They thought it was game over, but finally Duke Nukem is back

The Duke is back, but boy did he take his time. When Duke Nukem 3D hit the shelves in 1996 it revolutionised the computer games industry. The Duke, a muscle-clad, cigar-smoking alpha-male who stormed across the galaxy fighting hordes of mutated aliens, was the brashest, most controversial character to appear in pixelated form at the time. He swore like a trooper, paid for strippers and killed both the guilty and innocent alike in Tarantino-esque orgies of button-bashing violence.

Family groups were incensed and the game was banned in a number of countries. But fans lapped it up in their millions with the Duke becoming one of the most successful – and emulated – gaming creations of all time.

Then the cyber world waited for a sequel – and waited, and waited and waited.

Now after more than a decade of tortuous development, tantrums and protracted legal battles a successor is finally on its way. Duke Nukem Forever, dubbed Duke Nukem Never Ever by fans, has finally appeared in’s pre-release chart with a 31 May release date more than 12 years after it was first announced.

Its arrival has sent the gaming blogosphere into apoplexies of excitement, cynicism and cries of deja-vu.

The cynicism can be forgiven. Amongst gamers Duke Nukem has become a byword for missed deadlines, disappointment and broken promises – the console version of Guns and Roses’ long-delayed album Chinese Democracy, or Terry Gilliam’s still yet-to-be completed biopic of Don Quixote.

Flush with cash and critical praise 3D Realms, the American software company that developed the Duke Nukem franchise, promised to create a sequel worthy of its predecessor. But every time they got anywhere near producing a releasable version of the game the team had taken so long in production that a new generation of gaming consoles had come out forcing developers to return to the drawing board and start all over again.

Barely a year went by without some sort of teaser trailer, screen shot or announcement hinting that a new instalment of the Duke was just round the corner. But the trail always went cold.

Then in 2009 3D Realms finally announced that it had given up on Duke Nukem Forever sparking a bitter legal battle with Take Two, a publishing company that had sunk an estimated $30million into a game that never hit the shelves. Fans consigned themselves to the reality that the Duke really was dead.

But last September it was announced that the Duke had been resurrected Lazarus-like from the ignominy of defeat. Gearbox software, the Texas based gaming company behind the highly successful Half Life and Borderlands franchises, partnered with Take Two and said it would take on the Duke Nukem Forever albatross.

To the collective amazement of gaming journalists and fans, they even had a playable demo featuring Duke Nukem going to the toilet, battling a giant one-eyed alien in the middle of an American football pitch and “enjoying” the company of two female companions. First appearances suggest the new game has lost none of the attitude and outrageousness of the original.

For die-hard fans of Duke Nukem like Paul Helin, a Finnish filmmaker who has just released a highly polished video tribute to the new game, the demo was music to his ears.

“Fans of the game are used to disappointment and we’ve learned to never get too excited,” he said. “But this time it really does look like the game is on its way.”

Mr Helin’s film, a three-minute tribute featuring a surprisingly accurate Duke doppelganger hanging out in a stripclub, has gone viral racking up more than 350,000 You Tube hits since its release on Christmas Day.

“The response has been insane,” he said. “We’ve had emails from all over the world, there’s a real sense of excitement. But I hope people don’t get too carried away by their expectations.”

For gaming analysts there are still question marks over the game’s appeal. How will a body-building peroxide blonde super-hero from the mid-nineties appeal to a 2011 gaming audience?

Michael Pachter, the highly influential games industry analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, believes the Duke still has the ability to charm.

“I spoke at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle a couple of months ago to an audience of around 800 and voiced the same concern, thinking that today’s gamer was too young to remember Duke Nukem at all,” he said. “I asked the audience how many had played a Duke Nukem game, and 750 hands went up. Yes, they were largely male, and definitely hardcore, but they were also well under 30, and still revere Duke Nukem the way they revere Mario.”

Mr Pachter estimates that Take Two will only need to shift 1.5m copies to break even and expects the game to sell double that overall.

But ultimately the fans will decide whether the game lives up to expectations, something the game’s developers are more than aware of. At the end of last year’s demo, the camera panned to Duke playing his own demo. Asked whether the game was any good he replied: “Yeah but after 12 fucking years it should be.”

Worth the wait?

Tron: Legacy

The original Tron film has had geeks hooked for the best part of three decades and spawned a lucrative franchise industry of Tron-related cartoons, comic books and computer games. But it took 28 years for Disney to release a movie sequel in the shape of Tron: Legacy. The company even managed to persuade Jeff Bridges to reprise the role he first played in 1982.

Chinese Democracy

Few studio albums could claim to be in production for as long as this one, which took 15 years to hit the shelves. Guns N' Roses' sixth studio album outlasted all but two members of the band's line-up, becoming the butt of many an industry joke until it was finally released in November 2008. Critics and fans broadly agreed that it was worth the wait.

Street Fighter IV

Alongside Mortal Combat, the Street Fighter franchise defined beat-'em-up video games throughout the 1990s. But developers Capcom kept fans waiting a mere 11 years between Street Fighter III and its sequel. It was probably worth the lengthy delay – the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC versions of the game have all scored collective metacritic ratings in excess of 90 per cent.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
Clarke Carlisle
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

    £17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Analyst / Helpdesk Support Analyst

    £16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is the UK's leading ...


    £20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there