Also available on Nintendo 64, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 03/28/2020 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Doom 64 saw Doom make the jump from psuedo 3D to actual 3D. It still resembled Doom and Doom II, giving it a fairly rudimentary 3D look in a lot of ways, but that also served to help keep it feeling like a true Doom sequel instead of a slightly awkward departure. -cough cough- Doom 3 -cough cough- Oh, and it’s an absolute damn masterpiece.
The bulk of the monsters and weapons you’ve come to know in Doom and Doom II make a return in Doom 64. While some look pretty much the same, like the zombiemen and the Hell Knights, some look radically different, like the Pain Elemental (screw that thing). As far as the guns go, the biggest appearance difference is with the chainsaw. The jump to the Nintendo 64 saw Doom’s chainsaw gain a second blade, making it not only infinitely cooler in general but probably the most badass melee weapon in any video game ever.
The game is pretty much what you’d expect from Doom; you spend the first third or so killing demons that have invaded human installations and settlements, and then you spend the last half to two-thirds of the game killing demons through Hell and reminding them why it’s a bad idea to go through those portals. Overall, I’d say the rigor of the puzzles is about on par with Doom and Doom II although that does vary from level to level. Some levels are no puzzles at all, straight murder. Some levels – like the VERY aptly named damn Unholy Temple – not only balls deep the puzzle aspect but do so in the most god awful annoying way possible. Seriously, that’s the single most frustrating level in the entire Doom series (excluding maybe Doom Eternal which I’ve still not played at the time of writing because I’m poor).
Other than the general immense satisfaction that massacring the legions of Hell gives in Doom 64, my favorite part of this game is probably the final boss. It’s BALLS hard, but it’s a true honest to God (no pun intended) final boss experience. Doom had the Spiderdemon, and Doom II had the awkward living wall thing with the constantly spawning hordes, but Doom 64 basically has those two in one. The first phase is an absolute gauntlet where you have to fight through three or four massive waves of almost every type of enemy in the game. If you manage to survive that, you then fight the Mother of all Demons, and she is NOT to be underestimated. She makes the Spiderdemon and Cyberdemon look like punk tutorial foes. The game does give you pretty much full health, armor, and ammo for all weapons before the battle starts, but even with that, it took me a solid five attempts to clear the boss. Few final boss experiences have left me feeling quite that satisfied.
Because it’s a port of a game from three console generations back, it obviously runs smooth as butter on modern platforms, but even playing on the original Nintendo 64 is one of the most satisfying goregasm experiences that the platform has to offer. Whether you’re dusting off an old N64 cartridge or using one of those newfangled downloads on a PC or modern console, Doom 64 is about as good as it gets with demon massacring. There aren’t many games that leave me feelingly completely and totally satisfied, but this is one of those few.