Nuclear Throne

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Nuclear Throne
Nuclear Throne icon.png
Director(s)Jan Willem Nijman
Producer(s)Rami Ismail
  • Jan Willem Nijman
  • Rami Ismail
Programmer(s)Rami Ismail
  • Paul Veer
  • Justin Chan
Composer(s)Jukio "Kozilek" Kallio
EngineGameMaker: Studio
ReleaseMicrosoft Windows, OS X, Linux
  • WW: December 5, 2015 (2015-12-05)
PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
  • NA: December 5, 2015 (2015-12-05)
  • EU: December 5, 2015 (2015-12-05)
Nintendo Switch
  • WW: March 25, 2019 (2019-03-25)
Genre(s)Shoot 'em up, roguelike
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Nuclear Throne is a top-down shooter roguelike video game by Vlambeer. Early prototypes of the game were distributed through Steam's early access program in 2013. Nuclear Throne was released on December 5, 2015, for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, and on March 25, 2019 for the Nintendo Switch, with an Xbox One release due in the future.


Gameplay screenshot

Nuclear Throne is a top-down shooter roguelike game. The game consists of two main game modes: single-player, and a local cooperative gameplay mode. There are daily and weekly challenge modes, allowing the player to compete against others via the Steam platform for the best score (determined by the number of kills in the playthrough), on the same set of randomly generated levels. The player controls one of a total of 12 characters, 10 of which must be unlocked through play. Two additional secret characters can only be played under special circumstances during play. Each character has an ability unique to them, adding an additional element to the gameplay. These abilities offered by the game for each individual character allow different play-styles to be achieved by the player and improve the variety and replay-value of the game. Secondary sprites or skins can be acquired for the characters played, if the player completes special or secret tasks. The player progresses through the linear level structure until level 7-3, where the final boss, the Nuclear Throne, has to be defeated. After this, the player may choose to loop to the beginning of the game again with a greatly increased difficulty. The user may continue looping indefinitely until death.

The game resets upon death. Except for special weapons acquired in a hidden level and "crowns" retained until after defeating the final boss, anything acquired in one playthrough does not carry over to the next. The game has a leveling system, where the player gains experience in the form of radiation pellets, or "rads", dropped by enemies, that allow them to get different mutations and choose what would benefit the character the most out of a selection of four, randomly selected mutations. Upon mutating 10 times the player can choose a character-specific "ultra-mutation". As well as the available mutations being randomly generated, the levels are procedurally generated, with every playthrough having a unique set of levels for the user to complete.

The player starts with the basic revolver, but they may upgrade by taking weapons from red chests and collect more ammunition by opening yellow chests. The player can have two weapons equipped at any time, such as a shovel and an assault rifle. The weapons available to the player get increasingly advanced and powerful as the enemies become increasingly difficult and numerous. Weapons utilise different ammo types, with there being bullet, energy, shell, bolt, explosive and melee weapons. The user may use powerful Ultra Weapons after reaching Level Ultra, following the completion of experience levels up to Level 9.


Vlambeer's Jan Willem Nijman and Rami Ismail served as the game's designer and producer, respectively, and shared the development work. Paul Veer, who had previously animated Vlambeer's Super Crate Box, returned to contribute art to Nuclear Throne.[1] The game's promotional art was drawn by Justin Chan, an art student hired on the basis of his fan art for early releases of the game.[2] Nuclear Throne's music was composed by Jukio "Kozilek" Kallio, who had composed for several previous Vlambeer titles. A friend of Kallio's, Joonas Turner, worked on the sound effect design.[3]

Nuclear Throne's development took 2.5 years, beginning in February 2013[4] and releasing into Steam Early Access that same year.[5] During PAX Prime 2013 Vlambeer showed off the prototype for Nuclear Throne, known as Wasteland Kings, with five of the twelve characters playable in the prototype. After the release of Nuclear Throne to early access, this prototype was made for public download. It was revealed by Rami Ismail that the name change was due primarily to a trademark issue with InXile Entertainment.[6] Vlambeer live streamed gameplay online for the public twice a week during development.[7] Vlambeer announced PlayStation 4 and Vita releases at the December 2015 PlayStation Experience keynote.[5][8]


In January 2016, Vlambeer teamed up with the subscription box company, IndieBox, to offer a physical release of Nuclear Throne. This limited collector's edition included a themed USB drive with DRM-free game file, soundtrack, instruction manual, Steam key, and various custom-designed collectibles.[9][10]


Nuclear Throne has received positive reviews from critics, with the game's PS4 version scoring 82/100 on Metacritic,[12] and the PC version 89/100.[11]

Alexander Chatziioannou of Hardcore Gamer gave the game a 4 out of 5 saying, "Nuclear Throne is impeccably presented and tightly designed. There is enough variety in characters, upgrades and weapons to ensure that playthroughs never get repetitive and its visceral combat is a joy in itself."[16] Jordan Devore from Destructoid rated the game an 8/10 saying, "it's one of the hardest, most rewarding games I've ever played. But as satisfying as it can eventually become, I think it is far too demanding for its own good."[14]

IGN awarded it a score of 9.0 out of 10, saying "Nuclear Throne is an enjoyably tough run-and-gun with tons of energy and variety to justify hours and hours of replays."[17]


  1. ^ "Interview: Jan Willem Nijman On Nuclear Throne's "Feel"". Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
  2. ^ "Nuclear Throne: You Did Not Reach the Nuclear Throne". PlayStation.Blog.
  3. ^ Mike Rose. "Meet Joonas Turner, Vlambeer's sound guy". Gamasutra.
  4. ^ GDC (September 7, 2016), Nuclear Throne: Performative Game Development in Hindsight, retrieved February 13, 2018
  5. ^ a b Grant, Christopher (December 5, 2015). "Bastion, The Bit.Trip series, Nuclear Throne coming to Vita and PS4 today". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on December 5, 2015. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  6. ^ "Vlambeer's Wasteland Kings renamed as Nuclear Throne". Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  7. ^ Marinconz, Steve (October 22, 2013). "Nuclear Throne Is Like An 8-Bit Borderlands". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on December 5, 2015. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  8. ^ Conditt, Jessica (December 5, 2015). "Radioactive shooter 'Nuclear Throne' hits PS4, Vita today". Engadget. AOL Tech. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  9. ^ "Collector's Cabinet: Nuclear Throne IndieBox Edition | Hardcore Gamer". Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  10. ^ "Nuclear Throne changes up IndieBox, has plush maggots -". February 26, 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Nuclear Throne for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Nuclear Throne for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  13. ^ "Nuclear Throne for Switch Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  14. ^ a b Jordan Devore (December 15, 2015). "Review: Nuclear Throne". Destructoid. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  15. ^ Tack, Daniel (December 5, 2015). "Nuclear Throne". Game Informer. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Chatziioannou, Alexander (December 27, 2015). "Review: Nuclear Throne". Hardcore Gamer. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  17. ^ a b Rad, Chloi (December 16, 2015). "Nuclear Throne Review". IGN. Retrieved March 20, 2019.

External links[edit]

Media related to Nuclear Throne at Wikimedia Commons