Duke Nukem (character)
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|Duke Nukem character|
Duke Nukem as he appears in Duke Nukem Forever
|First game||Duke Nukem (1991)|
|Voiced by||Jon St. John|
Duke Nukem is a fictional character and protagonist of the Duke Nukem series of video games; the character is unrelated to the character of the same name from the TV series Captain Planet and the Planeteers, which was created a year prior. The character first appeared in the 1991 video game Duke Nukem, developed by Apogee Software. He has since starred in multiple sequels developed by 3D Realms. Most recently, he starred in Duke Nukem Forever, developed by Gearbox Software, which now owns the rights and intellectual property.
The character was created by Todd Replogle, Jim Norwood, George Broussard, and Scott Miller of Apogee Software. Duke Nukem was redesigned as the present tough guy incarnation by George Broussard and Allen Blum for the 1996 game Duke Nukem 3D. A sequel to Duke Nukem 3D, Duke Nukem Forever, was released in 2011, after remaining in development since 1997.
Personality and appearance
In the original game, Duke Nukem barely spoke and was portrayed as a disgruntled TV viewer hired by the CIA to save Earth from the mad scientist Dr. Proton, whom he took offense to for interrupting soap operas. In the second game, he began to evolve into a more traditional action hero, but remained mostly silent. Since the third game, Duke's personality has been that of a confident, aggressive, politically incorrect, wise-cracking, hyper-masculine person. Although not superhuman, Duke manages to achieve incredible physical feats of violence and conquest through sheer machismo and expertise with automatic firearms. In Duke Nukem Forever, his massive ego is somehow capable of functioning like a shield from physical damage.
His missions generally involve killing aliens that have invaded Earth. He is apparently sexually adept and irresistible to females, and circumstances often find him surrounded by many buxom women. However, he frequently mentions an estranged love interest named "Lani", and she becomes the basis for many of his jokes. This is widely believed to be a reference to Lani Minella, a voice actress who did several voices for Duke Nukem 3D.
Duke Nukem's current character is a pastiche of a number of Hollywood action heroes, and his most famous line is from the movie They Live with Roddy Piper saying, "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubble gum." Duke's appearance resembles that of The Boz as well as characters played by Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Voiced by Jon St. John since the third game, Duke's voice is based on that of Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry.
Duke is best known for his trademark jet pack, his golden IMI Desert Eagle pistol or golden Colt M1911, and Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses, which completely conceal his eyes and which he has been seen wearing even at night since Duke Nukem 3D. His other trademark is a blond military-style flattop haircut which has existed since the first game, and the radioactive trefoil symbol, which is found on his belt-buckle, the side of his signature pistol, and numerous other locations throughout the games. He usually wears a red tank top (pink in the first game), blue jeans and black army boots - in some of the games, Duke executes a maneuver known as the "Mighty Boot," which is simply a strong front kick. He is also notable for constantly smoking a cigar.
In Duke Nukem II, Duke wrote an autobiography titled Why I'm So Great which he later autographed in Duke Nukem Forever. In Duke Nukem Forever, he owns a casino on the Las Vegas Strip called The Ladykiller, in which the "Damn! ... It's Late Show" (hosted by Johnny O'Lenoman) is taped, and the Museum of Duke is housed. He is also linked to the EDF (Earth Defense Forces). In a news conference held at the end of Duke Nukem Forever, he announces his intention of running for president, which would make him the 69th U.S. president.
Duke Nukem was initially created in 1987 by chief programmer Todd Replogle of Apogee Software (now 3D Realms) as the protagonist for the video game he was designing titled Metal Future, which was set in the then-near future of "one decade later from now" in 1997. After hearing the character's name, producer and founder of Apogee, Scott Miller, suggested the game should have the same name, and he helped design the character. Artwork was produced by George Broussard, Allen H. Blum III, and Jim Norwood. Duke was not voiced, but spoke through on-screen text.
In the sequel, Duke Nukem II, which was released two years later, the same mostly-silent incarnation of the character was used, although he was now an American hero. Duke Nukem II features an intro with one line, spoken by Joe Siegler ("I'm back"), and a death scream by character co-creator Todd Replogle.
For Duke Nukem 3D, the character of Duke Nukem was dramatically redesigned by George Broussard and Allen Blum as the more familiar macho, wise-cracking character of today. Duke Nukem 3D was one of the most controversial games at the time due to its strong violence, cultural stereotypes, strong language, and sexual content. Duke Nukem 3D, as well as the dozen or so subsequent Duke Nukem games, feature Jon St. John as the voice of Duke Nukem. Duke Nukem 3D was the first game in which the character has a significant speaking role.
Games with Duke Nukem as a protagonist
- Duke Nukem (temporarily "Duke Nukum") – 1991 – MS-DOS
- Duke Nukem II – 1993 – MS-DOS, iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad
- Duke Nukem 3D – 1996 – MS-DOS, Mac OS, Sega Saturn, Mega Drive, Game.com, Xbox Live Arcade, iPhone/iPod Touch, Nokia N900, Source ports, Android, iPad
- Duke Nukem 64 – 1997 – Nintendo 64
- Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown – 1997 – PlayStation
- Duke Nukem: Time to Kill – 1998 – PlayStation
- Duke Nukem: Zero Hour – 1998 – Nintendo 64
- Duke Nukem GBC – 1999 – Game Boy Color
- Duke Nukem: Land of the Babes (temporarily "Planet of the Babes") – 2000 – PlayStation
- Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project – 2002 – Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade
- Duke Nukem Advance – 2002 – Game Boy Advance
- Duke Nukem Mobile – 2004 – Tapwave Zodiac
- Duke Nukem Mobile - 2004 - Cellular phones (2D port of the Zodiac version)
- Duke Nukem Mobile II: Bikini Project – 2005 – Cellular phones
- Duke Nukem Mobile 3D – 2005 – Cellular phones (updated port of the original Zodiac version with enhanced graphics)
- Duke Nukem Arena - 2007 - Cellular phones (updated port of Duke Nukem Mobile 3D that included an arena-style multiplayer)
- Duke Nukem: Critical Mass – 2011 - Nintendo DS
- Duke Nukem Forever – 2011 – Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
- Duke Nukem 3D: World Tour – 2016 – Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
- Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure - 1992 - MS-DOS
- Death Rally - 1996 - MS-DOS
- Balls of Steel - 1997 - Microsoft Windows
- Blood - 1997 - MS-DOS
- Serious Sam 2 - 2005 - Microsoft Windows, Linux, Xbox
- Death Rally - 2011 - Microsoft Windows, iOS
- Choplifter HD - 2012 - Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
- Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition - 2017 - Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Wild Buster: Heroes of Titan - 2018 - Microsoft Windows
- Ready Player One - 2018 - Film
- Duke Nukem - TBA - Film
Duke Nukem has been listed on many "Best Characters" and "Best Heroes" lists over the years, including being listed as number one in ScrewAttack's "Top 10 Coolest Video Game Characters" list in 2007. Featuring him in the section "top ten forces of good" in their 2004 list of top 50 retro game heroes, Retro Gamer called Duke "the ultimate cheese hero, and a true remnant of 80’s action flicks." He was listed at number 27 in the "Top 50 Video Game Characters" list by Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2011. GameDaily also ranked him sixth on their list of best anti-heroes in video game. In 2011, Empire ranked him as the 20th greatest video game character, calling him "one of the best action characters ever devised" and adding that "Film might have Schwarzenegger, but Gaming's got Mr Nukem".
Reception of the character by the time of Duke Nukem Forever's release was mostly mixed. Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer elaborated on Duke Nukem's decreased relevance since 1996, and added that the character's "half-hearted digs" at rival franchises were ill-advised due to the game's datedness. Charles Onyett of IGN likened Duke Nukem's maturity to a "12-year-old boy with Internet access" and expressed disappointment in the character's datedness and the missed opportunity on the developers' part to "[play] with the idea of Duke as an anachronism". Ryan Winterhalter of 1UP.com noted that Duke Nukem had become "a caricature of his former self. He's crossed the line from charmingly foul-mouthed to obnoxious and embarrassing." Cian Hassett of PALGN was more positive about the character, finding him to be "genuinely hilarious" due to his tongue-in-cheek rejection of video game traditions (such as finding a key to open a door or wearing a special suit of armor). Complex ranked him as being the "douchiest" character in video games, stating, "[t]he trench coat, sunglasses, cheap one-liners, and bevy of women make Duke Nukem the ultimate douche."
- Jon St. John on IMDb
- [dead link]
-  Archived August 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- Duke Nukem Character Memory Card Archived April 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
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- Dan Whitehead (June 11, 2011). "Duke Nukem Forever Review". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- Charles Onyett (June 11, 2011). "Duke Nukem Forever Review - Xbox 360 Review at IGN". IGN. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- Ryan Winterhalter (June 14, 2011). "Duke Nukem Forever Review for PC, 360, PS3 from 1UP.com". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
- Cian Hassett (June 11, 2011). "Duke Nukem Forever". PALGN. Archived from the original on June 12, 2011. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- "The 25 Douchiest Video Game Characters". Complex. Archived from the original on 2012-06-25. Retrieved 2013-04-20.
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