1998 Quake Arcade Game Now Playable on PC

After years of attempts and frustration, one Quake fan manages to decrypt a copy of Quake Tournament for a PC emulator.

The Quake franchise has been seeing a resurgence in recent months. After QuakeCon celebrated its 25th anniversary this year with a remote event, Bethesda gave Quake fans another special treat by releasing Quake 2 for free to fans of the classic franchise for the next three days. While fans can also look forward to Quake 3‘s free period next week, they now also have a new free game to choose from.

Unbeknownst to some fans, series developer id Software collaborated with a company called Lazer-Tron in 1998 to produce Quake Arcade Tournament Edition, an arcade port of the classic shooter. However, due to difficulties in development, id and Lazer-Tron cancelled the project and only made twenty arcade cabinets. While a copy of the game’s software has been available for ages, the Quake arcade game’s encryption has left it unplayable without access to a dongle that plugs into the machine.

However, Github user Mills5 has officially circumvented the dongle’s safeguards and uploaded a playable copy of Quake Arcade Tournament Edition for PC players. In their documentation, Mills5 explained why the dongle requirement made the arcade title unplayable in the widely used MAME emulator.

The page also linked to several fan sites with promotional material and technical information on the Quake arcade PCs, such as how to extract the hard disk image players will need to run the decrypted game. Until this year’s breakthrough, the few assets, advertisements and press releases that fans were able to unlock and archive were the only parts of the game the community knew about.

A new YouTube video containing gameplay footage of the unlocked arcade port shows that it is very similar to the original game. Although the clip did not show how it would work, Quake Arcade Tournament Edition ported the multiplayer deathmatches, and allowed PvP combat through connected cabinets. While Mills5 discussed how the game made modifications to the Quake engine, the biggest difference being the announcer who notifies players when they earn an “Instaprize” for collecting coins and presents.

Hopefully, nostalgic players are able to enjoy this lost game in the Quake franchise. The years of effort put into decrypting the game reflect both the enthusiasm of the classic game’s community and the impact that Quake has had on the FPS genre. Although Bethesda has not taken legal action against the pirated game yet, only time will tell if it will take down the game’s files from Github.

Quake Arcade Tournament Edition is available for PC.

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