Sunday, August 23, 2015

Kurashiki's Kuso Map (KUSOK.WAD)

Kurashiki is almost certainly better known for her excellent fan art of Doom, offering takes on the franchise and the PWADs it has spawned that are both fun and fantastic. In this, she's become something of a Doom icon; I'd never have guessed that we'd get such high caliber art of memorable PWAD moments. She's made a couple of Doom II maps, though, released (more or less) in 2013. Kusok (Kurashiki's Kuso Map) is a two-level minisode made for Boom-compatible source ports. There isn't any kind of accompanying story, but the second level has something of an implied narrative, a techbase that's slowly giving way to infernal influence.

The action of KUSOK is pretty old-school. Kurashiki does not display an affinity for a constant barrage of teleporter traps in this pair of levels; they are reserved for major moments of progression, Sometimes the enemies are deposited at a distance and slowly make their way to the player, evoking that classic Doom feeling of being knee-deep in the dead. At other times, most notably the final leg of MAP02, the demons are waiting silently for the player in places that you've already cleared, which is a delivery method that I hardly see used outside of when they're spawned in a la ZDoom. I assume that it's accomplished through some kind of scrolling floor arrangement combined with "ambush" flagged monsters.

Kurashiki shows a lot of detail in these levels, with a considerable amount of greebling. The shapes remain simple and easily navigable, but you ought to stop and take some time to admire all the junction boxes and computer consoles and puddles of blood and other things that you'd otherwise miss as you blast your way through. She also knows how to pull off the surreal; in one secret area in MAP02, you find yourself navigating a field of floating beds and bow-tied presents, with the curtains at the end pulling aside to reveal your prize. That's not the only fantastic special effect you'll see, either. The "before" and "after" of MAP02 is definitely worth experiencing for a palpable change in atmosphere.

These two levels show a lot of promise. I'd love to see Nanka play around with more exotic texture packs; she's got a fantastic imagination and a firm grasp on all the building blocks used to make Doom levels. The possibilities are virtually limitless... and probably adorable. My only real question was as to the significance of "kusok", and while it bears a resemblance to a Slovak word, a kind soul has pointed out that it's almost certainly the Japanese word for shit, stamped with the initial of her last name.


by Nanka "alice88" Kurashiki

A competent, newschool techbase level divided in two parts linked by teleporters that surround an outer yard that contains the blue key and what is easily the standout encounter, a teleport ambush that quickly dumps some commandos in a spread-out pattern and then files in some imps and cacodemons while you're still reeling. Kurashiki is adept at using three-dimensional space; there is a lot of leaping across gaps, leaving the player with that elusive cat-like feeling. The majority of the combat is room-clearing against Doom II trash, but there's the occasional surprise - like the arch-vile on the return trip - that keeps the blood flowing. The console that opens up the first teleporter is very Doomcute.

Kurashiki's second level is another techbase, but the soundtrack - "Suspense" - is the most important clue as to the direction things are going. This is a pretty large map with a few psychedelic secret sections that are definitely worth uncovering. The most memorable in my mind is the hallway of floating beds and presents that ends in a BFG... that you'll have to earn by fending off an arch-vile assault. There's also a wicked megasphere secret acquired through some timed triggers. Combat is on the whole tougher than "CLMAP 1"; there's also a narrative that develops on your return where the entire installation is showing the undeniable affects of demonic infestation. I mean, on top of all the tough monsters knocking around. There are a couple of pitched fights that I really enjoyed, like the teleporter battle in the teleporter corridor to the east, and the sheer amount of meat locked in the exit room may present an obstacle if you didn't manage to grab the BFG when it was available. A very cool level.

1 comment:

  1. This isn't the only WAD she has released, either! She also released "ultkz" in 2014. Doesn't seem to be on doomworld and the included readme says "unfinished", should still be worth a look though.