Happy Halloween! We at Ars invite you to celebrate the most morbid of Western holidays with one of the most morbid Western game series ever: Doom. Specifically, with a free version of the less-popular version on the Nintendo 64 system, now restored and updated by a dedicated group of fans and modders.
While finding working copies and digital restorations of other Doom games isn’t hard, the N64 version, created by Midway Games’ San Diego studio in the ’90s, has never seen an official retail re-release (fan attempts to port the game to PC popped up in the early ’00s though). Which is a shame, because the N64 Doom was made up of entirely new levels and content that stood toe-to-toe with some of Doom 2‘s best maps, and the game offered some effective visual upgrades to the original idTech engine.
Now, fans have stepped in with the stunning-looking, tough-as-nails Brutal Doom 64. Even though it was made by people who worked on last year’s Brutal Doom mod, this newer version is tuned to recreate the N64 version rather than to supercharge it, at least in terms of gameplay (though the authors admit to tweaking and changing certain levels to make the game more modern, including a brand-new opening sequence that pits marines against Hell’s worst monsters).
However, the visual upgrades seen in Brutal Doom have only gotten more intense. Volumetric lighting and blood effects are cranked to the max here, even though other Doom 2 engine holdovers, particularly sprite-based items and level decorations, are still widely used. Same goes for enemy and weapon sprites, which have mostly been lifted from the original Doom 64 (but still hold up quite well). Additionally, enemies and content removed from the N64 game have been brought back, and a more intense suite of sound effects is matched with a brand-new soundtrack. The whole package is stunning, though perhaps not optimized for modern computers; I had to turn settings down on my high-end testing rig to nail a steady 60fps refresh.
If you want to play this—and if you’ve gotten this far, you really should—you’ll just need to own a copy of Doom 2 (or the follow-up full-game packs that use the same engine files). Download the mod here, then drop your doom2.wad file into the mod’s directory. The authors of Brutal Doom 64 mention in the release’s description that more updates, including more content that had been scrapped from the N64 release at the last minute, may eventually be added in a future, free update.