Too Hot to Handle

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Too Hot to Handle
Composer Bobby Prince
Released 1991-11-??
Title Origin Official
Loops Yes

Too Hot to Handle is a song composed by Bobby Prince using Sequencer Plus Gold. There are differing stories about for which game the song was created. Prince remembers creating the game for a Commander Keen fire level and then re-purposing it for Catacomb 3D, but John Romero remembers asking for it to be made specifically for Catacomb 3D.

The origin of Too Hot to Handle according to Bobby Prince:

The first song I wrote for Keen was to be used on a level with fire. The song could only take up about 8k of memory, so it had to be very short. The result was "Too Hot [to Handle]." It was only 8 bars long! John Carmack, id Software's graphics engine programming genius (Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake engine), liked the song a lot. At the same time that id was working on Wolfenstein 3-D, they were doing some contract work for Softdisk Publishing. One of the games they were working on was "Catacombs 3-D." I think that it was the first game to use the Wolfenstein-type engine. Cat 3D came out a couple months before Ultima Underworld, which came out a couple of months before Wolf. So Catacombs 3-D was the first "first person 3d texture mapped game". John called me and asked if "Too Hot [to Handle]" could be used in Catacombs as there was only RAM space for one very short song. I told him "Sure."

While John Romero gives a slightly different account:

The tune was originally written for Catacomb 3D in October 1991. We were finishing up the game and needed something short because we were really low on disk space, so we asked Bobby Prince to come up with something menacing that was just a few bars long. We felt the song was perfect.

Title

When John Romero released an IMF collection, this song has the file name TOOHOT.IMF, which gave listeners their first idea of what the song was called since the format didn't include song information. Bobby Prince released a MIDI collection and the song also had the file name TOOHOT.MID. We have since contacted Prince who explained the full title is "Too Hot to Handle," named because it was meant to be played in a fire level.

Games

Catacomb 3-D (DOS)

Platform - DOS.png
Catacomb 3-D (DOS)
Output - OPL2.svg
Catacomb3D-DOS-3.png
Arranger Bobby Prince
Released 1991-11-??
Length 0:16
Format IMF

Too Hot to Handle plays on repeat through the entire game's background.

Bobby Prince later released an upgraded version of the song that was 32 bars long instead of just 8 bars as MIDI. In the upgraded version the main melody repeated, but it had a changing percussion beat to make the tune more interesting. It was a welcome change since the original tune is quite repetitive.

According to Bobby Prince, this was John Carmack's favorite song from the early AdLib days.

Commander Keen IV: Secret of the Oracle (DOS)

Platform - DOS.png
Commander Keen IV: Secret of the Oracle (DOS)
Output - OPL2.svg
Commander Keen 4 - Pyramid of Gnosticene Ancients.png
Arranger Bobby Prince
Released 1991-11-22
Length 0:16
Format IMF

John Romero liked the tune a lot:

I liked Too Hot to Handle so much that I put it in Keen 4 as well, in the tough pyramid levels...

In fact, the song appears in a number of levels including Cave of Descendants, Chasm of Chills, Pyramid of the Moons, Pyramid of Shadows, Pyramid of Gnosticene Ancients (on the screenshot), Pyramid of Forbidden, Isle of Tar, and Isle of Fire, as well as the scrolling text in the game's introduction.

The Catacomb Abyss (DOS)

Platform - DOS.png
The Catacomb Abyss (DOS)
Arranger Bobby Prince
Released 1992-??-??
Length 0:16
Format IMF

Too Hot to Handle is included in the data files of The Catacomb Abyss, but the song is never played.

Catacomb Armageddon (DOS)

Platform - DOS.png
Catacomb Armageddon (DOS)
Arranger Bobby Prince
Released 1993-??-??
Length 0:16
Format IMF

Too Hot to Handle is included in the data files of Catacomb Armageddon, but the song is never played.

Catacomb Apocalypse (DOS)

Platform - DOS.png
Catacomb Apocalypse (DOS)
Released 1993-??-??

Catacomb Apocalypse is a bit odd. It has an IMF file included in the data files of the same length as Too Hot to Handle, however, the file is made up only empty instructions, so it doesn't play anything.

Links