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I Played The Worst Version Of ‘DOOM’, But I’ll Always Love It

At the very end of last week, the legendary 1993 shooter DOOM, its 1994 sequel and 2004’s DOOM 3 all appeared on the Switch eShop. Naturally, I immediately threw four quid at Nintendo, and made the first game (pictured, above) mine. It’s not the first time I’ve owned DOOM, and it won’t be the last, I’m sure – this being the game, of course, that pretty much runs on everything, from toasters to cash machines.

And, that log-in hullabaloo and the tiresome memes aside* – really, a whole lot of noise over a lot of not much whatsoever – I’ve perfectly impressed with DOOM on Switch. It does what it needs to do, for my needs: I can play DOOM on the train, on a plane, in bed, in the park, and while taking a dump, should the mood take me. (Which it never has, yet, in all my years of owning handheld consoles – but never say never, right?)

I’ve seen the rather-elitist-for-my-tastes Twitter comments about this Switch DOOM not really being the “real” DOOM at all; rather, it’s a Unity remake with rubbish music and something or other about the textures and shut up, you boring, boring idiots.

DOOM on Nintendo Switch / Credit: Bethesda, Nintendo
DOOM on Nintendo Switch / Credit: Bethesda, Nintendo

This is a perfectly good version of DOOM that lets me play DOOM when I want to play DOOM without hacking my PSP to play homebrew ROMs or, I don’t know, plugging the arse end of a Raspberry Pi into a Texas Instruments calculator from 1989 and lording it over the rest of you simpletons just because I have that much time to waste instead of just downloading this thing in a couple of minutes for my state-of-the-art mobile games console.

And besides, compared to how I first played DOOM, Switch DOOM is a revelation. In the mid-1990s, I was strictly a console gamer, having pretty much left the family Amiga behind and having zero interest in whatever was happening in the PC space. Ergo, DOOM breaking new ground on home computers didn’t really register with me, as I was exclusively playing SEGA consoles at home.

DOOM on the 32X / Credit: SEGA
DOOM on the 32X / Credit: SEGA

The first console port of DOOM, released in 1994, was the first version of DOOM that I ever played – and its platform of choice was the Mega Drive-expanding mushroom of delight that was the 32X. Arguably, subsequent ports for the Atari Jaguar and Super Nintendo were superior to this musically-mangled, levels-missing, screen-shrunk tragedy of id Software’s seminal FPS, but I was partially brand-blinded: SEGA itself had worked on the 32X conversion, and I was a SEGA player, having already pimped my Mega Drive a couple of years earlier with the addition of a Mega CD. This was my DOOM, and honestly, I had a blast with it.

Naturally, playing (several) other versions of DOOM, right up to the Switch release, has rather put my adventures on the 32X port into focus. That was… not a great game. But it did the job, and I’ll always love it because of what it represented at the time: access to a revered 3D FPS on my 16-bit Mega Drive, before it came to – *spit* – the Super Nintendo. (My brothers had a SNES, likewise a fair few good mates, so I never really developed much of a SEGA vs Nintendo mentality.)

32X DOOM at Quakecon / Credit: Mike Diver
32X DOOM at Quakecon / Credit: Mike Diver

At Quakecon 2019, in London, I sat down with the 32X version again and it left me unexpectedly wobbly. I’d forgotten how its lurching movement on a small screen, bordered as it was by a frame, and d-pad only movement could, basically, make you feel seasick. I went straight from that to DOOM Eternal and, yeah, as much as the 32X DOOM will forever have a place in my heart, it’s the 2019 interpretation of ripping and tearing that I’m excited to play again, not the sketchy SEGA bodge-job.

Anyway, enough of my reminiscing – the whole point of all of that up there is to pose a question to you, reader. And it is this:

Have you played a notoriously bad version of a widely celebrated video game? And will you defend said version, until your final breath (or, better, until sense prevails and you can accept that, yeah, it was a bit lousy). What’s your own 32X DOOM? Perhaps Virtua Fighter 2 on Mega Drive? Or the Saturn version of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night? Uh, it looks like I’m just piling on SEGA here, doesn’t it? Sorry, Sonic.

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(* Okay, some of them were pretty good.)

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