[Thanks to everyone who sent me various links about this. I’ll be using Ars Technica for the main source]
First person shooters in arcades – not on-rails light-gun titles, but the kind that regularly take the home console arena by storm – have never done terribly well on the coin-op scene, but they have existed. The more complex that such games became at home, the further they strayed from the formula that makes the arcade style of play successful. That isn’t to say that such games can’t be adapted though, whether that’s through a faster paced setup, or the game gets turned into a light-gun shooter. I’m sure many of you have played War: Final Assault by Atari Games before, or perhaps you own it.
One of these arcade adaptations that didn’t do so well was Quake: Arcade Tournament Edition. That’s right, the same Quake that iD Software is famous for (among other fame-making titles). This came about as a piece of software that was designed by Lazer-Tron, a company that was a pioneer on the videmption game circuit. I remember that the FEC I worked at back in 1999 had some of their games…no Quake though.
It was around 1998 that they introduced the Lazer-Tron Arcade PC system, where they had intended to create a platform similar in a sense to Exa-Arcadia or the Atomiswave – easy for converting games out that they had adapted from popular PC titles. The operator was limited to one game per kit, which also allowed them to customize the artwork and control panel to fit with the game. Per the sales flyer that was produced to tout these systems, the company had intended on releasing new games for this on a monthly basis, but apart from Quake, I’m not aware of any other games that managed to see a release for this, except for maybe the Actua Soccer game also mentioned on this flyer:
If it’s news to you that a Quake game did exist in arcades, then you might be asking: “Why have I never seen one?” Well, per this old distributor page, the game has about 20 units made for it, but wasn’t sold due to the high price tag of $7500. I think it’s more that it didn’t make enough on location test to warrant that cost, so LT dropped it.
The game could also link up for LAN play, so I am curious to know if or how many units might have been tried on test. Ars Technica mentions that LBE Systems had made the claim of developing “the world’s first multi-player arcade game network, SparkyNET OS,” although I wonder how they quantify that exactly – games had been linking since Namco’s Final Lap in 1988, unless LBE was talking about a server and a cross-location network platform.
Given that it was a PC game, the next question is: Was that game ever dumped to the public? Ars Technica gets into how it was, but it wasn’t until recently where the security encryption for it was cracked, so that you could actually play the game in an emulator like MAME. Thanks to that effort, here’s what Quake ATE looks like in all of it’s late-90s glory:
What do you think about this from that footage above?