Monday, March 11, 2019


by "Capone"

Duke 3D mods were popular dumping grounds for smut but Doom wasn't entirely innocent given themes/x-rated/i_am_old_enough_to_look_at_this. It just didn't kickstart horny nerds by including strippers and other things that seem really cool when you're a teenage boy. Capone released a handful of levels from very late '96 to '98 but the one that he will probably be remembered for is AOL Girls Museum, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II which was made in '97 but released during the following year. My intro implies otherwise but AOLGIRLS is not in the /x-rated /idgames directory because it lacks any nudity unlike, say, SPACIA.

It does have pictures of women, though. I'm not sure what the origin of the photos are but one of the archive comments hits the nail on the head. It looks like a scraping of a BBS thread full of pictures of scantily-clad wives and girlfriends. I imagined that the pix were shared by their husbands / boyfriends - with or without consent - somewhere on AOL but many of them have something that appears to be a unique AOL handle stamped on the image. I wouldn't rule out whether they were offered by the women themselves. In either case, Capone then immortalized them by interring them in a metal and wood art gallery with a green marble facade.

He also threw a scant 64 monsters into the halls. It's mostly zombies and scattered imps including a few SS Nazis. A mancubus appears to serve as a boss monster. If you can keep from being distracted by the enormous, grainy images and approach carefully then you won't suffer much. Otherwise you're looking at a low-key battle of attrition since there isn't a lot of health stored around. It's almost guileless but for a few places at the end where a couple of monsters emerge from some of the photographs. Why the AOL Girls Museum has a mainframe toward the back is beyond me. There's also no indication of why Capone decided to use Alanis Morisette's "Ironic". He could have just enjoyed the song or maybe it was a clumsy attempt to counterbalance the subject material.

There's an interesting twist of fate in the fact that some twenty years later the AOL Girls Museum is virtually what it claims to be. If it weren't for the photographs-cum-wall textures then it would be as unremarkable as the rest of Capone's meager back catalogue. The level design does exactly what it needs to do in terms of presenting the pictures but offers little else apart from stashing extra shells in the blood fountains at the entrance. Oh, and potentially leveraging sex appeal in order to distract players during combat. It's too bad that he saved the false-wall closets for the finale because a couple early on could have injected some much-needed tension.

AOLGIRLS isn't worth checking out for today's average player but it offers some historical interest in what people were up to on the early Internet and the kind of content that authors of the era thought was worth putting in a PWAD. It's definitely DoomCute; I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the PWAD involved in this review is.


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