By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
ust what is it about Duke Nukem that makes it immortal? Logic dictates that this game should be far from popular after all these years...it uses an extremely outdated engine, it uses (ugh) sprites instead of 3D models, and the multiplayer, while enjoyable in a novelty sort of way, really isn't spectacular.
The answer's simple, really. Duke is something a lot of games simply aren't anymore: Duke is fun.
Remember when games were fun? Back in the days when you didn't need to buy extra hardware to enjoy them. Back when you didn't have to study an instruction manual large enough to be from a Sid Meier game just to get the damn thing running. Back when you could download, not just a demo, not a "preview" of a game, but an entire episode of a game (and in a short period of time, even with a 14.4 modem). Now of course, I love a lot of these new fangled games, but I have to admit...none of them have the charm of Duke 3D.
Let's back up a bit, and let me tell you about my history with Duke. I played the first two Duke (shareware, never registered) games back when 2400 modems were overpriced and considered a luxury. Around the time Duke 3D came out, I was a hardcore Doom player. I mean we're talking hardcore here. I was already in college, and about the time Duke 3D was released there were nightly Doom battles on my floor. Brutal, ugly battles, mind you. But of course...that's a tale for another time.
So anyway, since it was getting rave reviews, I downloaded it. I played it a bit, and did enjoy it, but since I was always playing Doom, I never bothered to register it (in truth, the best parts are all in the full version of the game). Actually, two guys on my floor really got into it, and I could always tell when they were playing it because I'd hear "look out for the mighty boot!" coming from around the corner. What I did like about Duke, was the clever lines, and I thought the weapons were cool and all, but we never really got a multiplayer thing going, and at the time, that was about all I was really doing.
And then of course, came Quake, and I forgot completely about Duke.
Now recently, I pulled a copy of Duke 3D down from the shelf to test out on MPlayer (oh the pressures of the day job). I cranked it up, and started playing a decent bout of multiplayer DukeMatch. It was okay, but years of Quake have left me somewhat hostile towards every other multiplayer experience (Quake 2 included). Of course, once I (re)discovered the taunts (a feature somewhat available in Quake 2, but not nearly as effective...in Quake 2 the taunts seem somewhat obnoxious to me...whereas in Duke 3D, they come off as much more playful) I found myself enjoying it a bit more...but still not loving it. But, I've never been much of a non Doom/Quake multiplayer fan.
But this time around, more so than ever before, I found myself really getting into the character of Duke. The more I played the game, the less I started to think of the dialogue as "fun one-liners" and more indicative of the character I was playing.
And hey...after a few hours, I was hooked.
Hooked big-time, in fact. I not only played straight through the shareware episode and the registered version, I pulled down a dusty copy of the Atomic Edition and played through those as well. Heck, I even played all the way through the N64 and Playstation versions of the game. If I had a friggin' Game.com, I'd have probably done that as well (okay, so maybe not that one...but you get the idea).
I'm not terribly sure why I never got sucked into Duke at first...it must have been my Doom-era prejudice. Perhaps it's because Doom and its sequel were very serious in tone...and Duke was not.
Whatever the reasons, having played all the way through the game multiple times now, I can only say...if you haven't gotten around to Duke, for whatever reason...pick it up. Duke is one of those timeless games. Dust off that old 486, and fire it up...you won't be disappointed in the least.
You won't get spectacular graphics (although, they certainly are impressive, given the technology) or colored lighting, you won't find any 32 player CTF here, but what you will get from Duke Nukem 3D is a genuinely fun experience, as you take the persona of a wise cracking action hero.
- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here at loonygames.
|Credits: Bargain Bin logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. Bargain Bin is © 1998 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and like, in poor taste, dude.|