Wednesday, December 29, 2021


One reason that I have been working my way through Memfis's entire back catalogue is because when Kuchitsu was given a Cacoward in 2013, it and Voyage to Deimos: E2M1 were his only solo releases that I had played. I was intending to start my journey back in March of 2013 but I've always been biting off more than I can chew. It was more convenient in the long-term to wait, anyway, since he had several dozen levels crafted from 2011-2014 that weren't uploaded to /idgames until June of 2014. Download is a three-level minisode for Doom II that was published on Doomworld a year prior in 2013 before eventually making it as part of the mega-dump. It's intended for limit-removing ports, specifically using prboom-plus's vanilla ruleset (-complevel 2).

Monday, December 27, 2021

Subversion (SUB-EP.WAD)

Pablo Dictter was a community fixture during the source port boom, releasing a slurry of small maps and also contributing to a couple of larger products, chiefly Alien Vendetta. He was a contributor to several different original Doom productions as well. One of them was No Hope For Life Episode One: Back to the Fight. The E1 replacement had PD working alongside Community Chest regular Andy Leaver as well as Jay Trent, now of The Becoming fame. Somewhere during the process of building NHFL, three of Pablo's levels were cut as they had too many darn maps. Dictter picked the castoffs up, dusted them off, wired them three more levels, and sent them to /idgames in July of 2001 as Subversion. This is a partial Episode 3 replacement for the Ultimate Doom spanning E3M4-E3M9.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Blind Alley Y., "Dissolution" (BNDALYY.WAD)

by Gene Bird

BNDALYY is the fifteenth and currently final release of Gene Bird's Blind Alley series, published in early April of 2004. One could argue that Community Chest 2's "Desecration" is an honorary member, but from what I can glean it was built expressly for CCHEST2. The author has a few more BNDALY entries knocking around on his hard drive, perhaps not to see the light of day. So, for now, there is this MAP01 replacement for Doom II. Earlier entries in the series had a fixed space in the running of a grander mapset but Gene does not appear to have had a particular place for this or the previous release, Forlorn (BNDALYX). If it had followed the same scheme, then this would have been MAP34.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Blind Alley X., "Forlorn" (BNDALYX.WAD)

by Gene Bird

Gene's main claim to fame is his Blind Alley series, slightly more than half of which showed up in the first Community Chest and CCHEST2. I'm not much of a forum historian but the man himself informed me that his presence in both megaWADs is largely due to the same reason that Adam Windsor has so many "filler" maps in Requiem. That is, people dropped out of both projects toward the end and the kindly authors helped to make them whole. Forlorn, aka BDNALYX, was born too late to make the first CCHEST and I assume that Bird did not think highly enough of it for it to offer it up for the second when his services were required. We are now past the point of there being any correlation between alpha-numeric characters and level slots in the original slot; if there were, then this would have been MAP33. As it stands, Forlorn is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II that was released in December of 2003 - the last of the year, in fact.

Blind Alley 8., "Retribution" (BNDALY8.WAD)

by Gene Bird

The Community Chest series might be sleeping, supplanted as it has been by institutions like MAYhem, but it was a pretty big stepping stone in marshalling the Doomworld community. A bunch of authors who were making PWADs from 2000-2003 contributed with a fair number going on to fame if not fortune. CCHEST is notorious if for nothing else than a high number of previously-released contributions from Gene Bird, Sphagne, and Daniel "Bad Bob" Trim. GB's levels all came from his Blind Alley series, a rainy-day mapset that he had developed since 1997, then taking the time in 2002 to finalize and publish maps as individual releases. Retribution, aka BNDALY8, is one of his older works, as the author takes care to point out. It was originally slated for MAP08, hence the 8 as an alpha-numeric designator, but as presented here is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II, published nearly four months after Redemption in October of 2003.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Blind Alley W., "Redemption" (BNDALYW.WAD)

by Gene Bird

If we take the Blind Alley letter scheme to its logical conclusion then BNDALYW ought to have been developed as the series' MAP32, a super secret level. The .TXT, however, informs us that it was originally slated as a MAP20 replacement, which would make it brought to you by the letter K (BNDALYO being built for MAP24). I am guessing that Gene just felt like keeping on the same roll that he had been on since publishing Waste Processing, Deja Vu, and Necrophobia. BNDALYW's other name is Redemption and it is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II, originally released almost two years after the prior BNDALYV.

Blind Alley V., "Necrophobia" (BNDALYV.WAD)

by Gene Bird

The Blind Alley series was released from 2002-2004 and eventually accrued some fifteen levels, all of which were built for a mapset that Bird had been making since ~1997. Necrophobia was the eleventh to see publication, released about a month after Deja Vu in May of 2003. Like the rest of these levels it's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II. Gene intimates through the .TXT that the V in the naming scheme indicates that it's a MAP31 replacement (1-9, A-W) though folks who have peeked ahead know that this falls apart for X and Y. BNDALYV is extra special as it's the last level that GB uploaded prior to the release of the first Community Chest. Perhaps not coincidentally, it's also the last of his published works to find its way into CCHEST!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Blind Alley U., "Deja Vu" (BNDALYU.WAD)

by Gene Bird

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines déjà vu as "the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time"; "a feeling that one has seen or heard something before"; or, "something overly or unpleasantly familiar". It is also the title of the tenth level in Gene Bird's Blind Alley series. BNDALYU is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II, released in April of 2003. The character U places it in the MAP30 slot of the theoretical compiled mapset that each of these levels were published from, though this scheme became less definitive as GB continued to upload stuff. Unlike the previous level, Waste Processing, Deja Vu also saw release as MAP04 of Community Chest 2. Slightly more than half of Gene's output was either part of CCHEST or CCHEST2, making him a foundational feature of this Doomworld institution.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Blind Alley T., "Waste Processing" (BNDALYT.WAD)

by Gene Bird

I'm continuing my whirlwind tour of Gene Bird levels here with BNDALYT. His Blind Alley series was released piecemeal from 2002-2004 from a set that had been in development since roughly 1997. I call it a "rainy day megaWAD" because of how many releases ultimately accrued but GB's original intention was for something the size of a Doom II episode. Each entry debuted once the author was comfortable with its given level of polish. The alpha-numeric designator T signifies that this was originally designed for the MAP29 slot, I suppose arriving after Spirit World - Headquarters. As it was published in 2003, however, Waste Processing is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Blind Alley B., "Octagon of Fear" (BNDALYB.WAD)

by Gene Bird

Gene Bird had been a Doom hobbyist for some time before releasing the pieces of his Blind Alley series. It was basically a rainy-day megaWAD, developed since 1997, that he started polishing to publish in 2002. Eight of the fifteen maps made their way into Community Chest and CCHEST2, back when the folks involved were more enamored of the idea of pooling their levels together to make a megaWAD. (As opposed to, say, the level of quality control imposed on - most recently - CCHEST4.) It's sad to think that Bird is unfavorably remembered as a provider of filler levels, though I suppose that it's better than his peer and correspondent Kevin Reay's divisive legacy. Almost every entry in the Blind Alley series has an alpha-numeric designator and Octagon of Fear is "B". This references its slot in the to-be-finished megaWAD's running order, in this case MAP11. As it is presented here, however, it is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II, released in March of 2003.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Rise of the Wool Ball (ROTWB.WAD)

It took awhile to get there but the modding capabilities of (G)ZDoom have led to a growing number of people making new games based on Doom's framework. Some of these are commercial prospects, the fact of which is great, but others like MSPaintR0cks's Wool Ball series continue the grand tradition of TCs (Total Conversions) in offering novel AND free experiences. Shadow of the Wool Ball, released in 2016, was a snazzy Wolfenstein 3D clone with some interesting environmental hazards. When I wrote my review I was positively anticipating a future iteration that ditched the Wolf3D flat plane of action for something with more vertical depth. Lo and behold, 2017 brought - among other great mods - Rise of the Wool Ball. Prepare to shoot, kick, and now BOUNCE your way through another 18 maps of catastrophic carnage.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Europa 3: The Dark Side of Vrack (EAEURO03.WAD)

by Erik Alm

Now here's an interesting piece of Doom history. This is an Erik Alm take on the Vrack series, as evidenced by the subtitle. If you're unfamiliar with Vrack - Fredrik Johansson's main claim to fame as an author - then the levels established a sort of orbital platform space station theme seen more recently in the Japanese Community Project. Europa 3 is also the third and final entry in Alm's EAEURO run, which began in 2001 and ends here in early 2002. As with the others, The Dark Side of Vrack is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II that is meant for play in a Boom-compatible port. Unlike Europa 2, it doesn't require the use of an independent texture pack.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Anomaly: Part II (ANOMALY2.WAD)

by Varun Abhirama Krishna

Varun is Karthik Abhiram Krishna's younger brother by about five years. The two made their /idgames debuts at around the same time in 2001, KAK with Ick (closely followed by Chaos Punch) and VAK with The Anomaly: Part II. They would eventually go on to tag-team a PWAD - 2004's Reanimated - but that is a story for another day. There's no way to infer exactly why but it's clear when comparing the two side-by-side that Varun was a more natural level designer than his older brother. I wager that you'll come to the same conclusion, whether or not Karthik's relative naivete is more interesting as an outsider perspective. ANOMALY2 is an E4M6 replacement for the Ultimate Doom and should play back in any source port.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Toilet Break (TOLBREAK.WAD)

by "Memfis"

2013-2014 was Memfis's most productive period as an author, at least in terms of the sheer number of releases. The true depth and breadth is obscured by how he held most of his available works off the archives until mid-2014, but both years feature something like twice the number of publications seen from 2011-2012. Toilet Break was made available on the Doomworld forums in May of 2013 and is a MAP01 replacement for Boom-compatible ports. It isn't always obvious to me whether his levels are actually -complevel 9 or just limit-removing and tested in PrBoom+ but there are a few clear instances of transparency to be seen.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

lilith (lilith.pk3)

In 2019 I wrote a review for Mark Klem's CRINGE! episode. I namedropped lilith while talking about stuff like glitches and Metroid's bug-derived "hidden worlds". I had not seen much of this 2017 episode outside of screenshots and maybe a video or .GIF that I only half-remember. I knew that it was going to be weird and visually noisy. It would not be wrong, however, to say that I had very little idea of what lilith actually feels like to play. I believe that all PWADs are made to be experienced but there is an inescapable essence to this 2017 Cacoward winner that cannot be communicated over a consumable gif or pithy video. I would even go so far as to say that you should play it with as little foreknowledge as possible.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Evil's Playground (Diabolique part two) (EVPL.WAD)

Time for another curveball in Pablo Dictter's portfolio. This publication primarily exists for Evil's Playground, released - I believe - in 2001. The subtitle is Diabolique part two, a reference to a previously-created level called - you guessed it - Diabolique. I'm not sure when the latter was created but it was included in the release of EVPL as something of a bonus, isn't available otherwise, and both were purportedly part of the Diabolique project. Pablo had his hand in like three or four different Doom avenues alongside his River of Fire series, Good V/S Evil (where An Infernal Place came from), and a couple of others that released later. Even if he was compelled to carve up The Gates as a failure. This dead-end PWAD couplet replaces E3M1 and E3M2 of the original Doom.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Blind Alley S., "Spirit World - Headquarters" (BNDALYS.WAD)

by Gene Bird

Spirit World - Headquarters marks a bit of a turning point in Bird's published level design. I would characterize all of Gene's maps released thus far as stringy and linear with occasional hubs and spokes. BLNDALYS is not overwhelmingly different in its execution but there is one big change in how he executes this trope, somewhat heralded by his previous release, Monster Mansion. The "S" designator denotes the level's position in the overall running of what could have been a late-occupying episode for Doom II. BNDALYR would have been MAP27 and this would have been MAP28. Things change, though, as the letter "Y" was ascribed to MAP15. Spirit World - HQ is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II and was released in early 2003.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021


by A.o.D.

I was strolling through the Doomworld Forums in TYOOL 2021 as is my wont and saw a WAD name that caught my eye - TROUSLED. Someone tried to be helpful to the author and linked them to the mod posting FAQ without any context so I foolishly decided to be a bit of a wise-ass. In the process of doing so I dug a little deeper than I probably should have and raised some questions that I decided to answer for myself. In the process I saw the INTERPIC at which point I realized that the mood of the PWAD was probably Undertale-related. I'm tangentially aware of UT but not familiar enough for this mod's title to have clued me in. Trousled is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II meant for play in GZDoom.

Titan 1024 (TITA1024.WAD)

It feels like a long time ago but, back in 2014, the author of the Titan series pointed me toward his then recent entry: Titan 1024, a sort of re-imagining of the then ten-year old levels within the 1024 limit. I said that I would do one better and play both the original as well as Titan 2 before checking out TITA1024. Well, after six and a half years, here we are! Sorry for the wait, Ixnatifual. Titan 1024 is a ten-level episode for Doom II to be played in GZDoom. It was originally released in 2012, some three and a half years after his last publication. The author notes that jumping is acceptable, but crouching is forbidden. The number of situations where the former comes up is... not big, but try not to forget that it's an option.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

ea Speedmap 3 (EASPD3.WAD)

by Erik Alm

There's a sidestory to a lot of these authorial careers who had their heyday in the early '00s that I've been glazing over. 2001 was the birth of the community speedmapping event, I mean insofar as it was officially documented on /idgames. Whether it was Doomworld, NiGHTMARE, or SargeBaldy, people came and did the best that they could within 100 minutes. Erik Alm apparently never applied to any of the DWSPD festivities but he was a fixture of both NTSPD and SBSPD. ea Speedmap 3 was actually created for NiGHTMARE's #3 session in December of 2001. Alm's connection died while he was submitting it, though, so rather than let it go to waste, he uploaded it to /idgames in early 2002. EASPD3 is a MAP01 replacement for Boom-compatible ports.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Metamorphism (META.WAD)

by Brad Spencer and Karthik Abhiram Krishna

Mapping has generally been a highly personal endeavor, the exercise of an author's absolute authority over a microcosm. Shared credits for single levels are the exception rather than the norm and even some of these instances are less collaborative and more finishing or altering a map after the original creator has moved on. Sometimes, though, a few people just really hit it off and pass a level back and forth a la Double Impact. Metamorphism is such a product, the work of two then-acclaimed authors: Brad Spencer and Karthik Abhiram Krishna. META is a circa 2003 MAP01 replacement for Doom II and is vanilla compatible thanks to some hard-workin' folks.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Love You With Poison (LUWP.WAD)

by "Memfis"

Memfis made quite a few maps that leveraged resources from classic PWADs like Requiem and Memento Mori II as well as more obscure releases, e.g. Phobos - Relive the Nightmare. Love You With Poison, a MAP12 replacement for Boom-compatible ports released in 2013, is a bit different. The author decided to make use of the monsters and resources of JCD's Survive In Hell, a 2012 megaWAD that drew from - among other things - slaughter standards. LUWP is not a slaughtermap but it is a pretty tough play for a healthy variety of reasons. Note that you WILL need to load the SIHR2FIX PWAD in the correct order with LUWP in order to play the level.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

An Infernal Place v1.1 (INFERNAL.WAD)

by Pablo Dictter

An Infernal Place v1.1 is a Doom II conversion of an E1M1 replacement that Dictter had made a few months prior in 2001. The original iteration was published on I assume his hosted website as well as Doom WAD Station, where you can find a few of his maps that never found their way to the archives. It was apparently meant for a larger-scale project called Good V/S Evil that never really took off in his esteem. In any event, v1.1 changed the format to Doom II and made some changes to sectors and thing placement that make for a somewhat different play. Worthy enough of being considered for a separate review? By my reckoning, yes. After all, I did decide to cover RRW_D201. This revision of INFERNAL is a MAP01 replacement that purportedly plays back in any port. The original might, too, for all it matters.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

An Infernal Place (INFERNAL.WAD)

by Pablo Dictter

Pablo was a boundless fountain of youthful energy around 2000. He made a ton of very small levels, the earliest of which are ferreted away in his personal archive. Some were never uploaded to /idgames, instead appearing on Doom WAD Station. An Infernal Place is a slightly weirder situation; it was originally released as an E1M1 replacement on DWS, where it is still available as such. The version on /idgames is v1.1, a Doom II conversion with a few alterations. Nowadays we typically think of maps as either stolidly for one game type or the other but it's not all that unusual when you consider how many 1994 authors converted some of their PWADs to Doom II. This review is for the original publication of An Infernal Place, timestamped 03/04/01. It is purportedly meant for play in a Boom-compatible port.

Blind Alley R., "Monster Mansion" (BNDALYR.WAD)

by Gene Bird

It's been something of a comfort playing the levels of the Blind Alley series. To phrase something 40oz once said (concerning ...And the Bloodshed Began), sometimes you forget what sort of a demon murder machine Doomguy is. The current trend of encounter design involves escalating difficulty by exerting pressure on the player in new and exciting ways. Gene Bird is from an older school of thought, though. Monster Mansion has the alpha-numeric designator "R" which, if "E" is to be believed, pegs it as MAP27 of an episode that continued to grow in spite of the author's humble intentions. Many of its levels were individually polished and released over 2002-2003 as well as featuring as significant minorities of Community Chest I & II (and a few yet remain...). This one straddled both years, being finished / uploaded in 2002 and officially interred in 2003. Like the previous instances, it's a MAP01 replacement.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Beta 64 (BETA64.WAD)

For many years, authors were mostly content with attempting to bring the magic of Doom 64 to the PC. Sure, some folks made episode-like mods for The Absolution TC (like The Outcast Levels, Redemption Denied, and The Reckoning), but there just wasn't the same level of love as with Doom I & II. Maybe it's a "mod of a mod" thing. The disparity persists after the release of Doom64 EX, but someone - Doomworld Forum superstar Antnee - stuck it out for the long haul and fabricated the first ever user-created megaWAD for Doom 64. Beta 64 is a thirty-one level mapset for Doom64 EX, soft-released in late 2018. It isn't officially "done" or uploaded but if the author comes back to fashion MAP29 then I'll update this review.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Doom 64: The Lost Levels (DOOM64.WAD)

Samuel Villarreal has had one of Doom's longest and storied love affairs. The object of his affection? Doom 64. Kaiser started out converting its levels or otherwise using them as inspiration for part of his 2000 megaWAD debut, DSV. (Not to forget about the more polished reconstructions in his Console Doom.) He spearheaded the Herculean effort to recreate the entire experience in Doomsday for 2003's Absolution TC. 2011 saw the official release of the next phase of his passion project, the reverse-engineered Doom64 EX source port. It's been clear that some of the developers of Doom 2016 have a lot of love for the largely forgotten '97 release so it's cool to see all this hard work pay off in an official re-release for both consoles and PC using Kaiser's KEX engine, used for some other Night Dive re-publications, as the base. There's slightly more to this story, though - The Lost Levels.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Europa 2 (EAEURO02.WAD)

by Erik Alm

2001 appeared to have been a pretty formative year for Erik. Alm made five submissions for Sam Woodman's One Week Mapping Contest, demonstrating an esoteric taste that spanned "short and sweet" to large-scale challenges informed by Hell Revealed. It also marked the debut of his Europa series. The first entry was a massive labyrinth that mixed his stiff encounter design with a tangled layout and key sidequest that evoked shades of 1995. This entry - the second - closes out 2001 on a high note that sees a drastic change of style away from some of his less user-friendly design decisions. EAEURO02 is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II to be played in a Boom-compatible port. As is the case with EAGOTH1 and EAGOTH2, you need to play this with the Gothic DeathMatch II texture pack.