Tuesday 2 March 2021

Doom - Saturn Demon Gorefest

 Let's talk about Doom. The masterpiece of a game created by ID Software, headed by both John Carmack and John Romero. Originally meant to be an Alien tie-in, Doom took on the hot subject of hell, death, guns and gore and put it on computers across the entire world. The impact this game has had on the world could not be overstated with a series of novels. If Wolfenstein 3D is considered the grandfather of modern FPS, then Doom is the father. With limitless amounts of ports across platforms of all kinds, the Doom franchise has thrived across the span of over two decades, despite a long lull in development between Doom 3 and Doom 4.

So, putting it on Sega Saturn should have been a match made in heaven, right? Well, not so much. While the developers had more than enough to work with in making it the best console port of its time, it was John Carmack that came down with the decision to not use any 3D tech, opting instead to keep it to the original textures. He single-handedly killed this port for everyone simply to avoid a bit of texture wobble. 

The result is rather disheartening. The frame rate drops to crawling rates, the controls are less than stellar but at least the graphics are fairly decent. The textures actually look really good, if not a little bit discolored, but was it worth it? No, no it really wasn't. This makes it look like the Sega Saturn couldn't perform well enough for Doom, but that is not at all the case. The Saturn had every capability in carrying both Doom and Doom 2, but instead, the frame rate was dropped to a dismal 12 fps which constantly bottoms out with too much activity on the screen.

You know what the real kicker is here, though? It's still Doom and it is still very much playable. It's no lie that the frames are awful and the controls are very slowed down as well, but thankfully the weapon firing rates were all heightened to compensate for the difficulty. It works surprisingly well. You can still find great enjoyment in this port if you are willing to look past its many faults. 

Discovering what became of this port was very depressing. It took time and gameplay, but overall, it was not a terrible experience. In fact, there is a lot of enjoyment to be had! You can now cheat and make it where you can have the super shotgun and all of the weapons in the first episode of Doom, Knee Deep in the Dead. You can now take down the Bruiser Brothers, the Barons of Hell in the Phobos Anomaly with the BFG 9000 and the plasma gun! It's a riot! 

There have been some who came forward, saying that Doom on the Saturn was the first version they ever played the game. They still love Doom. They had no problems playing it and thoroughly indulging in it. This is definitely not the best port by any means, but it is still not the worst. It still has the majority of the Doom 1 and 2 levels in tact, despite its limitations. Do not count this port out just because it has some graphical shortcomings. Doom is Doom and the Saturn is no different. 

Do I wish we got a port more akin to the PS1? Of course, I do. Carmack was obviously not happy with his decision in the long run, and the developer who wrote the port was mortified to have been forced to change it from his original version which reportedly worked at 60 fps. It would have been nice to have, but these are the cards we have been played. Give this version a try if you fancy yourself an old school gamer. Saturn fans don't need to be proud of it, but we can keep it to ourselves. Now go spill some blood and rip demons responsibly. 

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