Sunday, March 24, 2019



Assorted Scraps and Leftovers was Malcolm Sailor's final gift to the Doom community, a collection of previously unreleased materials split into five different PWADs. The package was published in late 2000 and ranges from fully functional levels for Doom II (as well as the original) to deathmatch outtakes and aborted scraps. The majority of the items, which are found in MS2.WAD, are not "complete" levels per se. The author considered another seven to be fully functional in single-player, though. MS1.WAD contains six of them, all designed for Doom II. They are probably - mechanically speaking - vanilla compatible but the author did not polish them for release so I would play them back in a limit-removing port just to be on the safe side.

Malcolm says that these were for whatever reason never released so I'm uncertain as to the era of their construction. He did mention a "fortress" level, called DK.WAD, in a large number of his solo release texts. His editor of choice was spitting out "unknown object" errors, constantly delaying its uploading. All word of it mysteriously disappeared upon the release of CHORD2, though, so I'm inclined to believe that they are one and the same. MSSCRAPS's MAP01 is kind of a castle level but it feels more like a dungeon than a fortress. It also resembles the early CHORD series maps in its painstaking lightcasting and emphasis on abject darkness. The other thematic link isn't as strong but CHORD2 used monster teleporters to complicate some of its encounters a la Sverre Kvernmo's Black Tower. The mysterious green fog psyche-out at the beginning of MAP01 feels similar in spirit.

The rest of the inclusions are half the size if not smaller. MAP02 is more akin to one of Sailor's abstract maps from DS-61-3. MAP03 and MAP04 feel closer in spirit to SHRTHARD in the focus on punchy, arcade-style gameplay. I reckon that both could have easily come from the same NOSUN series period, looking the first's invul-assisted brawl and the latter's painstaking if repetitive static lightcasting. MAP05 and MAP06 feel more like fragments than small maps but the careful sourcing inside the former's bunker suggests a post-Talosian Incident lighting experiment. The underground setting complete with windowed building could mean that it was an aborted attempt at a NOSUN level. It actually looks closer to what I expected to see in No Sun 3 based on its description.

If you're a fan of groundbreaking ZDoom titles then you might have already seen some of these! Zen Dynamics used MAP01, MAP02, and MAP05 for significant portions of three of its levels. The third became the opener, "Laboratory"; the second transformed into ZENDYN_X's MAP03, "Refinery"; and the first comprises much of Zen's own MAP05, "Shadowrun". I was surprised at how little I remembered them when initially starting out on this review but it seems that I recalled specific areas better than entire fragments. The wide-open dungeon segment, for instance, or the beginning outdoor portion of MAP02.

MS1 won't be a revelation if you're mostly a fan of his last three CHORD levels. It does however provide better insight into an author who I've found to be far more multifaceted than his reputation suggested. If you're looking for a "proper" level then MAP01 is the closest. The next three are definitely recommended if you enjoyed any of his other, pre-CHORD works.

by Malcolm Sailor

Judging by the care taken in lightcasting and the overwhelming dark ambiance I would say that this is a late period Malcolm Sailor map. 1997, maybe contemporaneous with CHORD1. It is a brick and metal dungeon and features some awkward super shotgun waltzing as well as a surprisingly small amount of health. The opening room feels like it cribs a bit from "Monster Condo". Some of the architecture is really cool. I love the look of the hall that joins the starting area to the starbase-ish wing. The Hell nobles are scary but the most dangerous monsters are probably the chaingunners in the little cubbyhole in the huge northeastern room. If not them then I suppose all of the revenants. Favorite moment is the fake-out teleporter rush at the beginning.

A quick techbase level. It showcases some of Sailor's penchant for abstract bits like the unnecessary metal tightrope walk leading to the red key strobe room and the controllable blast doors. It also starts you off outgunned against a revenant though you can pick up the chainsaw to slay him if you so desire. My favorite bit is a crazy fight against an arch-vile and two revenants. I admit that you can just run away but it's almost more fun to stick around. You can time your shotgun blasts to connect right before one of the skeleton rockets hits ol' archie in the back of the head. 

This is a marble arena-style map that starts out as an echo of "Dead Simple" but quickly swerves away. You have a lot of room to play with but some of the subsequent enemy injections consist of things that you wouldn't want to have to handle in open areas. Stuff like chaingunners, pain elementals; some folks still loathe fighting revenants. An invul sphere will soften most of the blow, though. The final battle is a token Cyberdemon fight and you have too much cells and rocket ammo to really care. My favorite bit is actually the coda, a mysterious walk around the outer shell of the structure to the exit. This could be late-'96 or early-'97 Malcolm, mostly because the lighting is simple sector and the outer area detailing is so bland. The arcade-style combat fits in with his Short and Hard sensibilities, too, though the final leg seems like it would run counter to his economy of design.

A brick and mortar fortress level. The simple setup, symmetric layout, and hallway lighting better resembles his SHRTHARD challenge maps. It kind of delivers, too, since the cacodemons in the teleporter gauntlet feel like legitimate pressure threats and it's lousy with revenants / arch-viles. It's all about the super shotgun plus some potential chaingun action. None of the Satanic sorcerers are crazy lethal but will dust you quick if you lose your cool. The slow lift / mancubi annex is a great place to provoke the player into doing something stupid.

Very short techbase level. Climbing up the stairs to get the shotgun is a nice way to set the scene. I wouldn't waste the shells on the zombies inside the bunker. When you get the box outside you won't hardly need it. I dunno what Sailor was going for; it feels like an interlude in a larger, story-based mapset or a blood-pumping kickstart. It mostly appears to be a way to practice lightcasting, looking at the interior of the shelter. I have no idea about the lethal water pit in front of the exit switch, though.

Super small blood and lava tunnel. There is an arch-vile at the end but you have an invul that you can use to kill both it and the mancubi sitting at the base of the newly-revealed pair of buttes. The remaining enemies are all straight shooters, easy to pare down with the combat shotgun.


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