It’s easy to forget that DOOM 64 is not simply a port of the original DOOM to Nintendo 64, but a fully-fledged sequel that was developed Midway Games. It’s even easier to forget that this was actually a pretty impressive step forward. While aiming is still archaic – lateral aiming only – the level design represents a monumental leap forward.
Gone are the series of seemingly random rooms with items and enemies strewn about for no reason. The complexity of the level design in DOOM 64 has grown by leaps and bounds. Even within the first couple of levels, it becomes apparent that puzzles involving multiple steps are not just feasible but able to be easily addressed using environmental cues. It’s a stark contrast from basically bouncing your head off the wall until you stumbled on the correct key in the prior DOOM entries, and it shows a clear way forward for what the series would eventually become in DOOM Eternal.
One particularly unique thing about DOOM 64 lies in the soundtrack. Gone is the hard-edged metal sound. The game has a surprisingly creepy ambient score that heightens just how unnerving the game’s environments are. Sure, you may be killing a variety of demons in hell, but the music is what really sells the title’s environments. Another factor in this is the lighting, which has seemingly been touched up for the port, as the use of colour and shadow is surprisingly robust for a 20 year old title. Something that hasn’t aged quite as well are the shooting galleries. The enemy spawns feel too abundant on some levels, causing the gunplay to get a bit too monotonous. This is especially true on 'The Lost Levels' which are brand new bonus missions meant to connect “old” Doom to “new” Doom, but end up overstaying their welcome.