08/11/2005 @20:32:33 ^21:21:08

ooh pretty

Set off another box of fireworks. Unlike last time I didn't manage to singe any plants but both the catherine wheels detached themselves from their hubs and flew around the garden. One landed in right in the hole where this plant pot used to be! Should get a big points bonus for that I think!

castle phobos

This is a really old wad and as was fairly common at the time it comes in several versions both for Doom and Doom 2. I played cphobos2, a six-level set for Doom and cphobos5, a ten-level set for Doom 2.

So firstly the Doom version. Ignore the file "cphobos.wad" as it is just the first four levels; run cphobos2.wad with -iwad doomu and warp to episode 2 (or don't - see later) The first map has what the text file describes as a base built into the side of a mountain, to which you have to gain access. It's more a fortress than a base with a courtyard and battlements but oh well. Hidden around the place are four switches which you have to press to get inside. They are pretty well hidden. Indeed this thing often forces you to find shit that is hidden in secret areas to progress. Such is life in old school wads. Just use the map editor, I suppose.

The second map is a warehouse followed by a bunch of tunnels flooded with slime. This isn't quite as annoying as it sounds if you know where you're going, which I did. I admit I'd long ago got fed up with the wad hiding shit everywhere, and turned the map cheat on! The third map is even more complex, with secrets absolutely everywhere, a chapel with a teleporting baron, and a secret exit(!) The fourth map is more like a dungeon and then the final map is quite mansion-like. It features a large throne room, whose intimidating decoration doesn't match up to its population, which is a lone baron. I guess barons were a lot scarier in 1994.

There is a secret level, E2M9. It is one of the cleverer ones I've seen. All the maps run on from each other, that is, each starts in a copy of the end area of the previous map. The secret map is a copy of about half of the third map. You have to do about half of the third map again, but backwards. There are subtle differences obviously but it's convincing nevertheless. I think the best part was where I looked out of a window across some waste ground to another similar building, and guessed correctly that I would be seeing this from the other side later. And indeed on map 5, I found the other building and could see out of its window to the area in the secret map! Very good.

But there's one problem. cphobos2 runs in episode 2, where the secret exit only works properly on map 5! I think this wad was released after id demanded PWADs shouldn't work with the shareware version so in particular don't replace episode 1 maps. I don't know though. Anyway if you play this, renumber the maps from E2Mx to E1Mx. This is really easy in a hex editor and the wad makes much more sense that way.

So anyway the Doom 2 version. This adds 4 more maps and some extra graphics. Obviously you lose the effect of the secret level, which is now just regular old map 6. The seventh map is another maze of slime-filled tunnels, the eighth is a huge outdoor castle, you run around a long ram part and teleport to a central building, eventually exiting to the courtyard below which is full of monsters. Map 9 feels more like a final map due to all the large monsters in showdown settings and the hall at the start where you are given all the guns, but it's not; the final map is much more like one of the previous castle mazes, like map 3 only smaller and harder I suppose.

The extra graphics include the sergeant being replaced by a black-suited marine (although he turns back into a sergeant on death!) and the imp becomes some sort of black magic wielding dark druid who throws glowing skulls at you, and who evaporates on death. The conversions of the original maps are mostly easier because in general the barons are replaced with hellknights but the newer maps can be quite tough. Don't try to do these things from scratch either, they're not designed for it. For example map 8 has tons of plasma but nothing to fire it with. I tried to do it from scratch anyway and ended up using a cyberdemon to finish everything else off, but didn't have the ammunition to finish it off! Oh well.

In summary if you've read this far Castle Phobos is a decent set of maps for Doom, especially given how old they are. There are good 1994 maps, you just have to search for them! The Doom 2 conversion isn't so great, it definitely loses something without that secret level thing, and the graphics aren't so great. But convert the maps to run as episode 1 maps first!