Despite starring in only a single game that most people would consider a classic, Duke Nukem remains one of the most iconic figures in the video game world. When 3D Realms brought the character into the 3D world, the change was just as massive as Nintendo moving from Super Mario World to Super Mario 64. Duke Nukem 3D had a monstrous influence on PC gaming and first-person shooter design. Famously, the Build Engine created for Duke Nukem 3D went on to be used in many great titles such as Redneck Rampage and Powerslave. As we look back on the 25th anniversary of Duke Nukem 3D's release, we asked our staff to share their thoughts on what Duke Nukem Day means to them.
Question: What does Duke Nukem Day mean to you?
Remembering a bygone era - Ozzie Mejia, The Weedwhacker for Grass (which is your ass)
This is another one of those things that feels like it's unique to Shacknews and its community. Like we said last week during our 25th-anniversary posts, this was a website founded on 90s PC gaming. While Duke wasn't the most iconic game, he was the most iconic character to come out of the 90s PC era.
Duke Nukem Day is about remembering what 90s PC gaming stood for, how it brought people together, how it still brings people together, and how far gaming has advanced in that time. Is 2021 an age where Duke would thrive? Probably not, but that's ok. We stand behind the new heroes and faces of PC gaming while also recognizing where PC gaming came from. That's the essence of Duke Nukem Day.
Reflecting - Donovan Erskine, has beaten Duke Nukem 3D
Who knows what state our world would be in if Duke Nukem hadn’t been there to bravely fend off the alien invasion. I shudder just thinking about life on an Earth where aliens ruled as our supreme overlords, or worse - killed us all. Each Duke Nukem Day, I make sure to put aside some time to stop and pay respects to the one true American hero, Duke Nukem.
Kicking Ass and Chewing Bubblegum - Blake Morse, Co-EIC
Everyone needs an extra day or two to get their heads straight here and there and that’s just what a Duke Nukem day is for. When the man himself gives you a day of freedom, you take that freedom and do whatever you want with it, because that’s what Duke Would do. You wanna sleep all day? Do it! You wanna go for a hike? Do it! You wanna sit around and play Duke Nukem games? Definitely do it! You may not know it, but deep down inside, you kick ass even if you don’t feel like you do all the time. And you are definitely out of bubblegum, so take that Duke day and daringly dole out disproportionately daring ass-kickery! Duke and I both believe in you!
Strengthening my love of PC gaming - Chris Jarrard, Has better opinions than fellow staffers
Duke Nukem 3D was a big deal for me when the shareware release first started floating around. I was already into PC gaming and had played the first Duke Nukem game via a demo CD sampler from a magazine. Doom had already made its impact, but Duke 3D signaled that things were only going to get better. I also appreciated the random interactive objects that helped to make things feel more immersive.
Ultimately, I had much more fun with the Build Engine games that immediately followed Duke 3D. Redneck Rampage and Shadow Warrior, in particular, still hold a special place in my gaming heart. Blood, Powerslave, and TekWar also deserve some kudos. Right up until the moment Half-Life released, the Build Engine legacy that Duke 3D created ruled my world and, for that, I remain thankful.
Freedom - Sam Chandler, All hail the king, baby
The Duke represents a part of us that wants nothing more than freedom. Pure, unfiltered, and unadulterated freedom. He’s out there, kicking ass and taking names, and chewing bubblegum while he does it, and he’s doing it all to set us free. And so Duke Nukem Day, in its own way, is also about freedom. Freedom to relax and do nothing. Freedom to go out and seize the day. Freedom to kick ass, any ass, that’s worth kicking. Whether it’s your nemesis or the ass of a task that’s been weighing you down. So when Duke says, “Hail to the king, baby.” I like to think it’s not him he’s talking about, but us, an extension of him. So because you’re a king, you should grab your freedom and make sure it knows it’s loved.
Formative experience - TJ Denzer, doing news and chewing bubble gum
Duke Nukem was a constant series in PC gaming during my childhood. I had the pleasure of playing through both Duke 1 and Duke 2 on the family computer. That was to me what Commander Keen was to a lot of other people - my formative PC platformer. Duke Nukem 3D was a bit more dicey of a situation. After all, I was still a kid and that game had blood, guts, and girl butts in it.
Fortunately, my older brother also showed my parents that it had a “child-safe mode” in which there was no blood, no guts, and no girl butts. Enemies didn’t bleed or explode when you shot them. Most female models were taken out of the game (although you could still shoot the place where they’d be and spawn pissed off aliens for some reason), and with that, I still got to play the game till I was old and mature enough to handle its explicit material.
Just kidding. I totally figured out the password my parents put on it and flipped off kid mode when they weren’t looking.
Either way, Duke was a huge and ridiculous part of my childhood. I wish the franchise hadn’t gone off the rails and flopped to where it is now, but I’ll always have the memories of an awesome set of platforming and first-person shooter games that made up a large part of my early PC gaming experience.
The Duke - Steve Tyminski, Livestream personality/Contributing Editor
Duke Nukem Day occurred this week and with it, it gets the Shacknews staff thinking about what Duke Nukem Day means to us. I have a few memories of Duke Nukem, as Duke Nukem was one of the first games I played on the family computer when I was a kid. It came packed in with Inspector Gadget Paint, Midnight Rescue, and Outnumbered. Duke Nukem for Windows had a simple idea, find keys to unlock doors and attack everything along the way. What better idea for a game for a young kid to play, attack everything you see. My other memory involved waiting for Duke Nukem Forever to come out. It’s commonplace to see games get delayed now but Duke Nukem Forever was in a league all its own. If a game in modern times gets delayed for more than a year, we don’t want it anymore. If a few years doesn’t keep you around how about 15 or so years of delays? How could a game hold the hype for 15 years?
Faded glory - Bryan Lefler, has beaten Duke Nukem 64 on Shacknews Twitch
Duke Nukem Day around here is usually the way we take a day off for those moments when the best move is to not play the game, like on April’s Fools day. This year we took it a step further for our favorite ass kicker. With the recent 25th anniversary of Duke Nukem 3D, the staff here tried our best to give Duke the celebration he deserves with a special Dukematch ShackStream. The fact that we put more effort into hailing the king (baby) than the Gearbox or official Duke Twitter accounts speaks volumes to me. Duke Nukem’s glory has definitely faded over the years, but he’s always groovy here at Shacknews. To everyone else that missed the Duke’s 25th, what are you waiting for? Christmas?
That about wraps up our staff thoughts on Duke Nukem Day. Now we ask you, the reader: What sort of memories or feelings are conjured up when you think of Duke Nukem? Let us know in the comments below!
Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Shack Chat: What does Duke Nukem Day mean to you?
Duke made me the proud gamer I am today! It was 1996, I had just gotten my first computer and was shopping for software. I had tried other computer games: Tomb Raider, some FMV game, and a game called After Life that my mom had gotten me, confusing it for the 'Half-Life' game she had heard me talking about.
I wasn't impressed with PC gaming, at all. It did not measure up to the arcade games and SNES I was used to. A girlfriend's dad had showed me a level of a game called Doom that I really liked, but other than that, why take 30 minutes to install a racing game when I could turn on my SNES and fire up Pole Position in seconds???
Well in a Good Guys! or Circuit City store, they had decided to stop selling PC games, and so even new games were deeply discounted. I looked through them, bored, and then one caught my eye: Duke Nukem 3D. I turned the box over, and I saw guns and explosions and babes! I paid the ten bucks or whatever ridiculous low price, got it home, managed to install it correctly (I knew jack shit about DOS), played it, and... I IMMEDIATELY BECAME A MAN.
I love you Duke Nukem :(
I played the hell out of Duke Nukem 2 as a kid. Then one day I show it to a family friend and he says "where are the strippers you pay to flash you? My brother showed me Duke Nukem and it was amazing."
That was the moment I learned about a 3D sequel.
9-year-old me had to have this.
Long story short, got the game, printed all documentation for level design, made tons of stuff, pursued game dev jobs because of it, etc.
It was all because someone said there were tits in the sequel, I shit you not.