Doom II for Game Boy Advance

From DoomWiki.org

North America region box art.

Doom II for the Game Boy Advance was developed by Torus Games of Australia and published by Activision. It was released on October 23, 2002. This version of the game does not run on a port of the original Doom engine, but instead runs on a custom engine shared with several other Game Boy Advance first-person shooter games called the Southpaw Engine.

In terms of content, the game is nearly identical to the PC version, with only very minor changes. However, conversion of the game play and rendering functions to a different engine resulted in a number of visual and mechanical inconsistencies from the original game; some are purely cosmetic, but others can have a significant—and sometimes detrimental—effect on game play.

Differences from Doom for GBA[edit]

Full resolution wall textures in Hurt me plenty (and lower skill levels).
Reduced wall texture detail when playing in Nightmare! skill level.

Since the original Doom engine was not used for this game, all content and mechanics had to be converted to the Southpaw Engine. Despite this, some of the mechanics and assets used are closer to the original PC version than they were in Doom for GBA.

While its predecessor carries over double-width pixel rendering from the Jaguar (equivalent to low detail mode in the DOS version), Doom II for GBA only uses double-width pixels on geometry edges, ceilings and floor textures. As a result, player weapon sprites and map screen rendering in particular appear significantly more detailed. When selecting Nightmare! skill level the game does render wall textures with double-width pixels as well, likely in order to lessen performance drops due to larger enemy numbers. To conserve performance, the engine always employs an aggressive mip-mapping technique on textures. Compared to Doom for GBA, this solution results in less faraway aliasing at the cost of a strong loss in texture detail. The option to toggle between dynamic and static lighting is not included.

All maps and monsters are present, including the Wolfenstein 3D secret maps and Wolfenstein SS enemy. All items are also present, including the previously absent light amplification visor and the blur artifact. The demon has its original death sound, health potions and armor bonuses give only 1% versus 2%, and the original PC status bar is used, albeit rescaled for the 240x160 resolution. The fonts used in the game are generally much more faithful to the original PC version than the ones used in Doom for GBA. Screen effects such as getting or picking up invulnerability or radiation suit powerups function much closer to the PC original than they do in the predecessor; furthermore, the game uses equivalent screen effects to the PC version when taking damage from damaging floors, whereas the predecessor lacked them altogether in this case. Weapon sway is also implemented in a different fashion.

Control in Doom II for GBA feels somewhat different from its predecessor; strafing and moving back are slower in particular. Unlike Doom, the game offers user-controllable turn sensitivity.

The most significant improvement over the first game lies perhaps in the audio department; while Doom for GBA appears to play hardcoded samples straight from the two Direct Sound channels, Doom II for GBA features a software audio mixer that allows for more than two sound effects to play at once, along with sound effect and music volume controls. Music quality and faithfulness to the original General MIDI soundtrack benefit greatly from the use of sample playback in place of the legacy Game Boy PSG channels, and unlike the first game, calling the pause menu does not cause the music to restart from the beginning. Player weapon sounds may still cut off when the mixing limit is reached from playing too many sound effects at once, but this only happens on very rare occasions. Unlike Doom for GBA, Doom II implements sound propagation, meaning that monsters can react to gun sounds.

Censorship[edit]

Like its predecessor, Doom II for the Game Boy Advance is heavily censored in order to obtain a "Teen" rating from the ESRB, as the first party console manufacturer Nintendo discouraged creation of mature-rated games for the platform, focusing its marketing heavily on the tween demographic. As a result, monster blood is green instead of red, and most instances of extreme gore, such as gibs, were removed. Additionally, if the player is damaged, a bullet puff is produced instead of a blood splatter. The status bar face is also altered so that the blood is brown instead of red. Strangely, the super shotgun's shells have also been recolored, even though they did not depict blood or gore.

Other changes[edit]

Graphics[edit]

The color palette used is not identical to the color palette used in the original Doom games, resulting in some objects or surfaces suffering from palettization issues, especially under certain lighting/colormap conditions (such as being under the influence of a Berserk Pack). Browns and tans seem most affected. The pain elemental displays this more noticeably than other examples; its body appears slightly splotchy even under "normal" lighting. The first "episode" skymap also illustrates this.

Due primarily to the pervasive darkness of the first generation Game Boy Advance's display, the graphics are significantly brighter than their PC counterparts. This can be countered to a degree by turning the gamma option to the lowest setting, which best fits later backlit screens.

Maps[edit]

Most maps are modified to some degree, mostly to control the amount of geometry visible from certain locations. Examples include extra walls added in MAP03: The Gantlet and MAP06: The Crusher which block lines of sight across large areas. In addition, the maps are based on their v1.666 builds as opposed to the v1.9 IWAD versions - for example, silver bars are still present on the left cubby hole near the red key in MAP02: Underhalls, and an extra platform added later to MAP11: 'O' of Destruction to make the jump into the final area easier is not present.

MAP15: Industrial Zone and MAP24: The Chasm are both split into two maps each to avoid slowdowns and memory constraints. However, the scoring on these maps was not adjusted to reflect the removal of the enemies, secrets, or items relocated to the corresponding "second" map, making a score of 100%/100%/100% on these levels impossible. As the levels are divided in half physically, this appears to be based on a hard-coded scoring exception for these maps.

The Wolfenstein secret maps and Wolfenstein SS enemy are present, but all Nazi imagery and Hitler paintings have been replaced by iconography from Return to Castle Wolfenstein, presumably to avoid having the game confiscated in Germany and other jurisdictions with restrictions on depictions of Nazi and fascist symbols.

Mechanics[edit]

  • A message is displayed on-screen when the player finds a secret area.
  • Doomguy's status bar face changes at different health values than in the original game (about 5 - 10 points lower health for each transition).
  • Like the first GBA Doom, "Ultra-Violence" was renamed to "Nightmare!"; true "Nightmare!" was removed.
  • Vertical auto-aim can be unreliable; the game will usually not aim for barrels on a lower altitude than the player, and hitscan shots fired at floating/flying enemies at close range will sometimes be fired above or through the monster instead of at the monster.
  • Player movement when strafing or backpedaling is much slower relative to other versions of Doom, making it more difficult to avoid projectile attacks or sudden ambushes.
  • Health items such as medikits and stimpacks are now counted towards the "Items" tally at the end of the map, making a score of 100% more difficult to achieve (since health items can only be obtained if the player is not at full health).
  • The player's viewpoint does not appear to always be 100% coincident with the player's actual location or facing. On some occasions, the camera will appear to drift or detach slightly from the player's actual position, and the camera will appear to be slightly off-center in terms of angle and/or position. This may be exacerbated by loss of precision resulting from the low display resolution of the GBA console (240x160). This tends to occur most often if the player moves into contact with a wall or object that would block movement (and, by extension, block the camera from moving). This usually will correct itself as the player turns and moves.
  • Toggling weapons occurs much faster than in other versions of Doom. The player is also allowed to toggle to a "lower" weapon by cycling past a "higher" weapon in the selection hierarchy, unlike some other versions of the game.

Monsters[edit]

General changes[edit]

Enemies are drawn slightly larger relative to the environment than in other versions of the game; however, their bounding boxes are not scaled to the same degree. This makes shots tend to "miss" when they should appear to hit, if the shot was aimed at the periphery of a monster's visual representation.

The player is now allowed to walk underneath flying enemies, or jump on the heads of monsters below - this was possible in Doom engine games such as Heretic and Hexen, but was not allowed in vanilla Doom. Likewise, melee attacks from adjacent monsters will not affect the player when there is a large enough vertical distance. Monster corpses will obstruct the motion of a door, causing it to reverse if it tries to close on a corpse (as opposed to crushing or destroying the corpse). Since monster corpses disappear after a few seconds, this is only a temporary issue. Arch-viles are still able to revive monsters whose corpses have disappeared. Furthermore, Monsters are not able to open doors in this version, and may keep attacking a killed player.

Enemy AI will shut off at times, presumably to reduce slowdown due to heavy processing. The decision by the engine to shut off any given enemy's AI seems to be based upon a combination of distance and/or number of sectors between the monster and the player, and not based exclusively (if at all) on whether or not the player is within line of sight. Such a monster can sometimes even be shot and damaged by the player and remain "dormant" (an example is the Imps across the water in the first outdoor area in The Gantlet); this aspect can drastically reduce the difficulty of fighting stronger monsters in large areas later in the game.

Enemies killed by traps or friendly fire from monster infighting are erroneously not counted towards the "kills" tally at the end of the map. Only monsters killed directly by the player appear to be counted.

Specific monster changes[edit]

  • Arch-vile: The flame attack's sounds are missing and the explosion sound (DSBAREXP) is played when the attack is initiated rather than when it finishes. Also, the flames appear lower in the player's view, and damage dealt is dramatically lower.
  • Commando: His chaingun produces the same gunshot noise as the player's, rather than using the shotgun's sound effect.
  • Spectre: Rather than being rendered with static noise, it is given a bright silhouette and refractive lens-like effect which distorts the background behind it, actually making it easier to spot in most circumstances.
  • Pain elemental: In Nightmare! skill level certain pain elementals do not spawn any lost souls at all. It is currently not clear whether this due to hitting a limit in monster count or due to a hardcoded exception for individual monsters.
  • Lost soul: The bounding box of the lost soul's attack is much larger than it should be, and causes the player to receive damage if the player is within several feet of the lost soul in any direction when it attacks (sometimes even if the player is behind cover or around a corner) and not just on a direct hit. Not only does this result in easier hits against the player, but it also makes using the chainsaw impractical, as the player will suffer damage from the lost soul's attack long before the chainsaw can make contact with the lost soul.
  • Mancubus: He turns his body roughly 45 degrees from the player during his first and second attacks, instead of simply angling the path of his projectiles, which usually causes his projectiles to miss badly. His third attack is performed more or less normally. His shots lack vertical aim.
  • Revenant: Its missiles do not smoke when homing, and are fired from the revenant's waist (approximately 32 units high, like all other missiles). Non-homing missiles are never fired. Projectile speed appears to be noticeably faster than in other versions.

Music[edit]

The music tracks "Between Levels" (MAP04) and "Getting too tense" (MAP28) were dropped, possibly due to cart space. They were replaced with "Into Sandy's City" and "Evil Incarnate", the music to MAP09 and MAP31, respectively.

Weapons and ammo[edit]

  • Dropped weapons and items give full ammo, instead of half.
  • The box of rockets gives ten rockets rather than five.
  • "I'm Too Young To Die" skill does not give double ammunition; it only reduces damage.
  • Weapon damage dealt to other players during deathmatch is reduced by 75%, making deathmatches much more protracted than usual.
  • Chainsaw: It pushes enemies away from the player, instead of simply dragging the player into the enemy; this makes using the chainsaw risky and difficult, as the enemy can be pushed out of the chainsaw's area of effect, allowing the enemy a chance to counterattack.
  • Shotgun: Its behavior was changed so that it fires in a conical pattern instead of a fan pattern; though this behavior is more "realistic", it deviates from the original design of the weapon and affects its usage significantly, as "grazing" indirect hits or hits against multiple enemies are much more difficult due to the substantially lessened horizontal dispersal.
  • Super shotgun: It reloads faster; also, its sound effects are not synchronised with the animation, resulting in the animation playing longer than the sound effects. Aside from an increased spread, the tracers often pass through enemies even when the weapon is fired at point blank, significantly reducing its damage output.
  • Chaingun: It no longer fires in bursts of 2; instead, it fires only 1 bullet at a time when used. It also has a noticeably higher rate of fire. Both the pistol and chaingun no longer fire with perfect accuracy when single shots are fired; instead, the bullets are fired with the same deviation as though fired during a sustained burst. This makes "sniping" or chaingun tapping impossible.
  • Plasma gun: It no longer plays the "recoil" animation that normally plays after releasing the attack button; this makes consecutive usage of the weapon (such as single shots or short bursts) faster.
  • BFG 9000: Its tracer attack uses the BFG plasma ball explosion sprites, and the explosion sound used for the BFG plasma balls impact is the standard explosion sound rather than the normal unique effect.

Bugs[edit]

The armors system in this game is somewhat broken; armor only provides protection in the map it was collected in, even though the numerical value of the armor carries over from one map to another. If the player enters a map with any armor percentage above 0%, the game will ignore the player's armor value, causing the player to suffer full damage from attacks. This happens until an item which affects armor value is picked up (either armor, megaarmor, a megasphere, or an armor bonus will work); this will "reboot" the armor system to properly protect the player again. If such an item is unavailable (or if the player can't collect the item because their current armor value is higher than what the item offers), then the player is, for all intents and purposes, forced to play with no armor, even if the player's actual armor value indicates the player should be protected. This was confirmed as a bug by publisher Activision.

Entering a level with 200% armor presents a special case in that although it is possible to pick up a megaarmor, this will not reinstate any protection, meaning that it is disadvantageous to complete a level with 200% armor. Picking up an armor bonus in this instance will offer one-third damage protection.

Palette index 0 is treated as transparent in sprites, but sprites which used it were not converted to use a different color, so several monsters have small "holes" in them where there should otherwise be black. In addition, the graphics format uses palette index 10 as a special value. Sprites which used palette index 10, such as the Heavy weapon dude had any use of palette index 10 to 0, resulting in them having holes.

The status bar features a single purple pixel underneath the total ammo tally.

The game may lock up on rare, seemingly random occasions, particularily in larger levels.

Regional variations and gallery[edit]

The cover art for this version of the game is a combination of the original Doom II box art with the standard Game Boy Advance packaging template. Regional variations exist for the United Kingdom and Germany, but these differ only in certain color shades and in the language used for text. The reverse box art uses an orange version of the same circuit board pattern used on the previous GBA release of Doom, along with the same black tab folder motif for the informational text and screenshots area.

The game cartridge label for all regions consists of the familiar Doom II logo on the same orange circuit board pattern. This time, all regions keep the logo centered and differ only minimally via addition of region-specific certification logos.

As with virtually all Game Boy Advance games, the instruction manual adapts the same appearance as the box art.

Like the previous installment, this game was not released in Japan.

Trivia[edit]

  • The Super NES version of Doom and Doom II for Game Boy Advance were the only official console versions to use custom engines in place of the original Doom engine.

External links[edit]

Source code genealogy
Based on
Southpaw Engine
Doom II for Game Boy Advance Closed source