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Tour de 64   

Duke Nukem 64

So bad to the bone, he doesn't need music.

Following in the footsteps of the likes of DooM and Quake, the PC release of Duke Nukem 3D offered similar alien-busting action with an added layer of raunch, swears, and spoofs. The Nintendo 64 version of the title brings with it a few additional features and levels, but at the same time heavily censors the content. Removing most of the personality from a game that sold itself on its attitude and mature themes results in a bit of a dull shooter, as its design leaves something to be desired.

The main changes from the PC game involve the questionable content, but there are some other things as well. Gone are the strippers and other half-naked women, as well as some of the gore and harsher swear words. What's left are lines like “I'm gonna get you suckas,” which fall so flat to the point of being laughable. A few levels were cut, though a few others were added, including some multiplayer-exclusive stages. The music has also been removed, which may have had something to do with limited cartridge space. Since this isn't really an atmospheric game, then the silence makes things seem a little boring.

Like most other shooters of the era, levels simply involve finding the exit. There are usually the typical locked doors with the three colour-coated keys in primary colours, though sometimes levels are less linear and there are multiple paths through it. There are only a few different enemy types, including your basic shotgun and machine gun-totting grunts, as well as a flying alien. The level design isn't particularly strong either, with some needless backtracking and jumping parts in places, and water sections can be particularly annoying with the finicky controls. Combined with the limited enemies, the action is never all that exciting.

There are a couple more unique weapons amidst the standard bullet guns. Pipebombs can be tossed around, and remotely-detonated on a whim. A shrink ray does as it sounds and shrinks enemies, and then they can be stepped on to kill them; this works in one shot on all but the more boss-like enemies, so it is quite effective at taking down the larger threats. The plasma rifle can be charged up for a big blast that can clear a room full of small enemies or take down a large monster in one hit, and even bosses in a few shots, but it goes through ammo quickly. There is also a laser-trip bomb, which is mostly useless against monsters, but can be a real riot in the multiplayer mode. The only issue with the weapon selection is that there are quite a few explosive weapons and combat often takes place in enclosed spaces, so Duke often ends up being his own worst enemy...

Speaking of multiplayer, I had some fun with it back in the day. The aforementioned laser-trip bombs are pretty devious, and I was real good at placing them so that my friends couldn't spot them until it was too late. One of my friends and I even got creative with the bombs and created a sort of “obstacle course” by placing them all throughout a level, and the other person had to get through it without getting blown up. Another tricky weapon was the homing ammo for the missile launcher; when used in wide-open levels, it was basically a free kill as it's impossible to outrun it. Since I owned the game then I knew where the homing missile pickups were on the stages that contained it, and my friends would hear me giggling and turn around just in time to see the missile fly into their face. All right, so maybe I wasn't the fairest player back then, but they would have done the same thing.

Some “Dukebots” can fill in when there are less than four players, though their AI script is extremely simple. They make no attempt to navigate a level, and instead will walk in a straight line towards the nearest player; when they hit a wall, they constantly use the “open” button as they try hopelessly to get through it. Similarly, they will seek out no weapons and engage opponents with the starting pistol, even if they happen to pick up something else. The only time they will use a different weapon is if they run out of pistol bullets and auto-switch to something they might have picked up. If they have nothing left, they will rush the opponent and kick like mad. Because that's what any manly AI would do.

One has to wonder what point there was in releasing Duke Nukem 3D in a censored state. Though not a bad game, much of its entertainment value rode on the premise of its personality, the remnants of which make things feel out of place and lame as a result. It's still a decent shooter, and the multiplayer can be good for a laugh, but it doesn't compare to most other offerings on the system.




02/01/2015 at 07:13 PM

I played this back in the day and having nothing to compare it to found it fun to play but not in the same way I enjoyed Doom 64 and Hexen. 

Jason Ross Senior Editor

02/02/2015 at 10:16 PM

Sounds like those Dukebots learned how to play the game from watching me play Goldeneye!


02/06/2015 at 08:13 PM

I didn't realize they edited this version of the game. Imagine if they tried something of the sort today. It's an interesting prospect... Wolfenstein on Wii U where you're fighting green blooded Nazis. 

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