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Quake for the Nintendo 64
What more could you ask of id? A bit, actually.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
If you want Quake on consoles, just wait for 1999's
Quake 2 port.