Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mandrill Ass Project (MANDRILL.WAD)

I can think of several reasons why the name of this GZDoom WAD is appropriate. First and foremost, you will at some point enter a mandrill's ass. Seriously, it's an important plot point. Second, it's got some very colorful maps, for the most part breaking away from the stock Doom II resources we're intimately familiar with. It also has a humorous edge hiding behind the gameplay, with short dialogues and little sidepieces setting the tone, as well as some outlandish scenarios. Finally, as Aluqah points out himself near the beginning of MAP06, Mandrill Ass Project's acronym is MAP. Really, he couldn't have chosen a better name. Especially because of the part where you have to climb into a mandrill's ass.

Why, you might ask? Well, because someone uploaded a virus to the UAC computer servers. It's a demonic virus, which ups the ante a bit (and anyone who's played the Doom RPG games knows this). Before they kill the infected computer, though, the commander needs some data recovered, and sends you into the computer's virtual reality to retrieve it. By the time you get out, the demons have broken into our space and begun to multiply. You eventually manage to neutralize the source, but the remaining Hellspawn are building a device with which they plan to annihilate humanity. Inside a mandrill's ass. You'll have to miniaturize yourself and penetrate deep into the lousy primate. There's a surprise twist at the end, and a happy ending. Certainly worth plowing your way through a mandrill's ass.

Like I said, MAP is pretty colorful. You'll fight your way through three different computer-inspired battlegrounds, an invaded city block, a Chocolate Factory, an island stronghold, a dining table and child's playroom, from biplane to biplane and through the gates of Heaven itself. And, uh, inside a mandrill's ass. The computer levels are wonderfully abstract with all sorts of great, broad architecture and great use of three-dimensional floors. The more concrete areas are neatly constructed without being boring, and the two neatest scenarios are excellently rendered in GZDoom. Thankfully, a convenient drug trip to vibrant scenery spares you the agony of exploring the gory details of the mandrill's ass.

Gameplay is a little rough in a few places but pretty good throughout. Pistol starts are not supported due to a lack of recurring weaponry. Just carry your gear from map to map and enjoy your ammo stores. You'll be up to your neck in cells and shells, particularly in the later levels. The hardest parts by far are the platforming bits in MAP06 and MAP09, where you leap between surfboards and biplanes, respectively. Even if you're practiced in jumping, I think Aluqah has subtly altered your bounding abilities for each area to better facilitate your movement, so you'll have to get a grip on your new prowess. I really liked them, though. My least favorite parts were deadly dull waves of monsters spawning in, usually imps. This feature was at its worst for me in MAP07 due to the monsters arriving at a drip's pace. It's just coincidence that the same map happens to feature the mandrill's ass.

Mandrill Ass Project is charming, fairly well put together, and its successful ambitions (while not lofty) outweigh its rougher characteristics. I would recommend this WAD to anyone who has a sense of humor or just wants to climb into a mandrill's ass. Serious Doomers and people who can't platform for shit should avoid. Oh, and people who don't want to explore a mandrill's ass. I think that Doom needs more humorous works like this, as opposed to those other maps. You know the ones. Of course, if a ton of levels crop up featuring miniaturized rectal probing, I'll have to eat my words. So don't do it, Maes.

by "Aluqah"

"Hardware" is part intro map with a few NPCs to talk to (one recommends system settings while the other sets the story up) and mostly a trippy battle inside an actual computer. It's the most authentic rendition of such a concept I've seen to date, with the actual physicalities lovingly rendered. Combat is pretty easy focusing mainly on zombimen and imps with a couple of tougher monsters mixed in. I don't really care for the multiple waves of enemies, though. Once is enough, and twice is pushing it. Three times? Bleh. Regardless, it's a fun little map. Also, watch where you leap. Exploring the wrong area may cause you to violently explode.

Appropriately features stranger architecture, looking more like Tron than Honey I Shrunk the Doomguy. The lifts and things breaking away from the floors are really cool and the red key room is simply breathtaking in its simplicity (with a nice little story sequence). There's a little platforming to do, of course, but it's rudimentary stuff. Difficulty steps up a little with some bigger monsters. Nothing too threatening except for maybe the gauntlet you run after grabbing the yellow key, which adds some pressure without being overwhelming. Very cool level with a lot of charm in its 80s-like virtual reality sensibility. Gotta love that skybox.

Doomed CityMAP03
Apparently the demons won while you were in the supercomputer so you'll have to fight your way out of the now overrun UAC base and escape the demon-infested city. Things start out a little tense with arch-viles lurking around every corner before you finally escape the UAC base. The city block is serviceable without being overbearingly realistic and while there are some annoying rooftop snipers, nothing is incredibly dangerous. It's kind of fun exploring the central section, but most of the action comes from triggering the primary ambush, which is where the majority of the map's monsters enter in – a flood of imps sprinkled with a few cacodemons and lost souls. That explains why you get so many shells beforehand! Also, nice Pink Floyd reference.

MAP04Doomguy and the Chocolate Factory
Another theme map, this one a tiny approximation of Willie Wonka's famous creation, though clearly favoring the Depp version. The scenery is basic though quite evocative, with giant sprinkles, vanilla frosting, and tons of chocolate. After you fight through the relatively open scenery area you can investigate the rest of the lab, with a nice hanger fight (and a surprise monster in the closet) as well as a trek down the chocolate river to Wonka's warehouse (which has a cute Chocolate Doom joke). There's a bit here that's really neat which escaped me the first time I hit it as I'm not used to thinking in terms of 3D architecture. Suffice it to say, you'll have to go for a swim to get the red key card, before you're treated to the end of level sequence, a nice showcase of the TV room. Cute map.

Enter the MatrixMAP05
Back to the Tron-style levels for this level. Not too difficult with plenty of enemies to dump your amassed ammo into, particularly two sections which feature hordes of imps ripe for the slaughter. There are also two Cyberdemons to contend with. They're both rudimentary fights, solvable easily with the plasma rifle and the ammo given (though gutsy players may save some ammo using the BFG on the second). The big finale is an assault against the demonic virus that tainted the UAC supercomputer, rendered in impressive neon green mesh. The fight's not all that exciting, coming in three different waves of arachnotrons, imps, and then mancubuses, but it ends with a humorous poke at the Matrix. Oh, and check the back of the virus structure...

MAP06Surfer Motherfuckers
Now for a trip to the beach, followed by a platforming section. You have to surf to an island compound (yes, surf!) and leap from board to board as they rise and fall, bearing imps. It's kind of rough to get a handle on jumping, but it's not too hard on you as the fight is scripted based on the imps you kill. In the end, you have to snuff two cacodemons before beginning the island assault. It's pretty easygoing with a nice jaunt to some local ruins before you can enter the resort, which involves a groaner (not the talking toilet but the password). The surfboard sequence is obviously the standout sequence, but the initial approach to the hotel has some good combat.

Fresh MeatMAP07
Gimmick map where you're miniaturized on the table in the dining room. There are plenty of lovingly-constructed utensils and portions of food, the setup you can see right before the bizarre toilet speaks again. Then the fight begins. It's one of the low points of the mapset, as you fight a constant trickle of imps that lasts way too long, followed by a shorter trickle of revenants, before ending on Cyberdemons (!). When you finally clear everything a bridge opens up to the perennial miniaturization setting, a child's playroom, with legos and alphabet blocks and toy cars. The action is a bit better here, though nothing that exciting. And then, the mandrill. It's a neat concept overall, but the table fight pacing is awful.

Same general geometry as one of the Tron levels, except it's been saturated with rainbow-colored textures. It also has some of the best action of the levelset, with cacodemons assaulting the central platform, mancubuses returning to gum things up, and the eastern slaughter room with its initial clear and then later parallel revenant entrenchments. The finale pits you against some spread out chaingunners and a Spiderdemon...initially. Afterward, your spacious arena gets eight Cyberdemons thrown into the mix. Once you corral them into the center, of course, it's just an exercise in strafing with the BFG, but it's a good finish (and certainly not a bad trip).

Aces HighMAP09
For once your marine buddy is silent. Then again, what can you say to someone who's just crawled out of a mandrill's ass? Without warning, you go for a trip on some biplanes. It's another platforming section, and like MAP06 it's a little difficult to get a handle on your jumping, but the time pressure is nonexistent. After a short climb you arrive at the gates of Heaven, where you've chased the demons. You'll have to contend with their creator before you can declare your victory. Frankly, I didn't see this ending coming at all. Cool opening hook and the boss shooter is pretty standard, though it may take you a second to figure out how to lower the platform again.

This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's 2011 Cacowards

The Top TenBest Multiplayer
Plutonia Revisited32in24-11: Occupy Doomworld
VapordemoBest Gameplay Mod
LunaticBrutal Doom
Double ImpactMordeth Award
Vanguard1994 Tune-up Community Project
ReverieMapper of the Year
IceboundHonorable Mentions
Mandrill Ass ProjectDoom II Redux
Khorus's Speedy ShitDoom64 EX

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