Previous | Archive | Next

Quake for the Nintendo 64

What more could you ask of id? A bit, actually.

The good


The game looks gorgeous. Quake for the Nintendo 64 has been updated with somewhat more detailed environments and colored lighting which make the game absolutely glow. The colored lighting is a visual treat, and makes some areas that looked just okay in the original look absolutely stunning in the port. Instead of one single color, the game revels in throwing colored lighting wherever it can get away with it and I love it. I wish more games handled lighting like it did. Silver key doors make the area around it a sort of bluish silver that looks great, parts of E1M3 are bathed in an emerald glow that makes the area stick out in my memory in a good way, and really makes me miss it playing it on PC. If I could play the N64 version on PC, that would negate any downsides the port had and elevate it above the 1996 classic.

The only downside to how the game looks is that there's not enough. Also, a personal gripe, I always turn off linear filtering when I play—playing on a large TV, the game is already filtered by the TV upscaler even before Quake's filtering, so I'm not losing any smoothing by turning it off.

While the framerate isn't perfect (it's a 1998 game running on 1995 hardware meant for smaller games), there are many times where it's hit sixty naturally. For what it is, its attempts are both admirable and successful.


The game sounds great. It's a Quake game, what did you expect? The soundtrack isn't the one by Nine Inch Nails, and appropriately the nailgun ammo isn't emblazoned with their (his?) logo, but what music there is sounds just as good as Trent could ever do. It's used sparingly, however; for most of the game, you'll be listening to ambient noise and enemy shouts, which can get a little repetitive considering there are only a handful on the cartridge. Still, gib sounds are appropriately (and satisfyingly) meaty, guns sound just as powerful as you'd expect them to, and explosions still sound like explosions. It's incredibly faithful in that regard.

Faithfulness to the source material

Hand it to id: they made Quake again. If you've played Quake 64, you've played Quake (plus colored lighting). Unfortunately, that's about it for positives, now we go to...

The bad


Ugh, where to begin. Quake has a nonsensical control scheme. I can't give justice to just how awfully designed the controls are, so I'll just reproduce the default control scheme:

Control stick to the side: turn left or right
Control stick up and down: move forward or backward (yes, Quake with tank controls.)
C-up: reset camera verticality
C-sides: strafe
C-down: jump
A and B: switch weapon
R: turn on aiming mode
Z: shoot

Wow. I'm impressed. The only way they could have made it even worse is if they had R being shoot and Z being aim. There is an option to change it but you have to change it every single time you play if you don't have a memory card in your controller. This cartridge has no battery saving at all as far as I'm aware. Own the controller pak or face the wrath of John Carmack.

The turn speed is awful, too. You turn like an actual tank would. Ranger is not a several ton mass of steel and weaponry (not sure about that last part, actually), but he sure feels like it with this turn speed.

If you switch to Preset B, which is what I do, it makes sense:  all the C buttons correspond to directions, the control stick only aims, and the other buttons' functionalities were moved to more appropriate places. Enjoy doing that every single time.

Nothing new, little old

Many features from the PC version were cut down to fit the cartridge. While I'm not 100%, Quake probably runs on a 32 megabyte cartridge, the second largest cartridge that was ever manufactured for the Nintendo 64. Looking at my install on my PC, Quake on Windows takes up about 98 megabytes, give or take some for WinQuake and QuakeWorld's files. At best, you're still looking at more than half of the available space being simply gone. So they had to cut corners. Welcome to Quake, the introductory level where you can acclimate to Quake's controls on the PC and select your difficulty, has been replaced with a four-option (yes, Nightmare is enabled by default) menu instead. Deathmatch has been scaled far back (which is fine, as only four people could play anyway—that's how many controller ports are on the front of the console) and is local only. Not that that's a shock to anyone, since the Nintendo 64 can only do internet with the Japan-only 64 Disk Drive addon and that other one I've forgotten the name of that was similarly not successful.


It's all over the place, but generally harder thanks to the controls. There are actually fewer enemies in the game than the PC version due to hardware limitations, but the controls more than make up for that, meaning you'll be dying to things that you used to mow down on a harder skill level on the PC. Someone who learns quicker than I can would probably be better at the game, but for anyone below a fast learner, the controls are going to hinder you.


There's really just little reason to play Quake 64. The PC original is now only five dollars and was popular enough that it's a near certainty you'll find it at your local thrift store eventually. I had to order Quake 64 to be shipped for this review for $13. That money went to the same game I already owned for $5, which means in total I've spent $17 on a $5 game—not counting the console ($45). The sequel is more worth it in this regard, it's like an expansion pack.

The ugly

The price

Now that it's getting harder to find due to its age, Quake 64 has seen some truly ridiculous prices—up to $25 for a Chinese unlicensed reproduction. My advice: save your money. Quake is $5 on PC and you can get it either instantly or in the mail for a couple extra dollars, and you'll have a more fun time. You can extend your game with mods on the PC version, no such thing in Quake 64.

The verdict

Very, very good. The best Quake has ever looked, even.
It's Quake. The sounds are awesome, if repetitive.
Soul-sucking controls. Otherwise, it's Quake. Just not as good.
It's much more money for an inferior product.
It's Quake alright. Too expensive and plays terribly, but Quake.

If you want Quake on consoles, just wait for 1999's Quake 2 port.