Games I Own: Duke Nukem 3D

Posted on 26th Aug 2010 at 12:38 by Joe Martin with 12 comments

Joe Martin
I’ve played the life out of Duke Nukem 3D over the years, trying most of the different editions and even somehow managing to tolerate the terrible controls of the iPhone version. It helped to shape my taste in games, though more for the impressive amount of detail and interactivity that was built into the levels than for the reasons you’d think would appeal to a teenage boy…

Really though, when I look back on Duke Nukem 3D I don’t think of the game itself – instead, I remember the shareware demo, which came on a disc I got with a games magazine as a young lad. That disc was one of my most treasured possessions at the time, as it contained demos for a whole bunch of games, not least of which were Duke and Quake. Much fun was had.

I didn’t like Quake that much. It was too grim and scary and I found navigating a real 3D space too difficult at first. I only ever played it with cheats turned on. Duke, on the other hand…

Games I Own: Duke Nukem 3D
I'm here to kick ass, etc.

Thanks to that CD Duke Nukem 3D’s shareware release became a bit of a neighbourhood event, back in 1996. My brother and I would have friends round to play it with us, everyone crowding around the ornery old CRT and jostling for the best viewpoint of the screen – especially when in the Red Light District level.

We never got anywhere near finishing the shareware pack, mainly because of the sheer bureaucracy involved. Each of us had a specialty and would insist on playing parts of the game that spoke to these supposed strengths. My brother, Sam, was the one in charge of fighting the Pig Cops, while his friend Adam was best at the underwater areas. I was supposedly the best at finding secret areas and exploring, so I was the one who found all the hidden easter eggs. Tom was the best at solving puzzles, even though Duke’s idea of a conundrum was nothing more than ‘press this button, then this one’.

Games I Own: Duke Nukem 3D
The Duke Nukem 3D HD pack is a great excuse to replay

Playing collaboratively like that was brilliant in a way, but the down side was that we spent so long swapping seats that we’d only manage a level or two before dark. Still, I look back on it fondly despite the lack of progress and often say that sharing a game is the best way to play. It reminds me of the old joke, that in the 90s it always took three people to play any computer game. One would actually play the game, one would stand by and excitedly provide a running commentary and the final player sat on a beanbag in the corner reading a comic book and occasionally offering advice. Tell ‘im to use the rocket launcher, Rob!

I never said it was a good joke, just that it summed up the memory.

Nowadays of course it would be crazy for any publisher or developer to release a game as shareware – give away a quarter of the game for free and hope people buy it? You’ve got to be joking! It really is a shame that that way of distributing died out, as it offered great value to gamers of that era, but at least the classics are still available.

In fact, I might download Duke Nukem 3D’s shareware release again right now, just for old times sake…

Number of Times Completed: Innumerable.

Random Trivia: D3D was the first game to use a realtime audio effect, apparently. In the underwater sections there was a calculated reverb effect which had never been done before.


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Jaffo 2nd September 2010, 08:26 Quote
The first PC game I owned, before I even owned a PC! My brother-in-law had a PC and I bought this to see what PCs were like for gaming. That was where my downfall began!
StoneyMahoney 2nd September 2010, 09:11 Quote
Duke Nukem 3D was one of the few shareware games of the era I never got my hands on. Somehow, I just always seemed to missed the magazines that had it on the cover CD and as a result I got heavily into Quake instead.

I did manage to get the shareware of one of the Build engine's progeny though: Blood. Now *there* was a game with a black sense of humour, I loved every sick minute of it and finally found out what all the fuss was over the Build engine - such interactivity!
Zabuza 2nd September 2010, 15:48 Quote
I remember this from when I was like 14 or something.


Pixelated boobs FTW.
Xir 2nd September 2010, 19:17 Quote
in the 90s it always took three people to play any computer game. One would actually play the game, one would stand by and excitedly provide a running commentary and the final player sat on a beanbag in the corner reading a comic book and occasionally offering advice. Tell ‘im to use the rocket launcher, Rob!

Perfect, just Perfect.

We used to play together on Mechwarrior and Space flight sims, one flying using the joystick and the other manning coms and rockets on keyboard.

Still works today buy you need large quantities of cheap wine :D
thehippoz 2nd September 2010, 19:20 Quote
I remember playing these asian kids in the arcade.. street fighter and it was hillarious- one brother would play for like 5 seconds and then switch with the other brother mid battle.. there was 4 of them

you'd see a dragon punch then the other would jump in while ryu was falling like they'd done it a million times xD I just let them win- talk about recycling a quarter
Kiytan 4th September 2010, 10:43 Quote
i too remember having the shareware version, and at the time, all the little extra things you could do where amazing (my favourite still has to be trapping enemies in the closing downwards doors and watching them go SPLAT)
Bauul 4th September 2010, 10:46 Quote
Reminds me of Realms of the Haunting: one player on the mouse, one player on the arrow keys, and one player on the number and letter keys for all the extra stuff you had to press just to stay alive.

DN3D was a fantastic little game. The tech behind the Build engine was creaking under its own aging weight but by using such old technology 3D Realms could spend their time on content instead of graphics: something they unfortunately forgot about with DNF.
Jux_Zeil 4th September 2010, 11:16 Quote
Te first time I ever saw the character of a FPS in game in a mirror........epic!
mrbens 4th September 2010, 16:32 Quote
Yeah good memories, the game came with a really good level editor too to make your own Duke maps to play in. I liked making a big stage with the microphones and speakers and creating loads of enemies in the moshpit lol
st1x 4th September 2010, 16:55 Quote
Duke was indeed one of the highlights of my youth, but does anyone else remember the other games that used a similar engine and were of that era?

Shadow warrior
Redneck Rampage

To this day i still havnt found a full copy of shadow warrior, ergo i never completed it :'(


blood was awesome....pitchforks and twin tommy guns? ill have a large portion of that thank you...

Redneck rampage.....the ultimate in drunk chicken shooting alien invasion scenarios

mrbens 4th September 2010, 19:09 Quote
To this day i still havnt found a full copy of shadow warrior, ergo i never completed it :'(

Dunno if this is any good to you: JonoF's Shadow Warrior Port (JFSW)

Features of this port:

* Native Windows and Linux port using my Build engine port.
* OpenGL rendering support.
* True-colour textures support.

The aim of this port is to present Shadow Warrior as closely as possible to the original game while adding optional features to expand the possibilities of the game.
st1x 5th September 2010, 20:29 Quote
Ive already got that....jonoF has definitely got some skills as its how i mainly play duke3D nowadays, however you need some files from the shareware/full version.....all of his work is basically a way of porting that game to run on your pc....think of it as SCUMMVM ( the script creation utility for manic mansion virtual machine ) without the files to play Monkey Island

you have to have the originals for it to be any use.....which sucks.

Good find though.

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