Quake. The first first-person shooter completely in 3d. Released in 1996. How much of a different era was that? Enough that it was the very last game I got on floppy disks - 19 of them as I recall - each with a compressed part of the whole game on it. (I feel as if it was zipped, but I suppose it may have been RAR:ed, too.)
Quake felt special. Serious. Id software and John Carmack being special when it came to game engines was already a known concept, and the "completely 3d" thing felt meaningful. Everything felt solid, not even the flames of torches were 2d sprites. More mature people who purchased games got the CD with Nine-inch nails' ambient soundtrack to play with the levels, but even without music Quake had a dark, brooding mood all of its own. Spirit-like whispers, the groan of zombies, not to mention that metallic sound of bouncing grenades.
Fast-forward six hundred and forty FPS generations to 2022. There is a Switch in the house, and I realize - in a rapid series - that a remaster of Quake has been released, that it is very highly rated, and that the Switch is by far the most appealing machine in the house to try the game on.
A quick throw of money at the Nintendo e-shop and a somewhat longer wait for the download later (yes, there is such a thing as impatient playing of Mario kart), and I was ready to re-visit Quake.
Apart from being caught in a portable console, Quake was still extremely familiar territory. Sights and sounds came flooding back and felt as if they had never left. What I did not remember was just how fast things feel. You can set a lot of the pace yourself by how you get into and back out of encounters, but the action moves very fast and very smoothly.
This is the base upon which we built increasingly tall towers of complexity, much of it essentially meaningless.
Levels are more intricate than I recalled, weaving back through themselves in three dimensions in very nice ways. The shotgun somehow feels a bit wimpy, possibly because I do not yet close in enough when using it, but fragging enemies with grenades remains the joy it always has been and always will be.
Having played my share of console FPS, I expected controls to be a non-issue, if lacking the precision of a keyboard and mouse setup.
I played a few maps, and generally failed to get comfortable with the controls. I think my main problem was the acceleration when aiming, and that can be adjusted in settings, but it felt like there was a layer of frictionless ice between me and the pixel-precision I want and quite frankly need when aiming. Quake is not Quake without good aim.
Then I made The Discovery. Clearly the people who remasterd Quake knew their audience, even on the Switch.
I grabbed the Switch and its dock, headed down to the basement and the trusty work desk. The Switch connected to the monitor, and into those lovely, lovely USB ports on the side of the dock went my mechanical keyboard and honest to Cthulhu optical mouse. Elegant weapons, for less civilized times.
This is how Quake is meant to be played. Pixel-perfect aim, butter smooth, breakneck speed, zombie guts exploding all over the place. That experience has not aged a day.
But I should try to adjust the other controls as well, because it is a pretty cool feeling to snuggle up with Quake in bed as well.