Sunday, August 14, 2016

Japanese Community Project (JPCP_V1*.WAD)


The Doom community has a distinctly international flair. It isn't immediately obvious since many of them are pretty good English typists, but a considerable number have their own personal forums, like the massive Russian Doom community and the smaller but no less treasured French Doom community. Enter the Japanese Doom community, a group of individuals that I assume must be tightly knit. I'm no games historian, but I understand that PC gaming has been a niche activity in Japan, and while Doom has been ported to what seems like anything and everything, the tools used for content creation - specifically, levels - are an entirely different matter. The JDC is no less passionate, though, and from them comes one of 2016's biggest surprises: the Japanese Community Project, a full-fledged megaWAD for limit-removing ports.


JPCP doesn't have much of a story, except to say that the demons are attacking again and their egregious misuse of teleporter technology has lead to the dissolution of reality, best reflected in the penultimate level, "Hazmat Hazama". The text offers some other details, like using homemade devices to communicate (implying some kind of technological catastrophe), plus some sort of demonic assault on power plants. It's just a pretense for a lot of fun jaunting around whatever themes the authors decided on, whether they're ordinary bases, orbital platforms, color coordinated, graphic gothic Hell, and all parts between.


There are twelve different authors, four of which were known to me. Tatsurd-Cacocaco is a classic speedrunner who made some wicked cool maps in the Plutonia Revisited Community Project and some of the most memorable reimaginings in the 1994 Tune-Up Community Project. Masayan also had a few maps in the latter, most memorably in my mind the very brave (vicious) "Nightmare" (MAP28). Nanka Kurashiki has become a Doom community treasure with her lovely fan art, sometimes funny and always fantastic, and develops her chops beyond the cheeky but technically accomplished Kusok. I hadn't played any of SkullDemon's maps before, but I've been aware of them since Memfis brought them to light.


The Japanese Community Project feels very... personalized. While the authors no doubt have their inspirations, their styles feel more or less unconcerned with the trends of "professional" Doom megaWADs, insofar as they are willing to make players do things like hunt down Commander Keens in an Easter egg hunt, divine the sequence for leaping across colored-coded pillars, or create (good!) pictures out of sector geometry and then include them in the playable area. The sheer novelty of making Doom maps is apparent, here, marking the admittedly blurry line between a playground for the author's wants vs. one built for the illusionary standard player; a product, if you will.


The difficulty has moments of arena panic, with a few full-on slaughter moments (like MAP17 and MAP28), but leans more toward punchy and trappy as a whole with plenty of light fare in between. The later levels have some pistol panic, foremost in my mind being MAP26, as well as featuring a significant number of surprise arch-viles. It's hard to generalize any real trends, though. Some authors play with light and shadow, making for visual difficulty, while others lean toward teleporter congestion where you are liable to be overwhelmed if you're slow to act. You'll also find levels with plenty of outdoor space but precious little for the player to safely move around in, if at all, leaving you with a sense of exposure. There's a lot of variation, as befits a community project.


burabojunior and Toooooasty are the two biggest surprises, burabo for a large number of maps that also reflect a practiced hand in the editor and Toastajamma for a style that spans Doom realism ("Blood Fund Gang") to ornate, chaotic hodgepodge ("Hazmat Hazama"). Together with Tatsurd and Kurashiki, they form the meat of the megaWAD, with the rest of the participants throwing in a level or two. Some of these are massive, if not particularly focused adventures, like Namsan's "Bad Morning" and Yullie's "Embodiment of Maliciousness". If you play JPCP - and you should - you'll almost certainly see something you haven't seen before.


I'd love to see a Japanese Community Project II, just like I'd love to see more levels from these authors, both known and new. They've certainly staked their place out in Doom's history; it'll be interesting to see what they add to it. If you've a lack of affinity for the forced and frantic gameplay that has lodged itself in the Doom scene, you might find some refuge here. My deepest thanks for allowing me more foreign wonderlands to explore.






JAPANESE COMMUNITY
PROJECT

by assorted authors

First AssaultMAP01
by Tatsuya "Tatsurd-Cacocaco" Ito
An amiable opener. This is a short little techbase level with some outdoor components that features mostly zombies and imps, with a few lean-ins from shotgun guys, chaingunners, cacodemons, and lost souls. There are a few demons, too, but you'll need to find the Berserk secret to fight them. I like that there are a few options to explore, rather than the one and only path leading directly from key to key, and the outdoor area to the northeast is a nice warm-up for the action that is yet to come.

MAP02Rural Mini-Base
by Tatsuya "Tatsurd-Cacocaco" Ito
Another little base level from Tatsurd. It's sort of a tiny web of hallways connecting a couple of rooms to a larger, outdoor area, the scene of two fairly large firefights, the second putting a bit of pressure on the player arena-style by introducing the pain elemental. The revenant and mancubus also get some surprise appearances behind their respective doors, ideal targets for the secret rocket launcher, should you happen to find it.

The Sign of the ArmageddonMAP03
by "Masayan" and "SkullDemon"
A pretty cool slow-paced mix of gothic bricks and metal. I say slow-paced because the shotgun will be your main weapon for most of the level, used to chew through cacodemons, Hell knights, and maybe even an arch-vile or two if you squander all of your rockets. It's a nice, simple layout that's been complicated with all of the secrets, a feature I really appreciate. The best action is concentrated in the main yard, which has a sort of walkway-surrounding-water feel with a nice dip down and up a pair of curved stairs that adds some variety.

MAP04Thaumasia
by "burabojunior"
A short and sweet invasion-style level with a sort of Plutonia-meets-Quake aesthetic that starts out with a bit of exposure as you dance around a couple of revenants before backing the player into a corner and forcing you to do the return cover-shooter style, with arch-viles poised on your sides and a gaggle of imps and zombies, among other things, blocking your egress. There's a secret combat shotgun available, not that it's worth much during the second phase.

WoodexialMAP05
by "Toooooasty"
A large, open level with very busy detailing and a heavy emphasis on wood. The enemy count is deceptive, as many of the monsters you'll battle are scattered zombimen, but Toastfriend has included plenty of tougher foes to cut your teeth on. It kind of feels like taking the greebling detail of future, tech levels and applying it to E4, resulting in a wonderfully abstract experience. I love the bits of nonsense like the lift panels in the northwest section of the map and other features like the large, curved doors.

MAP06Riminshi Valley
by "burabojunior"
Another tight map from burabo with an overgrown ruins aesthetic, with a sole UAC plaque revealing its origins. It's a pretty cool slice of Doom with a lot of three-dimensional progression in the cascades leading to the blue key shrine, a gorgeous area with a surprisingly awkward arch-vile encounter. The main hall and outdoor area to the south look pretty cool, too. The big surprise for me was the vibrant yet rusted tech annex, a secret housing a plasma gun, some ammo, and another cramped arch-vile fight. I think the columns make it a lot easier, though.

Confused ArenaMAP07
by Tatsuya "Tatsurd-Cacocaco" Ito
Tatsurd tries to take us away from the "Dead Simple" standard with some guest spots from Hell knights, commandos, a few cacodemons, and an arch-vile. The other beasties are a great way to break up the more standard action and the little bridges are a cute visual. The arachnotron was the most surprising round to me since it isn't immediately obvious that some of them teleport in, which can make for a pretty sneaky surprise while you're working your way up one of the side staircases.

MAP0854-pit
by "Toooooasty"
This level carries the same sort of abstract, wide-open feel of "Woodexial", except the spacious ruins that dominate the level are actually panels of a comic that tells the level's story as viewed from the automap. And, uh, it looks pretty fuckin' good. I love how the geometry of the rooms has been derived from the art. The secret annex with the rocket-laden conveyor belt is a pretty cool Easter egg and I really like Toastdude's gimmicks, like the Barons emerging from their chained on the wall positions, and the Doom 3-esque transforming bathroom complete with infernal reflection and mirror-universe clue.

The Three WorldMAP09
by "Tyousen121"
A more straightforward take on "Tricks and Traps" that leans more toward claustrophobia and monster closets than dastardly setups, though it ends with the inevitable Barons vs. Cyberdemon showdown. In terms of monsters and weapons, it's also a sort of kitchen sink level, using the full kit with a secret BFG. The layout feels kind of flat, but the action is punchy, with several "hold the line" rocket launcher moments. The western half of the level has all the cool architecture, almost as though Tyousen cut his teeth making the map in the same order as the level progresses...

MAP10The Odd Encampment
by "Yullie"
Again, channeling a little of the look of Plutonia, with an emphasis on wide, open areas like the yard that dominates much of the level and other bits like the starting room and the mancubus platform room that immediately follows. It's got some memorable if simple fights, like the metallic staircase revenant cascade (best fought from the safety of the imp alcoves on the other side of the wall) and the deadly darkness of the arch-vile / Baron battle in the red key basement. The final battle is pretty tough, too, with the arch-vile acting as a crucial spoiler from his little slit on the floor, sure to confound players who don't quickly figure out where he is so that they can hide.

My favMAP11
by Nanka Kurashiki
A wonderfully abstract world of color wrought from the images of sweets, be they melon, ice cream, or otherwise... and, of course, the caco. This is a fun level with some sector machinery gimmicks, like the citrus wheel of elevator platforms. and intuit-or-die scenarios where the solutions are clearly encoded in the level itself, like the difference in torches in the blue torch maze or the finale's color-coded pillars. I hope you were paying attention while you were playing! There are a lot of charming moments you won't want to miss, like Doomguy conducting a choir of infernal eyes while one plays the piano, or the end-of-level questionnaire. And, of course, several caco shrines. Very cool stuff.

MAP12Magnetic Force Apparatus
by "burabojunior"
This one draws from Community Chest 4, I think, specifically "Interstellar Sickness" with the space platform floating in the ether. It's way more cramped, with what little free space you have getting crammed full of monsters on several occasions, most notably (to me) the ambushes resulting from both the blue and yellow keys, though you have a pretty good chokepoint for the latter, if slightly awkward to exploit. It's pretty cute; I dig the orbital platform to the northeast, the sign of much slaughter.

Bad MorningMAP13
by "Namsan"
A large, abstract level that's both spacious and loaded with monsters and appears to be framed as some sort of wild nightmare, which fits with the unravelling reality. It's quite charming. The individual areas have their own consistency but vary quite wildly from one to the next, like the flooded cargo alley or the Hellish garden of skulls and infernal stone that make up the penultimate room, which is also a bit of a shooting gallery as far as player exposure goes. That big pillar room that serves as a sort of level hub is my favorite area.

MAP14G_T_Factory
by "toMass"
"G_T" is an installation with a largely symmetric layout in the shape of an extracted tooth. You'll have a devil of a time if you get locked outside before opening the tall doors, since you'll have to find the secret re-entry point. Health is at a premium starting out, though toMass fills you flush with both health and armor prior to activating the blue key switch, which starts quite a row. Considering the meat that's packed into the interior areas, the level has a plodding pace, but offers plenty of punch if your eyes glaze over.

NandeyanenMAP15
by Nanka Kurashiki
The core of this level is a fairly ordinary-looking dark techbase using CC4 textures, but it's got some stranger areas like a hedge maze with a Cyberdemon overlord and a nasty little jaunt through the obligatory arena in Hell. Kurashiki has worked in her own peculiar touches, like a game of keep-away with the red key, as well as several other portraits of sweets that factor into secret areas and, specifically, the hunt for the secret exit. Good luck with that one. The combat is pretty rough and tumble and largely tight on ammo, getting really claustrophobic in the futuristic annex to the north. I like the mid-tier rocket battle on the island in the molten cavern.

MAP31Manufacturing Plant
by "Masayan"
This tech installation is mostly about big rooms and scattered monsters, leaning hard on zombimen early on and in the large, outdoor area imps with mancubuses in craters, almost like they were some kind of Hellish payload. The secret exit is the primary gimmick, locked behind a yellow key door. The key itself is in its own secret, which has three sets of bars - associated with three different powerups in three other secrets - that will slam shut if you grab any of said powerups, clearly marked by the little yellow key shrines that back the pedestals that - again - slam shut when you grab the item. The open areas make for a few hairy fights, like the squat bridge battle with the Cyberdemon and commando gallery in the normal exit or the friendly neighborhood Spiderdemon, though the blur sphere should be more than enough to tackle it.

Blood Fund GangMAP32
by "Toooooasty"
Toastjockey takes things to the other extreme with a very ornate representation of a bank, complete with several vaults, sitting areas, offices, teller windows, and tiny toilet stalls. The demons don't take kindly to your investigation, though, and are eager to protect their investment en masse, requiring you to beat back several large teleport ambushes. The nastiest occurs in the northwestern section of the level, dumping all manner of things into an underground foyer that is also the site of the super-secret gold vault, but good luck getting inside the first door if you aren't there at the five minute mark. Looks pretty sharp and plays okay for what is inevitably a congested but charming dose of Doom realism.

MAP16Forlorn Defense Line
by Tatsuya "Tatsurd-Cacocaco" Ito
A tough little level that's got a sort of valley thing going on with the walk down the middle with installations built into each side. I kind of got a "City of the Unavenged" vibe to start with, just due to the combination of the building facades and the apparent depth. The entrenched opposition is pretty rough; you'll want to clear out the side buildings for extra goodies before trying to oust the most worrisome aspects, like the rock and hard place of the revenant platform vs. the arch-vile bunker. Leapfrogging the inevitable conflict and picking up the rocket launcher should make things a fair bit easier for patient players. There's a cool watery cavern in the level's western portion, the site of some claustrophobic action. I also like the big ambush at the finale, putting a baffle between the player and the safe zone while spawning in a few fliers and installing a row of hitscanners at the exit.

UAC Energy PlantMAP17
by "burabojunior"
This tight and sharp-looking techbase level is full of monsters as well as strategically placed barrels that will generally wipe out the brunt of the invasions. Your priorities change pretty quickly, scoping out your explosive powerups so as to slay your foes as quickly as possible. It's pretty rough, though, and you're just as likely to kill yourself with a misplaced rocket if you're not paying attention or standing far away enough from the choke point walls in case the autoaim screws you. After some serious congestion, the map opens up into the outer yard that dominates the southern and eastern portions of the level. The barrel gimmick remains, but it's far more visible. As could be expected, it's only a matter of time before seeing some arch-viles with all the bodies carpeting the floors. Fun stuff.

MAP18Space Port Panik
by "doom68k"
The stark visuals and strong light contrast factor into a level whose gameplay is far less mainstream. The space port is sitting on the edge of an island in the process of being swallowed by lava, and it's a gloomy, silent place until you start shooting. The intended progression is up through the waiting area, a dangerous place with black benches made safe only by the light amp goggles, and then down through a shattered storage area to unlock the red key which will usher in a large wave of revenants and Hell knights that's helmed with a Cyberdemon. It's not all that dangerous, since it's a perfect case for Infighting 101, but the new meat that now awaits you in the main terminal is a potentially rude awakening. Once you have the red key in hand, things sort of chill out. A cool set piece level.

RemindMAP19
by Nanka Kurashiki
In contrast to the bright colors of "My fav", "Remind" has the washed-out hues of a fading memory, weaving between alien caverns, natural landscapes, shattered bases, the infinite void, and a slice of vibrant green and red Hell. It's a cool if morose adventure that features light combat with occasional punchy ambushes, culminating in a pretty cool Cyberdremon track fight with a massive, winding blood staircase and an eager peanut gallery. The settings and architecture and segues make this a great adventure level, a surreal experience with an enchanting music track choice.

MAP20Escape From UAC Space Base
by "burabojunior"
Another bang-on space platform level from burabo. It's got a complex layout and a lot of ground to cover with an edge of claustrophobia worked in, plus player exposure with all those windows. The teleport ambushes aren't too bad; I'd be mostly afraid of being sniped to death by the heavy weapons dudes, arachnotrons, and mancubuses. Maybe those arch-viles, too. I love the abstract, technological temple look and the contrast of vibrant colors and dull metal makes for a visually striking experience. The Spiderdemon showdown near the end is a pretty decent finale.

Search and DestroyMAP21
by "burabojunior"
Kicking off E3 with much more punchy gameplay, emphasizing rocket usage against an arena arrangement with mancubuses in the corners, arachnotrons in the middle, and skellingtons dead center. It's a simple but gorgeous dark underground base with a few other surprises, like a fatso pincer attack and cat and mouse with a Cyberdemon, at least unless you get him on that middle walkway so that you won't be soaking any splash damage. Fast, fun, and tight.

MAP22A Den of Vice
by "burabojunior"
Flowing right from the end of MAP21, "Den" begins with a dark and dangerous base with a few unwelcome surprises, like the return after grabbing the blue key vs. revenants and waking up the arch-vile. Tackling the revenants in the southwestern room is one of the toughest bits. The level becomes a fairly straightforward climb up some ruins hewn from abyss-black stone. Sure, it's got tons of snipers, but you've got a ton of rockets and maybe the secret BFG. The Cyberdemon may be the roughest pit stop of them all, depending on how your timing works out. I love the visuals, and the jaunt through the deep blue soul sphere shrine is definitely worth visiting.

Thermal Disposal PlaceMAP23
by "Guna"
Not exactly inspiring in its architecture or layout, but it gets the job done. This subterranean base is loaded with high-HP monsters in big, wide halls and rooms. Starting out is kind of rough since you're forced at quite a lot of beasties with only the regular shotgun and chaingun, but you can sprint either way for a combat shotgun, provided you're ready to get yourself out of whatever hole you've dug yourself into. Your return trips to the main hallway lead to some mightier opposition, but you should be well-stocked with gunsnammo by then. I really like the slaughter-lite finale, with a Spiderdemon guarding the exit switch and a storm of imps and revenants coming from the sides, ripe for some careful crowdshaping into its super chaingun funnel.

MAP24Probably Maybe Certainly
by "Tyousen121"
An odd, abstract level that takes you through a murky nexus, a Hellish office building, a crate maze, and a little demon village, among other things. The action is full of rough patches, a very early one being the congested teleport ambush in the sewer area of questionable layout to the southwest, where you've got to make every combat shotgun blast count lest you be overwhelmed. Once you get past that, though, the action is fairly light, excepting a few instances of potentially tricky arch-viles, and maybe that top hallway with the arachnotron at the end and the gasbags in that wide hidey-hole.

Cakravartin's MiscalculationMAP25
by Nanka Kurashiki
A very cool Hell map with intricate, three-dimensional progression and oodles of awe-inspiring visuals. Most of the action takes place in a complex ring that surrounds the center of the map, where the finale occurs, and which is initially staffed by a scant few imps, though it's open to fire from the rest of the level. You can poke around at your own pace, picking up weapon upgrades like the rocket launcher and plasma gun, as long as you're cognizant of your surroundings since you're liable to be struck from afar. The plasma gun ambush is a potentially nasty one if encountered early on. The Cyberdemon throne room near the climax is much simpler, but it's got a great look and I always love wrangling monsters into infighting. Great stuff.

MAP26Embodiment of Maliciousness
by "Yullie"
"Embodiment" is a massive adventure weaving through a variety of locales, freewheeling from dark gothic Hell to abstract techbase and back again. It's also a very punchy level, leaning heavy on the arch-viles and revenants and other combat gimmicks, like the pretty desperate opener that drops you straight into the hornet's nest. While the level is fairly large, the monster count is proportionally small, but Yullie makes every one of those snarling beasties matter. One of the more memorable encounters involves an ornate, tiled floor rising like a see-saw as you make your way to the top, fending off revenants and a progressive handful of arch-viles. The Spiderdemon's seat of power is a nice exercise in shooting from cover. The Cyberdemon showdown, on the other hand, emphasizes the difficulty of dealing with the goliath on a staircase, not that there isn't plenty of room to juke those rockets. There's a lot of care taken in decorating some sort of sadist's abode, serving as the link before the more labyrinthine west half and the expansive eastern section.

A Resplendent Emerald GreenMAP27
by "burabojunior"
burabo presents an aesthetically stunning wonderland rendered in darkness and neon green. There aren't a whole lot of monsters, but it's a dangerous and tricky level due to the exposure of islands in a nukage sea and the secondary quest / puzzle of figuring out the locations of 13 Commander Keens, who must be smithereen'd before the exit gate will open. In spite of all the arch-viles, the fights are pretty easy to figure out as long as you can weather the initial surprise. I daresay you'll have a tougher time figuring out where all the Keens are. Both of the Cyberdemons you fight will have the high ground, making them troublesome adversaries.

MAP28HeLLport
by "Masa"
Taking things in a bit of a different direction with a shipyard... Except, this one's whatever constitutes a shipyard in Hell. It's got tons of scenery that suggests depth of area in all those giant brick buildings that make up the periphery and plenty of wide, open spaces that leave you feeling exposed to the wide variety of monsters you encounter, especially when you've got stuff like Cyberdemons performing overwatch or narrow piers just above lava that suffer revenant ambushes. About half of the level's monsters are relegated to the penultimate encounter, a huge brawl at the red key that is rife for a mixture of BFG spam and an infighting roundup once you've surgically removed the arch-viles. The rest of the level has a fairly chill vibe, but you're rarely relaxed.

Hazmat HazamaMAP29
by "Toooooasty"
Toooooasty's freewheeling style is plied to its logical end with a level where reality is falling apart at the seams and then stitched back together, joined by fissures peering into the Hellish void. It's a surreal, confusing experience, especially in moments like the Plutonic courtyard overlooked by the UAC office space that gives it a whole-hearted three-dimensional feel. The fights aren't too bad, but maneuverability - given the breakdown of the universe - is tricky, and the level does a job of exploiting the player's handicaps. The finale is the most open of the fights, joining two Cyberdemons with arachnotron and arch-vile snipers while cacodemons and a pain elemental run interference. Make sure you check out all the secret areas for some neat Easter eggs.

MAP30Every Beginning Has an End
by "burabojunior"
Your standard Icon level in gothic black brick. The Cyberdemon on the shooter platform gives it a punchy feel which combined with the meat clogging up the lower floor and the staircases you've got to take to get to the six switches, which have mancubuses on either end, makes for tricky combat, especially when it leans so heavily on rockets in the initial phase and then switching to a deadly dance around the edge while trying to take out the Cyberdemon. Thankfully, there's no timing involved when lining yourself up to blow out the boss brain. Enjoy the wonderful end sequence graphic.


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's 2016 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
Tech Gone BadAeonDMWarphouse
Ancient Aliens32in24-16THT: Threnody
Nihility: Infinite TeethBest Gameplay ModBloodstain
MutinyDoom 4 DoomStrange Aeons
Absolutely KilledMordeth AwardEchelon
Elf Gets PissedDoom the Way id Did:Shadow of the Wool Ball
ComatoseThe Lost Episodes
MiasmaMockaward
Alpha Accident: Terra NovaLudicrium
Japanese Community ProjectMapper of the Year
Blades of Agony E1Lainos

4 comments:

  1. This Wad was great, the good use of colors as you progress through out the levels, especially when some turn out to be a huge space tech theme. Although, map 27 just gives off SunLust Vibes, it's the only level I didn't like due to destroying my framrate. As for map 32, it's level design is based off PayDay (the game), first heist level.

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    1. while i have never played PayDay, now that you mention it, the map makes total sense

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  2. Loved this mappack. Tyousen121's maps are pretty bad, though. Almost seems like a beginning mapper. burabojunior, however, should be nominated for a mapper of the year Cacoward. Also, I absolutely LOVED the music on map 20. One of the best custom songs I've heard in a Doom mappack for quite some time. The song starts punchy, but gets legendary at around 2:40. I have to find what it is.

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    Replies
    1. oh yeah, it's stewboy's "Jailbreak", which also featured in Speed of Doom's MAP33. I agree, it's a very kickass track

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