What just happened? Did you know that there was an arcade version of Quake? Back in 1998, id Software partnered with a company called Lazer-Tron to create Quake Arcade Tournament Edition—a version that looked like the original but came with a few differences. It’s been available on PC for years, but copy protection meant it couldn’t be run on emulator MAME. Now, however, that protection has been cracked.
Quake Arcade ran on a custom computer known as the Quantum3D Quicksilver Arcade PC, according to this blog. That impressive-sounding machine was actually a 266 MHz Pentium II running Windows 95 and a custom graphics card setup. The cabinet featured a 27-inch 640 x 480 VGA display, a trackball for looking around, and seven buttons for movement, shooting, jumping, and cycling through weapons. It was even possible to link several of these cabinets for some multiplayer deathmatch action, with one of the maps coming from Quake 2.
The game ran into development problems, and only a few of the cabinets were ever made. Interestingly, they used a form of copy protection that required a dongle be plugged in to work. That left the copy of the software unplayable in the popular MAME emulator—until now. GitHub user mills5 uploaded a decrypted executable that circumvents the dongle protection. You can check out the full instructions on how to run the game here.
A YouTube video shows Quake A.T.E. playing on PC. It reveals what is probably the biggest difference in the arcade version: gift boxes dropped by random monsters. Pick one up, and you’ll get an “Instaprize” notification. The idea was for the pickups to be converted into tickets—the machines came with an integrated printer—which could be traded for prizes kept in the arcades, so you could spend $10 to get a tiny keychain, probably.