Developer: WatchDaToast (MSPaintR0cks)
Platforms: Any system that can run GZDoom or alternatives (most things!)
Available on: mod.db (available in mod or standalone form)
Engine: Doom II
Shadow of the Wool-Ball is an interesting Doom II mod by WatchDaToast. Rather than modding the base game’s levels or making a more demonic experience, Wool-Ball decides to go with a cartoonish look, silly space cat enemies, and levels that are modeled after and inspired by Wolfenstein 3D. You can download the game as a mod to be used with GZDoom or alternatives, or as a standalone game. You do not need to own Doom II to play it, you can simply just play it with Freedoom.
The game starts with the evil space cats invading and taking over the home planet of the hedgehogs Scott and Rebecca. Both were taken as prisoners, but Scott finds that his cell has a cracked wall, which he breaks through before stealing one of the guns from a space cat, working his way to stop the cats and rescuing Rebecca.
The game plays a lot like Wolfenstein 3D. You navigate through rooms and corridors, split across 18 levels in 3 episodes, shooting down enemy cats, scavenging the ammo they drop, and finding food, med-kits and coffee to keep you healthy. You only get four weapons in the game alongside your melee punch: a pistol, a shotgun, a chaingun, and the powerful golden shotgun.
The pistol shares the same ammo with the chaingun, and for the golden shotgun, each pickup of its golden ammo provides you with two shots. You commonly find them by freeing other prisoner hedgehogs throughout the game.
One thing I love about Wool-Ball is how you exit a level. Instead of finding an elevator and pressing the use button like Wolfenstein 3D, you must press a self-destruct button and make it to the exit within only ten seconds. Fortunately, the shortest path to the exit is marked on the ground, but you must figure out how to reach the secret exits, if any exist.
Another thing I like is how the levels aren’t just about shooting the cats and getting to the next. Some levels introduce new gimmicks to mess with the player, such as mines, powerful air vents that push Scott, and most importantly, traps.
I cannot stress enough how great the art is. It’s an amazing mix between a cartoonish art style and the pixelated graphics of old. Everything you see in the game is well drawn, which is an amazing feat when you consider that WatchDaToast drew them with Microsoft Paint. The midi soundtrack is also a blast to listen to while you’re shooting the cats. What little voice acting there is in the game is also decent.
I can’t believe that Shadow of the Wool-Ball is a free Doom II mod, and you don’t even need to own Doom II to play it! If you loved Wolfenstein 3D, or love cartoony visuals and silly settings then Wool-Ball fits the bill.