Modder gets Doom running on the most bizarre device yet

Joel Loynds
doomguy 2016 in front of the device playing doom 1993 holding his hand over his mouth aghast

Hardware hacker Aaron Christophel has turned his attention from running 1993’s Doom on a toothbrush to something far different, and possibly the most bizarre Doom port yet. 

The $80 toy comes equipped with a screen and buttons to control it. Christophel takes it from any other electronic toy to one of the most ridiculous ways to play id Software’s seminal first-person shooter.

While it’s clearly a joke, the level of work needed to get Doom running is quite remarkable. The actual tech inside only has 16 kilobytes of RAM and 64 kilobytes of flash memory. He also estimates it has about one or two megabytes of storage. 

This is enough to operate the device’s stock operating system, but even running Doom requires a little more power.

Christophel takes viewers through the hack, as he wires up an ESP32 microcontroller to take over. The ESP32 is a cheap, readily available device. You’ll find it often put to use as the brains of the operation in some mods thanks to its excellent hardware and software support.

esp32 powering doom toy

Using the UART protocol (universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter), Christophel can send information to the device. This also lets him remotely control the device when it’s connected to a PC.

Here, it not only handles running Doom but also takes the controller board as an input. He even managed to get audio output from it for the full experience. 

But, that’s not all. Christophel also mapped the device’s vibration control to the game. Each time he shoots, there’s feedback, and killing an enemy operates the toy’s motors.

screenshot of video showing components to doom toy

Running DOOM isn’t the only thing he does. Halfway through the video, the modder also installs ransomware on the device.

However, he does lament the lack of Wi-Fi on the toy. While the ESP32 inside is probably capable of doing some of this, it appears that the toy and stock operating system might not be capable of it. As such, he never goes any further than demoing it:

“Just to clarify, this is of course a big joke. It’s funny to see such a thing run DOOM and run the ransomware image…

“Since this is not connected to the internet, it’s not real…”

“If this [were to have] Wi-Fi with the stock firmware, it’d be so much fun to tinker around [with it.]”

This might just be one of the most outlandish Doom ports in existence, but as the saying goes, if it has a screen, it can play Doom.

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