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.

Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

    C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

    £55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

    Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

    £35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home