Platform: Sega Genesis
No. of Players: 1 or 2 players
By: Sophie Cheshire
There is no denying it, considering the time and the limitations of the hardware, Doom Troopers is a pretty gory game. However, unlike the unutterably lame Splatterhouse series, this game uses its goriness to simple effect. It livens up and gives some character and humour to what is otherwise a fairly standard side scrolling platform/adventure game.
Doom Troopers cast you in the role of one of two cybernetic soldiers who are sent out by the Mega Corporations of earth to neutralise the threat to mankind posed by the forces of the Dark Legion. As the game begins you are told that the minions of the Dark Lord Alagaroth have overrun the various planets in the solar system. On each planet is a citadel protected Dark Legionnaires and inhabited by a big demon like Dark Lord. Your job then is to break into each Citadel and kill the Dark Lord until you reach Algaroth himself.
Well, no marks for originality in plotting there. But it gives the whole game an interesting mixture of cyber punk sci-fi aesthetic that sets it apart from the plethora of similar fantasy based games that exist on the console. There are two Doom Troopers to choose from and you can opt to play on your own or both together. The two characters are both excellently designed. Mitch Hunter is half man, half Cyborg. He has a human face and is decked out like US style marine. He carries one weapon, a large laser blaster. The other character is Max Steiner, he is Cyborg all over and wears a long coat. He carries machine pistols in each hand and is infinitely cooler than Mitch. Although his weapons are not quite as powerful, he takes damage better than Mitch, so the characters balance out quite well.
Your first mission takes you to Venus. You have to infiltrate the Citadel of Demonogogis - the God of Sickness and Death (charming). The basic game play is the standard move from left to right jumping across pits and shooting the enemies. Each character has a lot of ammo for their standard weapon; you can also attack at close range with a kick (Max) or a thump with your weapon (Mitch). The enemies are pleasingly designed and animated. They are white human style cyborgs. They look robotic, but bleed copiously when killed so they must be part human. The standard Dark Legionnaires will fire guns at you. Your first shot will take their heads off, but they will start firing blindly around, often hitting each other, until you have finished them off. Others will come at you armed with swords, they show quite good AI (Artificial Intelligence) when coming at you. They will often hold off attacking you until they are in groups and killing a couple will make others back off until reinforcements arrives.
Although you are moving from left to right you can drop down or climb up in places to collect health, ammo, power-ups and extra lives. The power-ups will fill your gun with ten rounds of powerful ammo and each type has a different effect on the enemies. The reactions of the enemies to your different attacks are very well done. If you hit them with a normal shot they lose their heads and blood spurts out of the top. They then flail around wildly until you blast them into pieces and they disintegrate in to twitching, bloody heaps. If you pick up say a flamethrower power up, just one hit will burn the soldier to a bloodied, charcoal crisp. They often stay frozen for a few seconds in that state and make a horrible mechanical wailing sound. Nasty, but effectively done. Your own characters are not immune from this. When Mitch dies he crumples into a heap and disappears, but one of his mechanical legs will stay behind for just a couple of seconds twitching and spurting blood. Bwahahahahaha!
Also there is some inventiveness in getting you across various obstacles. For example, in one spot in the first level you have to cross a lake. You will drown if you enter the water and there are no bridges or rocks to leap across. There are however Dark Legionnaires hiding in the water. Simply tempt them out and shoot them and hop across on their dead bodies. In a later level you must use fierce winds to carry you across the ground, avoiding getting slammed into spiked icy walls at the same time. The Boss fights take the usual form of find the weakness and wait to exploit it, they are pretty cool monsters though. The first Boss Demongogis will start to unload puke at you as he gets weaker. If you don't kill him fast enough you can literally drown in a sea of vomit. Lovely.
The game proceeds across several worlds as you face down the rest of the Dark Lords. There are not a huge amount of levels to play though, but as a single player game it is rock hard. You only have limited continues and you can often be fighting several opponents at once. Sword wielding soldiers up close hacking away at you while others hang back and throw grenades and shoot bullets into you. It's much easier playing through with a friend, you can handle the number of enemies much better and of course there is the usual ''friendly'' fights over powerups and health to be had, as well as the ''whoops, I didn't mean to kick off you off that cliff'' moments that always liven up games like this in two-player mode.
The graphics in general are well detailed and the animations are smooth. The collision detection is fine and the controls are simple and easy to get to grips with. The music is the usual 16-bit bontempi organ player on acid quality, but the sound effects are great. The explosions and gunshots have a satisfyingly meaty feel to them and the screams, roars and wails as hot leaden death is meted out give the game great atmosphere.
In summary then, Doom Troopers is a well above average side scrolling action game. It's gory, but not gratuitously so and although it extremely hard in single-player mode, it offers a fast, frenzied and entertaining two-player romp. If you see it lying in the second hand bins of your local games shop and the price isn't too high then this game comes highly recommended.