Tuesday 23 June 2015

Doom (SNES review)

Developer: Sculptured Software
Publisher: Williams Entertainment
Released: 1995

Doom is a first-person shooter and one of only three released games to use the Super FX-GSU-2 enhancement chip.

It features 22 levels, more than the 32X version (17) but less than the Atari Jaguar and 3DO ports (24 each). The object in most levels to locate coloured keys to open locked doors and eventually reach the exit. The shoulder buttons on the controller are put to great use as they're mapped to strafing left and right instead of holding down a face button. However, it's immediately clear that even with the extra power of the Super FX chip the console can't quite handle the fast paced action. Due to performance issues the gameplay takes place in a small window and a black border covers the rest of the screen. The frame-rate is horrible and trying to turn your character around can be extremely laggy and unresponsive. At times Imps can shoot fireballs faster than you're able to dodge and it results in many cheap hits. Parts of the game are also too dark; for example, in one part of Level 3 the lack of lighting makes it difficult to backtrack to the main area. In the end I had to keep firing my shotgun while it acted as a torch! The graphics are heavily pixelated and it's tricky to spot enemies up ahead as they blur into the background. There's a lack of textures on the floors and ceilings but to be honest it doesn't affect gameplay. The most puzzling aspect of this port is that there's no level select feature and no way to save your progress. The 22 levels amount to a lengthy campaign and you're left with no choice but to beat them all in one sitting. Unlike some other home console ports the music here is fantastic, especially the punchy drum sounds.

Doom on the Super Nintendo is a great technical achievement considering the consoles' 16-bit architecture but ultimately you'll be short-changing yourself if this is the only version you play. In my opinion you should only revisit this port if you're a hardcore fan of the franchise or just curious about the origins of first-person shooters.

Random trivia: Sculptured Software developed this port in secret and only requested permission to release it from id Software once it was fully complete.

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