Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Carnage (MS-DOS)


There's not a lot of choice when it comes to Christmas themed first person shooters or first person shooters set at Christmas. I've already played Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza (in April). And that's all I can think of.

There's that Duke Nukem expansion pack, and I recall the main guy from Rise of the Triad has a Christmas hat on if you play it on Christmas Day.

What I need is something completely unique and unheard of. Something wholesome and wonderful that'll entertain the audience and fill the room with festive cheer.

An obscure German FPS called Christmas Carnage!

(Also known as Xmas Carnage by folks who go by the CD sleeve and ignore the title screen, documentation, etc.)

Hooray! This title music is festive! It's helped along by the simple warming tones that only a naff SoundBlaster module can produce.

Yep, this game's in German. I'm hoping that because it's an FPS there won't be much dialogue in it. If it turns out to be an epic dialogue-driven adventure like Strife (though that's not very likely looking at this picture) I'm screwed.

Alright. I'm a guy with a hatchet standing in middle the road in the freezing cold. The ground is all snowy and it's dark. I've got a skinny cartoon claw-like hand and a rendered or perhaps digitised hatchet.

Hey, here's a snowman! It is a Christmas game, after all!

SNOWMAN IS ENEMY. RUN AWAY!

The snowmen can fire laser eyes, causing massive explosions and lighting up parts of the level. My hatchet does hardly any damage whatsoever and swings very slowly. Retreat!

I'm running around in circles trying to find a better weapon, hoping that I've started next to one. The road leads off into the distance between rows of identical houses. Not a good idea to wander off before I've found my starting gun. Where is it?

Pistol! Now we're getting somewhere! The moment I pick up the pistol, my guy does a really dirty sounding laugh and the music switches to a very jolly version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

They bleed an awful lot when I shoot them. These must be snowmen monsters.

Or perhaps they're people dressed as snowmen.

With all the snowmen in the immediate vicinity defeated, I'm free to take a look around. I'm in an absolutely massive town filled with rectangular streets lined with identical houses. Presumably there's going to be an exit switch somewhere leading to the next level.

Clue acquired! This door opens with a red key!

Objective 1: Get red key.

I have absolutely no idea where the red key is. These streets are identical. Even with my amazing 90s protagonist speed, I have no sense of scale or direction.

Presents? For me?

It's pistol ammo! Yay!

Wait. What kind of Santa gives children ammunition for Christmas? That's not right.

There's snowmen absolutely EVERYWHERE. I don't think I can shoot this guy because he's behind a tiny picket fence.

Who goes there, friend or foe?

Blimey! What's all this then?!

It's a guy in a santa hat with big white coat and a shotgun. As this digitised guy runs about, he likes to bellow an elbow-in-the-ribs style 'ho ho ho!' like he's just read out a Christmas cracker joke.

When he shoots me, he doesn't make a gun noise, he yells 'Beng!'.

He's not on my side. Sorry santa guy!

Naught but dead ends and exploding snowman laser eyes everywhere! It's a Goddamn warzone! I don't know I can take them all on before I'm dead. The title wasn't lying! There seems to be a lot of ammo lying around and not a lot of medkits. I'm rushing about between all the snowmen in a slalom trying to find anything approaching a landmark. If the red key is in one of these gardens, I might have run past it.

Splat. I'm dead. I'm going to have to turn the difficulty down. There's no way that I'm supposed to be able to kill this many snowmen.

I've found another weapon: grenades! I can't throw them very far, but they kill the snowmen in one hit. I'd better save them in case I run into anythng more dangerous than the snowmen monsters or the labcoat Santas.

I've also found a Corridor 7-like map device! It's good to be able to tell where I've been, but what I'd really like to know is where to go.

Aha! Now this looks like a place I can go!

"hohoho!"

Darn it. That was stupid. I should be paying more attention. I shoot the lab Santa and run up one of the staircases.

The music takes turns being festive and creepy. It's now moved on to a pipe organ section thats clipping all over the place and making a sound as if the cones of my speakers are being torn apart.

It's a happy little giggling elf! And he's offering me a shiny blue ball. Of certain death.

Die, you!

The staircases lead to the battlements of the castle, where I find a very useful item indeed. The assault rifle! And tons of ammo! No elf dare stand against me!

It's all go in the corridors of the castle. There's even less variety in the castle corridors than in the streets but thanks to the map, I can actually tell where I'm going!

Outta my way!

These elves like to teleport in behind my back with a 'ohhhhhhhhh' voice sound sample.

My money says that they're going to run out of elves before I run out of bullets.

Presents, presents, presents... RED KEY! Yeah!

I can't take the presents. I think they must be for weapons I've yet to find, and they block my path for some reason.

Back outside the castle, a snowman guards more presents!

These are the first medkits I've found so far! I've hit the deck and I'm sneaking up on the snowman. If he lasers me before I get to those medkits, I'm dead.

Sneaking successful! Now we're talking. Assault rifle, check. Red key, check. Health, check. Where did I leave the damned red door?

OUTTA MY WAY.

Okay, let's think about this logically. I could draw out a map on paper as I patrol the streets. Or I could check the documentation and see if there's a fullscreen map. Which there is! (The German word for fullscreen map is 'FullScreen-Map', fact fans.)

I'm gonna take screenshots of the fullscreen map and assemble them into a composite picture showing the whole level. Ready?

Go!

Phew. Right, well then.

I started in the northwest corner. The little two-by-two room next to the corner is where I found the pistol. I found the red key in the castle to the south, where the pink areas lead to the battlements. The red key door is at the very top, next to a maze. Well, as far as I can tell, I've been everywhere...

UNLESS... those black squares to the right of the maze at the top are undiscovered squares!

(The half an hour of solid running around the streets like a maniac pressing Space on the walls has been omitted for brevity. I did find some neat secret areas though!)

When you're in a maze of corridors as wide as you are, the most dangerous enemy is the controls.

That's only to be expected, really. There's nothing especially wrong with Christmas Carnage's controls. They're responsive and all in the right place.

House identified!

This is looking a bit gross, isn't it?

What is THAT? Oh, it's just an elf in the dark.

Splat. I'll be taking that blue key, thanks.

Up yours, hazmat Santa! I'm taking over this castle whether you like it or not. Your evil scheme to give all the kids bullets for Christmas for some reason is FINISHED!

Level 2! Not as pretty as level 1!

There wasn't any sort of inter-level screen showing stats or anything. No sound effect, no change in music. The screen just faded out and faded back in again.

It's an evil grinning present, bouncing about the place and laughing with an awful squeaky laugh. Best believe you're going down. There's tiny versions of this guy you can run right over and squish.

I was apprehensive about going down this corridor when all I could see was a glowing white circle in the distance, but it's just a light, not a PowerSlave style instant death fireball launcher.

This elf has no idea I'm here. Means I don't have to stand that blasted laugh.

Labcoat Santas everywhere. These corridors are going on forever! I was outside for a moment, but that seems like hours ago.

Ahh... white coat, snowy streets: camouflage! That Santa's a tricky one.

Hooray! Presents!

I can't pick a single one of them up because they're all for weapons I don't have!

I don't get it.

Somewhere along the line, I've found myself on Level 3 and in a room with bright blue conveyor belts. It's a Christmas miracle that I managed to complete Level 2 without finding the map device. (What a senseless waste of a miracle.)

The music hasn't changed since I started the game. It's on a permenant rotation of Rudolph, some dramatic music, some festive music and that speaker breaking pipe organ music. It's sheer coincidence that the music is lining up with how I'm doing in the game.

The time to ask the obvious question of what is going on in this game has long past. The walls and floors of the castle are covered in blood and now there's big holes in the floor.

Maybe I'm an old fashioned guy, but this place honestly scares me. Like I said when I played Fears, there's no telling what's at the end of this corridor. When and if I find anything, it's going to be mangled beyond recognition due to sprite scaling and totally discoloured to fit into the game's 256 colour palette.

My camera isn't going to be automatically yanked away as my character obediently tracks the designated 'scary thing', and I'm not going to be distracted by shiny effects while I wait for my character to finally respond to my desperate hammering of the fire button (through desperation and boredom).

In this castle, it's just me and some German dude's demented imagination.

Boosh. Smacked in the face by an elf with giant Killing Time hands. That was a bit anticlimactic.

They're getting their money's worth out of their lighting in this engine. There's light squares and dark squares and everything!

Level 4. Who's this guy? You're an angel so I'm rescuing you, right?

Angry face?

I didn't accidentally shoot you (like I usually do)!

Flamethrower angel! Alright. Kill you too.

There's a part here where you have to crouch to get through some narrow passages. It's really, really difficult to get the game to let you uncrouch. If you manage to do it, the game will crash because you don't have a weapon equipped. It's really difficult to get a weapon out, too. Fortunately, unlike Rex Blade, the saves work.

Whaddya know, a maze.

For the first time in computer gaming history, they give you the map before you enter the maze, rather than giving you the map as a reward for completing the maze.

The reward for completing the maze is a rocket launcher and a nasty present to test it out on.

Oh snap.

I head up a lift, only to be met with a corridor full of flamethrower angels, labcoat Santas, munching presents and magic elves. I have no ammo left. I can only hope to run past them all and hope for the best.

Well, I won that level, but every time I change level, my map is taken away from me. Come Level 5 I'm out of ammo, lost, and dead.

HO HO HO

FRÖHLICHE WEIHNACHT!

(That's German for 'Merry Christmas'!)

How did we get from running down corridors to a dismembered rabbit? The readme says I was playing as the Easter Bunny and I was trying to destroy Christmas! Who knew!

This is a nice image to end the year on, isn't it? Merry Christmas everyone!

1 comment:

  1. I have a feeling. A feeling like this game only has five levels. It can't have twenty or more, because that would make it as long as The Hidden Below.

    I'm going to use my sneaky skills and seventeen remaining rockets and try my best to show you what lies beyond that corridor.

    There are a lot of teleporting elves and lab Santas in that corridor. I've worked out that the lab Santas, elves and angels all have two attacks: a melee attack and a grenade-like attack. There's a delay between the 'beng!' and the explosion, and the enemies all die with one rocket, so with courage this corridor isn't that hard.

    What's hard is the next room: a giant maze of cubes that takes place in almost complete darkness. You start on the ground floor and shoot your way through the maze until you find a staircase. Then, you jump from cube to cube (by running and hoping, there's no Jump key) to find another staircase leading upwards. No map.

    There are dead bunnies on the walls.

    After conquering the cube maze, you slide down into the boss room and face the final (and only) boss...

    Giant angel. Giant Angel throws grenades in eight directions, but otherwise looks identical to the small angels. I couldn't tell I was fighting a boss until it took over fifty of the assault rifle rounds without dying. I thought it was just, y'know, closer. There are a dozen normal angels in the room as well, so you're buggered if you didn't scour the cube maze for health and ammo.

    You don't even have to defeat Giant Angel, you can just run to the exit, if you can find it. When you do...

    FRÖHLICHE OSTERN!

    Happy Easter everyone!

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