Happy 20th Anniversary — Duke Nukem 3D

Title screen for the Duke Nukem Atomic Edition showing our hero going from his 2D roots to 3D awesomeness thanks to Ken Silverman's Build Engine and the crazy talent at 3D Realms.

Title screen for the Duke Nukem Atomic Edition! Our hero jumped from his 2D roots to 3D awesomeness thanks to Ken Silverman’s Build Engine and the crazy talent at 3D Realms. And yes, the warning meant it.

Today marks twenty years since 3D Realms dove boot-first into the first-person wars with Duke Nukem 3D, an irreverent take on the mega-macho hero trope out to kick alien ass and faces into pulp with a pearly white grin.

I did a writeup on the Duke awhile back reminiscing on its impact on gaming (and all of my hours spent on it) and even today, boot it up from time to time to tinker with a few of the mods from yesteryear that still work with it thanks to community efforts like Eduke that simply make it all so much easier.

A number of TCs (total conversions) did incredible work such as Priss Nukem which replaced the opening teaser with a clip from the anime and a custom title screen.

A number of TCs (total conversions) did incredible work such as Priss Nukem which replaced the opening teaser with a clip from the anime along with a custom title screen.

Duke wrestled the genre with a crazy arsenal of weapons that could’ve fallen in from the future from Ratchet & Clank like a freeze weapon (frozen enemies would get broken with an automatic boot), tripwire mines, and even a shrink ray that did exactly what it sounds like.

Aside from the interactive switches and props elevating the game above being simply a maze shooter, it also featured a number of neat effects such as this reflecting mirror -- something of a rarity back in those days (and depending on the game, even today).

Aside from the interactive switches and puzzles elevating the game above being simply a maze shooter, it also featured a number of neat effects such as this reflecting mirror — something of a rarity back in those days (and depending on the game, even today).

 

They'll never get the stains out.

They’ll never get the stains out.

Duke’s 3D adventure ran into a snag on Good Old Games at the end of last year as the rights to the franchise shifted from 3D Realms to Gearbox as a result of a legal battle between the two.

Apparently, Intercepter Entertainment and 3D Realms were readying things to make a new Duke Nukem game (which was stealthily revealed as a top-down ARPG in 2014) and Gearbox, who believed they legally owned all things Duke after acquiring Duke Nukem Forever, objected with a lawsuit. In the end, Gearbox won all of Duke and presumably, that’s who Good Old Games is negotiating with for the return of the titles on their service.

Incidentally, today also marks the release of Bombshell, a new game developed by Interceptor Entertainment and published by 3D Realms.

Though Duke Nukem 3D’s humor and persona seem about as crude as 007’s was to M when she verbally dressed him down in her office in Goldeneye, there’s little doubt that as a game, it made a huge impact on the industry. It was a technical powerhouse that shook up the shoot ’em up formula with a hero who actually said things, wacky weapons, interactive levels, and impressive FX. So here’s to DN3D and all of those juicy explosions and squishy aliens.

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