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North American Nintendo 64 cover art
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Doom 64 plays almost identically to earlier games in the Doom series; the player must advance through 32 levels battling demons, collecting weapons and keys, and activating switches in order to reach the level's exit while surviving deadly ambushes and traps. Changes were made to the Doom engine for use in Doom 64, and gameplay elements were altered.
All the weapons from the original games are present, but redrawn with new sprites. The chainsaw has two blades instead of one, the fists have bloodstained gloves instead of brass knuckles, the plasma gun has an electric core that emits a sparking sound when equipped, the rocket launcher has a small kick when fired, pushing the player back slightly, the shotgun's reloading cock is at the handle instead of under the barrel, and the double-barreled "Super" shotgun reloads faster and causes recoil.
A new weapon known as the Laser, or "Unmaker", was added, using the same cell ammunition as the plasma gun and BFG 9000. It was first mentioned in the Doom Bible and was planned to be featured in the PC Doom games, but never appeared. Its appearance in Doom 64 is its only official appearance. With the power of three ancient artifacts found in the game, it becomes more powerful by shooting three laser beams (at a quicker rate than default) instead of one. The first artifact increases the laser speed, the second artifact adds a second laser, and the third artifact allows the weapon to fire three simultaneous lasers which can automatically aim separately from one another, allowing the weapon to attack three different enemies at once.
Doom 64's plot is non-canon to the main games, the sole Marine who survived the horrors of Hell returned to Earth, reclaiming it from the invasion that almost eradicated the human race. Demons still lingered within the abandoned halls and complexes of Phobos and Deimos. As a last-ditch effort, the military decided to bombard the moons with extreme radiation in hopes of killing off any remaining demons. It was initially successful, however, something survived the exposure. The radiation blocked the military's sensors and allowed something to slip past them undetected. This mysterious entity, possessing the ability to resurrect any demon it came across, recreated the entire demonic horde and made it stronger than ever before. A Marine strike force was ordered to contain the advancing armies of Hell, but was mercilessly slaughtered within moments. The player's character is the sole survivor of this group.
Doom 64 was developed by Midway Games at its San Diego studio. id Software, the primary developer of the Doom franchise, supervised the project. Development began in late 1994. Midway's original title of the game was The Absolution, but the name was changed to Doom 64 for brand recognition ("The Absolution" was reused as the name of the last level in the game). Midway wanted to include every demon from the original games, as well as a few extra levels, into the final product, but deadlines and memory constraints of the small capacity of the N64 cartridges made them scrap the levels and leave a few demons out of the game. Midway stated that a multiplayer mode was not included because Nintendo did not provide the necessary resources for multiplayer programming. The developer justified the decision based on alleged slowdown during split-screen multiplayer in other games on the console and the competitive nature of the mode. "Everyone knows that the best part of playing multiplayer is not knowing where your opponent is," stated a Midway representative, "and with a four-player split-screen, everyone can easily see where their opponents are."
The Nightmare Imp was originally developed for the PlayStation version of Doom and appeared in a near-complete beta of the game, but was removed just prior to release for unknown reasons. As such, it made its debut in Doom 64 instead.
The music and sound effects were done by Aubrey Hodges, who also did the original sound effects and music for the PlayStation port of Doom two years earlier. The original Doom 64 team was working on a potential Doom 64 2 not long after the first game was released, but decided to scrap it due to the "Doom engine looking dated", and players' attention focusing on Quake and other, more modern first-person shooters.
- IGN staff (November 11, 1996). "Doom 64 News". IGN. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
- "Williams Makes Jaguar, Ultra 64 Plans". GamePro (66) (IDG). January 1995. p. 210.
- IGN staff (December 29, 1996). "Doom 64 Gets the Multiplayer Axe". IGN. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
- "Doom: The Ultimate Version of the Greatest Gore Blast Ever!". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine (Emap International Limited) (2): 56–60. November 1995.
- IGN Reviews Doom 64