Hands-on: DOOM GBA

We got to try out the handheld version of the game at Quakecon.


Quakecon 2001 may focus on PC games, but at a small table set on the event floor there were four Game Boy Advance machines demonstrating the latest port of Doom. We got to play around with them and check out the multiplayer functionality. Prior to the show, there were concerns about how David A. Palmer Productions could port an FPS game to a handheld unit with only four buttons and players were concerned about the controls of the game. Fortunately, Doom on the PC has simplistic controls as well, so it's not that difficult to play. You can change the controls, but the default configuration has the B button as run/activate and the A button as fire. The two shoulder buttons strafe left and right. To change weapons, you hold down both shoulder buttons and push up or down. It's a little difficult to control when you first start playing, especially when trying to switch weapons. But after a while you become accustomed to it and can play just fine.

Deep down, GBA Doom is exactly the same game it has always been. Some content has been cut down though: there are 25 levels instead of the original 29. Also, objects can be hard to distinguish with such a small screen. This is especially true at long distances, where you can't really see how many enemies there are and of what type. But Doom is a straight shooter, so you'll end up firing no matter what's in front of you. The menu has an option to change the brightness, so you won't have too much trouble seeing the game.

The multiplayer mode is really where Doom shined in the past, and the GBA Doom is no different. You can link up to four GBA's to play deathmatch, or have two players go through the game cooperatively. Each player is automatically assigned a color so you'll know who's who. We're happy to report that multiplayer is just as fun as always, especially cooperative mode--there's nothing like blasting your friend in the back when he's fighting cacodemons.

GameSpot will have more on DOOM GBA in the coming weeks.

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