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Duke Nukem 3D

aka: DN3D, Death Tank Zwei, Duke Nukem, Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown, Duke3D
Moby ID: 365


1001 Video Games

Duke Nukem 3D appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Action Figures

In 1997 ReSaurus released Duke Nukem action figures. The only series released consists of: Duke Nukem, Night Strike Duke, OctaBrain, PigCop, BattleLord and the limited edition S.W.A.T. Duke Nukem.



The Australian OFLC, the Office of Film and Literature classification, refused to classify the uncensored version, which was distributed in the US as well as the UK. The local distributors were told that the game would not pass inspection of its uncensored form, so they released a crippled version with all violence, nudity, and language removed. Furthermore, the adult lock feature was permanently switched on.

Later, die-hard gamers developed a crack that allowed access to the uncensored version, and gamers were playing the proper game in no time. When the OFLC found out that this was happening, they recalled the game for reclassification and all copies of the game were withdrawn from sale around the country.

A court found that the censors had exceeded their authority, and irritated by the controversy, the distributors encouraged people to sign a petition that asked for an R18+ classification to be added to computer games.

In April 1997, the censors decided to release the US uncensored version of the game, but it is unclear why the OFLC changed their minds.

Source: http://anthonylarme.tripod.com/phantas/phdanger.html


In 1999, a 24-year old Brazilian went on a shooting rampage in a Sao Paulo movie theater, killing 3 and wounding 8 more. It was made out to be influenced by a Duke Nukem 3D level as he was a computer buff... but he also suffered depression and traces of cocaine were found in his system. As a result, a judge banned the sale of the game in Brazil along with Doom, Mortal Kombat, Requiem: Avenging Angel, Blood, and Postal for being too violent and affecting the minds of gamers negatively.


On June 29, 1996, Duke Nukem 3D was put on the infamous German index by the BPjS.

Note: Indexed products by the BPjS/BPjM are illegal to sell or make available to minors in Germany and it is illegal to advertise for it in any form. But there is absolutely no law forbidding any adult to buy such a product. The only exception is when a game was in addition also confiscated (or put on the so-called "List B" for BPjM games), but this is rather seldom the case.

In this particularly case here, Duke Nukem 3D was just indexed, but not confiscated.

However, due to the fact that advertisement also means the presence of a product on the shelves of a store, the product will disappear from the public. But it can be bought in supporting stores "under the desk" (per request).

BPjS/BPjM = German Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Schriften/Medien = Federal Examination Office for Youth-Endangering Publications/Media.

United States

Wal-Mart required special editions to be made before they would sell it. Identical to the original game in most aspects, they toned down the gore and removed nudity by permanently switching on parental lock.

Config File

The config file is ASCII text and very easy to understand and modify. However, even though it should be possible to support VESA modes greater than 800x600 by modifying the config file, it crashes the game.


According to information from 3D Realms' own forums, at the beginning of the development of the game, they briefly considered making it a "first-person sidescroller". Not so hard to figure out why this idea was almost immediately abandoned.

Hidden Bonus Game

The Sega Saturn release features the hidden bonus game Death Tank Zwei, a multiplayer game for up to seven players. Gameplay is comparable to Worms, but the player only controls tanks and the game is real-time. To unlock it, either destroy each and every toilet in the game or open a savegame from Quake or Powerslave.

Lame Duke

The developers released Lame Duke on the first anniversary of Duke Nukem 3D. This was a very early beta version that was spread for free on the internet. It was called "lame" because it actually is lame, almost everything changed compared to the released version.

Parental Lock

Putting on the parental lock doesn't really remove the strippers; it just makes them invisible. They can still block the player's way, and pressing the spacebar against them, Duke will still give them money and say "Shake it, baby".


The game also left his mark on the world of console gaming with conversions to most game platforms available at its time, sadly none achieved a success similar to its original incarnation. The PSX's conversion although faithful was seriously flawed to the point of being unplayable. The N64 conversion added new weapons, levels, and enemies (some even 3D-rendered) but completely G-rated the game removing the girls, the "Duke-talk", etc. Interestingly enough the most faithful conversion ended up being the SEGA Saturn one.

Speaking of the Saturn version, it does not use a port of the Build engine. Instead, the game was recreated using the SlaveDriver engine, which was also used in Powerslave. Lobotomy Software made both games.


Duke says "It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum... and I'm all outta gum". This is almost the same as something Roddy "Rowdy" Piper says in the John Carpenter movie They Live: "I've come to kick ass and chew gum - and I'm all out of gum!"

Some other quotes from Duke, such as "Groovy!", are inspired by Ash, the main character of the Evil Dead movie trilogy, played by Bruce Campbell. Campbell was not very happy about this though, and he has been very vocal about the issue. Consider this interview with Verbosity:

V: Are you familiar with the game Duke Nukem 3-D? If so, are you aware of the similarities between its lead character and Ash in the way of mentality and catch phrases? Are you flattered by this sort of "borrowing" of your work?

BC: What can I say? Maybe they're just cheese-balls who can't conceive of an original idea and feel compelled to rip off Ash. Imitation is indeed a form of flattery, but paying a guy is an even better form.

(Full text)

Or, this interview with IGN for Men:

IGN For Men: "The Duke Nukem videogame character is obviously an homage to you, at least your attitude..."

Bruce Campbell: "What?!"

IGN For Men: "The Duke Nukem character?"

Bruce Campbell: "Really?"

IGN For Men: "I would say so."

Bruce Campbell: "I'm kidding, I'm well aware of Duke Nukem."

IGN For Men: "Have you been approached for the movie at all?"

Bruce Campbell: "No, and I would say no because of the way they've handled it."

IGN For Men: "How have they handled it?"

Bruce Campbell: "Well, they're rip-off artists. Let them get their own damn material. It's called hiring a writer. They're blatantly ripping it off and if I was any kind of litigious guy they would've gotten a phone call by now. It's depressing and I think it's wrong. That's why Tachyon: The Fringe will kick little Duke's ass any day."

[Campbell lend his voice to Tachyon's main character Jake Logan. -- Editor]

(Full text)


  • Duke Nukem 3D was released at the same time as id Software's Quake. Although both were very different games with a unique level of innovation, there still was some stiff rivalry between them. This is expressed best by the Duke himself in level E3L4 (LA Rumble). In the centre of the level, there is a replica of the Texas HQ of id Software. On a small ledge in front of the building, there is a sign "quake site". Jump on the sign to set off an earthquake. The Duke responds: "I ain't afraid of no quake".
  • The first level of the game is very closely based on John Carpenter's cult movie, Escape from New York.
  • In the third level of the first episode, there's a secret passage in the prison chapel that leads to the rat-infested body of the main character from DOOM. He's even in the same death pose as in DOOM. Upon seeing him Duke says "That's one doomed space marine". 3D Realms continued this trend in Shadow Warrior where they nailed Lara Croft to a wall.
  • In the chapel, there is also a hanging monk up towards the ceiling. It's a Deathfire Monk from Rise of the Triad: Dark War, portrayed by Allen Blum who designed this level.
  • In the Hotel Hell level there is a secret place where Indiana Jones is speared to a wall, on which Duke comments: "We meet again, Dr. Jones".
  • The third level of the second episode, "Warp Factor", has two hidden secrets, both of which refer to the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation. After revealing both, the player can visit the bridge of the Enterprise, NCC-1701D, as well as Picard's "Ready Room".
  • The 7th level of the second episode, Tiberius Station, was named after the fictional character James Tiberius Kirk from the original Star Trek.
  • A secret in the 8th level of the second episode, Lunar Reactor, makes a reference to a scene from Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes where Luke is hung upside down from a cave. Unlike in the film, Luke didn't quite make it, and only a bloody corpse is left. Duke comments, also referring to the movie, "Now this is a force to be reckoned with!"
  • In the 9th level of the second episode, Dark Side, near the end of the level the player will find a black obelisk. The obelisk is a reference to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • In the level Freeway (a secret level in the third episode) there is a reference to the original Terminator movie, namely the scene where the Terminator gets squashed in a press. At some point in the level, the player will get to a building with conveyors. Following them deeper into the building will lead them to an RPG, and there a dead robot from the movie in a similar squasher can be seen. On entering it, Duke will prompt "Terminated!" Near the end of this level, the player will face a police car on its side with the number 54 on top. This is a homage to the TV show Car 54, Where Are You?
  • The blimp in E3L11 advertises for Homer Simpson's beer (although slightly misspelled).
  • The game came out during the OJ Simpson trial and there is one billboard reading "Innocent?" and three reading "Guilty!" to be found. Also, in E1L2 there is a bar with a TV that shows the OJ Simpson car chase.
  • There were Coke cans in the first two Duke Nukem games but not in Duke Nukem 3D, because 3D Realms was afraid of Coke coming down on them for using their cans.
  • Duke Nukem 3D is perhaps the earliest game to include an in-game reference to one of the creators' email address. In the first level go into the bathroom and have a close look at the bottom right corner of the wall with the urinals on it. It reads "stryker (at) Metronet.com". This was Allen Blum's email address for a while. Don't bother emailing it now as it became non-functional many years ago.

Sound and Music

The game applied a real-time audio effect to its sounds. When going underwater, a calculated reverb was applied to all sounds.

The metal group Megadeth made a cover of the theme song.

Source Code

After many years of requests from fans, 3D Realms released the source code for Duke Nukem 3D on April 1, 2003.


Action Forms was working on a hunting game spin-off of Duke Nukem 3D called Duke Nukem: Endangered Species. The game was to feature hunting strange animals in suburban locales but was canceled.


  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #37 in the "150 Best Games of All Time" list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #13 Best Way To Die In Computer Gaming (poultry)
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #7 Most Memorable Game Hero (Duke Nukem)
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #15 Most Rewarding Ending of All Time
  • Electronic Gaming Monthly
    • March 1998 (Issue 104) - First-Person Shooter Game of the Year Runner-Up (Readers' Choice)
  • GameSpy
    • 2001 – #13 Top Game of All Time
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #26 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • PC Gamer
    • April 2000 - #13 in the "All-Time Top 50 Games" poll
    • October 2001 - #12 in the "Top 50 Games of All Time" list
    • April 2005 - #15 in the "50 Best Games of All Time" list

Information also contributed by Ace of Sevens, Alan Chan, Apogee IV, Ashley Pomeroy, Black Wolf, ClydeFrog, Emepol, Entorphane, Frenkel, Kasey Chang, keth, Maw, mike hunt, Mr. Me, PCGamer77, robotriot, Scaryfun, Sciere, Scott Monster, Spartan_234, WildKard, Xantheous, Xoleras, Yakumo, Yeah No, Zack Green, and Zovni.

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Trivia contributed by Trixter, Alaka, BdR, Cantillon, Medicine Man, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.