The Case For the Doom Marine

Thanks to Cart Boy for edits.

The Character:

Call him the “Doom Slayer,” or more colloquially “Doom Guy,” the Marine is barely a character. He wears a green space armor suit. He’s extremely violent, exquisite at killing demons from Hell, and probably not particularly smart. That’s about it; his eyebrows have more personality than the rest of him. It’s not a problem, as he’s less a character than an embodiment of the attitude of the classic first-person shooter of the early to mid-Nineties, represented best by his series, DOOM. The 1993 classic, about demons spawning into the labyrinthine levels of a Martian science base, effectively wrote the book on first-person shooters, to the point where you can see at least traces of its pacing, weapon juggling, enemy design, and over the top visual style in virtually every game of the genre. It was one of the earliest and more prolific controversies in gaming history due to its violent content. It has a wide variety of additional media, including a notorious comic book, a 2005 movie featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and a five minute “first-person shooter” sequence, and a bizarre novel series in which the Marine (named Flynn Taggart) becomes enraptured by Mormon fundamentalism. And at its center was always that one soldier character, blasting away at imps, pinkies, and Barons of Hell.

DOOM struggled after its early Nineties heyday, and the Marine with it. The maligned 2004 soft reboot DOOM3 was derided for trading action for horror, and the series largely stayed still as id Software fell on hard times. However, after a well received 2014 reboot of its sister series Wolfenstein, DOOM got one of its own two years later. An overt rejection of most innovations to the genre (among them slower movement speed, an emphasis on precision aiming, the concept of “reloading a gun,” any kind of nuanced storytelling, and defensive combat), it was a hilariously macho romp. It’s embodied by an opening in which the Marine, now sometimes called the “Doom Slayer,” starts the game by breaking out of shackles, crushing a zombie’s skull, shooting other zombies in the first few seconds of gameplay, and punching a computer monitor to stop an NPC from talking to you. That’s what he is: an engine of vaguely heroic brutality, coated in blood and set to hard rock.

Reason for Inclusion:

We have previously talked about the potential value of Halo’s Master Chief to Smash, especially given the popularity and importance of first-person shooters. And arguably more than Halo, and any other game of the genre, DOOM is the iconic FPS, much in the way Street Fighter II and Final Fantasy VII are the iconic fighting and Japanese Role-Playing Games. While the genre has exploded outward with all sorts of unique interpretations in 1993, the 2016 DOOM has brought that relevance front and center again. Smash has an eye on the medium’s history, and the Marine is a symbol of one of our biggest genres. Tied to that is how the original is also one of PC gaming’s most important early successes, one that pushed the commercial potential of playing on the computer so far that one wonderfully dorky ad for Windows 95 starred Bill Gates as a very genial Doom Marine. While Smash’s design means western PC games are going to have difficulty getting into the series (see next section), it does mean the character would fill voids for a genre, platform of game creation and distribution, and part of game history utterly absent in Sakurai’s interactive history.

The relationship between id Software and Nintendo has been historically shaky; the former gave SNES kits to Wisdom Tree for Super Noah’s Ark 3D, an unlicensed Christian Wolfenstein 3D skin in which you shoot food pellets into animals, in response to Nintendo’s onerous censorship during the early Nineties. But 2017 has shown a mutual interest in rebuilding it. Bethesda, id’s current owner, has been making clear statements of interest in and support for the Nintendo Switch, with ports of DOOM, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and the upcoming port of Wolfenstein II: the New Colossus. This wouldn’t be simple advertisement; it’d also be a nice symbol of two companies’ interest in working together.

It also helps that the Marine has a few simply iconic actions to use. He could use basic power-ups like Shulk, giving himself damage protection or stronger melee attacks. He could use the “Glory Kill” mechanic from the 2016 game to hit opponents and get back a bit of health. The classic rocket jump, an FPS technique introduced in DOOM before being popularized in Quake, would make for a fine recovery, doing slight damage to him and far more to other characters. To a broader extent, the two most recent Smash games had a clear interest in the idea of long distance fighters like Mega Man and Duck Hunt, and the Doom Marine would fit right in there.

Reason for Exclusion:

Arguably even more than the hypersexual Bayonetta and thematically dark Metal Gear Solid, DOOM would constantly run the risk of being too, well “mature” isn’t the right word, but certainly gory for Smash. Many of his weapons – chainsaws, shotguns, assault rifles – are real world tools the series understandably avoids including, and relying on his plasma rifle wouldn’t be an ideal way to represent his fairly fundamental weapon switching. To a wider extent, we know from the ESRB leak for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS that ratings boards have an interest in “religious” and demonic imagery and terminology; it might be hard to be as true to the series as Smash demands without getting a T-Rating, something Nintendo tries to avoid, in its own games if not others’.

There’s also the thing I mentioned earlier, the part about the difficulty of securing the involvement of non-Japanese third parties. It’s just a number of smaller issues, between the language barrier and Sakurai’s apparent preference for making sure people involved with those characters had at least some relationship to their development in Smash. Plus, it may be worth noting that the relationship between Nintendo and id (and Bethesda) is still fairly young. Cloud and Snake weren’t Nintendo icons, but their corporate owners had a lot of history not just on Nintendo systems but working with the company, as well.


What is Smash Bros. without music? Here are the kinds of music you could potentially look forward to:

DOOM (1993), “At Doom’s Gate”

DOOM (2016), “Argent Combat”



Librarian, amateur film critic, gourmet, and meshuggeneh, I've as many fitful obsessions and interests as you can count. My articles predominately focus on critical analysis of a wide range of Nintendo titles with a particular eye to the company’s ongoing history. First played the original Smash Bros. blind at a neighbor’s house, and have been fascinated with it since.
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One comment

  1. I think there’s a strong case for him with his history, especially that there was an exclusive DOOM game for the N64 that no other system has seen. Granted, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bethesda ended up porting it to modern consoles, but regardless, I think that’s definitely a point in Doomguy’s favor. Also, the older DOOM games aren’t really all that violent? They’re pretty tame compared to other FPSes these days. That, and he does have an arsenal of weapons that aren’t offenders to Sakurai- similar to how Snake was- with grenades, the plasma rifle, and the rocket launcher, to name a few. I’d like to see him included as the FPS rep, as I think he fits it better than a lot of other characters would. There’s history with Nintendo and there’s enough of a fantastical element to it.

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