I just flew into Los Angeles last night, and boy are my thumbs tired. That’s not a joke. They actually are, because I beat Doom while in midair. Well, Knee Deep in the Dead, anyway. In case you didn’t know, Virgin America’s in-flight entertainment system, “Red,” includes the shareware version of the iconic shooter in addition to all the usual fixins. Bafflingly, it also includes several other games with titles unsuitable for play on an airliner: “Primate Plunge,” “The Mad Bomber” and you’re not going to believe this, but there is a game entitled “Tower Toppler” on there as well. I desperately wish I was kidding. Read on for a few impressions of Virgin’s macabre little arcade.
Red hot, Red not so hot
The Red system is pretty clearly the future of airline entertainment, but it’s also pretty clearly in beta. It crashes, bugs out, and hangs regularly, and promises many things that it’s not set up to deliver. The controller is decent but the keyboard is torture. The selection of shows, movies, and so on is excellent, but let’s be honest: no one wants to pay more than a dollar to watch some sitcom or a movie new to DVD, so let’s get those prices down, shall we? Aside from these (significant) concerns, the Red environment is pretty forward-thinking, although as you will find when you take a VA flight, the games leave something to be desired.
My question to the Red coders is this: how in the hell did you get Doom to run so poorly? Don’t get me wrong; I love that it’s there, but the game ran smoothly on a 486 fifteen years ago. On Red I couldn’t break ten frames per second even if I shrink the game window down to a microdot. My GP2X runs Doom like a champ, and I’m betting I can get it going on my Ocean as well. I understand that you’re working with limited computing power with something like Red, so maybe Half-Life is out of the running — maybe even Quake! — but Doom?
Of course, I’m not going to let something like a single-digit framerate stop me once I get started. I whupped shareware Doom like a pro, although I had to IDKFA it once or twice when the controller freaked out and dumped me in some inescapable situations. I forgot how awesome it is, even with a mustachioed man humming along with the Dixie Chicks next to me and the incessant thrum of the engines driving me insane. Try it out yourselves next time you’re flying VA.
Fine, the contest
In case you’re only here for the contest (which I just now decided to do), here it is: I’ve got a SteelSeries Ikari Laser mouse at my apartment about to be reviewed. I’ll send it to the first person to take a picture of the final screen of Doom on a Red console. No cheating! Send your pictures to tips at crunchgear dot com with “Doom” somewhere in the title. Now, go — rip and tear!