Monday, July 18, 2011

Army of Darkness Doom (AODDOOM1.WAD and AODDOOM2.WAD)

Steve Conway wanted to make a total conversion based on the now cult classic, Army of Darkness, then a recent release. He touched base with Stefan Maes, the man behind Excalibur. The two welded together a crew of individuals, among them Doomworld's own "Linguica" (Andrew Stine). Army of Darkness Doom comes in two flavors, Doom and Doom II. Qualitatively, there is no difference between the two. They have the same levels and the same arrangements. The actual differences lie mainly in the ways both are packaged to deal with the episode formats.

There's an FAQ included in either package that goes into greater detail than I have any inclination for that mentions among other things, cheat codes changed for an Army of Darkness flavor (these changes won't occur in some source ports). It also comes with a secret list, level history, and slight enemy guide, as well as tons of info about project development and staff bios. Thanks, guys! Doom historians may be especially interested in Maes's notes regarding mapping. MAP02 was originally intended as his sequel to Excalibur; MAP06 is a rewrite of Excalibur; and MAP08 is a rewrite of WARHOUSE.WAD, by Mike Barker.

Of course, it's a TC, and the first thing anyone wonders about when they see "total conversion" is, well, just what the Hell WAS converted? AODDOOM.WAD uses several Hexen monsters to replace standard Doom enemies (but they behave exactly the same). Slaughtaurs replace imps, reavers replace cacodemons, and the Wraithverge ghosts replace lost souls. Demons have been replaced by a near as I can tell original skeleton warrior sprite while barons of hell get switched out with an original (but horrific) axe skeleton sprite that mysteriously gushes gore when slain, quite reminiscent of the ending of the first Evil Dead. There's also Evil Ash, who takes the place of the Cyberdemon. The FAQ claims that mini-Ashes appear in the windmill level, but I couldn't get them to appear in either Zdoom or PrBoom-Plus. Nuts!

Most weapons have been replaced. There is no SSG appropriate in either package, though the normal shotgun uses the SSG sprites while the original shotgun functions as a combat rifle. The fist replaces the pistol, but every map starts off with you on a space with a box of shells, the shotgun and a chainsaw, so you're always kitted out to the chin. An explosive crossbow takes the fifth weapon slot while a torch that blows flame takes the sixth. I didn't find the catapult on my initial playthrough (whoops!).

The levels themselves hit most of the major points of the movie, from opening to close, complete with oodles of goofy dialogue from the movie to complete the image. There's wisecracking skeletons, books that attack, skeletons crawling out of the ground, you name it, it's here. Some of the more plot-heavy levels are fairly brief but they're nice breathers between the 200+ monster slaughters. It's also just as darkly silly as its source material, given all the movie clips and sound effects for pickups (particularly the slapstick Ash freaking out whenever you pick a powerup).

"Whoa... Wrong book."

The Army of Darkness TC is a fun, fairly quick playthrough, a must for AOD fans and there's some gameplay here to interest those for whom Ash is not a selling factor. There're some legitimately difficult moments of gameplay, and while there's one huge misstep (which I'll mention below), I sincerely recommend the WAD, especially if you enjoy medieval-themed Doom maps.

Bonus: There's a bonus deathmatch map included as E2M1 / MAP10. The author isn't mentioned in either the normal .TXT or the FAQ. There are some monsters included, but it's very much a deathmatch map, and as such I'm not touching on it further.

by Steve Conway, Stefan Maes, Andrew "Linguica" Stine,
Jeff Allen, Stephen Angell and Scott Powers

by Stefan Maes
A suitably tense and scary opener. As with the movie series, it begins by the cottage, surrounded by woodland. The whole area appears deserted at first, but then you find the Necronomicon, which gives you access to the shed, and reveals the first monster you'll come across. A few Deadites pop up. They're pretty tough, but the real difficult encounter takes place in the basement. Whip out your chainsaw, because the spectres are impossible to see in the darkness.

MAP02Arthur's Castle
by Stefan Maes
A huge castle level packed with tons of enemies. The soundtrack is still pretty creepy but with all the items that get showcased here and the new enemies it quickly drops the Evil Dead atmosphere and shoots straight into the Army of Darkness silliness. There's a nice large castle grounds area, complete ramparts, a graveyard out back, a chapel, and living quarters. Because of the enemies replaced (no hitscanners) it's fairly easy, but still pretty fun. There's a really neat trap involving the red key that also has a good puzzle element to it, and monsters are released into the courtyard every now and again to liven things up.

The PitMAP03
by Andrew "Linguica" Stine and Stefan Maes
Liberally expanded from its Army of Darkness origins. This level takes place underground in a mostly entertaining and challenging gauntlet. It opens with a very long, boring maze stuffed with imp replacements, after which you arrive at the level's center section, with access to all the wings. In order to get to the blue key, you'll have to solve a series of challenges. Each one solved will fill up the center pool with blood; when it's full, you can grab the blue key. The western challenge is a battle through a restricted trench while enemies attack you from all sides. The northern challenge is an intriguing teleporter-maze puzzle that's mapped out for you at its onset. It took me a little while to figure out what the numbers meant, but from then on it was fairly easy to solve. The eastern challenge is the most interesting, by far, and features a hectic elevator gauntlet. The southern challenge isn't much of a challenge, but you won't be able to solve it until you've solved the other three, else you'll find only certain death.

MAP04Good Ash vs. Bad Ash
by Stefan Maes
A boss level with One Bad Dude. It's delightfully creepy with some great details (like the creaky windmill blades) and the building itself is an effective, memorable puzzle. The fight itself is about as easy as you could expect, unless you make a couple missteps.

Necronomicon Ex MortisMAP05
by Steve Conway and Stefan Maes
Another short but memorable excerpt from the movie, with some winks at the TC personnel in the gravestones. The three books portion is great, with the two wrong books indeed taking a whack at you. When you do grab the third, the dead indeed appear to crawl out of the ground to get at you. There are some half-buried skeleton sprites as well as a large pack of skeletons that warp in to keep the pressure on. The strange graveyard in which this takes place is simply but effectively detailed.

MAP06In the Deal
by Stefan Maes
It's another castle level in the vein of MAP02, except the courtyard is a bit more central and a bit larger, and the ammo is much tighter. Make good use of your chainsaw or you won't get to see fun stuff like the stables or the demonic council chambers. The baron replacement is seeded a bit more sneakily around here and without a lot of rockets, you'll have to be resourceful. Except for a second showdown with Evil Ash, it's otherwise unremarkable.

Let's GoMAP07
by Stefan Maes
A brutal cavern exploration map with a remarkable river running through it and a nice sequence involving the opening room as it slowly opens up. Monster placement can be tricky at times but there's enough ammo lying around that you're rarely overwhelmed, excepting a few imp replacement traps, and there's one good final battle to endure before the exit room. The secret egress is fairly clever, though it doesn't work as intended.

MAP08Shop S-Mart
by Stefan Maes
Nothing here can really measure up to the S-Mart ending in Army of Darkness. It's another enemy slaughter rife with the imp replacements. There are three major sections to the level. The store aisles, which aren't difficult and are all very symmetrical as befits a store; the outside, which rings the whole level and has some goodies along with some packs of baddies roaming around who won't give you much trouble; and the warehouse, composed of four rooms that are kind of tricky to clear. Each one has a peanut gallery of imps on top which you can't hit from the entrance (being as they are usually next to the entrances) and a number of free agents on the ground to make killing the imps difficult. It's got some nice gameplay, though the architecture and detailing are uninspiring (excepting the parking garage).

Slept Too LongMAP09
by Lawton Roberts
Short non-sequitor level with some neat architecture bits and a small monster count. It's more in the style of a hellish town (the appropriately ruined earth after Ash wakes up) complete with a warehouse. The eastern section has some interesting rails on the walkway and a tricky fight with an axe skeleton, if you insist on remaining at close quarters. Not the greatest way to end the episode, but this was a secret level / alternate ending, after all. I will say that the western area of the map has the better sequence of fights.

"Klaatu, verada...nnngthhgtch"

This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 1996

Memento MoriMemento Mori II
Dystopia 3: Re-Birth of AnarchyAll Hell is Breaking Loose
Army of Darkness DoomIcarus: Alien Vanguard
Polygon Base99 Ways to Die
The Troopers' PlaygroundA Hidden Mountain Factory


  1. The version of AODDOOM I was playing didn't have the bitter and creepy music you're talking of, but some MIDI renditions of some pop and rock songs. They were chosen to fit the levels and I think they worked better with Ash's wisecracking personality. I think you need to use AODMUSIC (or how it's called) to hear them.

    1. A quick search on the internet doesn't reveal anything enlightening and neither package on the archives appears to carry the music file you're speaking of. If you happen to track it down, don't hesitate to point it out.

    2. After hitting the RANDOM /idgames button to be a sarcastic ass for totally unrelated purposes, I found the music files by Rick Sparks, as AODTCMS* (*=1 for Doom, 2 for Doom II).

  2. Whoops! Figured out the exit... but I just spent an hour trying to figure out how to raise the last blood pool in the pit. All the other three have challenges, but the southern one is... where?

    1. Return to the maze at the beginning of the level. There was an alternate exit you may have seen that is basically a death trap, an inescapable toxic ravine. After raising the blood pool three times, the ravine should be full of blood as well, allowing you to cross and complete the final piece to the puzzle. Then again, it's been a year, so I may be mistaken!