Doom for Sega Saturn was released for the Sega Saturn video game console, published in North America and Europe by GT Interactive, on March 26, 1997. This version was a port of the PlayStation version and was developed by Rage Software. As such, it features maps from both Ultimate Doom and Doom II, with the extra levels and sound design of the PlayStation version.
Due to a rushed release and various problems with the Saturn console, which lacked extensive support for high-level language programming, had poor library support in its development kit, had idiosyncratic 3D graphics, and was difficult to program due to its parallel co-processor design, this port is notorious for its poor frame rate, having issues nearly on par with the 3DO port. It also lacks many of the novel features of its predecessor on the PlayStation, cut either because of hardware limitations or lack of development time.
The port removed all of the colored lighting and reverberation applied to sound effects, and the sound effects are played at a lower sample rate, causing them to sound slower and lower in pitch. In addition, the animated fire sky that was featured in some levels was replaced with the cityscape sky texture featured in levels 10-20 of the PC version of Doom II, even in stages taking place in Hell.
The status bar received another redesign, which is still fairly similar to the PlayStation iteration. In an interesting twist, the various monsters throughout the game move and attack slower than other ports, and the player can attack faster. The end-of-game Cast of Characters sequence only runs through the monsters once before skipping back to the title screen. Many of the ambient music tracks were removed as well, causing them to repeat more often as the player progressed through the levels. Also, the fireball burst sound effect is not present, and is instead replaced with the rocket explosion sound. Although available in the European version, the deathmatch and cooperative multiplayer modes were not present at all in the North American version.
While nightmare spectres are present and still take twice as much damage to kill as ordinary spectres, they are not rendered differently from normal spectres and are therefore difficult to distinguish.
The game was widely noted as being a rushed port with a very inconsistent frame rate depending on how much on-screen movement is present (e.g. in larger rooms, or with many monsters on screen, the game will become choppy, and in smaller, tighter rooms with only one or so monsters present, the game's speed will be much faster). This affects the game's controls, as the marine's reaction time is lessened when the game is slower (it will take longer for a controller command to register). The frame rate is consistently lower than the PlayStation version even at its best, and has been compared unfavorably even to the Sega 32X version of the game in this respect.
The information on the back of the box also contained numerous errors. The game promises "60 levels of brutal, bloody, pulse-pounding action", when 59 are actually present; the European release amends this sentence to say "over 55 levels...". Both the European and North American versions had screenshots that were taken from the PC version of Final Doom. In addition, both releases stated the game supported 2 players via linkup; however, this feature was missing from the North American version and only present in the European version. The box for the European version however incorrectly states the game is 1 player only.
Programmer Jim Bagley, upon receiving the resources from id Software, was able to create a hardware-accelerated renderer for the platform in a relatively short amount of time. However, upon review by John Carmack, this rendering engine was found unacceptable due to the hardware's quad-based affine texture scaling. Carmack demanded that the hardware graphics capabilities be avoided, forcing Bagley to undertake writing a software renderer which utilized both SH2 processor units in the system, under coordination of the central 68000 chip, to draw the screen in a manner similar to the PC game engine.
On July 11, 1997, the game was released in Japan. It includes the multiplayer features of the European release. Some of the music tracks were reordered in this release to more closely match the track order of the PlayStation version.
While rumors have persisted for years that this build was slightly more optimized than the previous North American and European releases and hence ran a bit faster, comparative analysis of the video output from the NTSC-J and NTSC-US versions of the game by DigitalFoundry commentator John Linneman found no statistical difference in frame rate.
The dark ambient soundtrack composed by Aubrey Hodges for the PlayStation version is recycled for this port. However, some songs are missing and therefore the level assignments of tracks varies widely as compared to its predecessor. See the main article on the soundtrack for more information. Even though the port reuses certain tracks, a large number of tracks not used are on the disc in Red Book audio format.[which?]
Most of the regional localizations, including a minor variant of the US box art used for a Brazilian release, have similar box art depicting a lost soul, excepting the Japanese release, which instead features the Sony PlayStation's box art. Rating and certification logos vary by region as usual, and the PAL region cover uses the black color scheme typical of PAL Saturn releases as opposed to the white scheme of the NTSC region.
As mentioned before, the NTSC and PAL releases erroneously feature screenshots from the PC version of Final Doom on the back cover; this is corrected only for the Japanese release which instead has pictures of actual gameplay in the port. The Japanese version's reverse cover also features a translation of the description that was on the back of the PlayStation box, including the infamous "Best Doom Yet" quote dubiously attributed to John Romero. Other regions utilize text specially written for this release. The multiplayer status of the game, as also previously mentioned, is erroneously reflected in either direction (supported or not supported) differently per region in some editions.
The CD-ROMs for the game vary dramatically, with the Japanese version arguably receiving the best treatment and the PAL region the worst. The US version features a dark chaotic background of hellish fire and smoke with a blazing red version of the Doom logo. The PAL release is a plain unprinted CD with minimalistic grayscale screenprinting of the logo, publisher names, and basic console and copyright information. The Japanese release features a pink-tinted printing of the PlayStation cover art on the top two-thirds of the disk, with the logo at the top in grayscale and publisher and console information in dark and unprinted bands in the bottom third.
- Information about the port on ClassicDOOM.com
- Video footage of the North American release
- Video footage of the Japanese release
- Video footage of the European release
- Thorpe, Nick (2014, October). Sega Saturn: 20th Anniversary. Retro Gamer, 1 (134), pp. 22-23.
- Carmack, John (13 June 2015). "@mbnatwork Non perspective correct quad warping is very ugly for first person architecture. In hindsight, it still might have been better." Twitter. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- DigitalFoundry (17 September 2017). "DF Retro: Doom - Every Console Port Tested and Analysed!." YouTube. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
|Source code genealogy|
Doom for Sony PlayStation
|Doom for Sega Saturn||Closed source|