Happy 20th Birthday To The Best Duke Nukem Game

Happy 20th Birthday To The Best Duke Nukem Game

While you may or may not agree on whether it’s the series’ best, Duke Nukem 3D was still a very important milestone in first-person shooter history.

Released as the followup to a pair of platformers from 1991 and 1993, D3D starred the catchphrase-spewing, muscle-bound Duke Nukem on a quest to save the planet’s women from invading aliens. Throughout your quest you’d visit contemporary-ish locales inspired by real-world cities; large, expansive outdoor areas; and sci-fi spaceships and moon bases.

Powering the game was the Build engine, which built (sorry) upon the foundations of the Doom engine, introducing features like destructible environments, letting you blow holes in walls and level entire buildings in first person. It helped D3D become one of the Big Three — Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Duke Nukem 3D — responsible for popularising the FPS genre before actual, fully 3D game engines came to the mainstream.

GIF created using GalleyUK’s video

For a game released on 29 January 1996, it was a hell of an experience, and it holds up well today, looking at the modern, updated Megaton Edition’s popularity and reception. It’s also a hell of a legacy to live up to, which is something 2011’s Duke Nukem Forever certainly failed to do.

While looking for videos for the two GIFs in this post, I stumbled upon this 5-minute clip Lazy Game Reviews made for the anniversary. It’s a good summary of what makes Duke 3D great, so for some additional nostalgia, you can watch it below. Of course, you could always just reinstall the game and play a bit. For old times’ sake.

Top GIF created using Game Cinematics’ video


  • I remember looking at the 500 kills achievement in the Xbox LIVE version of the game and shaking my head that nobody would be playing enough to reach that milestone. Especially in matches with a kill limitation.

    Then I learned that suicide count towards the achievement, so within 2 matches I joined with one other person I managed to kill myself enough to earn it.

    • Haha, holy shit, really?
      That’s brilliant. Makes me feel like a chum for grinding it out the old fashion way.

      I wonder if the Steamworks achievement is the same?

  • I received a two week ban from the computer labs at uni for installing Duke Nuken 3D on several of the machines and having quite large multiplayer death matches afterhours once the sysop went home. Great game for its time.

  • Still got a boxed copy of the Atomic Edition, good times good times, makes me feel so old. I remember playing Duke Matches against my brother as a kid on maps we made. Still got some of the levels I made too that we bust out at the occasional LAN.

  • In my mind the 2011 one never happened. SO I CAN STILL COUNT ON DUKE.
    Problem is, gearbox still have the rights, and wont let the reloaded remake be releaased. Grubs.

    • Heh. For fun, click on the DNF review link above then scroll down to the comments hyper-defending the game. I wonder if they still feel so strongly about it now?

  • Oh man the memories. I remember being really confused about ‘that room where you interact with something and Duke waves money around, but nothing else seemed to happen’ (as a 10 year old girl I had no idea what “Shake it baby” might mean in that context). It wasn’t until many years later I realised what was supposed to be happening. Ahh Australia.

    • There was a switch in the settings for “adult mode” if I recall correctly.
      I remember that shooting those “invisible interaction points” made more bad guys appear, and years later I realised that I’d been murdering invisible strippers.

  • Played it for the first time in 2011 I think, I don’t know what I was expecting (having only played the 2D playforming games) but it blew me away, not only was it over 8 hours long but it was fun as hell. A few years later I played System Shock 2 and was equally surprised at what those old games could do despite their limitations!

  • Probably THE most damning indictment of the miserable Duke Nukem Forever was that it didn’t even manage to be as good as this awesome game, released over 15 years earlier.

  • Classic classic FPS, one of my favourites!

    Picked up DNForever for $5, just to see how bad it truly is, so far it’s average but obviously nothing close to the time it took to release haha

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