The Game: One man and one hideous mutant creature enter! A bunch of guys peek through holes in the walls and shoot at them! No one leaves! Room Of Doom turns the player into a gladiator, trapped in an enclosed arena with alien creatures. The rules are simple: kill or be killed. The only problem is that it’s always audience participation night: armed guards around the periphery of the arena will open doors at random and fire into the arena. With a well-timed shot before the doors slide shut, the player can do away with these extraneous attackers too. Only by eliminating all of the guards can the player advance to the next level. (Commavid, 1982)
Memories: One of those games that doesn’t exactly look sophisticated but is actually kind of addictive, Room Of Doom was heavily promoted by Commavid back in the day by way of an extensive print advertising campaign in the major video game magazines. Those print ads concentrated more on the stylized packaging artwork than the game graphics themselves, which was probably wise, but Room Of Doom is no slouch when it comes to pure fun.
The graphics and sound of this game make Room Of Doom look like a game from the early days of the VCS, rather than a game from its “boom” years, but while Room doesn’t have much of a view, it does have that magical quality of being easy to learn and hard to master. The “shoot at everything that happens not to be you” element is easy enough to pick up; the variation from level to level comes in the form of the creatures players are stuck with, and the configuration of opening doors and the guys trying to shoot through those doors (presumably, these guys got bored with shooting fish in a barrel). Things can get a little bit repetitive, but each succeeding level ratchets up the speed and difficulty enough that one likely won’t “live” long enough to get too bored with it.
Room Of Doom is a classic example of putting game play before graphics, and the result is a shoot-’em-up that’s fun right up until the player’s character catches a bullet.