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VALLEY WEEKEND : New Doom for 16-Bit Machines Still a Blast : Super Nintendo players can now get a piece of the action, even though it may be a tad slower than in the original.

October 05, 1995|AARON CURTISS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Regular readers of this space know the special place Doom occupies in my heart. It's no longer the most stunning video game on the market, but it's still one of my faves, a sleek and elegant production that never gets old.

And now, the graceful killfest that revolutionized how video games are designed and played has jumped finally from PCs and next-generation machines to 16-bit consoles. Williams Entertainment succeeded in packing all the action and strategy of the original into a pared-down version for Super Nintendo.

Although slightly slower and rougher around the edges than its big brothers, the 16-bit Doom is amazingly intact, giving players without the dough to blow on a next-generation machine or a PC the opportunity to sample the game's violent pleasures.

With compression technology, game designers are able to squish far more onto a cartridge than they used to. As a result, the first-person perspective remains fluid and environments retain levels of detail not usually seen on a 16-bit game. The bad guy army of zombies is still a pain in the neck, but the arsenal is as effective as ever.

Impressive.

Remixed Rematch: The folks at Sega must realize by now that competitor Sony's Battle Arena Toshinden for PlayStation kicks in the teeth of Virtua Fighter for Saturn.

Virtua Fighter is a good enough game, but Toshinden sends it home crying when the two face off. So Sega, never one to admit defeat, has released Virtua Fighter Remix, a jazzed-up version of the original that puts it almost on par with Toshinden.

But not quite.

Chunky polygons have been smoothed over to give the characters a more realistic, more textured look. Costumes have been detailed for added realism. Frames have been added to remove the annoying tendency of Virtua Fighter to skip suddenly.

All in all, the game looks great. But my obvious question is why it didn't look like this in the first place? The message this seems to send is that Sega doesn't mind releasing inferior products and will only deliver the goods when challenged head to head.

Come on! If Sega expects people to drop $400 on a Saturn, the games need to justify the cost. They shouldn't release stuff prematurely just to beat others to market. First is not necessarily best.

Total Eclipse: As part of the initial lineup for the PlayStation launch, Total Eclipse Turbo delivers some flying and shooting action smooth enough to forgive its relatively uninspired story line and play.

The short course is that a group of aliens has moved into the solar system with the intent of blowing up the sun with their dreaded Sun Dagger. The mission, of course, is to engage them in a battle for the survival of mankind.

That means lots of shooting and some pretty heavy-duty flying in environments that move along nicely. But perhaps the best element of this game is the responsiveness of the controls. Maybe it was just my imagination but my FireWing fighter was one of the most nimble vidships I've ever flown. I even noticed a difference between it and the original Total Eclipse, written for 3DO.

Aside from that, though, the game is pretty standard. There is nothing really wrong with Total Eclipse Turbo. It's a solid shooter-pilot game that delivers some fast-paced action and lightning flying. It's just not the sort of game that makes a player's jaw drop.

*

Staff writer Aaron Curtiss reviews video games every Thursday. To comment on a column or to suggest games for review, send letters to The Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Or send e-mail to Aaron.Curtiss@latimes.com.

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