Monday, 26 December 2022

Doom Gorefest #6 - Top 10 Doom Games of Doom!

What can be said about this franchise that hasn't already been stated a million billion times in the past? Doom was not the first FPS, nor was it all that original of a concept to begin with, but it modernized the genre for its time and inspired many, many developers from its release and onward.

ID software developers, John Carmack, John Romero, Sandy Peterson and Adrian Carmack (no relation) created a game with a simple concept. A portal to Hell is opened up and a lost Marine who was the sole survivor on a base in Phobos has to fight his way through a legion of its minions.

Thus, Doom was created. They took the name from a line in a Tom Cruise movie back in the 80's and thus changed gaming as a whole. It was 3D without actually being 3D. It was a 2D overhead with a different view point, much like they did with Wolfenstein 3D. This one, however, had different levels of detail, and you were able to climb stairs as well as fall down wells into acid pits. The whole thing was given a layer of depth that had never been seen before. It became a phenomenon that still thrives decades after its original release.

Since then, where other, very popular games have failed, Doom has succeeded in spades! While Duke Nukem Forever killed its franchise, Wolfenstein has had a decline in quality, Hexen and Heretic has had a spiritual successor but no official, recent games, Doom has endured because of a standard of quality that has not been sullied. Say what you will about some of these games, they have never reached the level of "terrible".

So, that's where we're at now. At the time of writing this, Doom Eternal is the most recent title in the series and now there's enough material to make a top 10! This will include all of the official releases. Although, of the multitudes of mods, there are some gems that deserve to be on this list. Still, that's a lot of games to go through, so we'll keep it Dead Simple (hoho!). Disagree with this list all you want. If you have qualms with my choices, by all means, make your own top 10 in the comments! Let's rip this list a new one!

#10 Plutonia Experiment

Many have said that this game just isn't worth the effort. It is entirely too hard to get good at and the frustration levels reach unnerving heights. While there is a bit of truth to this, that doesn't mean this game is without its own merits. I have never beaten this entire game, but I have definitely gotten lost in its levels and journeyed through its ridiculous amounts of Revenants and Mancubi. It really just takes practice, circle strafing and knowing when to let the monsters infight to even make a dent in its long list of levels. It's by no means a big favorite, but it is one that I am more than happy to get into on occasion.

#9 Doom 2 Master Levels

While some of these maps are extremely cryptic and very light on weapons and ammo, sometimes it's just so satisfying when you finally figure it out. The death traps in this level pack are some of the most horrific in the entire franchise, that includes Plutonia. Both are strong contenders against one another for the hardest pack of levels. Master Levels of Doom 2 is just another official mod that played around with the Doom Engine and it's just fun to see what they come up with. There aren't any real memorable maps other than Bad Dream and a couple of others, but you can just tell the modders were having a great time making it. 

#8 Sigil

By the one and only John Romero. After decades of lying dormant with the series, aside from some interviews and playing the games he created for the public, Romero comes out of nowhere and makes a whole new pack of maps for all of us to enjoy for free! The maps work far different from your normal fare. He took a lot of concepts and expanded upon them like platforms you activated by shooting the panels. The maps are a bit more monster heavy and stretches the concept in ways that a lot of modders never thought of. The maps are inventive and open up all new possibilities for gameplay. If you have not tried Sigil (or Si6il if you're L337), you are depriving yourself of a good time!

#7 Doom 3

Whatever your thoughts on Doom 3, you have to admit that it was a decent idea to begin with. Adding a brand new survival horror feel, dark spaces, and concepts that still live on to this day, Doom 3 was a mixed bag that was a lot of fun to explore. It pushed the boundaries of gaming graphics and made a lot of the computers of the time strain under its weight, being the first 3D Doom title. Now, with modern computers, that's not really an issue. Later modifications, i.e. the BFG edition, removed the flashlight mechanic and made the overall game easier while also giving you more ammo to work with. Whether you enjoyed it for its challenge, or simply loved the new horror views, it's just a fun game to engross yourself with. 

#6 Doom 64

This was a game that took some getting use to. Many people never even tried it because they thought that it was just another Doom port for the N64. When you played it, however, you'd probably be surprised to realize that it is a different game entirely when it comes to new skins, new maps, and the game mechanics that have been turned on their heads. It is, at its core, Doom! Once you get past the new look and feel of the game, you'll probably even start to like it better than some of the common titles. The maps have some more cryptic puzzles and the monsters work a bit differently but it is still very much the Doom we know and love in a nice, dark package.

#5 Doom Eternal

The one and only, Doom Eternal. At the time of writing this, Eternal is the latest in the series and what an installment it is! Brand new monsters, along with many callbacks and fanservice for just about every Doom fan to enjoy while they tore through ranks of demons! The graphics are stellar, the action is high octane and the difficulty is RIDICULOUS! With the collectibles, the replay value is beyond expectations and secrets upon secrets will have you coming back for more even after your first playthrough. The things that really keep this game from being higher than #5 for me is the fact that the platforming has become something of a hindrance with how much they used it, not to mention the ammo limitation that never gets a lot better throughout its playtime. Some levels are just a slog to get through because you need to be on point with your jumps and charges. Still, any Doom fan should play this, if nothing else than for the final boss which is so satisfying. You may just want to beat him again for good measure.

#4 Ultimate Doom

The culmination of all things Doom and a collection of the original games that took the gaming world by storm! The first episode is iconic and irreplaceable in the eyes of true Doomsters. If you have not played this game and you consider yourself a fan, then that title should be called into question. This game has aged like fine wine and should be revisited on every occasion you feel like you need to let some steam off on hell's minions. What puts this game at #4, however, is the third and fourth episodes. While they are not without their charm, they tend to be something of a frustrating mess. This was when the developers started to throw stuff at a wall to get the maps finished. Thy Flesh Consumed has to be the real low point, in this very subjective top 10 list, for Ultimate Doom. Still, this is the game that started it all and the welcome memories will always come flying back for all old school Doom fans who truly experienced its hayday.

#3 Doom 2016

A return to form that propelled the series into the hearts and minds of a whole new generation. It also gave old school fans everything they wanted and more. Despite a questionable multiplayer mode, Doom 4 killed all naysayers' opinions and brought us to a beautiful new level of ripping and tearing! Having awoken from a long slumber, the Doomguy, now known as The Doom Slayer, broke himself from the chains that bound him and began breaking Hell's legions into gibs and gore once again! From Mars all the way to Hell, you blast through the opposition with all of those glorious guns and weapons of death that you know and love, including the infamous Super Shotgun. Infamous to Hell's minions, that is, because its sinister blast has brought them down to size in more ways than one. After a long, long time of nothing in this franchise, Doom 4 gave us a nice long drink of water when we needed it most. Without any doubts, this is my favorite in the current franchise thus far.

#2 Doom 2 

While many will disagree, Doom 2 brought about a sequel that didn't change a whole lot, but what it did change was new weapons and new demons while bringing about all new places to kill them in. What brings this game to new heights of wonder, again, in this highly subjective list, is the birth of the Super Shotgun. In its debut appearance, it showed us brand new ways to cut down even the most annoying enemies without having the blowback that the rocket launcher had. Doom 2 was not especially stellar in its level design, but really, once you make it through to the end, you tend to remember all of the great parts. The final boss is disappointing, that much is certain, but the Icon of Sin did bring about some very inventive imagery in our own imaginations. Not to mention one of the best parts of Doom Eternal. This title made Classic Doom games whole and became the cornerstone of Doom Mods ever since. That gives it every right to reach #2, that's for sure.

#1 Knee Deep in the Dead

Yes, I cheated, and for good reason. When I said that Ultimate Doom started it all, I wasn't exactly lying, but it also wasn't the whole truth. This is the zenith, the alpha and the primordial entity that is Doom. The game came out as what we Classic Gamers know as a "shareware" version of the game on two 3 1/2 inch floppy discs, only requiring 8 megs of ram to run on those old computers that no longer seem to exist. Knee Deep in the Dead gave us a taste of Doom and whetted our appetites for more! From the Hangar, all the way to the Bruiser Brother Barons of Hell, this was the start of a long, gory and beautiful road. It takes no time to clear these levels but they are so simplistic and beautiful, you never need change perfection. The first episode of Doom is where the team really focused their efforts and gave us a demonstration of what was to come. From here, it's all downhill; straight down into Hell where none shall escape your vengeful wrath!

ID software had no idea that this game would literally build the foundations of their careers and catapult them into gaming legends. While the company is nothing like it use to be, they still know the importance of the big bloody D and obviously put their hearts and souls into keeping its legacy alive and kicking. Now take this shotgun and go have a bloody ball!

Sunday, 25 December 2022

Christmas Nights Into Dreams - Life is a Gift


This Christmas, we're going to look at one of the more obscure titles on the Saturn. Even with its obscurity, more and more attention is starting to arise for this game. That's a wonderful thing, because this game is so simple, yet so complicated at the same time. It has so many different features attached to it according to the days that you play it. If you play it on Christmas, you get an even better feature that I will not spoil for you. 

This game only has one level and one boss, but that's because it was a special feature made for a magazine promotion. It's a reskin of Nights, but they obviously put their hearts and souls into it and made it absolutely gorgeous. Even the story mode behind it is exceedingly simple. There's a huge Christmas tree in the city, but it has no star. So, you beat the level with both characters to get the star. That's it. It goes out of its way to just show you how beautiful it is with Jingle Bells playing in the background and all of the wonderful decorations it put up throughout the level. 

What I would like to draw attention to, aside from the many features and secrets, aside from the gameplay and the rarity of this title, is the message it conveys. The people in Twin Seeds are all distressed and rushing through the holiday season. They are not happy, they are busy buying toys and scurrying through the streets to get where they are going. Claris and Elliot look on this in distress and notice that the star is missing atop the giant Christmas tree. 

Once they find the star, people seem much happier and able to enjoy the time of year. They seem to bring happiness to the citizens of Twin Seeds and let people slow down and take their time. That's the message we need to listen to, folks. No matter if you celebrate Christmas, no matter what you celebrate, as long as you are happy and those around you are happy along with you. Make sure you are able to enjoy this time of year, even if it seems to bring a lot of stress along with it. Simmer down, breathe, and find someone to share it with. The holiday season was not put here to bring you misery, even if some people seem to think otherwise. 

Obviously, putting a big star on top of a giant Christmas tree is not going to instantly fix everyone's problems here in this plane of existence. The message here is that you need to bring about your own joy and share it with others. There's always someone out there looking for someone else to share their experiences with and we here on Planet Virtua want you to help bring that joy to life. So, from all of us here at the Saturn Junkyard, we wish you a Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year. Singing those Virtua Dreams.

Thursday, 22 December 2022

Doom Gorefest #5 - Evil and Tools to Kill it!

Two pieces of Doom that pull the whole game together are the demons and the weapons with which to kill them. Some of these creatures are so recognized that even non-doom players will see them and immediately know where they're from. I'm not going to set up and name every monster and weapon, but there are so many standouts, it'll seem like it.

The Imp is one of the most recognized small demons in the game. They throw fireballs that do a lot of damage compared to most of the weaker enemies. They can be dangerous in groups but they also aren't the tankiest of the bunch. Shotguns do a good job of taking them down. If there's a group, a super shotgun is a good answer.

The pinky is officially just named "Demon" but retroactively are just called "pinky", thanks to the standard culture. They only do melee attacks to bite you but they do have a translucent twin called the Spectre. Thanks to their close ranged nature, they are generally taken down with the chainsaw rather easily.

The Cacodemon is arguably the most recognized demons in the entire game. Their red blobbish nature and quick attack missiles make them very noticeable. A super shotgun and chaingun are good ways to take them down. 

The Barons of Hell were first seen in the last level of Knee Deep in the Dead and have since been considered a staple of Doom lore. Barons hit hard and can take a lot of punishment. The best answer to them, especially multiples of them, is the plasma rifle. If you run out of plasma rounds, get them with the Super Shotgun and/or the rocket launcher if you're at a safe distance.

The last of the demon minions is the Archvile. Making their debut in Doom 2, they are obviously in the game to drastically increase difficulty. They tank about as much as a mancubus, deal more damage overall and bring monster bodies back to life. They are priority targets and deserve your top plasma ammunition from either the plasma gun or the BFG 9000.

The BFG 9000 has been one of the iconic weapons in this entire franchise. One shot can take a multitude of small demons down while also doing tremendous damage to larger targets. If you have this gun, many of your problems will be dealt with by melting them into sludge. The big drawback is that it's slow to fire and takes up 40 plasma cells per blast. Use it when you absolutely need to.

The boss demons, namely the Cyberdemon and Spider Mastermind are prime BFG 9000 targets. The Cyberdemon can easily down you in one to two hits with his rocket attack. The Spider Mastermind fires a chaingun and each shot is the damage equivalent to a shotgun shell. Overall, the Cyberdemon is the more challenging but the Mastermind can also drain your life very quickly if you are not careful. Your best bet on both of them is to use your big guns and hide behind cover to avoid their wrath!

Last but most certainly not least, a weapon you can use on anything up close, the Super Shotgun. This is the king of shotguns. I don't care what anyone else says about other shotguns from other games, this gun gets it done! If all else fails, if you have two shells you can shoot, this could take care of whatever is after you. The spread is huge and very concentrated. You could take down three or four smaller opponents in one shot if they're close enough together. It is a gun that lives up to the name and sets the bar high for any other shotgun. 

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Doom Gorefest #4 - Neptune Origins

My father got us the shareware of Wolfenstein 3D back in '91. I need to say that I played it on an ancient computer and it still ran like a champ. We played it for hours and loved mowing down the Third Reich. We did a 100% run on I am Death Incarnate through out all of the episodes. It took a long time, I think around a year, and that was my introduction to the FPS genre. So, ID wowed me with their new game because there really was nothing like it at the time. We had a NES, but now this was the game we focused on. 

Then he got us the shareware for Doom. It was on two 3 1/2 floppy disks and required everything in our current computer at the time. Our computer was a real clunker and only had 6 megs of RAM. My dad went out of his way to get two more megs so we could play.

I remember, when we got Doom working, it was just like Wolf 3D, only different in its capability. Where everything was well lit in Wolf 3D, Doom was dark and gothic. I remember being in awe of being able to go up stairs and being terrified of the pinky demons when I first saw them.

Then there came the time I first made it to Phobos Anamoly and met the Bruiser Brothers. Their little entry points and their strength wowed me to no end. It seemed like I was emptying my chaingun on them and couldn't bring them down. I finally beat them with the rocket launcher and I was mesmerized by the terrible ending. I found myself playing the shareware version over and over again. I didn't memorize levels or secrets, I just loved playing the game so much that I would try out weapons in certain situations and find out ways to kill things faster. 

It took us a while to get Ultimate Doom, even though we got the shareware very soon after it came out. My dad was very triumphant when he brought those suckers home. It opened up yet another gate of gaming for me to enter and I had no idea at the time.

As a kid, I only rented the Sega Saturn Doom when I had my original gen 2 system because it was only at the neighborhood Blockbuster for a very short time. My brother and I played it over the weekend. I personally enjoyed it at the time because I simply loved Doom. I didn't notice things like framerates, I just accepted graphics like that because I started out when the SNES was just hitting its stride. I played the NES when I was five so these sort of graphics didn't really bother me. I had already played the Doom shareware and that one didn't run well on our old computer. 

I remember playing Doom 2 very near after playing Ultimate. One of my biggest memories was my first bout with the Cyberdemon. Trying to fight him with the rocket launcher was a pain! I didn't know at the time that the plasma gun was far more effective. Still, he's so awesome, it hardly mattered. To be honest, I did hit a few of those stupid Lost Souls up close with the rocket launcher. It was the weapon of choice, of course those little gremlins are going to fly into you. The programmers knew that! 

Since then, I've played all of the main titles aside from the mobile games. I have so many Doom ports, it's gotten a little comical at this point. The best levels were in their shareware version and it remains my favorite iteration of Doom to this day for its amazing enginuity and creativity with such limited power and resources. Doom became one of the pillars of gaming itself, along with Wolfenstein. So few franchises affected my gaming quite like Doom and it still remains one of my alltime favorites. Virtua Death!

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Doom Gorefest #3 - Doom Creators

Thanks to John Carmack and John Romero, Doom was made to last. One community that Carmack respected and loved was the hackers. To that end, he made Doom into an easily hackable game where they can change everything about the outlook and mechanics, swapping out content to make it customized to however you want.

Even if you can't modify the game mechanics, you can still create your own maps using Doom's own components. The only limit is your imagination and thanks to the enginuity of many modders and mappers, Doom has stood the test of time and still remains one of the strongest and longest lasting game fandoms. Doom WADs (or Doom "Where's All the Data" files) can be tampered with, edited and changed to your liking. Just remember to get the creator's permission before you start messing with their maps.

Doom mods like Brutal Doom, Project Brutality, Doom Zero and No Rest for the Living, created their own entities of Doom and freshened up its concept many times over. People hold Doom Mapping contests all the time and one trip through the community will put countless Doom maps and mods at your disposal and enjoyment at no extra cost.

If Doom is your game, you owe it to yourself to try out these different mods. To get into the community, get GZDoom and start looking for commuities with maps and mods. The space taken up in a more modern computer will be minimal compared to the enjoyment you'll get. 

Mods like Brutal Doom and Project Brutality up the violence factor, add new and awesome weapons and different game mechanics to the whole thing. It ups the difficulty and also makes blood paint the walls with every shotgun blast. These have breathed new life into the franchise and people have started testing maps on them just to see how they hold up as opposed to just the "vanilla" Doom WADs.

Doom Mapping has become so inclusive that even I have gotten in on the action. I've been Doom mapping for over a year now and I'm still mediocre, but I can make as many levels as I want and play as much as I want as a result. If you're curious as to how my Doom levels are, here's a link to my Doom World post. That's a forum where many Doom creators congregate and show off their stuff. Give them all a look and happy killing.

There are mods that change the game entirely and in just about every way you can imagine. The possibilities are endless. However deep you want to go into the Doom fandom, just be careful, because like any community, there are some dark events and unsettling lore set around the community. Just be sure to check your sources and make sure you know the truth about a lot of it. Rumors and myths have run rampant dating back to its very inception. A good place to start would be the ID biography, Masters of Doom by David Kushner. That will get you started. The rest is up to you. Just try not to go too far down the gory rabbit hole and try to remember to consume the water labeled "Drink Me".