Built as part of the Virgin Media Game Space, the explanation is in the title: it’s Doom in a piano. A £30 left for dead piano.
David Hayward, curator and event producer said: “The idea first came about from Ricky Haggett at Honeyslug, who was part of our initial period of throwing around ideas. Every single one of the 85 hammers inside the piano, while remaining functional, has been modified to also work as switches. We didn’t think that’d be possible in the time we had, but in about 36 hours we had it in a fully working state.”
For the short turnaround it’s certainly impressive. The piano keys – functional and suitably out of tune and discordant – are mirrored from the centre left and right. The keys are split into sections to allow movement, strafing, weapon cycling, firing via any black key and the key labelled ‘Thonk’ opens doors and flicks switches. Moving with speed requires quick alternation between several of the same labelled keys.
The split keys could allow two people to control the lone space marine cooperatively, though it would be a difficult task. Moving alone can be quite awkward but that’s beside the point. This is a wild concept followed through until fruition. The greatest videogame created joined with music’s greatest instrument. It shouldn’t have happened, it shouldn’t have even made concept level but I’m glad it did.
Taking up the seat at the piano, I worked through the few stages with surprising eases. Nigh-on twenty years of playing id Software’s masterpiece in various forms translates well even onto the most obscure of controlling methods.
A final twist is the addition of permadeath. Fall victim to an Imp’s fireball or waltz into a radiation pit and Doom Piano restarts from the bringing of the episode. A piano wouldn’t be my first choice of controller for taking on the denizens of hell pouring through a dimensional portal on the moon. Nethertheless, I want it in my metaphorical house.