Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reunion 01 (REUNION1.WAD)

REUNION 01
by Ed Cripps


Ed Cripps is mostly known for wild-ass detailing and geometry that uses the most advanced Doom source ports available, crawling colossusi notwithstanding. His level design is usually compared to Quake II's, even if it's a twisted Shores of Hell-styled base (Warp House). Reunion is something quite different, aiming for a vanilla-oriented series of levels for the original Doom. While Ed describes it as a series, his interest must have waned, because he only released one other Reunion level (Reunion 02). This initial iteration, Reunion 01, is an E1M1 replacement released mid-1999.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Icon of Sin (2) (ICON2.WAD)

THE ICON OF SIN
(2)
by Ed Cripps


If I had to guess, I would say that the Icon of Sin is the most reviled of all the Doom II level "themes" where the them describes the action. Plenty of people try to do interesting things with the "Dead Simple" triggers in addition to the usual "Dead Simple" motif, and appearances of Wolf3D stuff in Doom usually presents with some bemusement, but I haven't seen a great many words about players really appreciating the perfunctory MAP30 standard. How odd, then, that Ed Cripps of Sin City fame elected to make an IoS map for his second released level! I guess we just weren't as wore out then as we are now. The Icon of Sin (2) is a MAP01 replacement for Boom-compatible ports, released in early 1999.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Don't Drink the Water (DDTW.WAD)

DON'T DRINK THE WATER
by Ed Cripps


Ed Cripps is now known for making engine-popping GZDoom levels with wicked cool geometry and architecture. Back in 1998, though, he was bumming around with the rest of us. Don't Drink the Water is a MAP01 replacement for what was Boom at the time but should work with Boom-compatible ports. Apparently there were roughly 12 MB worth of new resources in the original DDTW.WAD, all of which the author describes as "cheezy"; given the relative simplicity of the level, I'd be interested in seeing just how all these things dressed the original incarnation up.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

KZDOOM7: The Power Plant (KZDOOM7.WAD)

KZDOOM7
THE POWER PLANT
by Kurt Kesler


Kurt Kesler made a bunch of maps. The vast majority of them were released as single entries, though Kesler eventually gathered up all of his vanilla levels into a collection - KMEGA. The others had names as befits their target ports: KBOOM for Boom, of course; KZDOOM for ZDoom; and KHILLS for... limit-removing? KZDoom7, internally titled as "The Power Plant", is his final solo ZDoom release, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II. There was a KZDOOM8 in the works, but Kesler did not finish it at the time he released k-maps in 2003. KZDoom7 isn't the last Kesler level; he continued to work on two larger projects, Frenzy DM and Ni'mRoD - IXNAY on the HOMBRE, before Still Kickin' in 2005.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Shadow of the Wool Ball (SHADOWO*.WAD)


Making a full-fledged Doom clone with all new resources... Well, that's hard. Making a Wolf3D clone, though, that's a different story. I'm still not going to pretend that it's easy, but Wolf's much simpler level design sets the bar much lower and not having to make full rotations for monster sprites (since they only have to be focused on you) can only be a boon for working sprite artists. 2016's Shadow of the Wool Ball is a passion project from MSPaintR0cks featuring retro Wolfenstein action rendered in a clean, cartoony art style. A ZDoom release, it's three episodes of six levels for a grand total of eighteen that's meant to run with the Doom II IWAD, but can run just fine in the original Doom excepting a surprise guest appearance from the end text from Doom's Inferno.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Unhinged (UNHINGED.WAD)

UNHINGED
by "darsycho"


Back in 2012, the dude who would become darsycho made a pretty weird but goofy Doom mod by the name of Beyond Reality. I liked it; some of the spots were pretty off-the-wall but it was more about being silly than weirding the player out. Then, toward the tail end of the same year, he published another surreal Doom mod but with a very different atmosphere. Enter: Unhinged. On its face, it's a two-map offering for Doom II to be played in the ZDoom family of ports with the second map purely existing for the end sequence, and the initial impression - a lonely stretch of urban road built from vanilla Doom II textures with some Duke3D stuff for building facades - is underwhelming. But there's more.

Monday, December 5, 2016

maintenance mode

CURRENT STATUS: backfilled through January 2015

I've been using Imgur.com to host the screenshots seen on this blog since back in 2011. However, unbeknownst to me - not that ignorance is any excuse - using it in such a manner is forbidden by the Terms of Service. As a result, and due to an inquiry I had made recently, Imgur has salted the earth and blocked any viewing of said screenshots on this blog. That sucks! Especially since they didn't tell me about it, not that they needed to since what I was doing was forbidden by the ToS. I don't know if that used to be the case, back when I started using it, but that's the way it is now! And to think, I used to have an Imgur Pro account.

The Good News: I already had a Dropbox account with more than enough storage space, and I'll be slowly going through and backfilling all of those beloved screenshots.

The Bad News: This is going to take a long time, during which this blog will be nothing but sweet, sweet words.

I've had my work cut out for me, gentle readers. You'll probably see some reviews, but I'll be spending a lot of time bringing these hard-won screenshots back to you.




Addendum 12/8/16: If you are dying to see some screenshots, they are still where they've always been. Finding the appropriate album at https://kmxexii.imgur.com should load them all, after which you can refresh the review post and see it as it was originally intended. I'm systematically deleting the images and albums as I update the links to Dropbox-hosted material, though, unless someone has a really good argument that can convince me otherwise. Virtually no one has trawled the more recent albums so keeping them around doesn't feel palatable after Imgur's stealth-ban.

The plus side, unless you have a really slow internet connection: No more 640 x 480 images! Everything is being linked at the 1280 x 960 I took it at, at least until I get to the stuff where the Imgur copy is the only surviving backup. Go take a look at Ancient Aliens in gorgeous, hi-res.

Mayhem Mansion (MAYHEMM*.PK3)


(This review is an expansion and edit of my review for the original, single-level release of Mayhem Mansion. The original is still available here.)

Mayhem Mansion had an original release back in 2013, a single level drawing inspiration from the notorious and obscure FPS, Exploding Lips. In 2016, the saga of Mayhem is complete, and while it's still full of magical-thinking moon-logic, I feel like I have a sense of closure. The final iteration of Mayhem Mansion has a grand total of eight levels for ZDoom, the last two being the final boss and credits maps. It's got enough puzzling and exploration to make for a full megaWAD's worth of time, though. If you are looking for something that plays like Doom, well, you should probably just look elsewhere. This is a fantastically different experience.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Warp House (MA_WRP.WAD)

WARP HOUSE
by Ed Cripps


Ed Cripps may only release one level a year, but if anyone has shown where GZDoom can push the level design of Doom, it's him. Mostly known for his Sin City series, which rolled on into stuff like Valhalla and the Quake II-like Putrefier, Ed's levels typically feature painstaking level design including architecture, detailing, and lighting. 2016 is no exception with the publication of Warp House. It is, unsurprisingly, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II. It's also saturated with only the finest eye-candy that slopes and 3D floors can produce. Alas, there is no framing narrative to set the scene; I guess the least you can do is come up with your own after Ed did all the hard work!