Thursday, April 12, 2012

Yak World (YAKWORLD.WAD)

YAK WORLD
by Spackle Ltd.


Yak World is one of the only PWADs I can remember playing prior to 2010 (the other is ZEUS). It’s not a jokeWAD in the best-known sense; rather, it's a Doom WAD that doesn't take itself that seriously (the best kind of jokewad). Produced by Spackle Ltd., a two man team consisting of the level's author (Yak Man) and the guy who owns the computer the author worked on (Mister Bob) and an "intern", you’ll find two maps to marvel at. E1M1 is the main attraction, housing most of the silliness and monsters. There’s a secret level, E1M9, but it’s very small and really more of an afterthought. I've seen a Doom II version floating around – there's one on the Maximum Doom portion of the Master Levels – but from what I can tell it’s an unauthorized conversion.


Certainly, YAKWORLD lacks focus. The main map is pretty large, and each individual section has solid composition, but stands quite distinct from the others. Together they comprise a parade of environments that indeed resembles an amusement park, insofar as such places feature a variety of loosely connected places that house the attractions. There’s your "Entryway", your Startan City, Techtown, Marble Metropolis... They’re not all that eye-catching, but the crew has put in "hooks" here and there, like the enormous YAK WORLD banner at the map's opening and an arena complete with captivated audience and wacky announcer. The arena is probably the highlight of the whole experience, thanks to clever use of a sound modification (and that trench does a right good job of blending in).


Speaking of sound modifications, there are only two more in the WAD. One, designated for the baron, is another great hook, as you only encounter him a few times and makes for some amusement. The other is a cute "Thank you for visiting Yak World" spiel during the intermission tally where someone sings "it’s a Yak World" in the background. Unfortunately, this particular clip is tied to Doom's rocket explosion noise. This means nothing for ports using some approximation of the original sound code (where it only plays during the intermission screen), but ZDoom-based ports will be treated to a cavalcade of chatter that rises with every barrel explosion and rocket detonation.


Combat is standard Doom stuff, though you may find the very start a little tricky as far as how Spackle Ltd. decide to deliver your weapons. Some monster closets here and there, but the open areas and low enemy density means you’re rarely threatened outside of the Cyberdemon, which isn't dangerous to practiced strafers, and a neat fight in a darkened room (appropriately shaped like a coffin) where imps, demons and spectres boil in from both sides. I suppose you might find things a little tough if you don’t find the plasma rifle in one of the secret areas, but I thought it was pretty hard to miss, myself.


Speaking of the secret map, it's an amusing little diversion accessed via the sewers in E1M1. The layout very loosely resembles some kind of house, with a bizarre entrance followed by a living room-ish area containing a neat TV set with David Letterman (great lighting there). It's only got a fraction of the monster count of the main map - numbering sixteen - half of which are found in the enormous final room, including the sole instance of cacodemons. The tools to fend them off are practically handed to you, though the point at which they enter makes things just slightly complicated.


Yak World is a neat ’94 odyssey showcasing some of the best aspects of the first few months of Doom mapping. It’s got a few rough edges in texture alignment and the very opening may leave a crude impression, but it’s touted as the fountainhead of jokeWADs, which gives the whole genre an admirable pedigree. The very long text communicates nothing but unabashed enthusiasm Spackle Ltd. had for their sole offering to Doom’s legacy. Play Yak World for a '94 WAD that goes down smooth. Just, don’t play it in ZDoom, or you’ll end up with a sound-induced headache.



IT'S A YAK, YAK, WORLD

2 comments:

  1. I've always thought of this with great affection, it's certainly one of the weirdest ideas for a Doom map. There has never been any real explanation of what they were thinking when they made this map, nor do I ever want one. The strangeness speaks for itself.

    Actually I found the gameplay to be dreary, with lots of dark rooms and corridors and I think there is some back tracking. The standout parts are the opening with the giant Yak World logo in the sky, and the final arena (with THE ARENA painted in blood on the door), with all your friends there to cheer you on... in a nightmare way, since they're all impaled and dead or dying on spikes. Sick! So while I didn't really enjoy playing the map, I sometimes wonder what happened to the crazed loonies who made this map and I hope they went on to do well at whatever they chose.

    And remember... it's a YAK World!

    -MajorRawne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yak World is less an example of professional Doom mapping and more how everyone back then was making virtual landscapes to fuck around in with their friends.

      Delete