The Best Bad Maps

Now, if you have seen me talk about maps at all on the forums, you may notice that I really don’t pay attention to anything but the looks. TF2’s artstyle inspires sceneryboners for me on a daily basis, so much so that years ago I tried twice hold a poll on which skybox was the best. I mean, look at this concept for the Alpine skybox and map design.

Shit’s mad peaceful, yo.

But really, we all know that Tf2’s artstyle is down the drain, right? Or at least that’s the gist I get from a lot of people complaining about it. In any case, the degradation of TF2’s atmosphere doesn’t exist in the smattering of official maps. No, it’s the custom maps where you get the excellently horrible stuff. Now, there are many crazy maps out there, some good, some bad, but today I’m focusing on the Bad-Good. All three of these are known for colors that would offend an 80’s fashionista, so prepare your retinas.

Ye gods, now this is what I’m talking about.

First off is everyone’s favorite candy-colored map of mayhem: Mariokart. A staple of any respectable custom map collection,  Mariokart is the quintessential map for allcrit, 32-player madness. There are a few notable features to this map. First is transportation. Obviously, one can ride the cars and tanks that circle the track, which is a fantastic strategy for Heavies with crit-laden miniguns, limited only by speed. If possible, spring for the large grey tank or the motorcycles. In addition, one can use the two green pipes to warp across the map. Be careful, as you’ll probably incur some fall damage upon exiting.

Every class has its place on Mariokart, from the wide open spaces given Snipers and Jumper Demos, to the coveted roof position offered to Wrangler Engineers and Soldiers. Try any class you want, you’ll find yourself able to have fun with any class!

A staple of all of these maps is that they come packed with music. Oftentimes you have to bind a key to the “use” command to activate the music, but on some maps, like Mariokart, you simply have to hit a certain prop with an attack to start the music. Mariokart’s selection is activated by attacking the five consoles in the center building. The songs are Mute City, Battle Mode, Mario Kart Circuit, Jesus Built My Hotrod by Ministry, and this seemingly original mix.

For now, let us Double Dash away from this map, hopefully to somewhere a bit more sane.
Oh. I guess my hopes were a bit too high.

Possibly my favorite out of the three maps I will be rambling about today is Harbl_Hotel. If you think that Mariokart is saturated with 4chan memes and vulgar humor, then make sure you mentally prepare yourself before setting foot into Harbl Hotel. The hotel setup itself is, as far as I’m aware, based on the Habbo Hotel raids of 4chan lore, and as such, the pools are filled with AIDS (hurt the player) and can be closed at any time. Other features include multiple inescapable traps, secret rooms, breakable and moveable props, and other hazards and fun things. the goal here isn’t really to kill, but to goof around even more than one does on Mariokart. It’s great to explore and experiment on.

The disco room, featuring the Space Dancers from Rhythm Heaven.

Like Mariokart, Harbl Hotel has a set of music that can be played through the +use command. In fact, here’s how to do it just in case. Open up your console and type: bind INSERT KEY HERE “+use”. If you’re exploring the map on your own, ensure to also enable the actual use of the +use command on your local server by setting tf_allow_player_use to 1.  The music itself is activated by pressing the buttons on the Vortigaunt DJ’s counter in the disco room. There’s a huge selection of music avaliable. The ones I recognized were Party Hard, the Lucky Star OP (my personal favorite),  Concept of Love and Funky Dealer from Jet Set Radio Future, Don’t Stop Me Now by good ol’ Queen, Team Rocket’s Theme, Pumpkin Hill, and the Brawl Theme.

Harbl Hotel is a wonderful place to explore and spend an hour or two dicking about in. Be warned, as some spooky stuff can happen if you’re not too careful.

WELCOME TO HELL.

And, of course, some weird shit is contained in the hotel.

I used to live in Japan, and I can confirm that the picture on the left is an accurate representation of life there.

Harbl Hotel is like a large forest behind your backyard that you used to explore as a kid. There’s always something new and fun to find there. Except instead of trees there are memes and a vampire penis. Good luck.

For some reason, Cyberpunk looks like the cover of a Gorillaz album to me.

Last, but certainly not least, is Cyberpunk, perhaps the most calm of the three maps. Cyberpunk is a map based off of the creative setting of the same name. It’s a Neo-Tokyo inspired area- bright neon signs glow, posters for Pocari Sweat adorn the walls, and a few arcades are hidden in the busy buildings. Like Harbl Hotel, Cyberpunk is more outfitted for lounging around and partying than for fighting, like Mariokart. the buildings are often connected to each other from the inside, and Sticky Jumper Demomen rule the tall buildings on the outskirts of the map. Look around and see what you can find. They’re still present, but memes thankfully take a backseat in Cyberpunk, letting atmosphere take the wheel. A popular version of Cyberpunk is its Prophunt iteration, allowing for those little hidey-holes and hidden alleyways to become assets for survival.

A bright alley burns against sleeping buildings and a cool purple sky. It’s almost poetic, this crappy map.

Cyberpunk holds fewer secrets than Harbl Hotel, but it does share one aspect with it, music!

The Diskothek. The music control room is to the immediate right of my stylish Demoman and is accessible by +use-ing the vending machine texture on the wall.

The Diskothek, a room marked by its red-hued, below ground entrance, is where the party happens. Expect many a Sandvich picnic and dance-off here. The music selection is a bit more “serious” and obscure than Harbl Hotel’s and Mariokart’s are, but I was able to discern DVNO by Justice and Robot Rock by Daft Punk.

So there you have it, my three favorite “bad” custom maps. they may not fit the TF2 artstyle, but they sure are a heck of a lot of fun. I’ll be back next week, hopefully, to offer a bit of gushing on the more classic TF2 map style. Until then, have fun!

Next time you head to the forums to complain about the artstyle being dead, remember that we could have gotten this instead of the Urban environment or Pyroland.

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