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TheNerdTurtle2

GBA Doom Review Released

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THE REVIEW:

Doom is a game that everyone has to respect in some way, shape or form for the sheer fact of how much of videogame history it changed. It was also one of the first games to spawn many ports, like the one I am reviewing: GBA Doom.

GBA Doom is it’s own animal, it feels like Doom in many places and it feels like a clunky mess in others. It is dark and scary in places and it’s, again, slow and clunky in others. Notice I say slow and clunky instead of garbled, slow, laggy and clunky unplayable garbage. I’m looking at you SNES Doom! GBA Doom is by no means a beautiful game, but it is Doom after all, and when was last time you thought Doom was pretty? But in comparison with the SNES port, the GBA version is like the Mona Lisa, amazing for the time period. What I mean is give the gameboy to some appreciating teenager and see what he says: “Why can’t I aim down the sights? This game is trash.” and then give the Mona Lisa to the same person: “Why are the colors so mute, someone should photoshop me into this picture.” To them the game and the photo are ancient, outdated and ought to be forgotten. But to the right people they are a treasure of the past.

Now my personal opinion is a little different than others in that I don’t mind playing it. I’ve heard countless complaints about framerate and jerkiness but honestly aside from a few levels I don’t find slowdown that often. Before I say anything else I have to be fair and say I haven’t played Doom II yet on the Gameboy and I heard it’s a lot smoother so that might be where the hate comes from. The gameplay is fun. I’m not going to say it plays as good as the PC version, and not even as well as the Xbox Arcade Version. The default control scheme is the best and it plays as follows: with the L and R buttons strafing, the A button shoots, the B button runs/activates objects. One downside to this setup is switching weapons is awkward as you have to hold both R and L and press up and down on the control pad. The other downside is a lot of times when you open a door you press “B” to run into the room and it closes the door in your face. This happens to me A LOT. Thankfully you can turn on autorun and eliminate this problem. But remember it plays better than the SNES port for more than just the speed. For some odd reason the SNES port doesn’t allow circle strafing, you can turn and you can strafe but not at the same time. To my surprise the GBA port allows this and it works well. Perhaps the biggest advantage is something that felt game breaking in the SNES version, which was that monsters only had one set of sprites: the ones facing you. Never did they turn when they walked, only looked at you with their dead eyes. And holy fuck did it look bad when they walked away from you. Have you ever been in a staring contest? I have and it was nothing compared to the way these zombiemen stare at you while doing what seems like the electric slide! And thank the lord this is gone in the GBA port, it feels like a real monster is trying to kill you and not some freak of nature. So overall I’d say that the game plays pretty well and the only real downside is the slowdown.

Graphically the game looks great. Especially if playing on the GBA SP AGS-101 model, which I am. The game has a brightness option and on this model I turn it all the way down, but using the AGS-001 model I leave it on 3 out of 5 (default). On top of a brightness setting they also included a static lighting option. This makes the lighting the same throughout the entire game and although I never personally liked it, it does increase frame rate by a bit. Now before I say anything else about graphics I have to mention the blood because everyone does. It’s green, get over it. It looks good and honestly doesn’t feel like it’s censored more of a cool little design choice. My only problem is that the corpses disappear shortly after death probably to help the game run faster. One thing I think is odd about the whole censorship thing is that gibs were removed but the graphics for the bloody mess decoration still exists in all its green glory. Also sadly lots of textures have been removed completely, this is most noticeable right when you start the game and see that the pretty blue floor is replaced with an ugly brown one. The only other major graphical difference is that the COMPTALL texture has been completely replaced with another texture, that kinda resembles a freedoom version of the original. All the other differences I have listed below for your entertainment.

Overall GBA Doom is good. It’s amazing for the hardware it had to work on and although it might not be PC Doom it is very fun to play. I will say however there is no reason to buy it unless you are like me and decided it was worth it just to say you have Doom for the gameboy. But nevertheless I play it every once in awhile and try to pistol start some levels and utterly fail. So if you love Doom buy it! Or else skip it and buy Doom for the PC first. Thanks for listening and I have a whole list of changes below :)

The levels aren’t a complete list as I figured out that the Wiki had the differences already but I’ll complete them if someone wants.


GBA Differences:

Music:
Seems that all music is here but each song is pushed backwards one slot for example Imp's song plays on E1M1 and At Doom's Gate plays in E1M9
Pausing causes music to restart

Sounds:
Demon has Imp death sound
It seems like the ambient noise that monsters make doesn't fade over distance
When hitting the ground after a fall instead of making the "oof" sound Doomguy makes the getting hurt sound
Sounds cut each other off

Random graphical differences:
At the end of each level the intermission has the Doom 2 intermission background until after the stats are displayed then it shows the map with the you are here sign
No mid textures
When you get hurt the screen turns more of a pinkish/purplish color instead of red
HUD is missing arms section
HUD doesn't have the % sign
Box of ammo is a much lighter shade of green
Gibs were removed but the graphics for the bloody mess decoration still extists (in its green form)
Generally brighter overall
All blood is green
COMPTALL texture has been completely replaced with another texture, it kinda looks like a freedoom version of the original
The lighting that gets dark over distance was removed
A "static lighting" option was added, which makes all sectors full brightness, framerate notable increases for using this
Bodies disapear shortly after being killed
Lighting affects the level but not the monsters and items who are always full brightness
Messages appear across bottom of the screen instead of the top
Decorations such as floor lamps or tech pillars are present but are sometimes not where they are supposed to be

Gameplay Differences:
B is to run and open doors so occasionally you close doors on yourself when trying to run through
Auto aim seems to not do anything at mid- long range
No crushing ceilings
Using cheat codes gets ammo higher than pc counterpart, it seems like ammo goes on to infitity although the cheat code only gives you 500 for each ammo type
Jerky and slightly unstable framerate
No episode intermission screens except after the last level
All monsters are deaf
Can't save in the middle of the level only between
Although you can select your episode the game is played all the way through with no intermissions or loss of guns
Automap has a follow mode and a scroll mode where you can look around
No nightmare difficulty but UV was renamed to Nightmare
Health bonuses and armor bonuses give you 2% instead of the normal 1%
Lost souls only take one shotgun shell to kill (FUCK YES!!!)
No cyberdemon or spidermastermind are present

E1M1 Hangar:
The pretty blue floor in the first room we all know and love is gone and replaced with Floor5_3
The two tech pillars in the green armor room are gone (so that means no secret switch either)
There is a hole in the wall due to the lift secret because of the absense of midtextures

E1M2 Nuclear Plant:
Green armor area at the beginning is changed slightly, the floor is lowered and the armor is placed around the corner
At the end of the level there is no lift in the exit room there is just a switch at normal height

E1M3 Toxin Refinery:
Considerable lag at the beginning of the level due to many enemies (although not a difference I thought I'd mention it)
The linedef for the soulsphere secret is moved considerbly closer to make it easier to get
The donut toxic pit got modified, the toxic isn't far down now but almost at the surface of the pit and the middle is no longer a pit (filled in and no more switch)
Blue key room the lights no longer turn off during the ambush

E1M4 Command Center:
Has been almost completely retextured with Bigbrik1 instead of Browngrn
The chaingun room has a switch on the inside to reopen the doors after they close
The cramped maze has no height variation and is textured with Bigbrik1
For some reason the part that originally had the swastika resembles the swastika more than the patched PC version

E1M5 Phobos Lab:
More of bricked theme just like GBA E1M4
Toxic pit secret with the rocket launcher doesn't have a texture variation to show where the secret is

E1M6 Central Processing:
Sadly the redkey ambush room was scrapped all together and there is just a red key outside of where that room would have been
The slimepool maze is shortened because they took out two of the rooms

E1M7 Computer Station:
Elevated area with the rocket launcher is completely enclosed instead of having a little bit of a window to see the room below
Blue key is located on the ground instead of the lip of the platform
The outside area with the soulsphere has a weird fence height glitch, one area of fence is much higher than the rest
Exit room is lacking windows

E1M8 Phobos Anomaly:
The first room contains no demons or toxic pit, instead there is a platform full of former humans and barrels
There is also no lift to the computer map and stim paks, the previously mentioned platform walks directly into that room
The soulsphere secret is replaced with blue armor
The two Baron houses are simplified and connected to each other, on the inside there is a soulsphere between them
All the spectres were replaced with Demons
After killing the two barons only the northern part of the star opens up
The raising staircase isn't present until opening a door on the northern wall
Two former humans are on the top of the rasing staircase
And finally upon entering the teleport there is no death screen like classic doom the level simply ends

E3M2 Slough of Despair:
NOT PRESENT

E3M3 Pandemonium:
Retextured: Wood is now marble
Entire western portion of map is deleted
The one portion of water that is noramlly a damaging floor in PC doom is no longer damaging

E3M7 Limbo:
Sky texture in big main room instead of ceiling

E3m8 Dis:
Completely removed and is replaced with a version of fortress of mystery as the final level
Instead of an ending that requires you to flip a switch you have to open multiple doors in the same room and collect all the keys just to exit, this was made to prevent players from running through all the monsters and exiting before killing them all

Credits:
Don't credit John Romero, Tom Hall or Sandy Peterson in level design

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TheNerdTurtle2 said:

For some reason the part that originally had the swastika resembles the swastika more than the patched PC version

That's because Jaguar Doom was based on version 1.2, the PC censorship occurred in version 1.4.

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Quasar said:

Too much SNES bashing, unnecessary for discussion of the GBA port.


I have the SNES version of the game and when I got the GBA port I was blown away by how much better it is, so that's where the hate comes from. But I'm sorry I wrote so much about it.

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I haven't read the full thing yet, but just skimming through you had some "in my opinion" lines in there. You don't need them in there, as it's obvious from the get go that it's your opinion, those sorts of things, (including "making conversation with the reader), will just bloat the size and not look too good. Also to elaborate on Quasar's thoughts; you will need to not draw up comparisons with SNES Doom, it's a review and the main focus should be on what you are reviewing as that's what people are there for. By all means make a mention to it if it's related but keep it brief.

On my light read through I have to say that I liked the idea of the differences bit being separated as it's tidy, breaks down important sections, and gives the reader an optional reading choice as an extra. I'll see to giving it a thorough read through on the train home tomorrow. Well done.

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GoatLord said:

No mid textures is a peculiar omission.

Support for middle textures is not present in the Jaguar codebase, so none of the ports based on it have them until PSX, which added them back in as a new implementation.

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Springy said:

I haven't read the full thing yet, but just skimming through you had some "in my opinion" lines in there. You don't need them in there, as it's obvious from the get go that it's your opinion, those sorts of things, (including "making conversation with the reader), will just bloat the size and not look too good. Also to elaborate on Quasar's thoughts; you will need to not draw up comparisons with SNES Doom, it's a review and the main focus should be on what you are reviewing as that's what people are there for. By all means make a mention to it if it's related but keep it brief.

On my light read through I have to say that I liked the idea of the differences bit being separated as it's tidy, breaks down important sections, and gives the reader an optional reading choice as an extra. I'll see to giving it a thorough read through on the train home tomorrow. Well done.


Thanks I might take some time to edit it later.

On a different note does anyone know why John Romero, Tom Hall and Sandy Peterson are completely not credited? You can't say because it's a port, because John Carmack was credited

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TheNerdTurtle2 said:

Thanks I might take some time to edit it later.

On a different note does anyone know why John Romero, Tom Hall and Sandy Peterson are completely not credited? You can't say because it's a port, because John Carmack was credited

id Software's policy has always been, since the original Doom even, to list who currently works at the company, rather than listing credits for a particular game. Not sure this isn't still the case given that we're supposed to believe evidently that John Carmack didn't create most of the fundamentals of id Tech 6.

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