Duke Nukem 3D

1996 first-person shooter video game

Duke Nukem 3D is a first-person shooter video game. It was made by 3D Realms and sold by Apogee Software. It was first sold on January 29, 1996. Duke Nukem 3D is based on the main character from the platform games Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem II which were also published by Apogee. The character is voiced by Jon St. John.

Duke Nukem 3D
Developer(s)3D Realms
Publisher(s)Apogee Software, Virgin Interactive (PlayStation)
Designer(s)George Broussard & Todd Replogle
Composer(s)Robert Prince Edit this on Wikidata
SeriesDuke Nukem
Platform(s)PC (MS-DOS), Mac, PlayStation, Xbox Live Arcade, Sega Saturn, game.com, Sega Mega Drive (Brazil only), source ports to many other platforms
January 29, 1996
May 25 1997
December 3, 1997
Xbox 360 (XBLA):
September 24, 2008
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Mode(s)Single player, Multiplayer



In the game, players control Duke Nukem, an action hero from Earth. Players must fight invading aliens that want to take over Earth. The game is made up of 28 levels spread over three chapters. An add-on pack called The Plutonium Pak, later added a fourth episode of 11 new levels, new enemies, and one new weapon.

The game is a first person shooter, so the player sees the game from Duke's eyes. Instead of following the character around like a third-person shooter, Duke Nukem is like being inside Duke, and the player can see Duke's hands and weapons on the screen. The player fights the aliens, most often by shooting at them with different guns, but Duke can also kick, and throw pipe bombs like grenades. The player must also sometimes solve puzzles to find the way through the level.

Duke Nukem 3D is set "sometime in the early 21st century", starting in a badly worn down Los Angeles. The game moves on to places such as lunar space stations.[1] An alien transgenic species has invaded Earth while Duke has been fighting in space. Duke crash lands back on Earth and finds most humans are gone. Only a few women remain as slaves for the aliens. America has been turned into a wasteland, and pornography has become the only entertainment.



Level design


The levels of Duke Nukem 3D take the player outdoors and indoors, on the street, inside military bases, deserts, flooded cities, space stations, moon bases and Japanese villas. Levels were designed with many routes so that players can climb through air ducts, back doors and sewers to avoid enemies or find hidden secrets. This makes the levels well suited to multiplayer deathmatchs. The secret items also include (light switches to make it easier to see, water fountains and broken hydrants provide some health points) or simply provide a touch of diversion and strippers who Duke tells jokes to and sometimes they open up their clothes.

Weapons and equipment


The game includes a range of weapons, some of which, even today, are still unique to the Duke Nukem series. They range from Duke's foot for kicking, a pistol, a "Chain gun" (similar in design to the Nordenfelt gun), pipe bombs, freeze- and shrink-rays, and laser-trip-mines.

Aside from weapons, Nukem can also find 'medkits' to heal himself whenever the player chooses. Steroids make the player move faster, as well as removing the effects of the shrink-ray. Nightvision goggles allow players to see enemies in the dark. The "HoloDuke" device projects a fake hologram of Duke that can be used to trick enemies. Protective boots allow the player to cross dangerously hot or toxic floors. For underwater scenes, scuba gear (an aqua-lung) can be used to let Duke breathe. One of the favorite items is the jetpack which allows the player to fly up in the sky, often to reach hidden weapons or extra health. Many of the secret items such as the jetpack, the scuba gear and the night vision goggles only last for a short time. Weapons also have a limited number of ammunition.



There are many monsters in the game. Some of these are aliens, others mutated humans (the LAPD has been turned into monster pigs). Similar to many first-person shooter games, Nukem encounters a large number of weaker enemies, and a small number of boss enemies (extremely powerful). Like Duke, these "boss" enemies have a wide range of weapons and equipment (some weaker enemies have jet packs).



In 1996, at the time of the game's release, Internet-based gaming was just beginning and Duke Nukem 3D could be played on IPX LAN or modem. Duke Nukem 3D players often used the IPX network utility Kali or the Total Entertainment Network (TEN) online service. Kali allowed users to join a chat room to find opponents. The Total Entertainment Network had hundreds of Duke 3D players online at any time, but players had to pay money monthly for it. The game's levels are often used as the battlegrounds for these online players, bur users are able to create their own levels ("maps"). The game also features co-operative play (co-op) which allows players to fight against the aliens instead of each other. In the "Atomic" version, a new game play mode was introduced: Duke Tag, a "capture the flag" style mode.



Ken Silverman's Build engine allowed complicated levels. The game could use slopes in the floors. It also supports upwards and downwards mouse aiming (though aiming up and down distorts the graphics due to not having perspective correction).

Duke Nukem 3D Build engine had doors/walls that can move sideways. The Build scripting system allows a whole string of moving and sliding parts with sound effects, such as buildings falling down, earthquakes, and walls that break apart when hit with explosives. One of the more advanced effects is the horizontal sliding platform that can move the player inside a small sliding room, which made it possible to create subway cars moving in a timed sequence around a ring-shaped track.

The Build engine makes horizontally moving platforms possible by allowing several objects to pass through the same 2D space. While inside one of these spaces, it is not possible to see into the other space, and so the Byuild 2.5D engine has no problem rendering one space or the other even though the map data literally shows the two areas to be occupying the same place. Several Duke Nukem 3D maps use this feature to create bizarre mind-bending maps where multiple large rooms all seem to be occupying one 3D space. One secret level in particular ("Lunatic Fringe" from episode 2, Lunar Apocalypse) has a map where the player can travel 720 degrees around a circle and not cross their path. This would be much more difficult to duplicate with modern true-3D map editors and engines.

An early beta (testing) version of Duke Nukem 3D called LameDuke was released by 3D Realms as a "bonus" one year after the release of the official version. It has been released as is, with no support.

LameDuke features four episodes. Some weapons were removed and/or altered from the original versions.

Adult content


Duke Nukem 3D is often thought of as one of the first videogames to have adult humor and sexual themes, especially in the first-person shooter genre. Jokes about American consumerism, Hollywood culture, and sex in the media are made all through the game. Duke's world is out of control and virtually all forms of entertainment in this future have been reduced to pornography by the aliens.

The game has been heavily attacked by some critics, who claim that it supports pornography and murder. Media Watch made the following comments about the game.

"Duke Nukem 3D moves the 'shooter' through pornography stores, where Duke can use XXX sex posters for target practice. Duke throws cash at a prostituted woman telling her to 'Shake it, Baby' his gun ever ready. In the game bonus points are awarded for the murder of these mostly prostituted and partially nude women. Duke blows up stained glass windows in an empty church or goes to strip clubs where Japanese women lower their kimonos exposing their breasts. Duke is encouraged to kill defenseless, often bound women.[2]

In reality, Duke Nukem 3D does not contain a "bonus points" system; even accidental shooting of innocents in the game is, sometimes, punished by a sudden group of enemies attacking.

Duke Nukem 3D was banned in Brazil, along with Quake, Doom and several other violent first-person shooters. As a response to complaints, censored versions of the game were sold in some countries to avoid being banned. In Germany, the BPjM placed the game on the List of Media Harmful to Young People.

Add-on software


Many spin-offs and modifications to the original Duke Nukem 3D were produced after the game's initial launch.

Plutonium PAK/Atomic Edition: The Atomic Edition of Duke Nukem 3D was first sold in November 1996, and contained the original 3 episode game as well as a new eleven-level fourth episode. The Plutonium PAK was also sold as an upgrade package to convert the first available version of Duke Nukem 3D (v1.3d) to the new Atomic Edition (v1.4, later upgraded again to v1.5). It includes three new enemies: the Protector Drone, the Pig Cop Tank, and a new boss known as The Alien Queen. It also includes a new weapon, the Microwave Expander, with its own special ammunition. It also has several improvements to the software of the game, which allow the game's players to create new enemies and items. Also this version includes a computer controlled second player to simulate multiplayer games.

EDuke (Enhanced Duke Nukem 3D): created by Matthew Saettler was given away as a patch for Atomic Edition users on July 28, 2000. On this version 3D Realms removed the copyrights from the software so that players could do anything they liked with it and included a demo mod made by several beta testers. The demo included new Sector-Based Effects, Sprite-Based Elevators, Ladders, a Bouncing Particle Fountain, a Personal Teleporter, and a Sophisticated Translucent Water Effect. Saettler has kept records of his original Eduke site hee for reference.

Duke Caribbean: Life's a Beach: This is an add-on created by Sunstorm Interactive. Duke relaxes on a tropical island when he discovers that the aliens are having their own "vacation" there. This unofficial add-on has a sunny Caribbean atmosphere, nice beaches and hotels as well as some of the original Duke Nukem 3D stuff fit in. It includes levels created by Charlie Wiederhold, who later worked for 3D Realms to work on Duke Nukem Forever, the upcoming sequel to Duke Nukem 3D.

Duke it out in D.C.: In this storyline, President Bill Clinton is captured by alien forces, and it is up to Duke to save him. This pack has levels that are based on real locations of Washington DC, such as the White House, the FBI headquarters, the Smithsonian museum, and the Washington Monument and others. This game was also developed by Sunstorm Interactive.

Duke: Nuclear Winter: This one was developed by Simply Silly Software. In the storyline, Santa Claus is mind-controlled by aliens into causing trouble on Earth. Several of the levels take place near the North Pole. This game has sometimes been criticized for using content from the original Duke Nukem 3D.

Duke Xtreme: An add-on developed by Sunstorm Interactive and contained 50 levels and many items. This version had many technical problems.

Duke!Zone (Parts 1 and 2): Was sold by WizardWorks and had over 500 levels made by fans of Duke Nukem 3D. Duke!ZONE II, contained three episodes designed by WizardWorks.



Duke Nukem 3D has been included in several compilations. A bundle called East Meets West included the full versions of Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition and Shadow Warrior.[3] A bundle called Duke Nukem: Kill-A-Ton Collection featured Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition, Duke Xtreme, Duke!ZONE II, Duke Nukem I (Duke Nukum), Duke Nukem II, and various other utilities. Both of these compilations are no longer sold. Earlier packages of Duke Nukem 3D also included the complete versions of Duke Nukem I and II as a bonus.

In 1998, 3D Realms filed a lawsuit against Micro Star over its add-on pack Nuke It and won. [4]

Software projects working with the GPL licensed source code


The source code to the Duke Nukem 3D v1.5 executable, which uses the Build engine, was released as free software under the GPL on April 1, 2003. The artwork remains copyright protected. Many programmers altered so that it can be played on modern computers. As of 2007, these projects gave the game a second life in multiplayer games through the Internet and a growing community is still actively playing.

The first modern Duke Nukem 3D project was from icculus.org. It is a cross-platform project that allows the game to be played on BeOS, FreeBSD, Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, Windows and prossibly others. The icculus.org software would later be used in the Rancidmeat, and later, the xDuke projects.

One popular project is Jonathon Fowler's JFDuke3D, which the original creator of 'Duke Nukem 3D, Ken Silverman, gave support to, in December 2003. Fowler and Silverman produced a new version of JFDuke3D using Polymost, an OpenGL software product for Build, which uses much more advanced 3D models, and 32-bit color. Another project JFDuke3D called xDuke (not related to the xDuke project by icculus.org/duke3d) was created for play on the Xbox.

Silverman has helped Fowler with a lot of other software work related to the game.

Here is a list of some of the most popular Duke Nukem 3D versions played in 2008:

Enhancement by fans


Projects such as the Duke Nukem 3D High Resolution Pack [5] were started to give the game the same quality as modern games. There are plans to continue enhancing the 'Duke Nukem 3D software but no new versions of JFDuke3D have appeared since 2005.

A few projects have been created from the EDuke version (most notably WinEDuke and EDuke 2.1.1), but it was not until the release of Richard Gobeille's EDuke32 (a version of JFDuke3D using Saettler's EDuke software) in 2004 that EDuke became a the most popular with programmers. EDuke32 has been capable of playing OGG music since September 2007. A pack of music was compiled is planned to be part of future versions of the High Resolution Pack.[6] In June 2008, EDuke32 became the first Duke Nukem 3D project to be played as 64-bit software thanks to the DOSBox team.

Console versions


In 1997, Duke Nukem 3D versions were sold for all the major consoles of the time.



The PlayStation version, Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown, includes six extra areas and a secret level, which was also included in the PC version. It has some music from the PC version, some from the original, in Streaming XA-Audio made by Mark Knight, new enemies and a new boss.[7]

Sega Saturn


The Sega Saturn version was created by Lobotomy Software and sold by Sega. It uses Lobotomy's SlaveDriver software. This version uses the Sega NetLink for online play, and is played with the Saturn's analog pad. It also includes a hidden multiplayer mini-game called Death Tank Zwei. The Nintendo 64 version was named Duke Nukem 64 and can be played by four players on a split-screen. There is no music in this version and many items have been renamed to avoid drug and sex references. Other changes include a fully 3D model for the final boss.

Mega Drive/Genesis


In 1998, a Sega Mega Drive version was sold by Tec Toy. The artwork is very simple and only one third of the original game was included. This version was sold in Brazil only.[8]

Tiger Electronics


A version of Duke Nukem 3D was also released for the Game.com, Tiger's handheld system.

Xbox Live Arcade


A Duke Nukem 3D version has been sold for Xbox Live since September 24, 2008. This version includes the ability to "rewind" the game to any point if Duke gets killed, video recording and online multiplayer games. The music is slightly better quality using modern MIDI tools.[9]


  1. "3D Realms Site: Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition". Archived from the original on 2011-05-14. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  2. Media Watch. "Teaching Boys To Kill". Archived from the original on 2009-02-15.
  3. "3D Realms News: East Meets West Released". Archived from the original on 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  4. Nuke It Gets Duked
  5. Duke 3D High Resolution Pack http://hrp.duke4.net/
  6. Remade music to be included? - Page 3 - 3D Realms Forums
  7. IGN: Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown
  8. "Review: Duke Nukem 3D". Archived from the original on 2008-05-14. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  9. "Duke Nukem 3D Xbox Live Arcade". Microsoft Xbox 360. September 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-09-23. Retrieved 2008-09-16.

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