Thursday, January 31, 2019

700 reviews

700 reviews sure sneaks up on a person. Gosh, that's a long time and a lot of words to be writing about a twenty-five year old computer game. To mark the occasion, I decided to post my review of Kama Sutra a little earlier than it would normally have been and further stepped up the timetable in the running by posting each one a day earlier than usual (e.g. two instead of three for single maps).

In review:

Kama Sutra (KSUTRA.WAD)


Plenty of people have offered their opinions on the Promethean works leading up to the high difficulty / slaughter genre but Hell Revealed is the big one. It ultimately served as a monograph that crystallized notions about the style, establishing a baseline for future experimentation. The first big wave of HR progeny was largely Scandinavian in nature and took several different routes. This resulted in 2001 / 2002's Alien Vendetta (organized by Anders Johnson); 2003's Hell Revealed II (largely characterized through Jonas Feragen's work); and Erik Alm's run from '01 to '03, culminating in Scythe. Adolf "Gusta" Vojta's Kama Sutra, a full Doom II megaWAD released in 2005 with some assistance from Jakub "Method" Razák, is a synthesis of all these influences.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Mayhem 2013 (MAYHEM13.WAD)


The MAYhem series is sort of like a speedmapping session but the target for making maps is the very merry May. Sometimes the polishing phase wraps up a few months later. At other times it doesn't finish until, say, March of the following year. The first session - MAYHEM12 - wasn't really centered around a gimmick unless you counted its three suggested themes but it did have a much-maligned texture set. MAYhem 2013 elected to use the Community Chest 4 pack but actually ended up with one less level. Maybe that's because of the 2MONSTER gimmick. Released in 2014, the final product is an eleven-level mapset for Doom II that's meant for Boom-compatible ports.

Friday, January 25, 2019

World's End (AP_001.WAD)

WORLD'S END
by Alex Parsons


Besides kicking off a Doomworld institution, the original Community Chest is notable for including levels that had been previously released on a serial basis or were intended as such. Alex Parsons was one of the big three and his particular solo series shares its title with the opening level - World's End. This is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II and can be presumably played in any limit-removing port, even if the folder inside its .ZIP archive is labelled "zdoom". The only guidance offered on that front is "advanced port needed"; the author hints at potential visplane overflows. I can vouch for it running fine in modern ZDoom, though, and I didn't see any sort of exclusive features.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Kurogane (KUROGANE.WAD)

KUROGANE
by "Memfis"


The previous Green Day had the author on some sort of an upturn in terms of making moods in Doom levels. Kurogane takes itself more seriously, pulling back from the DoomCute elements and then developing a heavy atmosphere through careful lighting and his customary, highly-tuned thing placement. It's a MAP01 replacement as well as his final solo upload in 2011. As usual, Memfis abstains from including any sort of framing narrative. He also neglects to explain the title. Given his deference toward manga I assume that it refers to a work bearing the same name and apparently translates to "Black Steel". There are plenty of other potential sources, though.

Monday, January 21, 2019

RRW_D201 (RRW_D201.WAD)

RRW_D201
by Richard R. Ward


Rich released a couple of well-regarded levels in '94 and then went through the trouble of converting his very first release (RRWARD01) to Doom II. The end result is RRW_D201, a MAP01 replacement released in 1996. Ward may have eventually intended to bring RRWARD02 up to the same sort of package as his later publications since this "port" includes his common custom status bar and difficulty settings, a few of which appear to contain Monty Python references. He appears to have been done with Doom as of '96, though, after releasing the finished portions of his failed Knee Deep in the Dead replacement.

RRWARD01 (RRWARD01.WAD)

RRWARD01
by Richard R. Ward


Rich is one of those guys who gets a lot of word of mouth as an author who made maps that were pretty cool back in '94 and is still recommended today. He released his best-loved efforts in 1994 and while there are four RRWARD0X levels they don't comprise a serial mapset. The later two are actually the remnants of an aborted episode for the original Doom! RRWARD01 is one of the '94 publications, an E1M1 replacement for Knee Deep in the Dead. Not to be confused with RRW_D201, a conversion of this level to Doom II made by the author in 1996. More on that later.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Capone's Pit (PIT08.WAD)

CAPONE'S PIT
by "Capone"


The author known as Capone had a brief stint in early 1997, finishing the quasi-notorious AOL Girls Museum during that period but uploading it to the archive a year and a half later. He didn't make many levels but his few releases were short and not particularly challenging or even inventive; all of them but AOLGIRLS claim to use a pre-existing map for a base. Capone's Pit is the first of these, a Doom II MAP01 replacement released at the tail end of 1996. It doesn't mention what the original source was; I presume that it shared the PIT moniker and was maybe a Deathmatch level but none of the stuff I looked at fit. I didn't try too hard, though.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Samsara (SAMSARA-V0.3666-BETA.PK3)


Samsara allows you to play as a formidable complement of classic FPS heroes and either duke it out in deathmatch or slay monsters alone and in co-op. The intent was to provide something like Marvel vs. Capcom for Zandronum. Term eventually discontinued development when he moved on to a new project to drive all the Doom players crazy - Demonsteele - but Kinsie of Reelism fame eventually took up maintenance of the mod so that you can use the same package in both GZDoom and Zandronum just as easily as you can use all of the heroes in any of the idtech1-derived games.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Green Day (GREENDAY.WAD)


Memfis has a lot more going on than being a dude who makes tightly-balanced maps with relatively light action. To be fair, though, it seems like the sort of gameplay that he tends to target. Green Day is no different and thus follows in the tradition of Kashimir which he published earlier during the same year in 2011. This minisode for The Ultimate Doom was meant to be played in limit-removing ports and features two levels in the first couple of slots for Thy Flesh Consumed. They're linked by theme and have an intro map / main attraction dynamic going on but the author has elected to exclude any sort of a framing narrative.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Short and Hard (SHRTHARD.ZIP)

SHORT AND HARD
by Malcolm Sailor

Quick is GoodBaron GateCenter

3PACK_1 and DS-61-2 (later updated to DS-61-3) were among Malcolm's earliest releases in 1995. Both consisted of ZIP packs containing multiple, separate PWADs. In 1997 he released Short and Hard, the third and final of his collections prior to the largely archival MSSCRAPS. SHRTHARD has one thing in common with 3PACK_1 in that it contains Quick is Good, which was released nearly a year earlier in 1996, but the overall experience has been streamlined. There's only one .TXT for all three PWADs and none of them occupy the same map slot so they can be loaded together. They don't follow any sort of serial pattern, though. QUIKISGD occupies MAP01; Baron Gate has MAP27; and Center can be found in MAP31.

Center (CENTER.WAD)

CENTER
by Malcolm Sailor

SHORT AND HARD
Quick is GoodBaron GateCenter


SHRTHARD was the last of Sailor's "compilation" zips prior to dumping all of his unreleased material at the end of 2000 as well as his last non-CHORD series release. The 1997 package includes the considerably older Quick is Good as well as two new deviations, BARONGAT and CENTER. This one is a MAP31 replacement for Doom II and like the other two was grouped together based on Malcolm's perception of their relative difficulty as well as their length. It definitely qualifies as short when placed up against NOSUN and 3, both of which the author had under his belt before uploading this .ZIP.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Baron Gate (BARONGAT.WAD)

BARON GATE
by Malcolm Sailor

SHORT AND HARD
Quick is GoodBaron GateCenter


Whatever the final release order looks like on /idgames, it appears as though Sailor hadn't made NOSUN5 before compiling Short and Hard. The 1997 collection of three individual PWADs - much in the spirit of his earlier 3PACK_1 and DS-61-3 - gathered 1996's Quick is Good and threw in two new punchy, pint-sized Doom II adventures. CENTER will be covered in a different review; this is all about Baron Gate. Sailor was very happy with the way his MAP27 replacement played but felt self-conscious about its appearance based on the layout as drawn from the top down. I can agree with him that the automap is not the important thing when it comes to levels.