DOOM recently launched on the Nintendo Switch and while technical compromises had to be made in order to get it to run on Nintendo's portable platform, we nevertheless praised it in our review for being a quality port that had enough of a flavour of the full-fat version of the game to be worthwhile.
It's amazing to think that more than 24 years ago in 1993, a similar miracle took place when the original PC game of DOOM was ported to none other than the SNES. If only Digital Foundry had been around at the time to evaluate what an impressive port this was! UK-based publication Nintendo Magazine System gave the SNES port of DOOM a mighty 95% in their review and praised its use of the FX2 chip to make the magic happen.
So why bring this up now? Good question! Randy Linden was a programmer on the SNES port of DOOM and recently did an interview which sheds some light on just how challenging this project was:
I started the project independently and demo’d it to Sculptured Software when I had a fully operational prototype running. A bunch of people at Sculptured helped complete the game so it could be released in time for the holidays.
The development was challenging for a few reasons, notably there were no development systems for the SuperFX chip at the time. I wrote a complete set of tools — assembler, linker and debugger — before I could even start on the game itself.
The development hardware was a hacked-up StarFox cartridge (because it included the SuperFX chip) and a modified pair of game controllers that were plugged into both SNES ports and connected to the Amiga’s parallel port. A serial protocol was used to communicate between the two for downloading code, setting breakpoints, inspecting memory, etc.
As if all that wasn't impressive enough, when asked if there were features which Randy wanted to include but couldn't get working on the SNES he said:
Sure! More levels for starters — Unfortunately, the game used the largest capacity ROM available and filled it almost completely. I vaguely recall there were roughly 16 bytes free, so there wasn’t any more space available anyway!
However, I did manage to include support for the SuperScope, Mouse and XBand modem! Yes, you could actually play against someone online!
It's kind of insane to think that somebody could play DOOM online on the SNES back in 1993, but there we are. Let us know what you think about these impressive ports of DOOM with a comment below.