Archive for the Duke Nukem Category

Nerdy Monday: Where’s Duke?

Posted in Duke Nukem, Forgotten, Retro, Video Game on September 12, 2010 by Divide By Zero

Being a collector of retro video games, I like acquiring games that I played while growing up.  I can’t get more excited when I find a good copy of Castlevania at the flea market, or a copy of Atari’s “Defender” for $2 at an Antique Shop downtown (which really happened!).  But nothing gives me the kind of satisfaction that finding a game that I’ve already put hours upon hours into, does.  The Duke Nukem franchise is a good example of this.  That’s right, after hundreds of hours of long, hard, and complicated research, I am writing a Duke Nukem tribute.  By “hundreds” I mean like 5.  And by “long, hard, and complicated research”, I mean sitting on the couch playing video games.

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!

Duke Nukem was truly a one of a kind First Person Shooter.  I don’t know all of the buzz about Duke on the internet these days, but I was there when it first gained popularity.  It was the bench mark for pretty much every first person shooter to come out after 1993, like Doom. Everyone thinks that doom was the first real deal when it came to first person shooters.  Doom wasn’t on the market until 1993.  Duke Nukem made his first appearance in MS-DOS in 1991.  I always thought it was funny that parents wouldn’t let their kids play, let alone even buy them a copy of Doom.  Oh wait, yeah I do.  Duke Nukem battled aliens that came down to earth for one reason or another.  In Doom, you battled supernatural forces that supposedly burst through the Gates of Hell itself to come take over the earth.   Yeah, there were a lot of the demonic overtones involved with Doom.  Taking all of that into account, parents would then give their children an “acceptable substitute” to get them to shut-up about Doom, which usually meant they came home with Duke Nukem.  Little did the parents know (and I’ll be darned if any of us kids told them) that they were pretty much the same game.  In some cases, Duke Nukem was even worse than Doom, not satanic or anything, but characteristically speaking.  Allow me to explain:

In the Doom franchise, you played as a nameless Space Marine working for the United Aerospace Corp. (the UAC).  Your job as a player is to walk him through all the levels collecting different weapons, finding secret passageways, keeping your health up, don’t forget to look for some ammo!, and killing all kinds of alien enemies like the zombieman, shotgun guy, imp, demon, spectre, cacodemon, lost soul, baron of hell, cyberdemon, spiderdemon, the hell knight, mancubus, arachnatron, arch-vile, and wolfenstein.

All they're missing is clowns.

All they're missing is clowns.

I understand why parents wouldn’t want their kids playing this game.  It was a little too graphic for its time.  It was released in 1993 and has sparked controversy ever since.  Yes it’s fun to play games like this, and it has been scientifically proven to lower stress by playing video games.  But think about this game in the right time frame.  It was 1993/1994, I was 9.  Kids my age wanted this game.  Kids my age almost never got this game from their parents.  I myself, ended up not owning this game until I was 19 and in college.  But I had played it on and off for 10 years before that.

Duke Nukem on the other hand.  What can I say about him that hasn’t already been said?  He is the epitome of hardcore, that showed up on the video game scene to “kick @$$ and chew bubble gum.  And he’s all out of gum!”  Duke brought to his video games (which first debuted 2 years BEFORE doom) a personality.  You weren’t some anonymous marine who didn’t talk.  You were Duke Freakin’ Nukem!  In the game, you could control Duke to pee in the urinals, tip strippers, and most important of all, you had catchphrases!  “But Del, what about the graphic enemies?  Weren’t they just as bad as Dooms?”  They were aliens, or some form thereof.  Were they as bad as Dooms?  I thought they were on the same playing field, just a little.. I don’t know, quirky, or original or something.  It just goes to show you though, that even the enemies in the Duke Nukem franchise gave personality to the game.  Doom is just Doom.  You either love it or you hate it.  Duke Nukem has a cult following.  Not a cult, like a castrating, rat-poison/kool-ade cocktail drinking cult.  But it has had influence all over the internet as more than a video game.  As almost a cultural phenomenon.  The enemies though, they must be horrible, what did I say they were again?

Mutated Pig-Cops? I knew it.

That’s right, mutated pig cops.  There were other enemies sure, but these were the most memorable.  They made appearances in a lot of the games throughout the franchise.  Duke had to save different cities throughout the U.S. from these guys.  Which is why you don’t see any of them running around today, thankfully.

Duke Nukem or Doom, can you tell the difference?

My favorite game, which I more recently snatched off of eBay for $6, is Duke Nukem: Zero Hour for the Nintendo 64.  It’s the last Duke Nukem game I remember playing for a long time, to the point of beating it, erasing the file, then beating it again.  It was classic Duke with a little twist.  The plot of the game involved aliens who traveled through time to kill Duke’s ancestors.  It was cool seeing Duke in new outfits instead of his standard red tee, black pants, and suspenders that looked like they were made out of tire treads.  It was also pretty cool seeing the historical accuracy (not perfect, but better than most video games of the ’90s); for instance in the Victorian Era level.  Duke transports to that time and winds up at a fresh murder scene in 1888 in London.  That’s right, a huge reference to Jack The Ripper.  This is the game parents handed over to their kids because “Doom was waaaaaaayyyy too violent.”  Also, towards the end of Zero Hour, Duke runs around New York City after an atomic attack.

So like I said, there were similar ideas there.  I’m not certain, but I’ve heard rumors that the software engineers in the 1990’s were notorious for quitting one company in order to start at another company for higher pay.  So it’s entirely possible that some of the Id software team (creators of Doom) got a better offer at 3D Realms (creators of Duke Nukem), brought some of their ideas over, and vice-versa.  Same concept, and I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Duke Nukem inspired the people at Id software during the creation of Doom, even if team-member-swapping didn’t happen at all.

I know it’s widely accepted that Doom was THE pioneer of first person shooters, but by the time Doom hit the market, Duke was releasing his sequel.  And since then, there have been at least 4 graphic novels released about Doom, along with a movie, comic books, and I vaguely remember there being some doom action figures in Spencer’s here and there.  What about Duke?  Where is he?

If you look around the internet for Duke Nukem, you’ll quickly read about the probably-never-going-to-see-the-light-of-day Duke Nukem Forever.  I really hope it happens, and would even go as far as saying that I would sign up on whatever list I had to, to reserve a copy.  Duke’s memory has been kept alive through internet memes and they even had Duke Nukem backpacks, action figures, and clothing lines.  They were expensive during the initial public offering, and are even more valuable today as collectors items.  I can only guesstimate that prices will go through the roof if Duke Nukem Forever hits the market in 2011 like it’s supposed to (still pretty doubtful though).

In any case, I’ll still get a lot of enjoyment hunting down copies of the N64, playstation, or even PC versions of the game.  I love anticipating game releases, but I don’t get deeply saddened if it never happens.  The classics are just as good, and in some cases even better than new releases, to me.  While I’m playing those old cartridge games though, all I can think about is where Duke is today.  There’s a lot of conspiracy theories out there, but I know the truth.  I had a phone conversation with him, a few months back (he’s a hard man to get a hold of).  Duke Nukem is relaxing in his own country (read: not his native country, but a country that he bought).  He’s surrounded with all of the beautiful pixelated women left alive after the video game franchise came to an end.  He spends most of his time staring at his bank statement.  Because god knows, 3D Realms brought him so much money that Duke’s bank stopped printing the amount on his statements because it took too much ink.  All it has on it under account balance is an “8” on its side.  He’s pretty excited about Trident Layers, as a bubble gum aficionado.  He also has a firing range, throne (both royal, and toilet), and vending machines made out of alien skeletons.  Every one of them represents a confirmed kill.  As you can see, Duke never has to make an appearance again.  He lined his pockets, the company’s pockets, and a lot of plagiarizers’ pockets with a metric crap-ton of dough.

Just so we're clear, I'm talking about this guy.

*All photos are subject to copyright, and are property of their respective owners (I obtained these images off of Google Image Search)*