If you were to ask me my favorite video game of all time, that answer would be Doom. I loved the games since playing a shareware version of the original on Windows 95 back in 1995-96. Finding the DOS original on abandonware has rekindled my interest in the series the past six years. Given Doom’s success, it was ported over to a number of systems. Before its SNES release in September 1995, it had only been on the Jaguar and Sega 32x; two failed systems. Here, it was on a console with a good sized fanbase and it stands out amongst the library of games for the 16-bit wonder.
At face value, how is this possible? Taking a PC game developed around 1992-93 and putting it on hardware made around 1989-90 seems impossible. Unlike the other versions, this one was done by Sculptured Software and they built it from the ground up. It’s also one of the few games to utilize the FX-2 chip to even allow this game to run on Nintendo’s 16-bit machine. As an SNES game, it’s a very ambitious and amazing feat. As a Doom game, it’s a middle ground port that is decent to good compared to other ports.
Whatever story that was seen in the PC version of Doom was brought over to the SNES version. You are stationed at Mars and things go horribly wrong on the moons of the planet. Your team is sent to Phobos to figure out the situation. Things go from bad to worse when they all die and it’s up to only you to save the day. As per usual, Id games are not strong with story, but Sculptured left everything intact. Even the dialogues at the end of episodes are present.
The game is played the same way as usual. You go from level to level, killing monsters, and trying to find the exit. Simple as that. You got 22 levels split into three episodes. Some of these areas are ones that are never seen in the other ports, especially in Inferno. Shores of Hell suffered the most with three cut levels. Whether this was a memory issue or the levels being too complex, I’m not sure. What is here is a very accurate look of the levels.
Doom on SNES is very faithful to its PC counterpart. Every part that you may know from the DOS original is here. Every health pickup, ways of getting secrets, weaponry, the whole nine yards. They did not mess with anything, other than cutting a couple enemies and levels here and there. Controlling the Space Marine is relatively basic. You can run, shoot, strafe, switch weapons. And you can open doors, elevators and switches to get to where you need to be. It’s condensed pretty well onto the controller without any huge issues.
Graphically, it’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, most of the textures and modeling of the levels, weapons and backgrounds are accurate. Lighting is exactly what it was on the PC. For running on a 16 megabit cart, it’s impressive. To play devil’s advocate, the memory feels limited. It’s very blurry combined with no roof or ceiling texture. Enemy animations are like the 32x version where they are always facing you. I do wonder if a bigger cart would have helped, but that probably would have added to the cost of the cartridge.
With the audio, it’s a surprise. Doom’s music is done well. It’s a combination of that Super Nintendo tone with almost a Midi approach. They did well on that aspect of it. Sound effects are almost accurate. Most of the weapons are nailed down perfectly as is a number of the bad guys. My only complaints here are a few inaccurate death sounds and some of the sounds coming off as muffled. Regardless, this facet adds to what the system was capable of.
The gunplay is interesting in this port of Doom. A few are altered to be a little different. One of the big examples is the shotgun. Any game where this gun is used, the range is bad when firing from far away. It’s pellets may not even get to what you’re shooting at. Here, it functions more like a rifle, making it easy to kill Imps with one shot. Some of the other weapons are modified to be a bit more powerful. All of them are here in the game, and are mostly easy to use. The rocket launcher is possibly my only complaint because of the damage it deals. That’s the case with any port, but it requires more distance away from an enemy.
Speaking of which, almost all the enemies are here. That includes the end bosses for each episode. The spectre demon was the only one not brought over. They all function the same in their attack methods. Due to the limited animation, they can’t fight each other. One aspect, however, that stands out is certain enemies of the same type killing each other. What I mean is something like a Cacodemon killing another Cacodemon, making it so it’s not just hitscan enemies killing other enemies and vice versa with projectile ones.
Difficulties are left unaltered, though ammo pickups on the easiest one are like the other difficulties. Every difficulty is here, including Nightmare. And depending on the difficulty you select, enemies can range from only a handful to over 100, all in the same spots as the PC original. A weird thing is you can only access Shores of Hell and Inferno on the harder difficulties. Why they did that, I don’t know. Again, it might be a limited memory issue. I’ve never had a huge issue with this, but it will be disappointing to some. Luckily, dying only means respawning to the start of a level with everything kept instead of leaving you with only a pistol.
All the power ups and items are here. They function mostly the same. The partial invisibility is a little different and works in a unique manner compared to the others. Overall the level design is very accurate as mentioned. You can still find the same traps and ambushes along with the secrets and special items. No stone was left unturned and as I said, it’s a great feat for the Super Nintendo. Difficulty wise, it’s a little harder, but nothing that will frustrate you.
Believe it or not, this was an XBAND game. It had multiplayer, as did most of the other ports. From what I understand, you had to use XBAND, which was an online service modem you plugged into either an SNES or Genesis. This was one of the very few games supported that wasn’t a sports game or fighting game. Deathmatch was the only thing it had, possibly due to restrictions in memory. Obviously, this couldn’t have done cooperative as well due to system limitations.
There aren’t too many complaints I have about Doom. Like I said, the graphics are blurry, but there’s not much they could have done. The same can be said for playing the other episodes on the harder difficulties. A lack of battery backup or even a password is very disappointing. Gameplay can be a little sluggish at times, but once you understand how it works, it shouldn’t be too hard to know when to shoot and when to move. Last is the armor not being as useful when you enter a new level. You take equal health and armor damage, so what’s the point in having armor at times?
Either way, you will get some hours out of Doom. As an SNES game, it’s not a bad one. I’d say it’s good on its own merits. As a Doom game, it’s a middle of the road game. It’s on par with the 32x port. Not as bad as the 3DO or Saturn versions, but it won’t make you give up playing the PlayStation or Jaguar ports. Bump it up or down a star or two from those versions.
Three out of five stars.
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