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9.21.2000: Squonkamatic - Q2 SP: "Pirhana Pool"
"Pirahna Pool"'s pool of pirahnas. Oh the joy...

Author: Daniel WarsÈn and Fredrik Holmar
Reviewed By:
Game Mode Supported: SP
Overuse of Colored Lighting: Good Lord yes.
Spelling Errors in Text File: Not sure, but the guys can't speak English anyway so screw it.
Pain Level: Vomiting up broken razor blades and battery acid. Then eating it. Then vomiting it up again. Then eating it. Repeat for several days.

Download Here (68k)




AT A GLANCE: I fondly remember the first game "level" I ever made: it was for Classic Quake, and consisted entirely of a single, empty room with one light in the middle of it and about 40 monsters. An example of each weapon was included, as well as enough ammunition for players to take on the entire Israeli Air Force. I recall howling with laughter the first time I "played" it, and the pride with which I showed it to all of my pot smoking Quake playing buddies; I still even have it on a floppy disc somewhere. The moral of my little tale is that it will NEVER be released for public consumption because I don't want to make a bigger ass out of myself than is absolutely needed. The two chaps who conspired to release this wad of chewing gum stuck to the collective shoe of the Quake addon map enthusiast community were not as wise, and they deserve to be tracked down and beaten with broken JC Penny mannequin limbs for cursing us with this total waste of time. I hereby volunteer to lead the angry mob.

THE MAP: I am going to assume that the authors are brain dead preteen children, and estimate their collective age at the time of the map's execution at 12. They are also from Sweden, which is not that bad considering the women they have up there. But in my humble opinion these two Butt-Monkeys should never breed and need to quickly be isolated from society on some deserted, frozen, woman-less island in the North Sea to prevent them from even having the opportunity to spawn; two of these bozos is more than we need on this planet during my lifetime. The fact that they have unsupervised access to a computer that can manipulate Quake2 editing tools also fills me with rage, if only because as a Mac user I DO NOT have said access at the present time nor in the foreseeable future. As such, when I encounter the work of someone who has easy access to such coveted technologies that are beyond my grasp, I expect more than rotting whale shit to come out of their efforts to create new things with them. I'll be exceedingly diplomatic and say that I am very disappointed in these two sadistic fucks.

Click on the image for a larger view of the walls while I scratch myself.

What young Daniel and Holmar have done to invoke my ire is to create the WORST Quake2 single player map that I have ever played. The classic "This Map is Good Fun" is a bizarre masterpiece, the "Revolution 9" of the Quake2 map universe. It makes no sense, triggers epileptic seizures, inspires axe-murderers to commit mayhem, and yet evokes such a profound sense of awe within the knowledgeable viewer that you have to just marvel at it and wonder why you can't get drugs as good as its author does. Daniel and Fredrik's "Piranah Pool" is the antithesis of Good Fun because it produces such an overwhelming sense of pathos within the sentient Quake2 player that he/she will want to give up the game, gouge his/her eyes out, and start playing Mumbelty Peg with rusted garden shears for kicks.

One starts out in a large box that is supposed to be thought of as a "room"; I contend that it looks like a BOX. Plain, haphazardly selected textures comprise the poorly aligned walls, and the player kind of stands there in a confused state for a spell wondering where the FUCK they are. After a few moments one becomes aware that a certain patch of the walls is not as darkly colored as the rest. Lo and Behold, shooting this patch with the blaster makes it slide up to create a hole that is intended to function as a door to another "room". HOW CLEVER! This marvelous feat of architecture leads to another oddly lit box containing a shotgun and some guards to kill. Whoopee. But the room is not without a gem of level design that I have never seen before: Daniel and Fredrik have managed to cram three exploding barrels into a space about the size of a pay phone. The purpose of this unique element is unclear, but it caught my eye simply because I didn't know you could DO things like that with a game level editor and release them to the public without being laughed off of the Internet. It is an enigma, and one cannot help but wonder what the intentionally behind its addition was. I have no clue.

Don't be fooled - it's not over yet. Nooo hohoohohh....

After triggering an unadorned switch sticking out of one of the walls like a misplaced, lonely cake decoration, one proceeds back out into the "start room/box" to watch one of the walls recede and present the player with a truly astonishing sight: a gay disco bar with a green neon lit bathtub sunken into the middle of the floor. EACH corner of this room is lit with a different color, the effect of which is that every three steps the player is bathed with a new shade of nauseating pastel shit. There are a couple more monsters placed in this room to round out the action, and the bathtub is filled with the weird phallic Quake2 interstellar piranah fish (hence the name of the map). One skips around like a moron, blasts the confused, irritated looking monsters, and then it is time to shoot the fish.

Anyone who is familiar with my work writing about game levels knows of my affinity for maps that have lots of digital binary water... and water in single player maps means FISH. What I am getting at here is that I have killed so many Goddamn Quake and Quake2 fish over the past three years that I deserve some kind of a fucking medal for it. I am a veritable expert on killing fish in the Quake engine games, and sometimes I actually do appreciate it when the insightful level designer places a couple of gross, slimy, hungry Quake fish in the murky pools I have a habit of hopping into without looking twice. But there is a point of exasperation that one reaches when they see something as stupid as a bathtub sized pool of green neon lit water with like six of the goddamn things undulating in it like a rotten bowl of Chef Boyardee Beefaroni waiting to be vomited out of my stomach. And the sheer ARBITRARINESS of being required to stand there like a cretin and blast each and every one of them into pulp just to be able to retrieve some stupid powerup on the bottom of the tub is nothing short of insulting. How many more times must I witness crap like this before I resolve to stop playing Quake? The element adds nothing to the map and could have easily been eliminated without causing anyone to bat an eye (except perhaps to ponder why the map was named "Piranah" while you watch the blood to ooze out of your slashed wrist and wait to waft into unconsciousness).

Umm... OK.

But it gets worse ... the amount of thought put into this map is exemplified by a notice that one gets on their game computer update after hopping out of the bathtub that announces "Mission Complete, find end". Huh? Did we miss something while we were gunning down the fish? The answer is YES - we missed the chance to play someone else's crappy level. With that said, at this point in the "game" the player is now expected to navigate though a stretch absolutely pathetic looking neon red and blue glowing "hallway" (with no logical illumination sources and more poorly aligned walls) to emerge into a large anteroom with a "sky" textured ceiling that is lit with so many gobs of gut-wrenching colored lights that one is tempted to switch to software mode just so your player model can BREATHE. I have never found colored lights in a big, stupid, empty room to be as suffocating and claustrophobic as this. There are a couple of more goons for you to ice, annoyingly stuck on a sloping brush that serves as a ramp up to the top of a large block to texture, and then the real fun begins - at the exit.

One of the reasons why Quake2 single player levels (including id's own SP game maps) have gotten such a bad rap is the propensity for authors to place the big badass "Boss" monsters in their maps in such a manner that there really isn't a way around or over them. One of the underlying laws of Quake2 single player map design seems to be that if you add a boss to guard the exit or whatever one should NEVER provide the player with sufficient firepower to deal with it. Frustration and death must be mandatory. That tendency is bad enough, but Daniel and Fredrik have successfully hatched an evil plot to hit the player dumb enough to even stick with the map this far with like four Big Badass Bosses in a room about the size of a Subway sandwich shop. The exit is placed at the far end, but it might as well be on Mars. Since Daniel and Fredrik have included a grand total of about 6 shotgun ammo and bullet boxes (along with a Railgun, because it's REALLY COOL) in the entire map, most of which was used to shoot the fish in the bathtub, there really is no point in bothering to engage the Bosses in battle without implementing cheat codes. Perhaps one is expected to Tiptoe Through the Tulips and try to wiggle and worm your way past them to engage an exit trigger before they grind you into hamburger: I did not bother. After seeing what awaited me I hit the "salute" key, sat back in my chair, let them gun me down, took a screenshot, and called it a day. Disgusting.

THE BOTTOM LINE: So what are my "To-Sum-It-All-Up" thoughts on this level? Well it's easy to say things like "1t SU><0R5" or "this is the worst fucking Quake2 single player map I have ever played", but those expressions seem hollow and lack the conviction that I feel in wanting to condemn this abomination and bring ridicule onto its creators. Quite simply, it should have NEVER been released. It should have stayed on their drives as something only to be spoken about with shame when the Interpol agents question them about all of the gay Asian animal child sex snuff porn they have amassed on their parent's computers while skipping their court-ordered therapy sessions. The level's only positive attributes are a minuscule file size, the inadvertent comedy that "playing" it might produce in someone who is stoned off their gourd or otherwise easily amused, and in serving as an abject lesson to most budding level designers as to why they should NEVER release their first map no matter how cool their friends tell them it is. It's just not fair to the rest of us.

Category: Rating:
Aesthetics: - 9
Gameplay: - 9
Item placement: - 8
Layout: - 8
Detail: - 10
TOTAL: - 44

Individual ratings go from 0 (bearable) to -10 (painfully terrible). Total score goes from 0 (ok) to -50 (the worst piece of shit you'll ever play).

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