Just because it’s especially difficult to do something, does that immediately give it worth if you manage to do it? I mean, I think it would be rather difficult to punch Bruce Forsyth to death while standing on one leg and singing Nessum Dorma in Klingon, but that doesn’t mean I would expect a hearty pat on the back for a job well done if I were able to pull it off.
Such horrific mental imagery brings me to Quake on the SEGA Saturn, a game that was such an absolute bollock to make that it practically brought erstwhile studio Lobotomy Software to their very knees. And sadly, the fruit of their labour was not ultimately worth the pains they went to in imagining it.
As I’ve mentioned in previous ROS issues, the Saturn was a good piece of kit, but it was outrageously difficult to program for in comparison to its fifth generation rivals. To their credit, Lobotomy did everything they possibly could to get Quake onto the system in as complete a form as possible, as this excellent video by Digital Foundry details, but the proof is in the playing and this game plays like a choppy mess.
Some of the graphics are very nice and the game certainly has character. Lighting effects in particular are pleasing, especially when it comes to water areas, and give the game a very spooky and atmospheric feel. Up close, a lot of the vicious monsters you fight are well imagined and again add to the feel of the nightmarish world that Quake inhabits. Unfortunately though, you eventually have to start playing, and that’s when things start to go off a cliff.
As someone who hardly played first-person shooters on the PC, I’m not one of these people who finds the whole genre foreign unless I get to shoot while holding a mouse in my hand. Granted, I can see how a mouse would be helpful when it comes to aiming, but in general I never really minded using a controller for FPS games. Doom on the PlayStation for instance is still eminently playable despite the fact you have to use the D-Pad, with aiming basically being taken care of for you, so you just have to point the gun in the general direction of what you want to kill and the game does the rest.
Quake is the first time, however, that I found it difficult playing an FPS with a standard controller, and this is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the Saturn pad really isn’t built for this sort of game. The Saturn was designed for ports of arcade games and platformers, but not really with fluid FPS gaming in mind. It just feels awkward trying to control your player with the Saturn pad, mostly down to the lay out of the buttons and the fact that the controller sometimes feels unresponsive. I felt on more than one occasion that my hands were quicker than the pad (if that makes any sense?), and I’d often find myself on the back foot while enemies assaulted me at will.
You can switch to auto-aim on this game if you want (with the more hearty of players being able to switch it off and aim the way your player is facing using the “X” button on the 6 button Saturn pad), but I found it to be clumsy and inaccurate. There was one point where an enemy was right in front of me and, despite equipping my shotgun and pointing it at him at close range, the game would just not register that I was hitting him. Unless you are facing in exactly a way the game deems to be sufficient, you won’t hit a bloody thing which seems to fly in the face of what an “AUTO AIM” system should actually do. I believe the clue is in the name.
And that’s before we even get to the framerate, which is more horrifying than any monster id could throw at you. Combat in this game is difficult at the best of times, but when there are a couple of enemies coming at you at once, the game becomes a stupefying blur and not in a good way either. In the first level you get attacked by ravenous dogs that I honestly had trouble seeing. This brought me to the conclusion that they were either magical salamander dogs that could camouflage themselves at will, or the game was an absolute mess once in combat. Once the dogs’ shotgun wielding owner also turned into nothing short of graphical mush once I began battle with him, I commiserated with myself that it was most likely the latter.
I don’t feel happy with getting stuck into Quake on the Saturn, because I feel like I’m a parent turning his nose up at his child’s abysmal painting that he spent literally two days slaving over at school. I should really stick the thing up on the fridge to spare the poor child’s feelings and deal with the smirking of the neighbours, but I’m afraid I can’t.
Lobotomy Software did the best they could to haul Quake onto the Saturn, and they should be commended for doing so. They worked exceedingly hard and did as good a job as one possibly could have getting this game onto a system that just wasn’t made to support it. Lobotomy spent months trying to cram a square peg into a round hole, and they managed to squeeze some of it through, but alas they couldn’t manage the whole thing.
In some ways, Quake on the Saturn is a tragic triumph. There are aspects of the game that I enjoyed, and I think it’s an impressive technical feat, but I wouldn’t encourage anyone to get it. Instead, you’d be better placed getting it for the PC.
As always, I’ll post some footage of the game below.
Thanks for reading
Until next time;
Come On You Blues!!!
(I bought this game from Retro-Reload in Stockport. Please checkout their Facebook page by clicking right HERE)
Looking for other great content here on the site? Well, then take a goosey gander at the following!
Dom looks at the Top 5 horror games, and you can read all about it by clicking right HERE
And you can read Ian’s review of 7 Days to Die by clicking right HERE