Always bet on Duke. It seemed like only a matter of time before Duke Nukem 3D popped up on the Switch; after all, it would be downright odd for him to miss a format. Of course there was Bulletstorm: Duke of Switch Edition, but it’s not real Duke. This, however, is. This is the magnum opus of the series, when the duke was in great shape, yet to be reduced to ruins by the wretches of Gearbox Duke Nukem forever, and act of the two characters and franchise assassination.
Duke Nukem 3D: World Tour 20th Anniversary Brings you a shiny version of the classic 1996 PC, very nicely revamped. It’s not perfect, however, with some content missing from this version that was included in previous versions, but we’ll get to that. For now, a little background in what Duke Nukem 3D is, and why it’s so awesome.
Duc followed Loss – this is also the case on Switch! – introduce to the world the 3D Realms building engine, the glorious building blocks that also gave us Shadow warrior and Some blood. The engine was very advanced compared to the Doom engine (although the years 1995 Hexen still pushing this technology), allowing environments with high sectors compared to other sectors. It was still not true 3D, but it was closer and allowed for a lot more verticality and devious secrets. Back then, places looked and felt real, with great attention paid to their verisimilitude and interactivity. The first level, for example, has a working cinema room, bathrooms with vents you can blow in and through, and an upstairs archway. You can even shoot and drink hydrants. It sounds minor, but it was a big deal.
It’s always impressive to play, aided by the multitude of options the Switch version has, including (yes!) Gyro aiming, a huge help considering the precision you’ll often need. The controls are generally excellent, responsive, and placed in a very logical manner – of course, you can remap them if you wish. The movement is fluid and the performance of the game hasn’t faltered once with it; 60fps all the way, as you would expect.
If you’ve never had the privilege of playing Duke Nukem 3D before, you’re in for a treat. One of the best classic first person shooter games, it has a terrific bestiary, some of the best weapons in the history of the game (chain gun shout Ripper), the levels are varied, expansive, challenging and filled with secrets (including full secret levels). Each “episode” can be played individually, but sequenced together, they tell the minimal story of Duke Nukem 3D – essentially, “kill the aliens, save the babies”.
Dealing briefly with this somewhat archaic premise, it’s worth noting that Duke 3D’s supposed “adult content” is downright quaint these days, and its muscular machismo is played for laughs rather than setting it up as a serious model. This was, sadly, the major point missing from the rightly doomed Duke Nukem Forever, which proudly amplified the ugliest aspects of the character, completely spoiling the fun.
This 20th anniversary edition brings new features to the table. Remember how we mentioned that the game wasn’t “real” in 3D? Well, that’s no longer strictly true – the game has been rebuilt in a 3D engine, which means buildings no longer warp when you look at them, and – in a more noticeable aesthetic change – there is now real lighting. In practice, this lighting often ends up looking rather odd and maybe too colorful, but luckily a simple press of the D-pad brings you back to the original graphics and vice versa, so you can decide for yourself.
The episode “Alien World Order” is also brand new, designed by some of the original level designers of Duke Nukem 3D. That’s good too, if perhaps a bit more whimsical and overly expansive than the main game. But above all, we have the impression After Duke 3D, and that’s always welcome. There’s also a new flamethrower weapon, and optional developer audio commentary has been sprinkled throughout the new episode and main game. Duke’s voice, John St John, has also returned to re-record Duke’s iconic vocal lines. Online and ad hoc games are supported; the classic Dukematch returns and the campaign can be played in full co-op by up to eight players, which feels like absolute carnage.
As for that missing content, it’s a bit disgusting. The previous version of Duke Nukem 3D, Megaton edition, also includes lesser-known expansion packs Duke it Out in DC, Nuclear winter and Duke in the Caribbean. These aren’t Alien World Orders, of course, but it’s a shame that this extra content went missing when it was previously available. We would speculate that it could be fixed like the bonus episodes were on Bethesda’s Doom Ports, but that didn’t happen with the PS4, Xbox One, or PC versions, so it’s unlikely that this will happen. happening here.
A masterpiece to date, Duke Nukem 3D is proud of this Switch conversion. It looks and performs brilliantly, the inline options are a welcome inclusion, and it is in no way compromised from its previous console version. It’s a shame that a handful of previously available expansion packs are missing, but given World Tour Edition’s low price tag, it’s gross to complain. In the words of the duke himself, come get some.