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Sometimes, things really just go my way. I recently developed a hankering for retro first-person shooter games. Just last week, I talked about how much I was enjoying Doom 64 on the Nintendo Switch.

Well, I beat Doom 64 on Wednesday. As soon as I did, I wondered if Quake was available on Switch. It wasn’t.

The very next day, Bethesda announced and released a version of Quake for modern platforms … including Switch. Well, that’s convenient!

’90s tremors

While I missed Doom 64 back in the ’90s, I have more history with Quake. That game was a big deal. The shooter pushed PCs to their limit when it debuted in 1996.

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These were the early days for 3D games. This is the same year that Super Mario 64 came out. Quake was impressive with its gothic environments and (at the time) detailed 3D character models. It helped popularize the graphics card market. I remember going into a local computer shop and finding that each PC had Quake installed. It was an effective way to show off a computer’s, and its graphic card’s, prowess.

But like Super Mario 64, Quake isn’t just piece of gaming tech history. It’s still fun to play. The gameplay is a lot like the formula id established with Doom. Each stage is like a small maze, and you hunt for doors, keys, switches, and hidden passages while blasting away at enemies. While many modern shooters urge you to use cover and be cautious, games like Doom and Quake encourage you to be aggressive, strafing around enemies while unloading bullets into their faces.

You’ll sometimes get lost in those labyrinth-like levels. A little persistence helps here. If you keep exploring, you’ll eventually find a way forward. And, hey, it’s 2021. If you’re really stuck, just look for some help online.

It’s fantastic having this experience on Switch. If you like old-school shooters, few are as historically important or as ageless as Quake. I hope that Quake II, which pushed 3D graphics even further back in 1997, will be getting a similar port soon.

Future Quake

I also hope that this is Microsoft and Bethesda testing the market’s appetite for new games in the series. Ever since 1999’s Quake III: Arena, the series has shifted its focus to multiplayer. That worked great for Quake III, but successive games made less of an impact. I mean, who even remembers 2017’s Quake Champions?

Microsoft should give Quake the same treatment that Doom got with its reboot. Make a high-octane shooter that focuses on a fun and frantic single-player campaign. I sure would prefer that to a straight-up sequel to Doom Eternal.

At least it’s clear that Microsoft hasn’t forgotten about Quake. When the company bought Bethesda and plastered images from The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom, and Wolfenstein all over its marketing materials, I worried that Microsoft didn’t even realize that it now owned Quake. I’m glad this isn’t the case.

As great as this port is, though, I hope it signals something bigger is coming in the franchise’s future.

The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.

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