Friday, September 23, 2011

Trouble on Titan (TROUBLE.WAD)

by Jim Flynn

Trouble on Titan is the final level in Jim Flynn's Titan series, encompassing two maps included in id's Master Levels for Doom II (Titan Manor, Trapped on Titan) and four freeware maps (Mines of Titan, Titan Anomaly, The Farside of Titan, Trouble on Titan). As usual, it's set on Titan, and furthers the notion that nothing good ever happens on Saturn's most famous moon. The fact that hostile aliens inhabit Titan has finally reached most of the Federation, except the psych department, who insists you're suffering from space psychosis. Since they lobby against kitting you out against your next entrenchment, the best you can muster is a pistol (of course), with which you must put an end to the trouble.

In terms of Flynn's solo output, Trouble on Titan feels like his magnum opus. It's an incredibly vast map featuring varied vistas to view, a puzzle concentration on par with Titan Manor, and nearly 300 monsters at its onset, all used intelligently (and perhaps a bit wickedly). It even has a teleporter hub like Oracle in order to facilitate easier movement. In short, it's pretty much everything I've come to expect from one of Flynn's works. You WILL have to find all three keys, but you can go about locating them any way you choose, just going where the natural level flow takes you. Aesthetically it touches on a broad variety of texturing themes, but as is usual with Flynn, while the individual sections may not match up with others, internally each area is quite coherent.

The opening area, sort of the map's hub, is a beige stone hallway / elevator running in a loop off which you can access the rest of the map, though not at its onset. Things are difficult as Flynn forces you into cramped quarters with hell knights that may or may not be an issue. The first big puzzle, will make or break the map for players. It sets you in the heart of the map and pits you against a series of switches and elevators in order to raise a staircase leading to the red key (well, not necessarily, but that's the end goal). It's actually petty easy to solve purely by accident (shoot switches) but I digress. From here you can access the southern and eastern sections of the map, supposing you figure out how.

You'll find that the map is bisected into two distinct areas after leaving its hub. The western side is decorated predominantly in green stone while the eastern side is an outdoor, more modern style area featuring a few black glass compounds. I'll cover the eastern area first. Things step up considerably as Flynn has populated the compounds and yards with some tougher monsters, including but not limited to a Cyberdemon that you may or may not have the firepower to take down. The first compound has a nice outdoor tech-fountain (?) as well as an obvious crusher you can use to remove some of the denizens. The second chamber has a lot more breathing room, but consequently more toughs, as well as another one of Flynn's mind-fuck holes through the universe (also seen at the map's very beginning). You'll also find a red key, a chamber connecting this one to the main hub, and (in the previous area) a lengthy egress to the map's western portions.

It's an enormous green stone staircase with a hidden side-area with a high-powered reward that has an elevator secret I've seen from him before (in MINES). The fights aren't too hot, but it's all leading you to the chasm castle, one of the map's biggest mindfucks, at least puzzle-wise. There's a lot of entrenched opposition as well as free-roaming monsters, all of which you'll have to deal with, as well as a long, complicated tower climb with switches and lifts to activate and I don't know what the fuck. Be prepared to find switches of all varieties while leaping from window to window and exorcising the place of revenants, arch-viles, etc..

There's two other spots extraneous to the blue key puzzle showcase. The first is another building climb you should be used to by now, this one set in a red brick building floating in a damage floor. It's a fun bit, with some ledge humping to boot. The other one is an outdoor space with some neat outdoor lighting, revenants on platforms, and enemy cubbies staffed with beasties. Both segments feed back into the northwestern castle and as a result feel a bit extraneous to the map's action, but they're fun to run through nonetheless and often improve your locomotion through the level. The final segment is an unusually orthogonal (but no less abstract) building interior with beige wallpaper. There's some library stacks, some chairs, tables, and a three-dimensional switchlift maze to take you home to the map's final puzzle, sufficiently hinted-at and a nice way to close before you hammer all three keys in and hit the exit switch.

The map has some of Flynn's best usage of lighting as contrast as well as consistent texturing themes and the detailing is quite adequate. After marathoning Flynn's solo levels, I rarely if ever found the map to be frustrating, excepting maybe the blue key segment which was user error on my part. Quite the contrary; finding and flipping switches tickled my fancy like nothing else. When loading the map up again to take screenshots / refresh my memory for this review, I found switches and a few puzzle solutions I had completely missed my first time around, each discovery like a little Christmas. Perhaps I should be alarmed, but I don't believe I've been conditioned to enjoy puzzle maps from Flynn's works. It's pretty much the same part of me that enjoys pistol starts. I heartily recommend this map – and the rest of the Titan series – to everyone, unless you absolutely despise puzzle maps. In which case, I'm sorry. There are thousands of other maps out there for you to enjoy.


This post is part of a series on
Jim Flynn's Titan series

Titan ManorTrapped on Titan
Mines of TitanTitan Anomaly
The Farside of TitanTrouble on Titan


  1. Some of Jim Flynn's levels that it doesn't seem like you're reviewing are here:

    Also, do you have plans to do a Final Doom review at some point?

  2. I don't think I've explicitly spelled it out in the Titan reviews but all of the maps that appear to be missing were in fact Doom maps by Flynn, collected and converted to Doom II maps for his Enigma Episode, a review of which has been posted on this blog. While I'm sure that the gameplay differs due to a more constrained bestiary, I would assume that the core Jim Flynn experience re: puzzle solving remains the same. I haven't actually played the originals, though.

    The TNT entry on the Master Levels feature page hints that, yes, I do plan on posting my irrelevant opinions on Final Doom to this blog.

  3. Thanks, I forgot that those were converted.