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I’ve just finished the 6th episode tonight. It probably took me about an hour per episode to complete, and I’m now tossing up whether to give spear of destiny a go or to just leave it there. I feel accomplished having beaten this legendary game, if a little exhausted.

I don’t have strong nostalgia for this game as I was slightly too young for FPSs when it came out, and DOOM was better timed for my FPS coming-of-age. I did watch my older cousin play it though, so I was aware of it, as well as its links to DOOM (from the two DOOM II secret maps).

The nostalgia for me was really around the fact that I didn’t have it as a kid, and that it had this taboo or forbidden quality to it. Do I dare play this game?! What if my mum found out?! I dabbled in it over the years, and I’m pretty sure I got as far as beating the shareware episode, but never much further than that.

The hardest part for me in playing this game was trying to set aside my DOOM-bias and to consider it from as clean a slate as possible. I didn’t do a good job of that because going into it I was thinking “oh it’s just a series of confusing mazes without an automap” and “the controls are going to suck because you can’t circle strafe” and all the usual complaints about this game.

But anyway, none of that was an issue and I loved (almost) every minute of it. Turns out it’s really fun to go around killing Nazis (not so much the poor dogs) and stealing their gold. The worst part about it was I kept getting the ‘theme song’ stuck in my head and whistling it out loud (it’s not a song you want to get caught whistling in public).

My approach was to basically just focus on completing the level rather than maximising my score. That means taking out as many Nazis as I could, and reaching the end of the maze. I didn’t want to ‘wall hump’ myself into insanity trying to find every possible secret.

The mazes are indeed confusing, and you get lost, and overwhelmed when you open a door to find a big open room with four more doors to explore. But you muddle your way through them, get the keys and move on. I think I only ever had to look at a map for one level (the only level where a key is hidden behind a secret).

The controls do feel a little primitive, but they work and usually the spaces aren’t big enough where something like circle strafing will actually do you much benefit, so it’s fine. Just get used to pushing ALT every now and again.

Some of the elements like ‘score’ and ‘lives’ are redundant, but they do add replay-ability to it (ie, playing with different rule-sets, or trying to get 100% across the board).

The secrets are totally random, but boy is it satisfying when you hear the sound of those walls opening up.

This ticked all the boxes for me. I got to play a game that was in my gaming ‘periphery’ but that I had never completed before, and at the same time get a greater appreciation for the later FPSs that were so fundamental to my gaming experience. That’s what DOS gaming is all about for me. If it hadn’t been game of the month I would have probably let my preconceptions get the better of me and left it sitting on my C: drive unplayed.

Overall, this game is like listening to AC/DC – each level/song is basically the same, but it’s a damn good level/song so I’ll keep playing it.