Duke Nukem Forever took…well forever to be released. It was to be called “Forever” as it was (at the time) the 4th game in the series (get it, FOURever?) to be made after Duke Nukem 3D (get it THREE-D? Sorry I’ll stop now) from 1996. But delays meant Duke Nukem Forever would not see the light of day until over 15 years after it was first announced as the sequel to Duke Nukem 3D.
Due to the delays there were other games released in the series in between the 15 year gap.
Duke Nukem Forever when finally released in 2011 was one of the biggest disappointments in gaming history and seemingly buried the Duke Nukem character. But I’m not here to talk about the Duke Nukem series of games and the bitter disappointment that was Duke Nukem Forever…yet (it’s coming though).
I wanted to cover one of my all time favorite game characters from his early low budget start to his meteoric rise in the mid 90’s and his fall from grace in 2011.
Duke Nukem was created by Todd Replogle, Jim Norwood, George Broussard, and Scott Miller of Apogee Software. Being a parody of 80’s action heroes by meddling elements of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell as well as throwing in a bit of Roddy Piper from They Live and smidge of Bruce Campbell’s Ash from Army Of Darkness.
Duke was essentially the best of the best (or worst) of action heros mixed together to make one bad-ass mofo.
Voiced by Jon St. John (from Duke Nukem 3D onwards) giving Duke a rather unique, iconic and instantly recognisable voice. Seriously try saying “What are you waiting for, Christmas?” without thinking of or hearing Duke Nukem’s voice in your head. Duke Nukem became one of gamings all time greats.
Duke was sexist, misogynistic, confident, aggressive, and beautifully politically incorrect with a soft spot for “the babes”.
His was skilled with a variety of weapons from explosives, automatic and even energy weapons…oh and his “mighty foot” for kicking alien pig-police in the face. He would also use vehicles such as his monster truck or even a jet pack. He is never seen without his trademark Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses, even at night and often seen with a nice fat stogie hanging out of his mouth.
His ego was so huge he even wrote an autobiography called: “Why I’m So Great”.
Duke’s first appearance was in Duke Nukem from 1991 and has been in a total of 18 official Duke Nukem games, sequels and spin offs as well as making cameos in other games like: Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure (1992), Blood (1997) and more recently Choplifter HD (2012) along with several other games.
There was a time when the name Duke Nukem really meant something in the gaming world. From early 16-bit visuals to full on 3D and textured polygons, Duke Nukem was a hugely popular character despite really being a huge, egotistical (insert slang term for a lady’s front bits here). The humor of the character was often really childish…but still funny. Mr. Nukem was certainly controversial as a character.
Often found on top lists of all time great gaming characters along with the likes of Mario, Sonic, Lara Croft, Pac-Man and many others and he is even listed in The Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition. Duke Nukem still remains a fan favourite and a character that has earned his rightful place in gaming history.
Alas, the dismal Duke Nukem Forever may have buried the character for good. Aside from the game itself, may a reviewer just did not “get” the character. Calling him out on his sexism, mysongism, childish humor, stating he was outdated and so on…yes, that is the point of the character. He’s supposed to be a parody, a pastiche of 80’s cheesy action heros.
Yes, Duke Nukem Forever the game was bad, but Duke himself as a character was just as great as he ever was and his puerile humor was much needed in the sterile world of straightlaced characters and very “brown” personalities we have today.
Since the release of Duke Nukem Forever in 2011, Duke has been laying low and not really heard of since and it does look like Duke Nukem may finally be dead. But I really do hope not, while Duke Nukem Forever was a horrible game and definitely not worth the 15 year wait. The character is just too important and impactful to sweep under the carpet.
We need Duke Nukem back to inject his humor and style back into gaming, he just needs better games to be in.
I’d most definitely like to see Duke return, but let’s just ignore Duke Nukem Forever and pretend it never happened.
“Hail to the King Baby.”