Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reunion 01 (REUNION1.WAD)

by Ed Cripps

Ed Cripps is mostly known for wild-ass detailing and geometry that uses the most advanced Doom source ports available, crawling colossi notwithstanding. His level design is usually compared to Quake II's, even if it's a twisted Shores of Hell-styled base (Warp House). Reunion is something quite different, aiming for a vanilla-oriented run of levels for the original Doom. While Ed describes it as a series his interest must have waned because he only released one other level (REUNION2). This initial iteration, Reunion 01, is an E1M1 replacement published mid-1999.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Icon of Sin (2) (ICON2.WAD)

by Ed Cripps

If I had to guess I would say that the Icon of Sin is the most reviled of all the Doom II level "themes" where the them describes the action. Plenty of people try to do interesting things with the "Dead Simple" triggers in addition to the typical motif, and appearances of Wolf3D stuff in Doom usually presents with some bemusement, but I haven't seen a great many words about players really appreciating the perfunctory MAP30 standard. How odd, then, that Ed Cripps of Sin City fame elected to make an IoS map for his second released level! I guess we just weren't as wore out then as we are now. The Icon of Sin (2) is a MAP01 replacement for Boom-compatible ports, released in early 1999.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Don't Drink the Water (DDTW.WAD)

by Ed Cripps

Ed Cripps is now known for making engine-popping GZDoom levels crammed full of wicked cool geometry and architecture. Back in 1998, though, he was bumming around with the rest of us. Don't Drink the Water is a MAP01 replacement for what was Boom at the time but it should work in compatible ports. Apparently there were roughly 12 MB worth of new resources in the original DDTW.WAD, all of which the author describes as "cheezy". Given the relative simplicity of the level, I'd be interested in seeing just how all these things dressed the original incarnation up.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The KZDOOM Series

by Kurt Kesler

as featured in Serial Killing

Kurt Kesler was a pretty prolific author who eagerly embraced several source port standards, cementing him as an early adopter and experimenter. Most of his levels were made for the original Doom and collected in KMEGA1 but he also horsed around with the Boom format as per KBOOM and, on a few occasions, source-port agnostic (limit-removing) as in KHILLS. KZDOOM is, you guessed it, his series of levels for Marisa Heit's ZDoom. This seven-level collection was published over a period of time spanning 1999 to 2001 with the unfinished scraps of KZDOOM8 released in his k-maps collection in 2003.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

KZDOOM7: The Power Plant (KZDOOM7.WAD)

by Kurt Kesler

Kurt Kesler made a bunch of maps. The vast majority of them were released as single entries but he eventually gathered up all of his vanilla levels into a collection - KMEGA. The others had names as befits their target ports: KBOOM for Boom, of course; KZDOOM for ZDoom; and KHILLS for... limit-removing? KZDoom7, internally titled as "The Power Plant", is his final solo ZDoom release and a MAP01 replacement for Doom II. There was a number eight in the works but the author did not finish it at the time he released k-maps in 2003. This isn't the last level by Kurt; he continued to work on two larger projects, Frenzy DM and Ni'mRoD - IXNAY on the HOMBRE, before Still Kickin' in 2005.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Shadow of the Wool Ball (SHADOWO*.WAD)

Designing a full-fledged Doom clone with all new resources... Well, that's hard. Making a Wolf3D-style game, though, is a different story. It still wouldn't be easy but the simpler level design sets the bar much lower and not having to make full rotations for monster sprites (since they only have to be focused on you) ought to be a boon for working sprite artists. 2016's Shadow of the Wool Ball is a passion project from MSPaintR0cks featuring retro Wolfenstein action rendered in a clean, cartoony art style. A ZDoom release, it's three episodes of six levels for a grand total of eighteen that's meant to run with the Doom II IWAD but can run just fine in the original trilogy excepting a surprise guest appearance by the end text from Doom's Inferno.

Monday, December 12, 2016


by "darsycho"

Back in 2012, the dude who would become darsycho made a pretty weird but goofy Doom mod by the name of Beyond Reality. I liked it; some of the spots were off-the-wall but it was more about being silly than weirding the player out. Then, toward the tail end of the same year, he published another surreal Doom mod but with a very different atmosphere. Enter: Unhinged. On its face it's a two-map offering for Doom II to be played in the ZDoom family of ports with the second map purely existing for the end sequence. The initial impression - a lonely stretch of urban road built from vanilla Doom II textures with some Duke3D stuff for building facades - is underwhelming. But there's more.

Monday, December 5, 2016

maintenance mode

CURRENT STATUS: backfilled through October 2014

I've been using to host the screenshots seen on this blog since back in 2011. However, unbeknownst to me - not that ignorance is any excuse - using it in such a manner is forbidden by the Terms of Service. As a result, and due to an inquiry I had made recently, Imgur has salted the earth and blocked any viewing of said screenshots on this blog. That sucks! Especially since they didn't tell me about it, not that they needed to since what I was doing was forbidden by the ToS. I don't know if that used to be the case, back when I started using it, but that's the way it is now! And to think, I used to have an Imgur Pro account.

The Good News: I already had a Dropbox account with more than enough storage space, and I'll be slowly going through and backfilling all of those beloved screenshots.

The Bad News: This is going to take a long time, during which this blog will be nothing but sweet, sweet words.

I've had my work cut out for me, gentle readers. You'll probably see some reviews, but I'll be spending a lot of time bringing these hard-won screenshots back to you.

Addendum 12/8/16: If you are dying to see some screenshots, they are still where they've always been. Finding the appropriate album at should load them all, after which you can refresh the review post and see it as it was originally intended. I'm systematically deleting the images and albums as I update the links to Dropbox-hosted material, though, unless someone has a really good argument that can convince me otherwise. Virtually no one has trawled the more recent albums so keeping them around doesn't feel palatable after Imgur's stealth-ban.

The plus side, unless you have a really slow internet connection: No more 640 x 480 images! Everything is being linked at the 1280 x 960 I took it at, at least until I get to the stuff where the Imgur copy is the only surviving backup. Go take a look at Ancient Aliens in gorgeous, hi-res.

Mayhem Mansion (MAYHEMM*.PK3)

(This review is an expansion and edit of my article for the initial, single-level release of Mayhem Mansion. The original is still available here.)

Mayhem Mansion had its first release back in 2013 as a single level drawing inspiration from the notorious and obscure FPS, Exploding Lips. The saga is complete in 2016 and while it's still full of magical-thinking moon-logic I feel like I have a sense of closure. The final iteration of Mayhem has a grand total of eight levels for ZDoom, the last two being the end boss and credits maps. It's got enough puzzling and exploration to make for a full megaWAD's worth of time, though. If you are looking for something that plays like Doom, well, you should probably just look elsewhere. This is a fantastically different experience.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Warp House (MA_WRP.WAD)

by Ed Cripps

Ed Cripps may only release one map a year but if anyone has shown where GZDoom can push the level design of Doom then it's him. Mostly known for his Sin City series, which rolled on into Valhalla and the Quake II-like Putrefier, Ed's levels typically feature painstaking level design including architecture, detailing, and lighting. 2016 is no exception with the publication of Warp House. It is, unsurprisingly, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II. It's also saturated with only the finest eye-candy that slopes and 3D floors can produce. Alas, there is no framing narrative to set the scene; I guess the least you can do is come up with your own after Ed did all the hard work!