Looking back, Sega’s ill-fated 32X add-on doesn’t have much to boast about, but it did have one of the early console versions of Doom. At the time it was released, Doom for the 32X was only the second console port of the game and the cheapest from a hardware-purchasing perspective, but its affordability came with another price.
Simply put, the 32X port of Doom is a heavily downgraded version of the original PC title. The viewing area is windowed, there’s no way to save, some parts of the level architecture are missing, as is the entire third episode. The hard-rocking/creepy midi soundtrack of the PC version (that inspired many to buy their first dedicated soundcard) suffers due to the limited ability of the 32X/Genesis sound chips.
In spite of these downgrades, Doom 32X still gives you an incredible world to explore, thanks to the intricate and rewarding level design of the original (which even today remains some of the best ever in a first person shooter). While a sizable chunk of content is missing from the 32X port, there is still plenty of the twitch action and triggered scares that the original was known for, with no censorship of the content to speak of. The game also controls surprisingly well on a gamepad and runs at a decent framerate, both of which certainly help its cause.
So in 2012 when basically every functioning computer on the planet and nearly every modern console can play a perfect (or better) version of Doom, is there a point to playing the 32X port? I’d argue there is- actually because of its flaws and for being such an imperfect port. The parts missing from the game are intriguing and fun to spot for seasoned veterans of the PC original (such as myself) and the soundtrack, with its strange and sparse tones due to hardware limitations, actually creates an additional layer of dread for the player. The 32X may not have had many triumphs in its short life, but to me, Doom can be counted among them.