Tuesday, January 21, 2014


by Kurt Kesler

Kurt Kesler made a ton of maps in his career, ranging from vanilla (collected in KMEGA1), limit-removing (KHILLS), Boom (KBOOM), and ZDoom (KZDOOM, if you hadn't guessed). Presumably he was going to collect the KBOOM levels into KMEGA2, but he never got around to it. All twelve KBOOM levels are available piecemeal on the archives. This one is KBOOM_1, which kicks us off with Kesler's experiments with Boom's features. KBOOM_1, and it appears most of the series as well, is in Kurt's particular "base" theme. This one, occupying MAP01 and released in 1998, has four very large, airy playing spaces with a darker, comparatively cramped space joining the exit to the rest of the map.

Kesler is not afraid to drop you into hitscanner Hell, as you'll quickly discover on beginning the level. He is kind enough to give you a shotgun and a billion shells, though, so you'll be alright. The first two rooms are pretty symmetric and have bullet bozos on the outer ring with something else in the pit below. At first, it's more shotgun guys, but later you'll have to root out mancubi after taking care of the Hell nobles on the central platform. After that, it's outside to a big ass canyon with a rapidly moving river. Thank goodness Doomguy walks on water! All of your threats there are projectile-based, either the imps already in place or the two waves of cacodemons you'll see as you run up and then back for the yellow key.

This introduces one of Kesler's odder feature favorites, silent teleports. There's something strange about seeing cacodemons flash forward from way back to right in front of you, or really, any Hellspawn instantly manifesting without the telltale teleport sound and green flash. You'll see it a few more times, with commandos appearing in one of the tech base areas and then mancubi warping behind you when reaching the exit. The final area suggests that the base is some kind of munitions facility as boxes of bullets and rockets and other things travel on a conveyor belt from the void and back into it. I have no idea what that big glowing ring on the two poles is, though. Arcing electricity? The end is some more typical combat, with revenants, imps and hell knights in more cramped spaces with a few zombies waiting to sneak up on you.

KBOOM_1 is full of fast, simple gameplay in large, expansive areas. It's a fun play if you can tolerate not being able to duck a few bullets and you can go hog wild with the weapon of your choice, as long as it isn't powered by cell ammo. If you liked any of Kesler's other levels, KBOOM_1 is more of the same, albeit not quite as striking.


This post is part of a series on
Kurt Kesler's KBOOM series



  1. I actually enjoy the Boom levels more than the ZDoom ones, which are more technically impressive. Especially the later ones (second half of the KBoom series and also KHills/KBase/Beyond Death).

    1. I haven't had the opportunity to enjoy all the ZDoom stuff yet, but the latter KBOOM levels were indeed very cool.