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 Amazon.com’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.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
music
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

    £18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own