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Doom (SNES) artwork

Doom (SNES) review

""That's one doomed space marine!""

Doom asset

During last year's slew of Halloween reviews, I gushed like a smitten schoolgirl over the PC classic Doom. I figured that I should probably counterbalance that love letter by digging into another iteration of the game, namely the infamous SNES release.

Yes, the basic premise and stage layouts are all the same, as are enemy placements and core mechanics. Heck, I'll even go so far as to say that the SNES version sports an improved soundtrack, with groovy, tension-building tunes.

Unfortunately, this edition presents its predecessor's features in the worst possible way. Your first view of the game should tell you that much, as whole environments and enemies are hidden under a layer of grainy visuals. Because of that, foes and environmental fixtures are indistinguishable. I recall one occasion in which I unloaded a clip into a zombie and wondered why he wasn't going down. It was only then that I realized that the "zombie" was actually part of a distant wall. In contrast, I once ignored an enemy who ruthlessly laid into me because I thought he was part of the decor. Imp... Door frame... What's the difference? I also had a few instances where I couldn't tell if the floor was poisoned or just colored green. The lack of floor textures made it difficult to differentiate between acid and a standard floor panels at times.

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Taking unintentional damage is not uncommon in this edition of Doom. Most of the time, foes will get a few licks in on you before you notice them, mostly because of the terrible visuals. It also doesn't help that the game's mechanics are absolutely horrible. I recall clearly that being able to strafe and turn the camera simultaneously was a huge lifesaver in the original edition. Such a maneuver allowed you to rotate while possibly dodging any oncoming assaults from behind, or allowed you to switch between targets while moving side-to-side. In this version, you're incapable of strafing while turning. You can, however, turn while walking backwards, which effectively causes you to run in an awkward semicircle. Unfortunately, that could also result in colliding with unseen enemies or falling off of platforms and into death pits.

Don't get the notion that you can tone down the difficulty setting or save and reload when the going gets tough, either. Since this game was produced on an SNES cartridge, its memory is limited, resulting in the loss of a number of features. For instance, you can't play every episode one every difficulty setting. Only the first two episodes are available on 'easy' and 'medium' settings, and the third episode is only playable via 'hard mode' (episode four, Thy Flesh Consumed, is MIA). What's worse is that you cannot save your progress, even between levels. If you die, you have to start the stage over. If you shut the game off, then you have to take it from the top. Thankfully, you don't have to play the entire campaign in one sitting, as the game allows you to start on later episodes via 'new game' in the main menu.

You might wonder why the developers bothered porting this game to SNES, but I can kind of understand its creation given the time it was made. In the early '90s, not everyone had a gaming-capable PC. Heck, my PC at the time could run Doom with some difficulty, and even ran games like Quake and Duke Nukem 3D with noticeable slowdown and downgraded visuals and music. Thanks to the SNES's Mode 7 technology, a console version of Doom was at very least creatable, circa 1994. I suppose the developers thought of this version as Doom: Better Than Nothing Edition. Unfortunately, since gaming-capable PCs are more ubiquitous these days, it's nearly impossible to find a computer that can't effortlessly run Doom. Heck, you can even download digital versions of the game via PS3 and 360 that play just fine. As you can imagine, this renders the SNES port completely redundant.

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Thinking back on what I wrote in the previous paragraph, the SNES version of Doom is not "better than nothing." It's a laughable, abysmal iteration of a fantastic old school shooter. In other words, this version has no redeeming value whatsoever. Given the choice between this and nothing, I'd rather sit in cold, dark silence.

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 28, 2013)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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If you enjoyed this Doom review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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Linkamoto posted October 28, 2013:

Incredible. I didn't even know they ported this to SNES, and the system was my favorite as a kid. Then again, I was a kid, and I've forgotten a lot of things through the years. Anyways, while *I* understand everything you're talking about in this review, you approached it as if every single reader has played the original.

While it's likely that anyone reading it probably has, I still think at least a cursory paragraph explaining premise would have been nice. Otherwise, great review. It's really a shame how bad it turned out. Say--is this by chance a rare game at all? I still can't believe I never knew this was ported. Odd.

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overdrive posted October 28, 2013:

It's always nice to see other people suffering through horrible ports that I've suffered through.
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JedPress posted October 28, 2013:

I bought this red cartridge from a pawn shop when I was a teenager. I had never played Doom on the PC, so I didn't know any better. Believe it or not, I loved this port as an introduction. Never felt that I took damage unfairly, though I disliked the lack of a save feature. It's crazy that the SNES version has the best music of the bunch.
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Masters posted October 28, 2013:

LOL are u kidding? this review is bad. Doom is amazeing. DId the riter just start playing FPS games with COD? LOL get a clue.
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Germ posted October 28, 2013:

The writer likes Doom though, he linked to a positive review in the first paragraph. This is a review of the SNES port.
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EmP posted October 28, 2013:

Not a low enough score.

DID YOU KNOW that to save memory space, SNES Doom didn't bother giving enemies backs. This means, whatever you do, they are always, always facing you. Couldn't make it up.
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ThoughtFool1 posted October 28, 2013:

I think Ken Masters was being facetious

On the note of the review...interesting. I never played the SNES port...suppose I should be glad I didn't.
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Germ posted October 28, 2013:

Oh. Whoops! Sorry
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overdrive posted October 28, 2013:

I DID NOT KNOW that, Emp. Just another hilarious tidbit about this game.

I remember when I reviewed it, it didn't take long to decide the game was just a pure mess, so I started skipping around scenarios to play as much as possible before starting to review it and did find out that due to the horrible visuals, it was possible to lose up to 60% of your life one bullet at a time from the weakest soldier if you can't actually see where the bastard is until you're right on top of him.

And therefore, the greatest thing about SNESDoom is the horrible paranoid thought I had about what if real life was like this game and an intruder was in your living room with you...but you couldn't see him because in this situation he's cloaked in a way where you can't see him unless you're within 18 inches of him.

There's more entertainment value in that thought than in this port of the game.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 28, 2013:

Miyamoto: Yeah, I might add a little explanation piece in there. Thanks!

OD: You might be onto something there. Unfortunately, exploring that concept through an FPS on SNES was probably not the best idea. That now makes me wonder how Duke Nukem would have turned out on SNES...

Jed: Yeah, this port did serve a purpose at one time, as I indicated. Doom was not as accessible in the '90s as it is now, but these days you can find it on just about any digital marketplace for any platform at a pretty cheap price. SNES Doom is unnecessary these days. That being said, if someone bought the SNES version once upon a time, I don't really blame them. I, too, wanted to pick up both this game and SNES Wolfenstein at one point, mainly because my family didn't own a PC until I was well into high school (sadly, the thing could barely run Doom, and even getting it to run Wolfenstein and Blake Stone was a pain).

Masters: Troll sucessful!

EmP: Interesting... And yet not at all surprising.

Anyway, to all, thanks for reading!
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SamildanachEmrys posted October 29, 2013:

I remember journalists being very impressed at the time. No one thought the SNES was capable of Doom. Personally I bought it and played it to death. It's still my most-played version of Doom. My family didn't have a PC so I'd resigned myself to never being able to play the famed Doom.

I always really liked it. I no point of comparison except the 32X version that my brother picked up, and I felt like the SNES version was better. In comparison to other SNES games, this port of Doom was something refreshing and exciting.

Now,of course, there's no point in playing it. Even the Game Boy Advance version of Doom is at least the equal of the SNES port, and as you said, anyone with a 360 or a PS3 can get a pretty definitive version of the game. SNES Doom doesn't stand up very well I suppose, but it's still MY Doom.
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overdrive posted October 29, 2013:

SNES Wolfenstein didn't have the same problems that SNES Doom did. I thought part of that problem was based on just how detailed they made the graphics to the point where the engine started cracking and crumbling the instant you started moving. Because when I first started it up, I was amazed at how the hardware handled Doom...until I actually started playing the stupid thing.

The problems SNES Wolfenstein had seemed to revolve more around being super-repetitive and boring (I think you only had 2-3 types of soldiers and those rat/dog things to fight) to where the ONLY fun stages were the later boss fights because they'd be in some room deep in their level and the second you got close, they'd be chasing you all over the place until you or they were dead.

AS A SIDE NOTE...based on what Sam said, I have to try the 32X version of Doom at some point, just to see how it is compared to the actual computer version which is the true way to play anything related to classic Doom/DII/Final Doom.
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EmP posted October 29, 2013:

I thought the 32X port was pretty well done, myself.
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EmP posted November 07, 2017:

I just stumbled across this last comment.

Oh, 2013 me. You crazy, optimistic fool....

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