Retro Review: Doom 64 (Nintendo 64)

Doom-64-ReviewWhen Quake entered the gaming scene, PC gamers dropped their jaws in amazement. It combined brand new 3D-graphics with the simple shooting mechanics of Doom, albeit with better scripted events. Topping it off was a combination of science-fiction and medieval themes, as well as a skin-crawling soundtrack by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Just under a year later, Doom 64 was released on the Nintendo 64. Whilst it was not Quake's equal in terms of technology and graphics, it resurrected a great series from the dust and made many great improvements to it.

The game is set after the events of Doom II: Hell on Earth. Just like in the previous games, the game-play is not story-driven, aside from the minor updates containing plot details during certain levels. After Hell poured through the unstable teleporters in the Union Aerospace Corporation's installations on Phobos and Deimos, they were quarantined by heavy radiation so nothing can get in or out. However, an unknown monster escaped detection thanks to the radiation, then started reviving and mutating the dead monsters into even tougher foes. You set off to kill everything in sight and destroy this rejuvinating being. Just as a heads-up, the brief ending is not particularly satisfying, but there shall be no further spoilers on that.

Every enemy, item, prop and weapon has been given a totally new design. Now they look more freakishly-detailed than ever before! A few enemies are qunessentially palette-swaps, but these are not just for aesthetics. For instance, Nightmare Cacodemons are orange and translucent, and when they're not belching out a trio of deadly fireballs, they'll zip toward you for a quick bite. Getting up close and personal to everything won't make things all grainy and pixelated either, the graphics remain very smooth. Accompanying Doom 64 are some brand new textures that give everything a totally new, Gothic appearance, yet with a lot more colour compared to the brown-obsessed Quake. Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is playing the game with the monstrously ugly Nintendo 64 controller.


Unsurprisingly, the main objective of the game has not changed: shoot-to-kill, scavenge supplies and make to the exit in one piece. Doom 64 packs thirty challenging levels with two secret missions that only keen-eyed players will ever come across. Perhaps the greatest thing about these brilliant levels, aside from their complex and detailed design, is the scripting. The updated Doom engine could pull off things like floors stacked over other floors, keys bouncing out of reach, enemies fading into play after players touch an invisible tripwire, rockets and spears shooting from walls, and more. Even the traps are devious, such as trapping the player in a pit to be blasted by rockets or walls shooting out and forming a mini-prison around the player as Hell Knights appear for the kill.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is playing the game with the monstrously ugly Nintendo 64 controller.

All of the weapons from before are present, but act a little differently. The more powerful guns will push the marine back due to recoil, whilst the pistol and super shotgun fire quicker than before. Some baddies act a little differently, like the eight-legged terrors known as the Arachnotrons, who pack slighty weaker twin-plasma guns compared to a single, powerful plasma gun in Doom II. All of the items from before, ranging from military-grade equipment to Satanic power-ups, have not gone anywhere. The only omissions (aside from the easter egg enemies like the SS Nazi and Commander Keens) are the irritating Arch-Vile, the damage-enducing chaingunner, that scary Spider Mastermind and the bitch-slapping Revenants, the last trio being a sad exclusion. Still, there's a new boss to fight on the final level, and she's none too easy. A new weapon called the Unmaker is a welcome addition to the arsenal. See if you can find all three keys to upgrade it to the max.

Some Doom fans may recognize the brand new, higher quality sounds that the PlayStation and Sega Saturn versions of the game offered, for they are also included in Doom 64, and give the game a much more frightening tone. Composer Aubrey Hodges also makes a return with his creepy tunes. Whilst they definitely set the ambience, they are not as memorable as the slightly more distinctive tracks from the previously mentioned ports. Doom 64's main theme is also a tweaked version of the PS1 and Saturn's themes, which just feels lazy.

Looking back, Doom 64 really pushed the otherwise dated Doom engine to its limits and beyond, offering a variety of levels that are consistent in design and quality. Depsite the dreadful Nintendo 64 controller being a pain to use, alongside the omission of beloved enemies, this installation of Doom is a creepy and challenging one. In case you want to try it out but lack the retro consoles, Doom 64: Absolution total converstion is an almost-true-to-the original release for the PC.

Doom 64 (Nintendo 64) Gameplay

Link: Find Doom 64 on eBay

Last Updated ( 09 May 2015 )  


+1 (Link to this comment) ollie809 2015-05-09 10:45
great review. I love this game
+2 (Link to this comment) Noobsaibot21 2015-05-10 19:09
Great game and still looks reasonably well thanks to the lack of trilinear filtering. None of that vaseline smear look.
(Link to this comment) TheGebs24 2015-05-14 19:28
The whole Doom Franchise is a won/win for me. Admittedly there have been some rocky patches (I hated Doom 3) but overall it really gets my nostalgia buds going.

Cheers, Gemma
(Link to this comment) GuyFawkesRetro 2015-06-01 11:31
the comment on 'trilinear filtering' is a great one. As for the game, i felt it lacked the atmosphere of Quake 2 (yes, i'm weird) but still enjoyable. Must pick up a new copy.
(Link to this comment) omgNova 2015-07-04 14:29
I have to admit, I had no idea how close this looked and felt to the original game despite recently picking it up CIB. I haven't even taken it out of the box yet! Might have to fire it up later!
(Link to this comment) oldgamerz 2015-12-19 07:04
Doom 64 is a great game. I love playing this for my nintendo 64 game console. in my opinion it is the best first person shooter for the nintendo 64 gaming console. :lol:
(Link to this comment) Figger_Guy 2016-04-28 10:15
The Doom Franchise as a whole is defiantly in my top 5 of all time (minus Doom 3) and still play the originals today on various consoles. Love it. Great soundtrack to.

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