News of MF DOOM’s death a couple of weeks ago led to an outpouring of tributes from artists around the world, from movie-makers to his peers and fans in the rap game, but one that caught my eye in particular was this project by Chafomon, an abandoned fan project for the Game Boy called MF Doom: Special Herb Adventure (named for Doom’s Special Herbs collection of records).
While the game was never finished, I thought it was such an interesting take on a hip-hop game, and had been so well-received by fans, that I wanted to chat with its creator and find out if not what it was going to be, then at least what it could have been.
Growing up splitting his time between Ecuador and New York City, Chafomon has been a DOOM fan since way back in the day. “I’ve been a fan of DOOM since way back when he was still known as Zev Love X from KMD. Back in 1991, with money acquired from my 11th birthday party, I went to a CD store here in Ecuador and bought the 3RD BASS “Derelicts of Dialect” album. I must have listened to that album thousands of times. I dubbed it on cassette and had it on my walkman to listen to on the bus ride to school every day.”
“Over a decade later I stumbled upon MF DOOM’s music and didn’t even know it was Zev at first. Finding out was a pleasant surprise and honestly his work really got me back into listening to Hip-Hop.”
Having been spending time recently working on pixel art, and being very into retro game stuff, when lockdown hit Ecuador last year Chafomon got to work combining his love of DOOM with his love of the Game Boy, and make an MF DOOM video game.
“I got my Game Boy at age 11 the same year I got that 3rd BASS album I mentioned, so I guess both of these elements were always in my past and finally decided to line up now. I had zero experience making a game outside of designing pixel art, so it took me some time to figure out the basics of creating something on such an outdated console.”
It took him two months just to put together five minutes of gameplay, which would be centred around grinding to earn enough money to buy records. Those records could then be taken home to make beats with, which you could then shop to other MCs that would populate the game world.
“The idea of a game that involved acquiring records and making beats on an old school sampler just seemed so appealing to me (and it still does!). When it came to designing a character for my game, DOOM just seemed like a no-brainer. The mask is just so iconic, he raps and produces his own beats, and he’s the super villain that everybody loves.”
Sadly, as perfect as all that sounded, the more time Chafomon started spending on the game, the more he realised he wouldn’t be able to finish it. “I was thinking of making like 100 fictional albums with fake artist names and titles and covers”, he tells me. “Honestly, I put so much effort into for a while that I kind of burned myself out. I started realizing that this was going to take me about a whole year to complete and if/when I ever did finish it, I would have obvious legal issues if I were to want to sell it.”
“Right now I feel like it’s best to just let DOOM rest in peace. I’m flattered by all the praise though and believe me, if I were just a fan that happened to see that video, I’d wanna play the game too. Maybe one day.”