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10.3.2000: Squonkamatic - Q3 DM: "TEST NASA"
"TEST NASA" is apparently an experiment in spatial dementia. And it works.

Author: -=Kasper=-
Reviewed By: Squonkamatic

Game Mode Supported: DM
Overuse of Colored Lighting: No.

Spelling Errors in Text File: None. 

Pain Level: Masturbating with a piece of course grind sandpaper and then filling in the scabs with bits of rock salt.

Download Here (808k)


Good Lord where the Hell am I?
AT A GLANCE: YAY! Finally a sidesplitting hilarious look at inept game level design for me to prattle on about for a change... Alert reader Tigger-On demonstrated his 133t skills at emailing links and sent me a whole batch of suggestions for maps that he and his compatriots over at LVL have already gagged at. This was the first of the bunch to catch my eye based solely on the screenshot on their review page -- I had to see for myself if the map actually looked like that. It does.

DESCRIPTION: There is no information text included with the file, which is actually not that surprising; I wouldn't know what to say if I had made this and was foisting it out to anyone looking to extend Quake3's precious shelf life on their drive. Buried in the .pk3 file is a brief text description of how to load the map for anyone who may never have performed such a complex function before, and in this map's case I find that to be sufficient.

THE MAP: Bizarre. An exercise in what I can only term "freeform level design" where the author ingests as much cocaine, heroin and shoepolish vapors at once as they can and sits down at a map editor with absolutely no preconceived notions of what he/she is going to do. You start making boxes and then texture them with your eyes closed, making your selection based on what is brightest and most annoying. Then you make smaller boxes inside of the larger boxes and put doors on a few of them that don't work just right. Using textures on all of your brushes is optional -- the occasional "missing texture" checkerboard look only adding to the surreal nature of the map. Another important thing to remember is to select "novelty" textures like the chain link fence graphic employed with such conviction by Kasper that it defies the (sic) purposelessness of its inclusion. Then you add things like see-through stairs, a teleporter, a jump pad, and other semi functional items that aren't really needed (my favorite is the little damage inflicting waffle iron structure floating in the air), and pepper the map with the most unlikely collection of powerups and weapons one can conceive of placed inside each of the boxes. The final touch is to leave the map "unsealed" and enclose it all in a huge block of space texture (here it is what I recognize as being a Quake2 space texture ... interesting) so that the player can be propelled out of the map by the jump pad extraneously included on the roof into orbit, and fall back to splat on the lowest floor. This map is truly a marvel.

Indeed as if to underscore the fact that the sequence of oddly textured boxes isn't sealed right, Kasper has included the ridiculous "Flight" powerup in the map, and interested players have the option of taking a memorable laugh inducing flight around the level to see all of the gaps in the brush alignments, missing texture grids and goggle at the see-thru walls that permeate the architecture like a giant Q3 colored Swiss cheese. I didn't even bother with loading Bots during my first 10 min look at the map but just floated and bounced around with glee as the map shimmered with VIS errors and spun below me through the haze of fog texture that was included for no reason at all. What a joy it was to behold a Quake3 level that didn't trigger some sort of neurosis or seizure within me and instead just catered to my taste for the bizarre and ridiculous; this is Q3 map design for the dada league.
Now you may not believe it, but the map is actually as ugly as this screenshot suggests.

GAMEPLAY: When I actually did get around to loading up a few Bots I was impressed at how confused they were by the totally nonlinear structure of the level and essentially became moving targets searching in vain for a way out of whatever box/structure they had become trapped within: I actually got a decent score. I am heartened by seeing someone designing to "beat The Machine", as it were. It would be a total gas to try this out on a server with human opponents, though I don't think there'd be much playing before a proper 15 minute belly laugh session as people take turns floating around the map like June Bugs and smacking wetly into the see through walls. Then again the joy of game levels like this really isn't in "playing" them but just loading them up and getting a good chuckle out of it -- anyone who would seriously undertake competitive play in such a map should probably undergo anger management counseling.

FUN FACTOR: The map is "fun" in the way that John Waters movies, Pee-Wee's Playhouse and Shakes the Clown are fun. It is kitsch masquerading as a game level, and I am thankful that the author has chosen Q3 as his platform and took some of the starchy, pompous dryness out of the game for me for about a half an hour. I'll keep Q3 on my drive so long as there are gems like this out there to be had. Usually crummy map design makes me angry simply because I still don't have access to tools that will let me make my own Q3 levs (thanks for being DAFT back in the 80's & 90's, Mr. Jobs), but this level sort of defies my ability to be disgusted with it by being so disarmingly inept.

THE BOTTOM LINE: This is truly a Whorehouse winner, and I totally recommend it. Don't load it up expecting Tim Willits sewer-Hell intricacy or gloomy emotive Unreal atmosphere; load it up because it's fun to laugh at stuff like this every once in a while.


- Squonkamatic for the People!!

Category: Rating:
Aesthetics: - 10
Gameplay: - 9
Item placement: - 6
Layout: - 8
Detail: - 8
TOTAL: - 41

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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