Monster Mania: DOOM Gave A New Bite To Pinky

Monster Mania is a weekly column celebrating the unique and varied monster designs in horror gaming.

While 2023 is already shaping to be another banner year for horror games of all sizes, its high-profile remakes will inevitably define it come GOTY season. On top of Bloober Team’s highly anticipated Silent Hill 2 remake, EA Motive’s Dead Space and Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 have already raised the bar for what remakes can accomplish. Both games amount to more than just technical touch-ups, having rewritten core gameplay mechanics for modern audiences. This led me to wonder if that approach to remakes could be applied not just to gameplay and graphics but to enemy designs as well. 

And then I remember the brutalist magic of id Software’s DOOM reboot had already done so. DOOM 2016 modernized the gameplay of the ’93 original and reworked the series’ most iconic monsters into even tougher bastards. Most notably, the Pinky Demon’s propensity for gnashing and thrashing Doom Guy is made even deadlier with a slick new look, as well as new offensive and defensive abilities.

Pinky’s nickname comes from the monster’s, well, pink pixelated body. This stubby but domineering Minotaur from hell remains an imposing stand out from the hordes of demons players would rip and tear through. In the original DOOM, Pinky’s larger frame and devastating bite are preceded by an intimidating roar that instills fear in the player, given the carnage they would come to associate with the monster. The creature’s wider frame would fill claustrophobic corridors that would obscure the player’s view of enemies standing behind them, making for a foreboding wall of chompers. 

DOOM 2016 took this infamous monster and effectively made it an even deadlier and pinker battering ram. Despite those stubby limbs, the Pinky can now bullrush the player (made possible by a 40-yard dash time that would make NFL lineman blush). Their iconic roar precedes Pinky’s bullrush and indicates to the player that they had better keep their head on a swivel lest they want to be flattened. 

Herein lies a beautiful example of blending new gameplay mechanics within preexisting monster designs. One of the more notable facets of DOOM 2016‘s gameplay is Doom Guy’s ability to dash. A vital tool for both environmental traversal and avoiding incoming projectiles. The dash can be conveniently used to avoid Pinky’s bullrush, which can often be the difference between life and death. However, if only it were that simple to beat this seemingly brainless beast. 

The evolutionary ace up Pinky’s stubby arm is their now heavily armored front. In the original DOOM, Pinky’s size was a double-edged sword, as they were more intimidating but also had a much larger hitbox than the average demon. Pinky’s new heavily armored front in the reboot gives them unparalleled protection from conventional and explosive weaponry. 

There is nothing quite like the first time you unload the super shotgun into Pinky’s face, and it blinks in confusion before ripping your head off. So, unless the player is interested in pissing through ammo by taking a Pinky head-on, they had best rethink their approach. And as with any well-designed monster, ol’ Pinky has a weak spot, which happens to be their big pink butt. Quite the evolutionary oversight, but hey, that’s demonology for ya! 

Unlike their front, Pinky Demon’s backside lacks armor and thus serves as their Achilles, uh, butt. This can be exploited in two ways: Dash strafing to avoid their bullrush and shooting them while their back is momentarily turned or utilizing explosives. Lobbing a well-timed grenade to bounce just behind Pinky’s armor or using the rocket launcher’s remote detonation mod to denote just as a rocket passes its front are the most effective means to kill one.

If a player does not heed the above advice, they will enjoy receiving a direct hit from Pinky’s rush. This attack deals devastating damage and temporarily stuns them as they are knocked backward. However, the player will still be within range of Pinky’s signature bite, which hits notably harder than most other demons’ attacks. Unlike in the original, Doom Guy will not face more than maybe three Pinkys at any given moment. Though they lack numbers, they make up for their ability to keep Doom Guy on his toes and stun him, making him susceptible to other demons’ projectile attacks. 

While I chose to highlight Pinky this week, in recently revisiting the Doom series, y’all can expect me to return to the hallowed horror stomping ground of my youth in the near future. And 30+ years later, I remain impressed with not only the varied but equally monstrous creations stuffed into the ’93 original (which id have continued to update and innovate on). These monster designs would influence the next 30 years of horror gaming, and the Pinky Demon is but one of many monstrous examples of that influence.

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