Doom 64 | Review | Switch - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Friday, March 27, 2020

Doom 64 | Review | Switch

by Danny Bivens

Back and better than ever for the first time since 1997.
Doom 64 is one of those games that just got lost in the shuffle remaining a relic of the N64 past. It seemed like it was doomed (har har) to be locked to the original hardware for all time. Until now. With the unveil of Doom Eternal also came the unveil of Doom 64 coming to modern platforms, including the Switch. While most shooting/rip-and-tear fans were anticipating the next entry into the series with Eternal, there were some, like myself, who were really excited to see this N64 cult classic remade for a modern audience. As for the Switch port, is it worth picking up in lieu of all of the other exciting games that are already on the market?

Switch Version
Controls in Doom 64 are simple. Being an old school shooter, you are only able to aim on the horizontal axis. Aiming can be done with the right analog stick and/or with gyro controls. When playing the game, I found myself mainly relying on the right stick for aiming. Gyro works fine here, however, with no vertical aiming, it’s kind of superfluous. Still, it’s there for those who like the feature.
Movement is fast paced, and can be even faster if you enable the auto-run by the press of the left joystick. Weaponry can be cycled through with the R and L buttons, while shooting is handled with ZR. A map can also be accessed while playing through the game as well, but I found my way through areas by just checking every nook and cranny of the stages. Weapons are flat out awesome. From the standard shotgun, chaingun, rocket launcher to using your bare fists to beat the hell out of enemies - they're all great. Everything in terms of controls feels spot on and perfect. Even if you aren’t an expert, you will find it easy to jump in and play.

For contemporary gamers who have no history with the old school Doom games, level design might feel a bit fetch-questy in a sense. Levels themselves are laid out very well and are full of secret areas that are easy to overlook. Obviously, enemies are scattered throughout the stages everywhere, so gamers have to be on their toes while hunting for the keys and the exit to the stage. Overall, level design kind of shows its age, but even with that said, there is quite a bit on offer here in terms of variety to the levels themselves, enemy placement and secrets.

The visuals in this Doom 64 remaster on the Switch are fantastic and hold very true to the source material. The 3D environments have been spruced up quite a bit and the the enemy sprites retain their look from yesteryear. There are options to “smooth” out the look of the game. In the options menu, an option called “filtering” does this and can be turned on or off at any time. Antialiasing also has a slew of options to mess around with. The frame rate here is super smooth, which perfectly fits with the overall pacing of the game. I will note that the default brightness setting seems to be a bit on the dark side, so you may want to kick that up a notch before you start playing. Again, this can be done in the pause menu while playing, so you can adjust as you please whenever you like.
Like many of these updated classic shooters, you are able to save anywhere you like and have several save slots available. Not only that, but the password system from the original remains in tact. This can come into use in a kind of weird, and possibly un-anticipated way. Let’s say you start up a game on the original Nintendo 64 version of the game and get through a few levels, then find yourself wanting to play on the go. Well, with the password system remaining unchanged, you can use your passwords from that version of the game and vice-versa. Obviously, if you have a standard Switch, playing on the TV will likely be an option for you at some point, however Switch Lite users now have a way to continue their play through of Doom 64 on the big screen. There it is - cross save play between two platforms that are two decades apart.

Sound in the Switch version of Doom 64 remains true to the original game. Gunshots, enemy sounds and Doom guy’s grunts sound kind of muffled, but this is definitely intentional to keep in line with the N64 source material. Music in Doom 64 is also quite different from what you might find in other Doom titles. In 64, the tracks are very atmospheric and creepy. I wasn’t sure if I would like this at first, but it really adds to the creepy atmosphere of the game. Sure, while playing the game I still want to rip through some demons, but the music kind of reminds me that I need to be a bit more careful about where I tread.

Japan Connection
When applicable, I like to try to give you all some small look into the Japan side of things when it comes to various releases. Doom is another semi-weird example of this. As of right now, Doom 64 is not available on the eShop in Japan, but it did have a release on the Nintendo 64 in August of 1997. Probably to little fanfare. I’ve mentioned this in previous articles/videos, but in the late 90s, Japanese gamers weren’t all that interested in first person shooters or violent games in general. Regardless, publisher Game Bank went on and released the game anyway.

The Japanese version of the game contains minimal Japanese. Things like item pick-ups, and an opening message about the controller pak are just about all Japanese gamers got. However, if cross referenced with the instruction manual, gamers could get a good idea of what all of that crazy English says.
The packaging itself is also a bit different. The box features the Doom 64 logo on a plain, stone-looking background with the cart featuring a nearly identical look. The back features some in game characters, screens and a description of all the hell that is breaking loose to create the problems necessary for Doom guy to come back into the fray. Overall, it’s pretty sleek and minimalist.

If you’re a fan of old school PC shooters, you’re going to love Doom 64. Night Dive Studios proves yet again that they are the masters of breathing new life into old games, making them relevant once again. If you’re looking to relive a game from your past, the port is so expertly done that you really owe it to yourself to pick it up.

Score: 9.0

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