Hail to the King, Baby

Duke Nukem 3D

It’s time to make games and chew bubblegum, but my development studio was shut down due to lack of funding.

Duke Nukem 3D was the very first game I attached the phrase “favourite game” to; an ass-kicking protagonist, bucket-loads of violence and some naughty bits I wouldn’t let my parents see. With his effortless one-liners and grizzly exterior, he charged through to defeat an alien invasion with little more than a blood-red vest, pitch-black shades and his unfaltering machismo.

A hilarious parody of Rambo-esque, patriotic ass kickers, we waited with baited breath for the eventual sequel after it was announced in April 1997. And then we waited… and we waited. Eight years old and far too young for the age certification on the box, it never occurred to me that I would be the butt of a massive internet joke.

Duke had become the poster-boy for vapourware, broken promises and unfinished business, some still believed (because apparently, you should “Always Bet on Duke”) and others gave up hope. Some laughed at the absurdity of a 12 year development schedule and others held on to every scrap of information they were presented.

On May 6th, 2009, 3D Realms was yet another casualty of the recession and shut its doors, effectively killing Duke Nukem Forever.

Duke Nukem 3D

But what would the cancelled game have been, anyway? Duke Nukem was a product of the 90s; with a flat top haircut, fingerless gloves and bulky sunglasses, Duke ripped off Bruce Campbell’s lines while talking about bubblegum, all to a Megadeth theme tune; he’d be as hip and relevant as Fido Dido or The Kool-Aid Man.

Duke took the patriotic ass kickers and one-liner spewing body builders of the movies and stretched the stereotype to breaking point for comedic effect. But in the 21st century we don’t have those super heroes anymore, so would kids get the joke? In the 2007 teaser trailer a square-headed dude pumps iron between clips of Todd McFarlane monsters, blows smoke at the screen and the American flag appears; without context, it’s embarrassing.

Besides, with 12 years of development on its shoulders, Duke would have hit retail with more hype than Grand Theft Killzone. It’s a recipe for disaster and no game could have lived up to the gargantuan event of Duke Nukem Forever’s actual release.

Everyone was so enthralled with the jokes and the rollercoaster ride that was Forever’s development that nobody stood back a few feet and asked “Would it have been worth the wait?”







3 responses to “Hail to the King, Baby”

  1. MarkuzR avatar

    It would probably have been dodgy. Crap, even. Favourite game sequels tend to be, it seems to be the law.

    The first game I ever called my “favourite” was UFO Enemy Unknown back in the day when the Amiga was still my king. I played that game for months, never trying to get all the way to Mars because then the game would end and that’d be it… so I dragged it on as much as I could. When I eventually made my way to Cydonia and defeated the bubbling blancmange baddie, I had enjoyed my ride so much that I immediately started it again… always hoping for a sequel.

    Wouldn’t you know it… two years later we had a sequel! Finally, I could enjoy an entirely new Xcom experience and relive that magic all over again. To say that I was excited, is too much of an understatement to even produce a simile.

    It was terrible. Terror From The Deep, as it was named, was terrible. The myriad of follow up games were no better, never recapturing the originality or “stickiness” of Enemy Unknown. Even the latest borrowings of Aftermath, Aftershock, and Afterlight have never done the original game any justice and the open source sequels, although sticking closely to the original in terms of gameplay and style, are clumsy and uninspiring.

    When I travel with my baby Vaio, the only game you’ll find on the system is UFO: Enemy Unknown. It’s still a great game 13 years after its release, and it’ll be a long time before that game loses its appeal.

    Sometimes favourite games from our past are best left in the past, untainted and retaining all their magic. Duke was a great game, and probably the only FPS that I ever really enjoyed playing… but I can’t help but think that a sequel would have been heavily diluted.

  2. lordstar avatar

    that all being sait. I still really want this game. With all the fuss of all the press this game is getting right now with only 10% left to complete the game publishers would be stupid not to take on this game. LEAK THE CODE! LEAK IT NOW!

  3. DunK avatar

    1) Great blog Mark, I’m one of the few still holding out on hope. 🙂

    2) The bubblegum line was from ripped off from the film “They Live” – all the Roddy Pipeer in the world sadly is not as cool as Bruce Campbell though!

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