Date : Early Winter, 1998
Time : 2am
Place: The bedroom in my first apartment
It is cold, maybe forty-five degrees Fahrenheit. It's just the way my room is; like a cool spring day in Michigan, nearly all year round. Suits me just fine. But just for once, I want it to be a teensy bit warmer. I've been glued in front of my crappy CRT for close to five hours now, ever since I got off the phone with my fiancee, and my toes are starting to go numb, but I'm not ready to move yet. DOOM, for the Sony PlayStation, has gotten it's claws into me once again, and this time I'm not moving until I see those credits roll.
Just for the record, I eventually did see the credits roll, but not for another few hours. While I don't have the clearest memories from that early morning (or the whole time I lived in that apartment), I suspect a couple of those eye blinks lasted longer than a few hundred milliseconds. But the last few hours were all go, as any person who's played this game can thus testify.DOOM
is an amazing beast. While perhaps not as lauded as it once was, it is still a force to be reckoned with. But back in the nineties, it was a legend, not just on its place of birth, the PC, but also on the home consoles of the time. And boy howdy, there are a lot of home console ports: Ten if you only count official ports, thirteen if you also count the mobiles platforms, and more if you count the spin-offs, remakes, and fan inspired titles. And one of those, specifically on the SNES, was my first experience. Despite it being so primitive, I clearly remember being wowed at the experience, then on the same day my friend showing me the 32x version, which blew the crappy SNES port out of the water. Out of all the ports, though, it is in my strong opinion that the Sony PlayStation is the best of the bunch.
See, the second I pick that up, I know I'm gonna get swarmed...
Originally developed (and published) for the Sony PlayStation by Williams Entertainment in November of 1995, the PSX port had a number of advantages over the other console ports of the time. It still had a mishmash of levels from different versions of DOOM (The Ultimate DOOM, DOOM II, the Jaguar port of DOOM, and some original), but now features buttery-smooth movement, some really impressive lighting effects, and even has all of the enemies (save the Arch-Vile from Doom II). But my favorite improvement is in the aural department. Gone is the high-powered power rock of the PC original, replaced with an atmospheric soundtrack that comes off as very industrial, yet is very minimalist in structure. It is often mixed with ambient sounds, some of which can be talking, yelling and crying, other times voices calling out names or chanting, but without any coherence. This is a creation of Aubrey Hodges, who is also responsible for the DOOM 64
soundtrack (which has a kind of proto-Silent Hill
feel to it, in my opinion). While I do love the original PC soundtrack, the heavy atmospheric "music" from the PSX port really makes the game for me.
Another frightening thing we should discuss is the lighting. I casually mentioned it above, but there is a large amount of dark corridors in this game, and not just dark in the "Bethesda" sense of the word, but real darkness. Many corridors have some amount of flashing colored lighting (either fast or a slow pulsing), but some have no illumination to speak of. And this one feature adds a lot of tension, especially when you are low on health or ammunition. You know more than likely there are enemies, either creeping around or hiding behind hidden doors or within the geometry of the level, but you have to go in the dark anyway. Many a time I ran in and out of out these dark corridors like a clown fish from an anemone, trying to bait enemies into the light. This ends up slowing down the game quite a bit, giving it a more tactical feel than the DOS original, which always seemed to put more emphasis on speed.
Just stopping to snap a pic and almost died doing it
Finally, we come to something new I thought to include. Please do not take this as gospel (so to speak) on how to play these games. This is just something I wanted to try on for size. So, I played DOOM
using several viewing devices; a large CRT, the PSOne LCD screen, and two different projectors (one unprocessed, and one processed through my Pioneer VSX-1022-K). I didn't try it on any advanced Sony consoles or through PC or Mac emulation (although upscaled with scan lines on the epsxe emulator looked amazing), but I can tell you this: DOOM
for PSX does not look good in widescreen. Overall, I found the game looked best on the PSOne LCD, and displayed shockingly bright colors (a norm on that particular screen). Plus, on such a small screen (5"), these is less overall pixelation, so the game looks cleaner. That being said, I think the way to go is with a good old fashioned CRT; the bigger the better. Why? DOOM
, especially on the PSX, is meant to be an immersive game, and it works best when you don't have to squint to see enemies in the distance. True, the colors don't "pop" as much as on the PSOne LCD, but because the CRT is a little bit darker, the corridors obscured by darkness have a lot more texture. Of course, individual results will vary (in relation to the specific model of television).
The original DOOM
on PSX was released in two versions that I know of, in an old PSX long box and the Greatest Hits version, in a CD case. Prices on eBay are all over the place, with some being as low as $14 USB CIB, or as much as $37 USD. But, this appears to be the only way to get the PSX port of DOOM
, as even the version sold in the PlayStation Store appears to the DOS original. But if you are either a DOOM
collector or just a collector in general, I bet they'll say that the DOOM
long box would look pretty swank on the shelf with the rest of your games. If it can fit, that is.
Thanks for reading!