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Duke Nukem (video game)

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Duke Nukem
Episode 1 title screen
Developer(s)Apogee Software
Publisher(s)Apogee Software
Producer(s)Scott Miller
Designer(s)Todd Replogle
Scott Miller
Allen H. Blum III
Programmer(s)Todd Replogle
Artist(s)George Broussard
Jim Norwood
Allen H. Blum III
Composer(s)Scott Miller
SeriesDuke Nukem
Windows, OS X[2][3]
  • WW: December 6, 2012
  • WW: May 21, 2015

Duke Nukem is a 1991 platform game developed and published by Apogee Software for MS-DOS. The 2D, multidirectional scrolling game follows the adventures of fictional character Duke Nukem across three episodes of ten levels each. The game's first episode was distributed as shareware.[5] The name was briefly changed to Duke Nukum to avoid trademark issues.

Duke Nukem was followed by the similarly-styled Duke Nukem II, in 1993. The series made the jump to 3D graphics with Duke Nukem 3D in 1996, which became the most popular of the three games.


Gameplay screenshot

The main objective of the game is to get to the exit of each level, while destroying enemies and collecting points. Many objects onscreen can be shot including boxes, obstacles and blocks. Besides points, some collectibles include health powerups, gun powerups, and some inventory items with special abilities. The final level of each episode has no exit, and is instead completed by finding and defeating Dr. Proton.

At the end of every level (with the exception of the last level in each episode), the player can receive up to seven 10,000 point bonuses, earned by making certain achievements in the level, such as destroying all cameras.


The game is set in the year 1997. Dr. Proton is a madman, determined to take over the world with his army of Techbots. Duke Nukem, the eponymous hero, takes upon the task of stopping him. The first episode takes place in the devastated city of Los Angeles. In the second episode, Duke chases Dr. Proton to his secret moonbase. In the third episode, Dr. Proton escapes into the future, and Duke pursues him through time, to put an end to his mad schemes.


According to programmer and co-creator Todd Replogle, John Carmack helped him program some low-level parts of the game code in assembly language.[6] The game world scrolls by shifting 8x8 "blocks" rather than individual pixels. The game's original title was Heavy Metal, but producer Scott Miller hated the name and chose to name it after the lead character, similar to comic books. He proposed Duke, which he felt sounded strong, and Replogle proposed Nukem as his last name.[7]

Legal concerns with the game name[edit]

After the game's release, Apogee Software became aware that the Captain Planet and the Planeteers animated series featured a character with the same name (Duke Nukem) and therefore to avoid a lawsuit, the software house renamed the 2.0 version of its game Duke Nukum.[8] It later turned out that Duke Nukem was not a registered name, so Apogee registered it and used the original Duke Nukem name in the sequels.[8] Apogee also received a legal letter from Duke University alleging trademark violation. Apogee successfully fought back, and agreed to use the full Duke Nukem name in all their marketing materials.[7]


Dave Gnukem is an open source parody.

Scott Miller estimates that the game eventually sold between 60,000 and 70,000 copies.[9] In 1995, Flux magazine ranked the game 39th on their Top 100 Video Games writing: "Without a doubt, the best platform game for the pc ever created."[10] A free software parody of the game was made by fans entitled Dave Gnukem.[11]


  1. ^ "3D Realms Site: History". 3D Realms.
  2. ^ "Release: Duke Nukem 1+2". GOG.com. December 6, 2012. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  3. ^ "Duke Nukem 1 and 2 now available for Mac on GOG.com". Engadget. December 6, 2012. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  4. ^ "Changelog post #1". GOG.com. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  5. ^ "Duke Nukem I (the original!)". 3D Realms. Retrieved December 10, 2023.
  6. ^ "Todd Replogle interview (from 2001)". www.strifestreams.com. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Miller, Scott (May 25, 2022). "Duke Nukem - Little Known Facts". Apogee Entertainment. Archived from the original on May 25, 2022. Retrieved May 25, 2022.
  8. ^ a b "3D Realms Site: Duke Nukem I". Archived from the original on November 10, 2014. Retrieved June 21, 2008.
  9. ^ Edwards, Benj (August 21, 2009). "20 Years Of Evolution: Scott Miller And 3D Realms". Gamasutra. UBM. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  10. ^ "Top 100 Video Games". Flux (4). Harris Publications: 30. April 1995.
  11. ^ Zymaris, Con (July 2001). "The Open Source Lucky Dip". AUUGN. Australia: AUUG. Retrieved February 6, 2023. Written by David Jaffe, Dave Gnukem is a 2D scrolling platform game, similar to Duke Nukem 1. It includes a sprite and level editor. It uses GGI and thus runs on the console as well as X, windowed or fullscreeen. It also runs on Windows, using DirectX. Download it and blow yourself away

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