Saturday, August 11, 2018

SPACIA: A Silly DOOM Space Adventure (SPACIA.WAD)

2002: A Doom Odyssey is fondly remembered by a multitude of players, enshrining a stable of authors - Paul Corfiatis, Kristian Aro, Christian Hansen, and others - in the minds of many. SPACIA is much less so. Released earlier in the same year, this twenty-two level Doom II mapset followed Elliot Goblet in marking the beginning of pcorf's jokeWAD period. If bearing witness to someone's clumsy attempts at humor in the idtech1 engine is not your cup of tea, especially when it's rife with senseless softcore pornography wall textures, then you can safely sit this one out.

The plot is pure nonsense in two parts. The first eleven levels detail your journey through a Death Star-like structure that's affiliated with the "Church of Porn". Your eventual end is at the emperor, an 8-bit portrait for you to "kiss". Afterward you're thrust back in time to your "first day of school", an artist's rendering of Doom levels as they might have been composed by a five- or six-year-old. Supposing that the kid was dedicated to reminding you about how bad it is and how you're wasting your time by the usage of MSPaint textures proclaiming as much. Your reward should you pursue this to completion is accolades for your ability to choke down puerile shit.

The space setting would have worked. Paul had a firm grasp on designing cool levels by the end of 1999 and snatches of the architecture hint at a potential but more substantial PWAD. Every entry of the set is over in mere minutes, though, and the way that pixelated pornography is slathered around reads like Paul had scrapped a Star Wars-inspired project and slapped the smut in to prevent people from mistaking it as a serious release. While most of these are quick arcade-like gimmick levels, they play okay and MAP06 is a longer if underwhelming experience. On the other hand, "One Boring Room", "Ride Into the Slide", and "The Bringer of Jollity" are the least substantial.

The second half of SPACIA has the same re-purposed sense about it except it looks more like it used to be a Wolf3D-style collection since much of it is aligned to the size of the garish textures that patch over the secret level's. The SS Nazis unsurprisingly appear as the most common monster but there are also obligatory Cyberdemons and arch-viles, much in keeping with the space portion. It's purposefully ugly and simple and the combat is for the most part uninteresting; I would have to give children more credit than this when it comes to level design. The heavy focus on the plasma gun makes it go by pretty smoothly, though, and the DOOR texture got a laugh out of me.

Paul's end text tries to sell the arch-viles as being a major element of the episode but they're pretty prevalent in the whole package and presented something like a miniboss. Their attack windup is faster due to a DeHackEd patch that makes a few other alterations. The Hell knights can fly but the only time I ever saw it come into play was during the opening MAP01. The biggest addition is the mysterious brown-eyed cacodemon, a fragile and faster version. They replace the pain elemental and can move through walls. I actually enjoyed encountering them whenever they appeared since the encounters were rare enough that I was usually surprised and immediately engrossed.

There are also a host of sound replacement. The most obnoxious belongs to the Cyberdemon; when awoken, you'll hear a long musical bit sung by what I assume is an Asian ethnic caricature. Its death sound bite sounds like celebration music from a vulgar game show but an /idgames comment has clued me in to it as being Kevin Bloody Wilson's "Hey Santa Claus". The Spiderdemon is a little better since its wakeup is Korax of Hexen's "Greetings" line and its death prompts an increasingly manic performance of "Chitty [Shitty?] Chitty Bang Bang". The others .WAV files aren't quite as intrusive (well, maybe not the revenant death) and run the gamut from sped-up and higher-pitched lost souls deliver another Serpent Rider speech to skeletons making turkey noises and more. I vastly prefer the ones not based on comedy routines but SPACIA tries to subvert any attempts to take it seriously.

The music might be the PWAD's most precious resource. The first eleven levels have pcorf tunes that either vaguely resemble or are directly derived from the original Star Wars to varying degrees of success. The others are renditions of child nursery rhymes like "Pop Goes the Weasel", the soundtrack of Super Mario Bros. 3, and the Looney Tunes theme song. I doubt that the latter stuff will mesh well with most projects but the Star Wars MIDIs might work for any high adventure levels, particularly ones set in space and especially those trying to leverage Lucasfilm products.

It's difficult to recommend SPACIA but it should have an eager audience in players who eagerly embrace the experience of trainwreck PWADs, if only to scream at them. I'd almost point anyone who possesses a lust for space-themed maps at the first eleven were it not for the ham-handed insertion of pornography. There is nothing inherently unplayable about this set but if it didn't have all the garish textures and sound replacements then it would be aggressively sub-par once you average the front and back halves together. It's here, though, should you succumb to the sinister urge.

by Paul Corfiatis

Sets the tone for the rest of the set with some softcore pornography in the... ship's bridge or whatever that is. You will encounter a Cyberdemon but if he wanders out into the cold darkness of space, he is destined to die. You can see him there, too, in an enormous psychedelic chamber fielding a bunch of monsters on the outside. They will have a great difficulty in reaching you. 

MAP02Unit 517 / Floor 1098 / Location BXE9
A nondescript station / platform with porn alcoves containing cacodemons and a catwalk chamber sporting a backpack and armor. The outer ring has a switch that you need to open up the exit, back in the level's center.

Panic PortMAP03
A small spacewalk fight which has a novel exploding barrel hazard. Then you explore the interior where you watch a Cyberdemon get crushed and maybe halfheartedly kill a handful of lost souls.

MAP04Teddy Bear's Experimant
A tricky arena fight with a Cyberdemon. You can find a secret invul sphere and a readily available BFG as well as ammo but you'll still have to avoid being blasted off whichever catwalk you approach him from. There's no way to get out of the pits.

One Boring RoomMAP05
True 'nuff. Well, apart from Korax, though why he felt that a single arch-vile would get the job done vs. a plasma gun and a ton of ammo is beyond me. Especially when given a 64-wide corridor to pin him in. There's a lot of stuff that's technically behind the engraving but they just add confusing random sounds.

MAP06The Star Wars Office
The catwalk extending into nothingness hints at Paul's fondness for Imperial architecture, but this is an otherwise banal semi-space station with a balcony and several long, featureless hallways. There are a ton of secrets but all you'll be missing are three very minor monsters.

Ace Ventura ReactorMAP07
More of the vast station cavities, which definitely helps to solidify a theme. I think that Paul cut down the arch-vile's attack time. Once you finish up the platform you can enter a bronze-ish metallic maze built out of odd angles, filled almost entirely by zombies. Slow going.

MAP08Halls of Porn and Korn
Two BFG frenzies, the first with a Cyberdemon on the outskirts of the building and the second against a horde of mancubuses inside what I can only assume is the Church of Porn mentioned in the first transition text. The last thing is a slow, drip-feed teleport ambush after grabbing the yellow key. This also turns the lights out and hopefully means the end of all the grainy pics.

Ride Into the SlideMAP09
A short run through a pipe only to be told to go back to flip a switch that releases a Cyberdemon into the tiny exit room. Good luck! The megasphere will let you soak one solid hit so go in fighting. Also, still more nudie pics. As a positive, the scene from the starting area's window does resemble the trenches on the Death Star. It would have made a nice set piece in a stronger mapset.

MAP10The Bringer of Jollity
Five Romero Heads getting crushed at the same time is fucking loud. Also, we seem to have swapped out the porn for Super Mario Bros. 3 stuff. Great!

The Emperor's TowerMAP11
A couple of tall elevators to take you to the top of this pinnacle within a starbase. The most exciting thing is the debut of the brown-eyed cacodemons which can fly through walls but have less hit points. The emperor himself is a pain in the ass because, as mentioned, arch-viles possess a much shorter attack windup. Be strong and conserve that megasphere!

MAP12First Day At School is a Great Inexperience
You are now back in time, playing through simplistic garbage. The author conceived of this as portraying a child's state of mind. Garish, MSPaint textures adorn boxy rooms and almost all of the monsters are found in a giant squad of SS Nazis outside. The glut of weapons allows you to end it quickly, though.

90 Year Old Alton Loves His Barbie DollsMAP13
I half suspect that these maps were originally conceived of in the Wolf3D style. There's a window peeking into the starting area of "Underhalls" as if reminding you to spend your time much more wisely, similar to how the little cacodemon teleporter trap hints at Paul's full potential. Almost everything you have to fight is a boy in blue.

MAP14Ring a Ring a Rosie, Archie Made You Fly
This level has a handful of Nazis and a platform that sports an enormous crowd of arch-viles. You don't have to fight them and the megaspheres in the yard to their southeast offer nothing that you need. Just grab the red key from the well-composed toxic fountain staircase and move on with your business.

Hunting We Will Go!, A Hunting We Will Go!MAP15
A field of megaspheres and a tight group of troopers to offset a couple of cacodemons. I was surprised at how well the humanoids managed to do against the gasbags. The room has an interesting shape with its blocky, jagged triangle. Your reward is a Spiderdemon turkey shoot; it can't even move to pursue you.

MAP31Its Clean Up Time, No Its Not, Its Mess Up Time
There is a faint spiral staircase theme in this one. The bread and butter monsters are Nazis and cacodemons in the hallways, easily slaughtered by using the copious amounts of cell ammo and megaspheres. The big choke point is a Cyberdemon at the top of a flight of stairs. It's awkward to take him down, a fact Paul notes in the .TXT. It's smooth sailing from there on out as you're treated to a psychedelic flesh and blood chamber and Raccoon Mario sends you up to face a pair of easily handled Spiderdemons.

Did You're School Teacher Smack You?MAP32
Continuing from the last level you're tripping over megaspheres and cell ammo while hosing down the occasional SS Nazi. Somewhere in here is a pit of revenants that make turkey noises and a semi-circle of looping paths ending with a Cyberdemon. One of those phantom cacodemons is the only real surprise.

MAP16Row-Row-Row You're Boat, Gently Down the...?
This is more of a set piece than anything. The object is to get inside the boat, which is very easy to do when strafe running. I think that Paul might have wanted you to arch-vile jump inside but the first shot you take is going to wake up a pair of boss shooters. The Cyberdemon fakeout at the beginning is very DoomCute.

Three Little Piggies In the Market, Which Little Piggie is Gonna Die?MAP17
A cramped room with a metric ton of health and zombies locked behind doors. And a goat-legged skyscraper guarding the red key. If you want a challenge, you can try to punch him to death! There is a berserk powerup, after all. You don't need to kill him, though.

MAP18Satan's Friendly Little Toy Box of Joy
Belt-fed plasma gun randomness. It opens with a cute setup that's intended to get two Barons to duke it out but it wouldn't work in ZDoom. My favorite segment is the zombie-packed eastern area. The weird midtexture wall in the center of the room makes handling the Cyberdemon a little less straightforward than usual.

Can You Pass or Fail You're Three Point Turn?MAP19
Blow through Hell knights in nine identical square rooms and then grease a Cyberdemon at the end of a long hallway with a BFG and an invul sphere. All in a big, counter-clockwise movement pattern.

MAP20Downcinderella Dancephei Latenight Cat!
Three heads! Pressing the wrong one will trigger a lethal Cyberdemon ambush. The correct one successfully completes the level. Paul reveals that the one you're looking for is actually his, so keep his advice in mind while you're picking between the severed head of a woman, Elliot Goblet, and the mystery man.



  1. Just saying, the link directs to the DS-61-3 package.

    I will try this one some later time. Pcorf is an amazing author. You know anything about upcoming releases of him? I'm not really following doomworld, etc...

    1. Fixed. The SPACIA link in the intro paragraph was still correct. Paul is working on a sequel to 2002: ADO.

    2. Yes The Next Doom Odyssey. 13 of 36 maps complete. - Pcorf

    3. Thnx both for the quick replies! Really looking forward to that! Though I can imagine it will take some time.

      I'm perplexed that this game still has such an active community. 1 question: Anno 2018, are there still new people added in the mapmaking community? People picking up the basics just now?