Shadow & Rise Of The Wool Ball turn Wolfenstein cute

Rise of the Wool Ball

Well done, everyone. Between the festival of catharsis that was Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus and Call Of Duty’s return to World War 2, we’ve officially put shooting virtual fascists back on the menu. Jolly good show.

Still hungry to grind some more into kibble? Here’s a couple of free treats to keep you going until Wolfenstein 3. Granted, the goose-stepping villains in Doom mod Shadow of The Wool Ball and its sequel Rise Of The Wool Ball are cats, but they’re pretty villainous, and unless you’re happy with the Planet Of The Adorable Hedgehogs being ground up into kitty litter, you’re going to have to shoot a few.

While Shadow of The Wool Ball wraps the hard-edged world of Wolfenstein in cute cartoon silliness, it largely adheres to the design of Id’s seminal FPS, chunky grid-maze maps and all. It does make some refinements to the formula, though; level design is more coherent, the enemies are less likely to take off a third of your health with a single lucky shot, and the weapons are more balanced all round. The improvements to the formula are subtle when taken individually, but put all together it flows far better than Wolfenstein 3D, and many secret areas reward you with more powerful golden ammo, making hunting for hidden rooms all the more worthwhile.

Rise Of The Wool Ball

As enjoyable as Shadow of The Wool Ball is, the sequel, Rise Of The Wool Ball, gets my absolute recommendation. Building on the idea that Apogee’s Rise of The Triad was initially envisioned as a sequel to Wolfenstein 3D, it adds a third dimension with copious bounce-pads, floating platforms, and cat-trees to climb in order to navigate the world with a little added verticality. Navigation becomes key in both games, as they also introduces a Descent-like ‘escape the exploding base’ phase to most levels just to spice things up a bit. It adopts the upgrades that Rise of The Triad brought to the table without getting bogged down by the negatives, and adds a few ideas of its own.

Rise of the Wool Ball’s arsenal is a notable change from the ‘Unlimited bullets, limited explosives’ formula of the original RoTT. Instead, the weapons feel a little more varied and Doom-like, with less emphasis on hitscan weaponry. Enemies are similarly improved in their variety and more enjoyable to fight, often giving you a fair chance to evade oncoming fire. Rise of The Wool Ball spans a much wider range of scenery than the original, especially the secret levels which are well worth taking the time and effort to uncover. Each of the episodes is capped off with a surprisingly enjoyable multi-stage boss fight, improving on the decent but workmanlike slugfests of the original.

In order to play either of these games, you’ll need the GZDoom engine and for Shadow, you’ll require at least some variety of Doom 2 WAD file. While you could use the one from Doom 2 if you own it, the fact that this is a total conversion (leaving almost nothing of the base game behind) you can just as safely use the Freedoom equivalent if you’re a little short on change. Rise of The Wool Ball fully embraces this, and requires no Doom data to play, with newer versions of GZDoom recognizing it as a standalone game. Just place it in the GZDoom directory, run the engine and the option will be there.

17 Comments

  1. ABOOD-THE-PLAYER says:

    nice,!

  2. Heimdall2061 says:

    Maybe I’m just being stupid, but how do you use DOOM2.WAD with ShadowoftheWoolBall.WAD to get it to run? I can’t seem to figure out the command line stuff.

    • Catterbatter says:

      Assuming they’re all in the same directory, the command would be:

      gzdoom -iwad doom2.wad -file ShadowoftheWoolBall.WAD

      Or you could use something like ZDL. I think I noticed Doom Explorer will let you do something similar, although TBH I haven’t tried to use it in that way. I’m more of a batch file person.

      • Heimdall2061 says:

        I see, thanks! I’ve never really messed around that much with Doom WADs, trying to get into it now and just got a bit turned around. I appreciate the help.

      • Dominic Tarason says:

        Just dragging Shadow of the Wool Ball onto GZDoom.exe should be enough. It’ll automatically use the required main data file.

        The sequel is vastly easier to run, at least. Just open GZDoom by itself and pick RoTWB.

  3. Kollega says:

    I want to ask two simple questions. Why is it that cats get stereotyped as Wolfenstein-level cartoonish Nazis, when cats in real life are unruly, anarchic, and possess utter disdain for any kind of authority? Would it be “too controversial and unmarketable” to break off from cartoon history and portray dogs, with their “undying loyalty” to the pack leader, as fascist villains? I don’t think I ever saw that anywhere!

    Sigh. I’m just tired of a medieval-era trope still going unquestioned. The whole “cats are so evil they’re black magic/literal Satan/Nazis by another name/Bond villains!” thing is getting rather passe at this point…

    • TychoCelchuuu says:

      Maybe blame either the graphic novel Maus, or the fact that cats toy with their prey, which is sort of an asshole move.

      • Kollega says:

        I’m actually pretty firmly convinced that Maus is not the cause of “cats are evil Nazis!”, it’s an effect. The cats are used there to represent the Nazi Party because in the entire genre of “cartoon animals”, they are already considered a priori evil and thus acceptable to demonize. The story could’ve been about evil wolves (that actually have a closer relation to Nazi symbolism) trying to exterminate cute bunnies or squirrels, but it isn’t, because it draws on established cartoon cliches to clue the reader in.

        And, look, I don’t argue that cats are saintly. I’m just saying that the whole thing of “evil cats and heroic dogs” is depressingly one-sided… and considering that cats in real life are both loved and hated for taking orders from precisely no-one, while dogs will kill other animals and even people without question because they’re “jahst follovink ohdahs”, this cartoon trope could actually be seen as unwittingly fascist/authoritarian itself.

        Just as a thinking point: Hitler and Stalin (and I think Napoleon as well) all detested cats, and were fond of dogs, precisely because dogs are much more eager to follow orders.

        • gunny1993 says:

          Those people detested cats because they exhibit the same traits as they do: Manipulation, Cunningness, ruthlessness, loyalty only to themselves, vanity, a broad disregard for human health.

          This is why cats are not heard animals, because those traits do not make good followers, only strong leaders and strong leaders hate other strong leaders.

    • Ejia says:

      If it makes you feel better (???) furry Nazi wolves are kinda common.

      • Kollega says:

        I would be smugly self-satisfied about that… but sadly, as I understand, a number of those are supposed to be “the good guys” =/

    • Eightball says:

      Maybe if they weren’t distributing brain-control parasites at all times:

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      People would like them more.

  4. PersonThatPlaysGames says:

    Rise of the wool ball is quite good.
    I am not a fan of the skateboarding sections though.

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