[Review] Duke Nukem


REVIEW # 00000000 00110101

You’re wrong Proton. Breath, I’ll be done with you and still have time to watch Oprah!

The world is divided in two: the people who think about heraldy and noblesse when they hear the word Duke and the people that immediately think about the badass 3D Realms hero. Well, if you read this blog it’s most likely the second options. But Duke hasn’t always been the muscled dude we’re used to see; there was a time, in the early 90s when it was a “common” hero with a big gun but without sunglasses and without his over the top personality. It was always one of the sons of Apogee, the classic hero busy to defend the earth from any kind of enemy. But…what a hero!

My heart says…


This is the deep Apogee style regarding almost everything, from the splash screen, to the visuals to the gameplay. And the fact is that I love this style so my opinion could be a bit too biased. My grade actually is influenced bu the emotions I felt playing especially with Duke 3D that reflected on everything about the Duke universe. I played this game more or less the same year I discovered Secret Agent but I could play the complete version only during my adulthood.

Splash screen


As I told, this game is the emblem of the Apogee style so the splash screen looks like a drawing you could do with Paint. However that was the fashion for the third person shooting games back then. The menu are the same in all the early Apogee games so you have to select your options pressing the key correspondant on the first letter of the option itself, so you have for example “R” to “R”estore an old game (instead of the most familiar “L” for “L”oad).

We can see here the first idea of Duke: it was already blonde wit a crew cut, muscled but not so badass as we’ve seen in Duke 3D. Oh, and he has no sunglasses too!



Apogee-style, as always. We see laterally our hero Duke in a set that is very familiar to all of you that played platform-shooting games in the early 90s.  So no particular innovations.



Before being busy against the “alien bastards” Duke had to fight against the evil plan of Dr. Proton who wants (guess what?) to take over the world with his army of Techbots . The game is set in the near future, in 1997 and takes place in Shrapnel City (which is actually a destroyed Los Angeles), a city we know very well since is also the set of Duke Nukem 3D. During the second chapter instead Duke flies to the Moon in the secret base of Dr. Proton than challenges him in the final encounter directly in the future where we will put the word end on his evil schemes.



This is an action platformer and the main task is to collect points througout the levels. Every chapter has 10 levels so Duke has a total of 30 stages. In each one Duke has to find the EXIT collecting different kind of keys. To increase his score he has to kill the Techbots that populate the city but he can also get points by collecting flags, joypads and football balls (???).

Obviously anytime Duke get hit by an enemy loses an HP but he can get some health by foundinf the Coke cans and rosted chicken. In every stages are hidden also one or more Atomic Health (something we will see also in DN3D) that will restore all the HP. The only weapon Duke has is a gun with unlimited ammo that can be powered up stage by stage.

Extra point can also be scored by finding the red ballons and the letters “D”, “U”, “K” and “E” that gives a juicy extra score if collected in the right order.

The stages are all pretty easy except the last one which is a bit tougher (but not impossible) so we can say this could be a great pastime game.



The sound effect are all very basilar and there’s no background music. And monst important Duke doesn’t talk. What a pity 🙂



A bit low. Duke it’s a game you can beat in a couple of days and, if you push yourself enough it could be also a 1-day game. Luckily they made Duke 2 and Duke 3D…

Final Score 62/100

Year: 1991

Developer: Apogee

Publisher: Apogee

Genre: Platform

Game Mode: Single Player

Original Platform: MS-DOS

From the same developers/publishers:

Inspired to:

  • Mega Man (1987)
  • Turrican (1990)
  • Crystal Caves (1991)

If you liked it you can also try:

  • Bionic Commando (1988)
  • Commander Keen (1990) and sequels
  • Lethal Weapon (1992)

Other chapters of the saga:

  • Duke Nukem II (1993)
  • Duke Nukem 3D (1996)
  • Duke Nukem 64 (1997)
  • Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown (1997)
  • Duke Nukem: Time to Kill (1998)
  • Duke Nukem: Zero Hour (1999)
  • Duke Nuke: Land of the Babes (2001)
  • Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project (2002)
  • Duke Nukem Forever (2011)

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18 Comments Add yours

  1. Neat review! It’s fun to think about the beginnings of Duke, before he became such a caricature!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. benez256 says:

      Yeah, here he’s like a boy scout…😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This one certainly hasn’t aged well! I remember playing it again a few years back and finding it something of a chore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. benez256 says:

      It’s a bit a stupid game I know…you can find it entertraining only if you think you’re playing with Duke himself…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mr. Panda says:

    Very nice review! I’ll admit to never having played Duke Nukem, but I love the character!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. benez256 says:

      You have to try it. Even just because it’s the beginning of the story of a true american hero…😉😉😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m actually surprised Duke scored that highly…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. benez256 says:

      It’s mainly because I’m in love with Duke 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good enough reason.

        Liked by 1 person

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