Welcome back. It’s that time again to dig into the archives of gaming history for the dirty, smutty, and fun titles that prove to the world there’s a lot more to video games than Super Mario.
In Part 4, we explored the iconic Panesian adult games made for the NES in 1991. Now we’re getting into the attitude of the 90’s, where every video game company was trying their best to make a mascot with ‘tude to rival the success of Sonic the Hedgehog. The huge majority flopped. There was one character though, a human as it turns out, who’d run miles around his furry counterparts. He’d end up doing it in a much more adult fashion though. His name is Duke Nukem. Hail to the king baby!
Ask someone about Duke Nukem. Hell, even ask yourself. Your thoughts will be dominated by images of a first-person-shooter with blood, gore, and scantily clad babes. Did you know that our favorite foul-mouthed hero started out in a simple platformer made by Apogee Software for the PC in ‘91? He wasn’t even sporting his trademark sunglasses/cigar combo yet. I guess every hero has humble beginnings.
In the original game, simply titled Duke Nukem, the year is a futuristic 1997, and the evil Dr. Proton is going to take over the world with an army of Techbots at his disposal. It’s up to Duke to kill those pesky Techbots along with bosses at the end of each stage. You chase Dr. Proton from Los Angeles to his secret moon base…and then through time! Then you kill him at the end of the game. It’s all pretty standard for the era. Go left to right, shoot all the bad guys, get power ups, don’t fall in holes, and beat an end boss. It’s all largely forgettable. Maybe that’s why we all think of the badassary of the later games instead of this one. Let’s move on…
Time for a sequel! Duke Nukem II came out in ’93 and has only a few differences from the first go around. A few more levels and slightly better graphics didn’t really affect the direct gameplay very much, but a couple notable changes took Duke in a slightly different, more recognizable, direction. His massive ego debuted here. And with it, Duke’s character development received a shot in that ‘roided-up arm of his. He knows he’s the shit and will take every opportunity to let you know it too.
The game begins a year after the last game finished. While giving an interview about his autobiography Why I’m So Great, he’s kidnapped by the evil (why is everyone always evil?) Rigelatins so they can use his brain to plot attacks on the Earth. But he obviously breaks free and has to save the world again from bad guys. After killing henchman after henchman, beating bosses, and beating the game guess what happens? He does indeed save the aforementioned earth. What a swell dude.
The biggest change in gameplay for Duke Nukem II is the ability to pick up and use 4 different guns: a default gun, a flamethrower, a laser, and a rocket launcher. This would become a staple of the series with more guns added later. Other than the absence of his shades again, the only thing missing are BABES! But finally, in 1996 we all got what we were waiting for but didn’t even know we were waiting for it yet, until it was here: Duke Nukem 3D.
Sunglasses? Check. Voiced by the incomparable John St. John? Check. FPS? Check. Babes? Check. This is one of the most famous games of the 90’s. It was even voted the #13 best PC game of all time by PC Magazine. Duke Nukem 3D, along with Doom and Wolfenstein 3D are responsible for the popularity of the FPS. Without them, you couldn’t get teabagged by a 12-year-old from Malaysia today while playing Call of Duty. Well, not without a passport, a plane ticket, a lot of dirty looks, and being registered as a sex offender. I’m judging you so hard right now.
This version of Duke Nukem is the penultimate action star. Take a dose of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a heaping helping of Sylvester Stallone, the sweet haircut of Dolph Lundgren, the wit of Bruce Campbell, and a pinch of Clint Eastwood and you get Duke Nukem. He also spouts one-liners from many of those actor’s films among others from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. As a pre-teen who grew up watching those a lot of those movies, I geeked out to this game. Now you got to play as the action star yourself.
So the plot of the game still revolves around killing everything in sight, but this time it’s aliens along with mutated pig cops with LARD written on their uniforms instead of LAPD. Police Officers must have loved this game. There are countless more weapons, a ton more items, and a lot more power-ups. Most of the environment is interactive too. It’s standard now, but that was revolutionary for the time. You can flush toilets, check yourself out in a bathroom mirror, destroy most things if you like, and can even tip strippers to take their clothes off while you talk dirty to them. Wait, what was that last one again?
It took long enough right? Finally some babes. Duke Nukem 3D caught a lot of shit at the time for having adult content. Prudes got all bent outta shape just because Duke throws cash and tell strippers to “shake it.” Well isn’t that what strippers are supposed to do? It’s part of the job description. Now I’d understand if he was going around making it rain in churches and libraries; that would be…well kind of awesome. If you can’t shake it in a strip club or a sex shop, where can you shake it? On a side note, put “twerking walmart” in your YouTube machine and enjoy. You’re welcome.
Duke Nukem 3D went on to sell 3.5 million copies and was a huge success for developer 3D Realms. It’s been ported to most consoles over the years and can be downloaded on pretty much every electronic device today. You really have no excuse for never playing it. You don’t want to miss out on Japanese ladies lowering their kimonos do you?
There wasn’t a direct sequel for many years of being in development hell. There were rereleases, reimaginings, and a few spinoffs on various platforms while everyone waited. None of them really brought anything innovative or new and were largely panned by critics and gamers alike. Duke Nukem Forever finally came out, but it wasn’t until 2011(15 years later!), but we’re still in 1996 and Bill Clinton just started his second term in the White House and there weren’t even any cum-drenched dresses in the news yet, so I can’t go into detail about the latest game, but I will, after going through the next decade and half of adult gaming history. See you next time!
– David Chaney