Feature: Sega 32x vs. Atari Jaguar - Round 2 (Doom)

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Be sure to check out Sega 32x vs. Atari Jaguar Round 1! Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Round 2 of the epic battle between the Sega 32x and the Atari Jaguar is about to begin. For this round, we are going to focus on one game. Doom. Doom offers perhaps the best way to compare the 2 consoles, and one of only four games ported to both systems (the other 3 being Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, Primal Rage, and NBA Jam: Tournament Edition).

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Title: Doom
Platform: Sega 32x
Developer: id Software/Sega
Publisher: Sega
Released: November 1994
Size: 24 meg (3MB)

Title: Doom
Platform: Atari Jaguar
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Atari
Released: November 1994
Size: 32 meg (4MB) 

There are actually a lot of similarities between these two titles. Both were in development at the same time. id Software, and legendary code ninja John Carmack, programmed the Jaguar port of Doom. Due to cart size limitations imposed by Atari, the Jaguar version was squeezed down to 4 megabytes, resulting in reduction of level complexity and even large sections of levels being removed. These level changes were the basis for the Sega 32x port, developed by Sega themselves.

Both versions of Doom were released in November 1994. The Sega 32x port was available for the Sega 32x launch and the Atari Jaguar version in time for the holiday season. So which version reins supreme? Read on.


Sound

The Sega 32x version of Doom has a bad reputation for it’s soundtrack. It is similar, though inferior, to the original Doom sound track (equipped with a Sound Blaster 16) but still technically deficient compared to other cartridge games of the era. Worse yet, the first track (E1M1: At Doom's Gate) features an awkward choice of instruments resulting in a strange flatulent like sound. The rest of the tracks are decent, and I’m particularly fond of the atmospheric and eerie Sign of Evil (E1M8).

Jaguar Doom feature no in-game music at all. Nothing. Why? Well, the Jaguar’s Digital Signal Processor (DSP) was busy rendering the game and did not have enough CPU cycles left to process music. The Sega 32x was able to utilize dedicated chips in the Sega Genesis without impacting graphic performance. Jaguar Doom did feature the sound track however, but it was played as intermission music (between missions). It’s good, but mostly useless.

The sound effects for both versions are fairly similar, though the 32x sound more compressed compare to the Jaguar version. According to Toshiyasu Morita, programmer, the 32x sound effects were heavily compressed due to cartridge size restraints.

Overall, my nod goes to the Sega 32x. While the Jaguar has crisper sound effects, and superior music, the lack of music playing during missions makes this a no brainer.

32xwinner

Graphics

While Doom on the 32x is a visually pleasing experience, and a good showcase of the power of Sega’s little mushroom, the Jaguar version destroys it. There is no other way to put it. Immediately obvious is the border around the play field. The Jaguar version is full screen, save for the status bars at the bottom of the screen. The Sega 32x version has a border around the play field, making the action a bit smaller.

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The next most obvious feature is shading. In Doom for the Atari Jaguar, there are some nice lighting effects. The areas immediately around your character are bright and visible, but the light slowly fades to dark in the distance. It looks excellent and is a good showcase of the Jaguar’s processing power. The Sega 32x version does not feature these effects. It only features some light flickering (on/off) which is also present in the Atari Jaguar version. Each and every map in the 32x version is very bright, which does limit some of the dark atmosphere of the game.

The last cut made in the 32x version deals with the enemy sprites. In 32x Doom, the enemies always face you. In the Atari Jaguar version, the enemies have 8 different angles, meaning you can see enemies walking around, walking away from you, walking towards you at an angle, etc. This means 32x Doom lacks monster infighting as well.

While both versions are good looking games, especially for the time period and the hardware, the Jaguar is easily superior from a graphics standpoint.

jagwinner

Game Play

Both the Sega 32x and Atari Jaguar version of Doom do a decent job of recreating the Doom experience. But neither offers the complete experience. Doom for the Sega 32x only features 16 of the original 27 levels. The Jaguar version features 22 of the original level, plus 2 brand new ones. The Sega 32x version is also missing the BFG9000 weapon.

Jaguar Doom has a few extra features not found in the 32x version. First, the Jaguar supports 2-player death match via the JagLink Interface. Sega never released a link cable for the Genesis/32x. There was a special cable designed for the Sega Genesis game Zero Tolerance that linked two Genesis consoles via the second controller port however, so it could have been possible.

The second feature the Atari Jaguar has is save support. The Doom cartridge has the ability to save your progress so you could continue later. It doesn’t save your weapons and ammunition, but will let you continue from any previously beaten level. 32x Doom allows you to select any of the first 15 missions. In order to see Mission 16 (and the proper ending) you need to play through from Mission 1 and not use any cheat codes.

So with the additional levels, JagLink Interface, and save system, the point is awarded to the Atari Jaguar.

jagwinner

Controls

Again, both versions control fairly well, considering Doom was meant to be played with a mouse and a keyboard. But there are a few minor difference that have more to do with the respective systems controllers than the game itself. The 6-button Sega Genesis controller has the best d-pad ever made. Even to this day. The Jaguar has a poor d-pad. This makes the 32x version a bit easier to enjoy.

Where the Atari Jaguar lacks in a d-pad, it makes up for with a keypad. Despite being dated and underutilized, id Software did manage to put the keypad to goo use. Each of the 7 weapons is accessible via a separate keypad button. This feature is even more useful with the overlay included with the packaging. The Sega 32x version uses the standard scroll method to select a weapon.

So which is better? It’s a tie. Both versions control just fine.



Closing


Round 2 of the Atari Jaguar vs. Sega 32x battle goes to the Atari Jaguar. It’s graphically superior, features more levels and the BFG9000, includes multiplayer, and has individually selectable weapons. While both versions are fun, if you have both systems, track down the Atari Jaguar version.

jagwinner