YouTuber showcases full-fledged Quake port running on the Game Boy Advance, built 20 years before the Nintendo Switch's "impossible" Doom Eternal port
Nearly two decades before Panic Button outed a port of Doom Eternal on the Nintendo Switch, lone developer Randy Linden created a working prototype of Quake that ran on the Game Boy Advance. This particular "impossible" port wound up being almost completely forgotten. By sheer chance, Linden discovered a ROM cartridge at home with the Quake port on it and shared the files with Forest of Illusion, a project aimed at preserving Nintendo history.
Shortly after, YouTuber Modern Vintage Gamer discovered the prototype and demonstrated it running on actual Game Boy Advance hardware. While modern Switch ports of current-gen AAA games like the Witcher 3 and Doom Eternal are impressive in their own right, Linden's work is impressive because of just how much he managed to squeeze out of the GBA's paltry hardware. The Game Boy Advance featured a 16.78 MHz ARM processor, no dedicated GPU, 128 KB of VRAM, and 256 KB of DRAM. This was a system that was marginally more powerful than the SNES.
Instead of using the id Tech engine, Linden apparently built his own engine from scratch, entirely in assembly language, with the ability to import Quake maps and assets. The end results are nothing short of spectacular - Modern Vintage Gamer showed off the port's fully polygonal graphics and dynamic lighting, and fairly consistent performance. With the Nintendo Switch over five years old now, it'll be interesting to see if developers can pull off similar feats in the years to come, with ninth-gen console ports.
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