Duke Nukem

aka: Duke Nukum, Metal Force
Moby ID: 559
DOS Specs

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Credits (DOS version)

5 People

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 45% (based on 1 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 60 ratings with 7 reviews)

Fun platform shooter; the best of Apogee's EGA games

The Good
Duke Nukem is mindless fun. Levels aren't so difficult that I became frustrated. Lots of little touches and generous bonus items are everywhere. It's cheesy and goofy, but I liked it. The other Apogee with better graphics didn't live up to this standard.

The Bad
The gameplay is too scripted. Everything is in exactly the same place each time you play. Animation is choppy.

The Bottom Line
Of the brief era from 1991 through 1994, when PC game developers were racing to show that they couldn't be outdone by NES games from six years earlier, Duke Nukem is a high point.

DOS · by James Hague (10) · 2000

A great game with a few flaws.

The Good
Great gameplay, lots of action, and unforgettable humor.

A classic, fun side-scroller/shooter with th old apogee style fun!

Rampaging through deadly robots, mines, & underground worlds you are guaranteed to have the time of your life!!

The Bad
Poor graphics. I don't like the fact that this game spawned terribly violent sequels from a man shooting side-scroller to Quake-style action games.

The Bottom Line
A great game worth buying even if it cost you $100!

DOS · by Jim Fun (207) · 2001

If Arnie had a twin brother, it has to be Duke Nukem

The Good
Back in the early Nineties, a man named Todd Replogle programmed Monuments of Mars, a CGA game where your mission is to rescue stranded astronauts on the red planet while uncovering the mystery behind the monuments. His next major project was Duke Nukem, a platformer designed to compete with other platform games released for the Nintendo and Sega consoles at the time.

A well-respected scientist who calls himself Dr. Proton suffered a terrible radiation accident that altered his brain. In 1997, he defected to the underground to build an army of Techbots, advanced robots programmed to guard his secret hideout from intruders. After attempts to stop him ended in failure, the CIA sends their best man, Duke Nukem, to put an end to Proton’s plans to unleash the Techbots onto the world.

Each game begins with an exchange between Duke and Dr. Proton. (I imagine Jon St. John still reading Duke’s dialogue.) After this, you are dropped somewhere in the level and have to make your way to the exit while dealing with Techbots, Snake Techbots, Mechbots, choppers, and Rabbitoids, to name just a few. You start with eight health bars, and one is lost if Duke comes into contact with an enemy. He earns an extra bar if he collects soda cans or turkey legs. Most of the levels require you to unlock passages with certain keys and get items such as circuit boards, grappling hooks, robotic hand, and jump shoes.

These items are displayed in the status bar on the right, below the score and health bars. If Duke manages to reach the exit, he is transported to a small hallway where the game tells you what bonuses are earned. A note can be read telling you what lies ahead in the next level. The hallways are your only opportunity to save your game, and up to nine games can be stored.

I like the level of exploration this game has to offer. In fact, exploring each level thoroughly is encouraged, given that you can earn bonus points for doing so. They are achieved by killing all the enemies in a level; destroying all the security cameras; collecting the letters DUKE (in that order); grabbing merchandise such as joysticks, footballs, and disks; and shooting all bricks with the word ACME on them.

Spectacular backdrops are seen throughout the game, and these include the decaying ruins of Los Angeles, the moon, an underground subway, shuttle bay, lunar cities, and several others. Most of them are unique to each episode, and more than one backdrop can be seen in a certain level. I like how you can see your own reflection in the water, and how Duke explodes in confetti when he loses all eight health bars before being taken back to the last hallway he left.

What's unique about Duke Nukem is that you can do stuff that other platform games won't let you do. For example, shoot a turkey leg and an extra one will suddenly appear alongside it, giving you two health units instead of one. If you feel that you have enough health by the time you see a soda can before you, shoot the can and then collect it as it makes its way up the screen for a nice amount of points. The variety of moves that Duke can perform is quite impressive. Not only can he somersault, he can also grab onto platforms using his grappling hook and hoist himself up onto the other side. I have never seen a platform game before this one that allows you to do this.

The game starts off easy, but gets difficult later. I found that if you just keep running left or right without thinking twice, you will probably regret it. Some platforms are wide apart, and the only way you can make it to the other is to time your jump probably. Also, in much later levels, about ten Techbots masquerading as one can be on the same platform. I even remember twenty Rabbitoids being dropped down onto a platform, but bumping into them is fun – they do a little dance before going up in smoke.

Duke Nukem was available in EGA only. There is no background music during the game, and sound effects are only through the PC Speaker. Although people think this is crap today, they must remember that VGA cards or Sound Blasters were not commonplace at the time the game was released. As a reviewer, I don't even care what the game looks and sounds like. When it comes to retro, it is the gameplay that matters. I understand that small companies had trouble obtaining new hardware and software as it is made available, and Apogee was one of them.

The Bad
Can’t think of anything.

The Bottom Line
I consider Duke Nukem to be one of the best games Apogee has done, but it is nothing compared to its sequel, which features better graphics and sound, as well as more elements added to the gameplay. What I like about this game is the way you can manipulate what you see on screen and use a variety of gizmos to get through the level. Die-hard platform fans should definitely play this game. Two thumbs up, way up!

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43092) · 2022

[ View all 7 player reviews ]

Trivia

Duke Nukem 3D

Duke Nukem for DOS (full version, all three episodes) was included on the Duke Nukem 3D for DOS CD.

Editor

While it would later become a standard matter of course that companies would form solely to sell new level packs to iD Software's first-person shooters, a couple of enterprising individuals led the vanguard as early as Duke Nukem 1, before there was the same calibre of groundbreaking excellence to co-opt. One Tony Kamin of Green Bay, WI seems to have reverse-engineered the DN map format and gotten a level editor together as early as 1992, shopping around two alternate level sets under the name "Duke Nukem Extension Set" for only five dollars' registration a piece. It would look like a coincidental case of parallel evolution when Larry Shanker of Salem, OH began selling his map pack, "Duke's Next Adventure", the following year for the same price... but suspiciously much of the legal boilerplate and installation instructions in their respective README.TXT files are identical! There's no word on the record as to how Apogee responded to these cats turning a quick buck off of their product.

Sales

The trilogy was rated the best selling shareware software (of all categories) for 1991 and 1992.

Soundtrack

Even the world of Duke Nukem got its own soundtrack to establish the realm. Soundtrack was released in 1999.

Tracklist: 1. Duke Nukem Theme - Megadeth - Cinnamon Girl - Type O Negative (previously unreleased in U.S.) - What U See Is What U Get - Xzibit - Blisters - Coal Chamber (previously unreleased in U.S.) - Song 10 - Zebrahead - The Thing I Hate - Stabbing Westwards - It's Yourz - Wu-Tang Clan - Screaming from the Sky - Slayer - New World Order - Megadeth (previously unreleased) - Stone Crazy - The Beatnuts - Land of the Free Disease - Corrosion of Conformity (previously unreleased)

Sprites

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Keen-eyed gaming enthusiasts might notice through the first Duke Nukem series occasional level sprites as having been adapted or lifted wholesale without credit from PC ports of Mega Man and Turrican.

Title

From the Apogee FAQ:

There is frequently a great deal of confusion over the correct spelling of one of Apogee's most prized characters, Duke Nukem. The original spelling for the name was "Duke Nukem"; however, during the code fix stage between v1.0 and v2.0 of the original game, Apogee found a character overseas named "Duke Nukem" that was thought to be copyrighted. So, for v2.0 of the original Duke game, the name was changed to "Duke Nukum." Then, during the programming of the next Duke Nukem game (Duke Nukem II), it was discovered that the character they found overseas was not copyrighted after all -- and so the original name was reinstated. "Duke Nukem" is also the spelling used in all successive games that featured the character.

The spellings "Duke Nuke 'em," "Duke Nuke'um," "Duke Nuke'm," "Duke Nuk'em" or other variations are not, and were never, correct. The correct spelling of the game is "Duke Nukem".

Awards

  • FLUX
    • Issue #4 - #39 in the " Top 100 Video Games of All-Time" list

Information also contributed by Big John WV, Indra was here, LepricahnsGold and MAT

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by MajorDad.

Linux added by Plok. Macintosh, Windows added by lights out party.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Xantheous, Frenkel, Caelestis, Patrick Bregger, Narushima.

Game added December 10, 1999. Last modified February 15, 2024.