A Short History of Duke Nukem
Something that a lot of people don't know about gaming's favorite
macho-man, Duke Nukem, is that he did not, in fact, debut in the
eponymous first person shooter, Duke Nukem 3D. In fact, Duke Nukem
3D was the third in the series.
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Duke made his debut in an obscure PC platformer in 1991, and back
then he was known as Duke "Nukum". Why the change in spelling? Nukem
just seems to flow better.
The game, titled alternately Duke Nukem and Duke Nukum, took place
in the "future" of 1997 with Duke blasting his way through robots
and mutants and aliens galore. While the game was little more than a
cult oddity at this time, Duke's trademark humor and violence were
Two sequels later, Duke Nukem 3D exploded onto the scene. An
unabashed DOOM clone, players forgave the game's "borrowing" of id's
DOOM engine because Duke Nukem 3D was one of the first and one of
the best of the DOOM clones. In fact, one could argue that the first
person shooter wasn't even a genre until Duke made a trilogy with
Wolfenstein and DOOM.
Duke Nukem 3D took the humor of Duke Nukem 1 and 2, the gore and 3D
levels of DOOM, and added to this gratuitous sexual innuendo. The
game featured a "kick" attack that allowed Duke to plant his boot up
the rear end of alien enemies and easter eggs such as a real, usable
urinal for Duke to relieve himself in.
The character himself may be what really grabbed the player's
imagination, though. In an era of political correctness and societal
pressure on men to be more sensitive and giving, Duke allowed male
players to live out the fantasy of being a beer drinking, cigar
chomping, gun firing chauvinist who gladly ogles any woman with a
decent rack and makes the kind of corny jokes Bruce Campbell made
classic in the Evil Dead films. A mix of John Wayne, Elvis Presley,
General Patton and Hulk Hogan, Duke was all man.
A number of console games following didn't exactly set the world on
fire, but everyone knew that Duke Nukem Forever was going to
revolutionize gaming when it was finally released. Considered the
"true" sequel to Duke Nukem 3D, the game was announced for release
If you haven't been keeping score, that was about thirteen years
ago, and the game still hasn't been released.
Duke Nukem Forever has long been plagued by delays and setbacks to
the point of being a punchline in the games industry. However, with
a new team at the helm, it looks like the legendary game is finally
gearing up for a real release date in May of 2011. A lot has changed
since the game first went into development. The World Trade Center
attacks, three different American presidents and a political
atmosphere that has gone from aggressively liberal to aggressively
conservative and finally aggressively apathetic, we can only wait
and see how people of the 21st Century will react to the Duke.