Duke Nukem

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For the Captain Planet character, see Captain Planet and the Planeteers#Eco-Villains.
For the main protagonist in the series, see Duke Nukem (character).
For the first game in the series, see Duke Nukem (video game).
Duke Nukem
Developers Apogee Software
3D Realms
Tiger Electronics
Lion Entertainment
Lobotomy Software
Aardvark Software
Tec Toy
Torus Games
MachineWorks Northwest
Triptych Games
Gearbox Software
Piranha Games
Interceptor Entertainment
Publishers Apogee Software
GT Interactive Software
MacSoft Games
Tec Toy
3D Realms
MachineWorks Northwest
2K Games
Devolver Digital
Interceptor Entertainment
Platforms MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, Game.com, PlayStation, Sega Mega Drive, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS
First release Duke Nukem
July 1, 1991
Latest release Duke Nukem Forever
June 14, 2011

Duke Nukem is a video game series focusing on its protagonist Duke Nukem. Originally created by 3D Realms (under its then-name Apogee Software Ltd.), as a series of video games for the PC, the franchise expanded to games released for various consoles by third party developers. In 2010 the rights of the franchise were acquired by Gearbox Software,[1] who completed the development of Duke Nukem Forever and released it on 10 June 2011 in Europe and Australia and on 14 June 2011 in North America.

The voice actor for Duke Nukem is Jon St. John.[2]


Main series[edit]

Title Year released Platforms
Duke Nukem 1991 MS-DOS, Windows (2012), OS X (2013)
Duke Nukem II 1993 MS-DOS, Game Boy Color (1999), Windows (2012), OS X (2013), iOS (2013)
Duke Nukem 3D 1996 MS-DOS, Game.com (1997), Mac OS (1997), Sega Saturn (1997), PlayStation (1997), Nintendo 64 (1997), Sega Mega Drive (Brazil only) (1998), Xbox Live Arcade (2008), iOS (2009), Android (2011), Steam (Windows, OS X & Linux) (2013), PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita (2015)
Duke Nukem Forever 2011 Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

The original game was released as Duke Nukem in 1991 as a two dimensional platform game, which was IBM PC compatible, and featured 320×200, 16-color EGA graphics with vertical and horizontal scrolling. The original game had three episodes, the first distributed as shareware. The first Duke Nukem game was titled Duke Nukem, but Apogee learned that this name might have already been trademarked for the Duke Nukem character in Captain Planet and the Planeteers, so they changed it to Duke Nukum for the 2.0 revision.[3] The name was later determined not to be trademarked, so the spelling Duke Nukem was restored for Duke Nukem II and all successive Duke games.

For Duke Nukem II, the sequel was over four times larger and took advantage of 256-color VGA graphics, MIDI music, and digitized sound. Only 16 colors were actually used onscreen at once; however, three different 16-color palettes were used in the game.

The third game in the series was the first-person shooter (FPS) titled Duke Nukem 3D and was released in 1996. Like most FPS games of the day, Duke Nukem 3D featured three-dimensional environments with two-dimensional sprites standing in for weapons, enemies, and breakable background objects. Duke Nukem 3D was released for MS-DOS, Mac OS, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, game.com, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Nintendo 64, and later re-released in 2008 for Xbox Live Arcade, and for iOS and Nokia N900 in 2009. Duke Nukem 3D has over a dozen expansion packs.


Title Year released Platforms
Duke Nukem: Time to Kill 1998 PlayStation
Duke Nukem: Zero Hour 1999 Nintendo 64
Duke Nukem: Land of the Babes 2000 PlayStation
Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project 2002 Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade (2010), Steam (Windows & OS X) (2013), iOS (2014)

Portable games[edit]

Title Year released Platforms
Duke Nukem Advance 2002 Game Boy Advance
Duke Nukem Mobile 2004 Tapwave Zodiac
Duke Nukem Mobile 2004 Mobile phone
Duke Nukem Mobile II: Bikini Project 2005 Mobile phone
Duke Nukem: Critical Mass 2011 Nintendo DS

Cancelled games[edit]

One of the first projects to be announced after the success of Duke Nukem 3D was a return to Duke Nukem‍ '​s 2D side-scrolling, platforming roots in a game called Duke Nukem 4Ever. The project was led by Keith Schuler, lead designer and programmer on Paganitzu and Realms of Chaos, and a level designer on the Plutonium Pack.

The 2D 4Ever was planned to mesh many of the new concepts of Duke Nukem 3D with the old-style play of the first two games in the series. Duke's look, personality and armory from the recent shooter would be matched with run and gun platforming, with a few new objects, including a cloaking device and five-piece weapon called the "heavy barrel", added in. Players would face off against Dr. Proton's minions, the Protonite cyborgs, along with other level-specific grunt enemies. Each episode would end with a boss fight, with the last one fought against Proton himself. Development on Duke Nukem 4Ever stalled in the middle of 1996 when Keith Schuler was reassigned to work on maps for the Duke Nukem 3D expansion pack. The game’s cancellation wasn't publicly announced until 1997, at a time when 3D Realms had decided to reuse the name for their sequel to Duke Nukem 3D. After cancellation, the game went on to become a new game called Ravager, and that project was then sold to developer called Inner Circle Creations, who renamed it and released the title as Alien Rampage in 1996.

Duke Nukem: Endangered Species was announced in January 2001. It was designed to be a hunting game where the player could hunt everything from dinosaurs to snakes,[4] using an improved version of the engine used in the Carnivores series. The game was cancelled in December of that year.[5] The company that had been developing the game, Ukraine-based developer Action Forms, went on to develop its own game, Vivisector: Beast Within (originally titled Vivisector: Creatures of Doctor Moreau) instead.

A PlayStation 2 game called Duke Nukem D-Day (also known as Duke Nukem: Man of Valor), was announced in 1999. It was renowned for having had one of the longest development cycles of any title in the PlayStation 2's considerable history. Long-rumored to implement the same technology that powered the PC version of Unreal, the game sometimes erroneously referred to as Duke Nukem Forever PS2 (this console title was not to be a part of the PC game and, instead, was a new creation by developer n-Space), consistently battled crippling delays, often putting in question its status as an active or cancelled game. The project was finally abandoned in 2003.

Legal wrangling between developer 3D Realms and publisher Take-Two Interactive over the non-delivery of Duke Nukem Forever after 3D Realms laid off all development staff in 2009, revealed that the two companies had agreed on the production of a console-targeted Duke game in October 2007. 3D Realms accepted the deal in exchange for a $2.5 million advance on royalties in order to continue to fund development of Duke Nukem Forever. Gearbox Software was later revealed to be the developer of the game.

Duke Begins was a cancelled game that was the subject of litigation, but few details exist as to what was intended. From the name of the game and the court filings, the title was possibly intended to be an origin story, illustrating how Duke became the person he is in chronologically later games. Development on the title began within two months of the October 2007 agreement, with the intention of a mid-2010 release. 3D Realms alleged in court filings that the title was put on hold in April 2009 in order to deny them royalties to pay back the $2.5 million advance. Whether Duke Begins was put on hold after 3D Realms approached Take-Two to request $US6 million to finish Duke Nukem Forever is yet to be confirmed.

Gearbox Software has since shifted to working on Duke Nukem Forever after finalising a deal with 3D Realms to acquire the unfinished game and the rights to the Duke Nukem franchise.

When Duke Nukem Trilogy was announced in 2008, it was intended for release on the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable (PSP). Each game in the series was to have two versions that shared the same story – the Nintendo DS game was a side-scrolling affair, while the PSP version was to be a third-person shooter not unlike Duke Nukem: Time to Kill. The PSP version was said to be the more adult-oriented of the two games. It is unknown precisely when the PSP versions of the Duke Nukem Trilogy games were cancelled, but the drawn-out development of the title, low quality of the game and the poor sales of PSP software since 2008 were likely factors. Only the DS version of the first game Critical Mass was released.

An HD remake of Duke Nukem II was in the planning stages at one time.

A remake of Duke Nukem 3D called Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded, was in development by Interceptor Entertainment, however Gearbox Software would only grant Interceptor a private licence; unable to obtain a commercial licence Interceptor abandoned the project.

Interceptor was working on a top-down action role-playing game called Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction for the PlayStation 4 and PC, however due to a lawsuit by Gearbox, the main character was changed and the game was renamed Bombshell.

Duke Nukem Forever[edit]

Main article: Duke Nukem Forever

The most recent installment in the video game series, Duke Nukem Forever, was in development hell for over a decade after the initial announcement in April 1997. Promotional information for the game was released in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2007, 2008 and 2009. As a result, the title was subject to intense speculation and won several vaporware awards.

The development team was terminated in May 2009 but, according to 3D Realms, the project was not officially cancelled and the game was still in development. Although Take-Two Interactive owned the publishing rights to the game, they did not have an agreement with 3D Realms to provide funding for its continuation,[6] and a lawsuit was filed by Take-Two Interactive against 3D Realms over their failure to finish development of the game. The lawsuit reached a settlement in May 2010.[7]

Gearbox Software bought the rights to and intellectual property of the franchise and started work on the project in 2009. A playable demo was shown at Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), where the release timeframe was announced as 3 May 2011, in the U.S., and 6 May internationally on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.[8]

On 21 January 2011, an official release trailer was unveiled by 2K Games with a confirmed release date of 3 May 2011 for North America.[9] On 24 March 2011, 2K Games sent out a statement that "Duke Never Comes Early" to announce a delay until 10 June in North America.[10] On 5 May 2011, the Steam network started selling the game, which became officially available in June 2011. An OS X version was released in August 2011.

Duke Begins[edit]

The October 2011 edition of the Official Xbox Magazine reported that Gearbox Software planned to reboot the Duke Nukem franchise once Aliens: Colonial Marines was complete and out the door. The series, which began back in 1991 with the original Duke Nukem PC game developed by Apogee Software, would relaunch with the long-discussed Duke Begins on an unspecified date.

Other media[edit]


Several Duke Nukem games contained popular tracks from well-known bands, and a greatest hits album titled Duke Nukem: Music to Score By was released in 1999, with the following track listing:[11]

  1. Duke Nukem Theme (Grabbag) - Megadeth
  2. Cinnamon Girl - Type O Negative (previously unreleased in U.S.)
  3. What U See Is What U Get - Xzibit
  4. Blisters - Coal Chamber (previously unreleased in U.S.)
  5. Song 10 - Zebrahead
  6. The Thing I Hate - Stabbing Westward
  7. Push it - Static X
  8. It's Yourz - Wu-Tang Clan
  9. Screaming from the Sky - Slayer
  10. New World Order - Megadeth (previously unreleased)
  11. Stone Crazy - The Beatnuts
  12. Land of the Free Disease - Corrosion of Conformity (previously unreleased)

The pre-release game trailer of Duke Nukem Forever uses "The Stroke" by Mickey Avalon.

Proposed feature film[edit]

In the late 1990s, it was announced that Hollywood film producer Lawrence Kasanoff (Mortal Kombat, Class of 1999) was working on a Duke Nukem film.[12] The plot was to feature aliens invading Duke's favorite strip club. Kasanoff's Duke Nukem film never advanced past the pre-production phase for numerous reasons, primarily funding issues.

Plans were announced in 2001 for a live action Duke Nukem movie to be produced by Kasanoff's company Threshold Entertainment,[13][14] but the film never made it to production.

In 2008, Max Payne producer Scott Faye revealed to IGN.com that he was planning to bring Duke Nukem to the big screen. Faye, who runs production company Depth Entertainment, said he hoped to compliment these with "a Duke film scenario that will compel a studio to finance a feature version ... Certainly, there's a large audience that knows and loves this character. We're expanding Duke's 'storyverse' in a very significant major way without abandoning or negating any element that's being used to introduce Duke to the next-gen platforms."[15]

In mid-2009, an interview on Gamasutra revealed that a Duke Nukem movie was currently in pre-production. To-date, there has been no further news or information regarding the film.

Comic series[edit]

A comic series titled Duke Nukem: Glorious Bastard was released in July 2011 by IDW. The series features Duke Nukem traveling back to the Second World War, to help the Allies defeat the Nazis and aliens.[16]


Duke Nukem was a short-lived toy line from defunct toy company ReSaurus.[17] Primarily centered on Duke Nukem 3D, the line featured three versions of Duke (with a fourth "Internet only" Duke that came with a CD-ROM and freezethrower accessory), the Pigcop, Octabrain, and Battlelord. The toys were prone to breakage (Duke's legs were held on by a thin plastic rod which was easy to snap and the Octabrain had numerous fragile points). More toys were planned to coincide with the release of Duke Nukem Forever, but the game's delay halted production of the toys, and ReSaurus eventually went out of business. At Toyfair 2011, NECA revealed a new series of Duke Nukem Forever action figures with more details and articulation than the previous series from 1997.

In 2012, Sideshow collectibles announced a new collectible statue based on Duke Nukem as he appeared in Duke Nukem Forever.[18] The statue was released in April 2013.[19]


Aggregate review scores
As of May 21, 2011.
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Duke Nukem II (GBC) 73.31%[20]
(iOS) 48.00%[21]
(iOS) 50[22]
Duke Nukem 3D (PC) 88.50%[23]
(SAT) 82.50%[24]
(X360) 80.67%[25]
(N64) 74.33%[26]
(iOS) 63.80%[27]
(PS1) 59.33%[28]
(GEN) 50.00%[29]
(PC) 89[30]
(X360) 80[31]
(N64) 73[32]
Duke Nukem: Time to Kill (PS1) 75.27%[33] (PS1) -
Duke Nukem: Zero Hour (N64) 67.33%[34] (N64) -
Duke Nukem: Land of the Babes (PS1) 59.57%[35] (PS1) 37[36]
Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project (PC) 77.46%[37]
(X360) 47.08%[38]
(PC) 78[39]
(X360) 41[40]
Duke Nukem Advance (GBA) 81.07%[41] (GBA) 81[42]
Duke Nukem: Critical Mass (NDS) 37.33%[43] (NDS) 29[44]
Duke Nukem Forever (X360) 49.36%[45]
(PC) 48.52%[46]
(PS3) 47.60%[47]
(PC) 54[48]
(PS3) 51[49]
(X360) 49[50]

The series has been generally popular since its inception. Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem II, along with Commander Keen, helped make the genre popular on the personal computer, as against games like Super Mario Bros. for video game consoles.[51]

The games broke out of the shareware niche and into the mainstream gamer audience with Duke Nukem 3D, which also brought the series to the forefront of video game controversy. The game, like others such as Star Wars: Dark Forces, was one of the first titles considered comparable to Doom. The Build engine used in Duke Nukem 3D has also become one of the most popular engines among developers. Duke Nukem 3D was controversial because of its depictions of sexuality, pornography, obscenities, graphic violence, drug use, and other taboo topics. This caused the game to be banned in Brazil and, in other countries, the sale of the game was strictly regulated against purchase by minors. Despite this, Duke Nukem 3D was a commercial and critical success for 3D Realms.[51]

Duke Nukem Forever had been in development hell since 1997 until it was finally released on June 10, 2011. The exceedingly long wait had spawned a number of jokes related to its development timeline. The video game media and the public in general have routinely suggested several names in place of Forever, calling it: "Never", "(Taking) Forever", "Whenever", "ForNever", "Neverever", and "If Ever". Many fans[who?] have noted that the game's initials, "DNF", also stand for Did Not Finish, which is an acronym widely used in motorsports to denote cars which did not reach the finish line (usually due to mechanical failure or crash). Due to Duke Nukem games featuring many pop culture references, a joke on the development hell nightmare of Duke Nukem Forever's production was included in the title itself, where Duke is playing it himself within the game, and when asked if it was any good, commented, "After 12 fucking years, it should be!" The game has also won a wide variety of "vaporware awards".[52][53][54]

Although anticipation was high, Duke Nukem Forever received negative reviews upon release from critics, with most of the criticism directed towards the game's clunky controls on consoles, shooting mechanics, and overall aging and dated design. The PR firm responsible for the game's publicity, The Redner Group, reacted to these reviews in a statement on the corporation's Twitter account. This comment appeared to threaten to withdraw access to review copies for future titles for reviewers who had been highly critical of the game. Head of the PR firm Jim Redner later apologized for and retracted this comment, and the original Twitter post has been deleted.[55] Despite the apologies, Publisher 2K Games has officially dropped The Redner Group from representing its products.[56]

Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, a spin-off from the main franchise released in 2002, generally received positive reviews in the video game press, with rankings around 7/10 and 80 out of 100. The game, however, did not sell as well as hoped, and its developer Sunstorm Interactive is no longer in existence. Duke Nukem Advance, which was also released in 2002 for the Game Boy Advance, did receive favorable reviews. Duke Nukem: Critical Mass, which was released the same year as Duke Nukem Forever and was developed for the Nintendo DS, received a negative reception.


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  2. ^ "Duke Nukem Forever release date delayed until June". BBC News. March 24, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2011. 
  3. ^ "3DRealm's Official Duke Nukem I page". Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  4. ^ "3D Realms Site: Press Releases: Duke Nukem Endangered Species Hunter Features Unveiled". 3drealms.com. 2001-02-16. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  5. ^ IGN Staff. "Endangered Species Extinct". IGN.com. December 18, 2001.
  6. ^ Craddock, David. "Duke Nukem Developer 3D Realms Shuts Down - Video Game News, Videos and File Downloads for PC and Console Games at". Shacknews.com. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
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  8. ^ JC Fletcher on Sep 3rd 2010 1:18PM (2010-09-03). "Duke Nukem Forever coming '2011' on Xbox 360, PS3 & PC, courtesy of Gearbox". Joystiq.com. Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
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  54. ^ Vaporware Team. "Vaporware 2002: Tech Up in Smoke?". Wired News. January 3, 2003.
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  56. ^ Orland, Kyle (June 15, 2011). "2K Games Drops PR Firm Following Duke Nukem Forever Blackball Threats". Gamasutra.