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Ultraboy94

My comments on GBA Doom

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So I picked up the GBA version of Doom today for £5 at Gamestation, and have been playing about with all aspects of it (except for multiplayer as I don't have the equipment for that). While this isn't really a review it's just some random thoughts and noticed differences between the GBA and other versions.
(If it's any use to anyone, I'm using a GBASP model AGS-001.)

-Main difference, the blood is GREEN. I really am not sure why, as even when Nintendo was far more strict with a family-friendly policy the SNES version was kept intact. The hellish imagery is still intact also so the reason that the blood is green is unknown to me.

-The music is not that bad in my opinion, definitley better than the 32X version. I'm not too sure about the mix-up of level musics, either.

-The running is VERY fast, seems faster than the PC versions without a doubt.

-There is an option to turn dynamic lighting off and have all lighting the same, this may be to speed up the game or to lower the difficulty with a lack of dark areas, or both. I usually change it to static lighting to speed up the game.

-Since the GBA's hardware is supposed to be comparable to the SNESs in terms of power I'm suprised the game has textured floors and ceilings.

-All weapons are present and in perfect condition as far as I can see.

-Unlike SNES Doom the Spider Mastermind seems to be absent, as the final level was just Fortress of Mystery.

-Something that dosen't suprise me is that many levels are drastically changed, such as Mount Erebus, almost certainly to cater to the GBA's power.

-Some levels seem to be completley new, such as the starting map of Inferno, not sure if this was to again cater to the GBA's power or just to keep it from being a complete port of the original.

-The ending was quite dissapointing, surely they could have remade the PC version's ending on a GBA, it was just a scrolling image...

-There is no xdeath states for any monsters as far as I can see.

-The cheat messages are different, no easter eggs inside them.

-The invincibility powerup just gives you a blue tint, instead of inverting everything white.

-Some of the monsters have less sounds, and some for example share others (the Demon has the same death sound as the Imp, for example), quite like the SNES version, probably to save cartridge space.

I'll add anything else I find when I find it. Hope this is of any use...

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I'm pretty sure all the maps that differ from the PC version are (or are based on) the older 32X maps. I could be wrong, though. In any case, Doom 2 for the GBA was a much more faithful port.

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If I remember correctly, the GBA version of Doom 1 was nothing more than a modified version of the Atari Jaguar version of the game. With a smaller screen resolution, green blood, and music in the levels.

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Mithran Denizen said:

In any case, Doom 2 for the GBA was a much more faithful port.

Except that they split map15 into two levels, which pissed me off.

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Pretty sure the GBA is marginally more powerful than the SNES, dunno where you got that assumption from. The dynamic light option might be there to account for the vanilla GBA's lack of a backlit screen.

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GeckoYamori said:

Pretty sure the GBA is marginally more powerful than the SNES, dunno where you got that assumption from. The dynamic light option might be there to account for the vanilla GBA's lack of a backlit screen.

In terms of graphics the GBA is significantly more powerful. However in terms of sound it pales in comparison to its predecessor. The GBA has a pathetic CPU-hogging sound package with fewer channels, poor max sound quality, and pretty much no filtering of any sort.

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GBA has no dedicated sound hardware, so it's all done through software mixing. It can sound really nice, but it would take more resources from the rest of the game. I'd argue the lack of a filter is actually an advantage, too many SNES games sound muffled like hell thanks to it.

Good example is the GBA Castlevania games. First one has pretty good sound quality, but the graphics are pretty minial. Second game is completely vice versa, while in the third one they found some sort of balance.

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The GBA port of DOOM is honestly my least-favorite of all the ports I've played. The dynamic lighting is pretty much pointless since it slows down the game, and all sprites are fullbright at all times anyway, so any sense of tension from fighting things in the dark is destroyed. The game speed in general is terrible, wildly varying between "running around underwater" sluggish to actually going too fast.

It's nice having the music there--a feature often lacking in most GBA FPS games, including Wolfenstein 3D--but most of the arrangements are simplified and highly repetitive compared to the originals, with some being butchered entirely in the process. Only "Donna to the Rescue" (E3M2 of the original game) seems to have made the transition all in one piece.

And then there's that blasted Jaguar DOOM mapset again, instead of trying to do accurate port jobs of the maps. And the Spectre, Cyberdemon and Spider Mastermind are missing. Even SNES DOOM was better than that (well, aside from the missing Spectres).

It was nice to finally have a portable DOOM, but they could've done a much, much better job than this (as DOOM II GBA eventually proved). The only thing I got out of GBA DOOM was the this arrangement of "Demons on the Prey," which was so detached from the original that it was basically a whole new song, and I kind of wish a MIDI author would transcribe it for use in PC maps.

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The thing about the GBA Doom II port is that it doesn't actually run on the Doom engine, instead it uses a 2.5D engine made specifically for the GBA. It was also used for Duke Nukem Advance.

Despite that it's quite faithful to the original game.

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Heh, GBA Doom brings back a good bit of nostalgia for me. I was in middle school at the time the game came out and I vividly remember sneaking in some GBA Doom action in between classes. I recall my friends at the time being surprised that the GBA was even capable of playing a game like Doom.

Never got Doom II for whatever reason, though. Messed around with the ROM a little bit in an emulator, and was a bit irked by the use of a different engine. Even the minute differences stood out like a sore thumb to me.. but that's coming from somebody who's played Doom since it came out in 1993. :P

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Few more comments.

-Lost souls have less health, only one shotgun round is usually required to kill it instead of two.

-Some doors and most lifts are much faster than in the PC version.

-There are no crushers, I don't feel this is a large loss however because crushers were never really well used in the original game, almost placed as an afterthought IMO.

-If the idea of this game is to be fast-paced so I can get straight into the action, why must the opening developer's titles be unskippable?

-The weapon changing controls were cryptic enough for me to have to read the manual, not something I usually put for good controls, otherwise controls are fine.

I actually prefer this version to my smartphone's version of Doom (myDoomCE), which is a perfect port of the PC version, probably due to more comfortable controls and at least some music.

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GeckoYamori said:

The dynamic light option might be there to account for the vanilla GBA's lack of a backlit screen.


I think so too because in adition to it running slower, I could hardly see anything,

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I loved the Inferno "Hell's Keep" map. It was surprisingly tough, made even harder by the keyboard-like nature of the gamepad. The "Donna to the rescue" music totally fit. The level definitely is better than the beginner-friendly E3M1 that's in vanilla Doom.

Important question (for me at least): is it possible to create and load external files (custom levels) and play them?

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Probably not in Doom 2, as it uses a completely different custom GBA engine as others have said. But it might be possible in Doom 1. People have managed to use custom wads in Doom 32X, after all.

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I recall Kaiser hacked one of his own maps into GBA Doom a while back, during his adventures in reverse-engineering the various console versions of Doom... because he's a badass.

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Hacked? So it's not official? So if you don't know the technicalities, after you finish GBA Doom, it becomes worthless?

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I kind of liked 1's GBA port, even if it was a very barebones version. The strange music rotation is hella annoying though.

Then I lost the cart later, searched forever, and couldn't find it. Also, it's a crying shame that 2's GBA port is so damned rare. I remember reading about "DS DOOM" some years ago, anyone knows what came of it? Google returns nothing relevant for me.

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printz said:

Hacked? So it's not official? So if you don't know the technicalities, after you finish GBA Doom, it becomes worthless?


So after you finish the original Doom IWAD on PC, it's pointless to play it again?

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printz said:

after you finish GBA Doom, it becomes worthless?


Not quite. You can try to complete the game on a harder skill level. You can also test yourself to doing speedruns or linking up with someone else who has the same game for coop or deathmatch on GBA Doom's secret DM maps.

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With the exception of the iPhone port, I don't know any doom port to a console that actually lets you use mods without hacking.

Kaiser did create a utility to help hack the GBA Doom 1 port (though naturally it doesn't work on GBA Doom II), and it's pretty straightforward to use if you read the docs.

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InsanityBringer said:

With the exception of the iPhone port, I don't know any doom port to a console that actually lets you use mods without hacking.


Is there actually a way to properly do this with the (official) iPhone version? I tried playing around with it from the command line of a jailbroken unit, but couldn't manage to get it to load a PWAD, nor could I find any way to lower the gamma setting (which I thought would be in the config file, like it is in GlBoom). I couldn't find any info about running PWADs with it on the net, either, so I assumed it didn't work.

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hervoheebo said:

I remember reading about "DS DOOM" some years ago, anyone knows what came of it? Google returns nothing relevant for me.


It was a fanmade port, where I think you just load the DS DOOM executable (which is basically PrBoom modified to run on the DS) and some WADs onto a DS flash cart and away you go. It didn't have music support and, from what I recall, was inexplicably missing touchscreen features. I don't even think it used the bottom screen as an automap or something cool like that.

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Hmm, perhaps iPhone modding hasn't actually gotten in. I recall it's been planned for a while now though. I can't really check for myself however considering that I don't possess an iphone.

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printz said:

Hacked? So it's not official? So if you don't know the technicalities, after you finish GBA Doom, it becomes worthless?

Only if you're the sort to refuse to play a game more than one time in your lifetime.

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GBA Doom is a modified port of Jaguar Doom. That's why it seems so similar to it and other ports based off it.

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Megamur said:

It was a fanmade port, where I think you just load the DS DOOM executable (which is basically PrBoom modified to run on the DS) and some WADs onto a DS flash cart and away you go. It didn't have music support and, from what I recall, was inexplicably missing touchscreen features. I don't even think it used the bottom screen as an automap or something cool like that.


Yeah it has automap, and even network support. Screenshots, info and src code here:
http://www.jefklak.be/games/ds-doom/

The controls are pretty bad though. Turning around seems to take forever, even compared to a PC with keyboard-only.

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All console ports up until XBox DOOM, and excluding SNES DOOM and GBA DOOM II, which ran on custom or OTS game engines, were based on Jaguar Doom, even if only indirectly:

Doom 1.2
\-JagDoom
  |- 32x Doom
  |- 3DO Doom 
  |- PSX Doom
  |  \-Doom 64
  \- GBA Doom
XBox DOOM and all of the XBLA DOOM games for 360 are based directly on the Linux Doom 1.10 source, according to research by xttl, and evidence suggests they are all 3 derived from the same common codebase as well.

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Whats interesting is that early versions of Doom for the 32X seemed to more closely resemble the PC version of Doom. The layouts, textures and such were based off the PC version rather than the significantly cut down Jaguar version.


The earliest known prototype version on the left, the final on the right. Oddly, the prototype runs quite well and I'd bet with some optimisation they could have gotten it running better. However instead of actually working they decided to just murder the graphics and throw a half-finished game out onto store shelves.

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Swiss_Cheeseman said:

Whats interesting is that early versions of Doom for the 32X seemed to more closely resemble the PC version of Doom. The layouts, textures and such were based off the PC version rather than the significantly cut down Jaguar version.

The earliest known prototype version on the left, the final on the right. Oddly, the prototype runs quite well and I'd bet with some optimisation they could have gotten it running better. However instead of actually working they decided to just murder the graphics and throw a half-finished game out onto store shelves.

I would not be surprised if it was ROM chip size cutting that lead to the cuts, seeing how they're largely to textures. Sega probably wouldn't go for the chip size required for that amount of data because they thought it would eat into the profit margin. This was an undeniably huge factor in console game design back then. They wanted the price of the cart under $50 MSRP no matter what. The rare exceptions were mostly made for games that required in-cart hardware like SuperFX on SNES and the accelerator chip in the Genesis version of Virtua Racing.

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Swiss_Cheeseman said:

Oddly, the prototype runs quite well and I'd bet with some optimisation they could have gotten it running better. However instead of actually working they decided to just murder the graphics and throw a half-finished game out onto store shelves.


The 32X version was rushed out on shelves for Christmas 1994. If Sega didn't have such a tight deadline with the game, you probably would have seen that prototype cleaned up and released. This FAQ has a short Q&A session with American McGee about the 32X version, it's a pretty interesting read.

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