Wad, short for “where’s all the data,” is the file format used by Doom. Over the past twenty years, Doom‘s fanbase has produced thousands upon thousands of these Wads, ranging from simple sprite swaps to full-fledged total conversion epics. Here on Tight.Wads, myself and Reagan Cox aim to bring you some highlight wads—be they the most creative, punishing, or downright fun. And today, we start with the former in Temple of the Lizardmen.
Temple of the Lizardmen is exactly what it sounds like, give or take. You play as a special ops soldier in a series of nondescript Mesoamerican ruins, using all sorts of guns to dispatch familiar monsters ripped straight from games like Blood, HeXeN, and Heretic. While the art styles of the different games may clash considerably, the enemies all pose their own unique challenges—from the pesky lurkers who have a tendency to pop out just right when you don’t want them to, to everyone’s favorite screaming skeletons known as revenants.
The Wad has seven maps—one of which being an extremely short escape sequence and another one is a boss fight—and they’re all mostly-linear romps through caverns, temples, and ruined shrines. The only really bad map is the atrocious E1M4, a glorified turret sequence where you unload ammo at gargoyles from Heretic and take on a bullet-eating dragon, all while operating within your tiny space to heal and reload on ammunition. Not only is it boring, the nonexistent movement options are a direct antithesis to what makes Doom so great in the first place.
Throughout these maps, you’ll be using a familiar Doom weapon lineup with slightly different skins. The only truly new weapon is the grenade launcher, which lobs shots at predictably wide angles. I was somewhat caught off guard when I noticed that Temple of the Lizardmen uses a Duke Nukem 3D style of reloading, which is to say that after enough shots, you’ll be locked into a reload animation—it’s not too much of a hindrance.
Yet while the weapons are mostly great, the rocket launcher proved to be a serious nuisance. It seems like its hit radius is way larger than the actual explosion sprite, and I found lingering near an explosion as the particles faded dealt a surprisingly strict amount of damage. This is a shame, because making enemies burst into giblets of gore has always been a Doom highlight, and I found that the rocket launcher was only any fun to use in very exceptional situations.
One of those special situations is the second dragon encounter, once you manage to suffer through the aforementioned helicopter slog. The open arena is a great setting to fight this type of boss, who will be zipping around overhead and raining down fiery death from above. He’s not very hard to dispatch, not in the slightest, but being able to finally get some good payback for the hell that is map 4 with a rocket launcher was quite the satisfying experience.
Despite everything, the only major issue I have with Temple of the Lizardmen is its length. As I mentioned earlier, it’s really only seven linear maps that are more reminiscent of Knee Deep in the Dead’s bite-sized maps than megastructures. However, what little is offered is excellent, and as far as I’m concerned, this is a Wad well worth your time.