Wednesday, May 7, 2014


by Kurt Kesler

KBOOM_11 is the last map of Kurt Kesler's original KBOOM run, a MAP01 replacement released in - brace yourself - 1998, to be played in TNT's Boom engine. Kesler thought he was done, at least. Beyond Death, which had Quake 2 as its inspiration, and then KBOOM12 found its way to the archives in 2000. As such, Kesler decided to take things into his less-prolific castle theme. It also ratchets up the difficulty, though it's very much a Kurt map, just not as forgiving with monster placement. You won't have to worry about running out of ammo. Health, though - that's another story.

"Boom Castle", as it is otherwise unknown, begins with a large wilderness segment and has another one breaking up the brick settings, a nice way to remove some of the sting of Doom's unrelentingly brown textures. Two other big surprises - colormaps for underwater in blue and green, which while jarring is a nice departure from going underwater and seeing things as pretty much normal with a water texture above your head. That first jump underwater is a pretty rude surprise, too... You'll know it when you find it. The only other one of Kesler's favorite special effects that I see - at least, in an obvious fashion - are faux-3D bridges, again used to complement the level.

Two sections stand out in my mind, besides the final surprise. The first is a storm of cacodemons, some of which have a nasty habit of teleporting, while crossing the castle battlements. The other is the grueling northern section, an outdoor rocky outcropping with a deep water stream and tons of monsters to kill before you're finally home free. Barons, cacos, and mancubuses are all dead set on preventing your return to the rest of the level proper. It's not that stressing unless you've felt the attrition of the rest of the map during your adventure. The finale came as a real surprise; I knew it was Kesler's sendoff to the Boom period, but I wasn't expecting a boss shooter, but I should have recognized the setup. Cool finish.

Kesler has steadily improved over the KBOOM series; KBOOM_11 is about what I expected to see from the guy responsible for KZDOOM. It's a nice finish to a great series, even though we got some bonus Boom levels after all was said and done. I'm looking forward to those as well as the KZDOOM stuff. It'll be interesting to see where Kesler takes his talent from here...

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


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