Yesterday saw the stealth launch of three classic DOOM games on the Nintendo Switch, much to the appreciation of fans everywhere, as part of QuakeCon. DOOM, DOOM 2, and DOOM 3 are all available on the eShop right now at great prices, and all three work well on the Switch.
For many players, this writer included, seeing DOOM 3 run so smoothly on the relatively low-powered hardware of the Switch is an impressive achievement, and brings back memories of the first launch of the game back in August of 2004.
Doom 3 Was A Monster Of Technical Specs Back In The Day
DOOM 3 had a long development from 2000 to 2004, with some wondering if the game was stuck in development hell, only to be cancelled later on. E3 had a demonstration of the game in 2002, 2003, and again in 2004 when it finally released later that year, and what shocked everyone at the time were the specs needed for the game to run on a PC.
With the then-new Tech 4 used in the development of the game, it became clear that a high-end GPU was necessary with at least DirectX 8.0 complaint, fully programmable vertex and pixel shaders, all of which was available in the Nvidia GeForce 3 or ATI Radeon 8500. At the time, these were not cheap cards to buy.
In addition, the mystique surrounding the high specs to play the game only grew when John Carmack, the lead graphics engine developer at id Software, formally warned consumers not to go out and buy a GeForce 4MX card, even if it was an upgrade to the old GeForce 2, because of the problems it would have with the game for clipping and lighting. However, as the GeForce hardware proved popular, id was all but forced to enabled DOOM 3 to run on these cards. In the end, id Software hoped its game would usher in the use of DirectX 8.0 in place of the old 7.0, but cards running the new version were far more expensive than the old for this to be a readily adopted change.
Years Later, The Port Is Still Mindblowing
Now it has been over fifteen years since the release of DOOM 3, so it should come as no surprise that it could be ported to something like the Switch. The way it was done was that the game was first ported to the Nvidia shield tablet, which has a less powerful Tegra chipset known as the K1, which is the predecessor to the chipset used in the current Switch, known as the X1.
Porting the game from one to the other was likely far easier than one would imagine, but it is still mind boggling to see what a monumental achievement it felt like getting the game to run properly in 2004, now effortlessly looking great in both the Switch’s handheld and docked mode. DOOM 3 was the last game we expected on the Switch.
Doom reboot On The Switch, And The Impressive Ports We Are Seeing
The DOOM reboot and upcoming DOOM Eternal are games that are more deserving of recognition for their inclusion of being on the Nintendo Switch, because the hardware demands are far greater on those consoles. Overall, the Switch has been seeing some outstanding developer effort to port over and include newer games in the initial launch alongside the other consoles and the PC, and it is fantastic to see.
The recent commitment from developers to the Switch console has not only shown off what the small, portable console is capable of, it makes us wonder what the future holds. Doubtless that Nintendo will likely continue along with the trend seen in the Switch in the future. When eventually we see an upgrade to the Switch, which may very well be the next generation of Nintendo console, developers everywhere now recognize the power of porting their games to such devices.
As we casually say “Oh, that’s neat” to seeing Doom 3 on the Switch, perhaps in a few years we will say the same to the stealth launch of Cyberpunk 2077 on the next Nintendo console.
Still, if in 2004 someone had said “Wait until we can play this on our Nintendo Tablets!” it would have been an odd, ridiculous thing to hear.