but it's tough exploring.

by John aka "Vortex"MAP02
Short, not nearly as tough as MAP01. The texturing is a bit more inventive, still pretty banal for a level that's supposed to be Xmas Doom. The Santa's Workshop door graphic is off center, making the door unfortunately a bit ugly, but the fights are actually pretty good and balanced and Vortex even has an intelligently laid-out arch-vile fight, along with some distractions so it's not completely by the numbers.

MAP03by Joe "Sillysoft" Wilcox
It's the best laid out of the three maps, with a spacious warehouse and some anomalous wood area that sort of resembles a house with a hearth and some...tiny beds, I think? I really like the snow effect that you can see outside. The puzzle to access the yellow key is pretty obscure, but not as strange as the final battle. The boss arena (involving a spitter you can't defeat) has a ziggurat of bloody skulls surrounding an exit column. You must successfully lower each layer of the pyramid until they fold into each other, allowing you access to the column. You achieve this by first turning around and hitting a switch as soon as you land in the blood. Then you've got to run into the cubby holes around the edge of the arena and use the walls while dodging demonfire. Done in the right sequence, the column will be revealed and you can leave.


PLEASE, DO NOT OPEN THIS PAGE 'TIL XMAS.

6 comments:

  1. The guys at Wraith were also involved with Joe in producing Xmas Doom... Wraith produced HellToPay and Perdition's Gate

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  2. No one from X-Mas Doom had anything to do with Wraith Corp., unless you happen to know something I don't. You may be thinking of H2H-Xmas, which was headed up by Jim Elson of the H2H Network and who credited Jimmy Siebens and Pavel Hodek in the project, the three of them going on to Wraith Corp.

    Now, H2H-Xmas did swallow some of X-Mas Doom's assets in addition to Joe Wilcox, who made the final map, but nothing I've read suggests any further involvement from them (though Wilcox may have, for all I know, given his involvement with D!Zone).

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  3. Replies
    1. if i'm reading this correctly, the sprite replacements work, but the levels will not load? or it wouldn't operate in a DOS shell?

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