Duke Nukem 3D

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PEGI ab 18+ Jahren empfohlen
PEGI ab 16+ Jahren empfohlen
PEGI content
rating Violence Information Indexed in Germany until 2017.
Xbox Live version is PEGI-18.
Megaton and 20th Anniversary edition are both PEGI-16.

Duke Nukem 3D ( Duke 3D for short) is the third installment of the Duke Nukem computer game series and was released on January 29, 1996 by 3D Realms. This game is a first-person shooter. The first two installments of the game series, Duke N ukem and Duke Nukem 2, are jump-‘n’-run games. Duke Nukem 3D has only the protagonist Duke Nukem in common with these.

Duke Nukem 3D, despite the name, does not offer true 3D, but only an improved version of a 2D raycaster. It also allows the display of slanted surfaces and looking up or down. This type of display was sometimes referred to as 2.5D display. The technique represented some progress over the game Doom, which was widely used at the time.

Storyline and gameplay

Aliens invade Earth and abduct women who are held naked as hostages. The goal of the game is to destroy the invaders and thus save the world. In the process, you will encounter, among others, LAPD police officers mutated into warthogs (“Pig Cops”) as well as reptile and jellyfish-like opponents.

In addition to firearms with different firepower known from other games, such as the pump gun or the rocket launcher, in Duke Nukem 3D there are also innovative weapons such as pipe bombs, the “Shrinker” (to shrink and then crush the opponents) or the “Freezer” (to freeze the opponents). In addition, the player could move around flying with the help of a jetpack.


Called the “Build Engine”, the graphics engine was developed by Ken Silverman. It followed the engine for Ken’s Labyrinth, which he wrote in 1992 at the age of only 17 as his own version of Wolfenstein 3D. In August 1993, Silverman became an employee of Apogee Software.[1]

Noted level designer Richard “Levelord” Gray designed about half of the game’s levels. The music was composed by Lee Jackson.[2]

The biggest technical innovation was the possibility to display slanted surfaces as well as mirrors and surveillance cameras that could be used by the character. The Doom engine could only display straight surfaces. This made it possible to create much more sophisticated levels.[3] Only half a year later, the competitor id Software brought the technically much more advanced Quake engine onto the market.

Duke Nukem 3D is playable via the IPX protocol for up to eight participants in the local network.[4]

The source code of the game was released under the GNU GPL on April 1, 2003, but the game content was excluded from this and remains the property of 3D Realms.[5]

System requirements

The game requires at least a PC with a 486 DX2 (66 MHz) with 8 MB of RAM, a 2x CD-ROM drive, 30 MB of free hard disk space, and a VGA graphics card.[3]

Besides the necessary drive, the manufacturer recommends an Intel Pentium with 16 MB RAM and a local-bus graphics card.[3]

Special features

The game is worth mentioning mainly because it makes an often crude humor a main component of the plot. A good example of this is provided by the one-liner comments of the game character Duke, which was the first time in this form in a first-person shooter. For example, when the player steps near a corpse reminiscent of a character from rival product Doom, Duke comments, “That’s one doomed space marine.” The game’s story borrows liberally from films such as Alien, The Body Snatchers Are Coming, Army of Darkness and They Live.

In addition, the player is able to perform minor actions that are rather unusual for first-person shooters. For example, Duke can slip bills to the frequently occurring strippers, who then reveal their breasts (“You wanna dance?”). Furthermore, you can also use a pool table, as well as urinals, whereupon Duke gives a relieved sigh on this occasion (“Aah, much better!“) and also regenerates some health points.

Due to the depictions of violence contained in the game, Duke Nukem 3D was indexed by the BPjS (now BPjM).[6] The indexing was lifted in January 2017. This also applies to the add-on Plutonium Pak.[7]

Different editions

Several versions of Duke Nukem 3D were released for the PC:

  • Duke Nukem 3D (Duke Nukem 3D Version 1.3d). The 1.3d CD contains the predecessor games Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem II, which are still completely in 2D.
  • The Atomic Edition with the three episodes from the original version including an additional episode The Birth and additional weapons such as the counterpart to the “Shrinker” (“Expander”) which did not shrink the enemies but enlarged them until they burst. It was also possible to swim like in Shadow Warrior. The Atomic Edition episode first appeared as an add-on under the name Plutonium PAK (version 1.4) and was integrated into the game in this re-release (version 1.5).[8] For this, however, the two predecessor games are missing from the Atomic Edition CD.
  • Several purchasable add-ons to the game were released. The most notable of these were Duke Carribbean: Life’s A Beach (an add-on CD officially authorized by 3D Realms in which Duke Nukem operates in a Caribbean scenario), Duke It Out In D.C. (Duke Nukem must free President Clinton by fighting his way through levels modeled after Washington, D.C.), and Nuclear Winter (a special “Christmas” version in which Duke encounters elves and standard Christmas costumes).C.) and Nuclear Winter (a special “Christmas version” in which Duke encounters elves and standard Christmas-costumed enemies; the final boss is Santa Claus himself). While the first two add-ons were generally well received by fans, Nuclear Winter received mixed reviews, as the scenario and level design seemed unoriginal and uninspired.
  • Megaton Edition: includes the Atomic Edition and the three additional add-ons. A port with OpenGL renderer is used and a multiplayer mode is offered. The Atomic Edition is also executable in classic render mode. The Megaton Edition has been removed from regular sale in favor of the “20th Anniversary Edition-World Tour” edition.[9]
  • Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour: includes the main game in the Atomic Edition with the four original episodes, plus a new additional episode consisting of eight levels. Add-ons (such as Duke It Out In D.C. ) are not included. Further, the edition features some new voice samples by Jon St. John, who was Duke’s voice actor in the original edition, as well as new music by original composer Lee Jackson. A new weapon (flamethrower) and a new enemy type have also been added, and a true 3D engine (based on the original) has been introduced.[10] This edition is the only release officially rated by the USK (USK-16).[11][12]


The original game was developed for MS-DOS, then followed ports for:

  • Mac OS Classic
  • macOS: In 2004, Ryan C. Gordon released an update for macOS.[13]
  • iOS: On August 11, 2009, Machineworks Northwest released a port for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch via the AppStore. In the meantime, it has been removed again for youth protection reasons.[14]
  • Linux, Windows, BeOS, Solaris, FreeBSD: Port based on source code published by 3D Realms.[15]
  • PlayStation: Released under the name Duke Nukem (no add-on) in Europe and Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown in the US and Japan. Content-wise, it matches the levels from Duke Nukem 3D (Plutonium Edition) with an additional episode called “Plug and Pray” (The name is a reference to Plug and Play). However, the Japanese version lacks the numerous prostitutes, table dancers, as well as the women captured by the aliens – the posters and billboards featured in the game have also been altered accordingly. In addition, offensive words in Duke’s sayings have been replaced with less vulgar expressions.
  • Nintendo 64: Released under the name Duke Nukem 64, Duke Nukem 3D (Plutonium Edition) featured improved graphics and a split-screen multiplayer mode. To meet the censorship regulations of the Nintendo corporation, all “offensive” elements, such as prostitutes, table dancers or even steroids were removed or replaced. In addition, all weapons were graphically redesigned.[16]
  • Game Boy Advance: Released under the name Duke Nukem Advance. Has little to do with the actual Duke Nukem 3D levels. Custom levels and story were developed for the GBA version.
  • Sega Saturn: This port was made by Lobotomy Software, who used their own 3D engine, which was also used in the game Exhumed (also known as “Powerslave” in the US and “Seireki 1999: Pharaoh no Fukkatsu” in Japan). This has a lot of advantages over the build engine of the original. For example, colored lights are displayed in this port. For this, however, all levels had to be rebuilt; some small differences to the original levels were built in.
  • Sega Mega Drive: Released only in Brazil. This port includes the sprites, weapons and some of the digitized sayings of the main character. The game is based on the Lunar Apocalypse episode of the original, but the level architecture is more reminiscent of Wolfenstein 3D than the PC version. You just run through ground-level levels, killing enemies and doing Duke Nukem-type tasks like collecting key cards or switch puzzles. A special feature is the technical execution of the game, which is amazing for the hardware, which was already nine years old at the time, though in no way comparable to the other versions. The game runs in a much larger window than comparable 3D games on the system, runs relatively smoothly at about 15 frames, and is optimized for use with an antenna cable; excessive dithering is used to create the illusion of more colors than are actually present. However, this only works with a slightly blurry image, which is what an aerial cable provides. The origins of this version are controversial; 3D Realms denies its legitimacy, while TecToy, who programmed and distributed the implementation, claim to have received permission from GT Interactive, who distributed the other console versions.
  • Palm OS: This port by Henk “metaview” Jonas is based on the port of JonoF for Windows and Linux. Requires Palm OS 5.x (an ARM processor), 4 MB DBCache or storage memory and about 7 MB dynamic memory (UDMH can help here). The port is compatible with fan-made levels.
  • WebOS:[17]
  • Xbox 360: The game was released in September 2008 on the marketplace (Xbox Live Arcade). This features the Atomic Edition, which comes with additional features. For example, a motion blur can be activated, which shows up when Duke is injured. In addition, the arcade version includes a kind of replay function, which allows the player to replay a scene within a limited period of time after dying.[18] In Germany, however, the title was indexed and therefore never appeared on the German marketplace.

Fan Modifications

Highres Pack (HRP)

For some time now, the Duke 3D community has been compiling a Highres Pack (HRP) on the official 3D Realms forum, which provides high-resolution textures for the jfDuke3D and eDuke32 ports, as well as three-dimensional models instead of the original 2D sprites. This gives the game a more modern look that takes better advantage of the capabilities of traditional 3D cards using the OpenGL graphics standard. All of the HRP content is released under a separate license, the “High Resolution Pack Art License”, which prohibits the reuse of the new content for commercial purposes and grants 3D Realms the rights to the appearance of the game and the game elements.[19] To play, you need a version of “duke3d.grp” from the original CD or the shareware version, one of the two ports mentioned (preferably eDuke32, which is updated more frequently) and the HRP.

New edition

Fans began developing a remake based on Unreal Engine 3 in 2010 with permission from the rights holders.[20] A release of the project, known as “Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded”[21] was planned for 2011, but in the same year work on the game was paused indefinitely.[22] In 2013, Frederick Schreiber, the director of the project, addressed the reason in an interview. According to him, Gearbox, the rights holder of the Duke Nukem license was concerned that the game would become a competitor to Duke Nukem Forever and that the release of the remake would result in lost sales.[23] Although Schreiber saw chances for development to resume, further news has failed to materialize.


In 1997, the sequel Duke Nukem Forever was announced and was in development for the next 14 years. In 2010, 3D Realms finished work on the game, which was now further developed by Gearbox and finally released worldwide for various gaming platforms in June 2011.

Web links

Individual references

  1. Joe Siegler:History of the Build Engine.In: 3D Realms, retrieved 25 January 2021 (English).
  2. Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour with new graphics, sound and levels.In: PC Games Hardware, 2016, retrieved 26 January 2021.
  3. a b c Sven Bauduin:C:B_retroEdition_65: Duke Nukem 3D.In: ComputerBase, retrieved January 26, 2021.
  4. Jörg Breithut:“Duke Nukem 3D” rediscovered: it smelled like sweat and cold pizza.In: SpiegelOnline. DER SPIEGEL, retrieved 25 January 2021.
  5. Duke Nukem 3D source code released.In: DER STANDARD, retrieved 25 January 2021 (Austrian German).
  6. Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Schriften, Federal Agency for Civic Education Indexing decision on Duke Nukem 3D.(Memento of 14 August 2010 in the Internet Archive) (excerpts), 25 July 1996
  7. Duke Nukem 3D is no longer on the index.In: Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  8. 3D Realms Site: Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition.In:, retrieved 26 January 2021.
  9. Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition: Update with online multiplayer.In: 4Players, retrieved 26 January 2021.
  10. heise online:Duke Nukem 3D: Removed from the Index after 20 years.In: heise online, retrieved 26 January 2021.
  11. Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour.In: USK, retrieved 25 January 2021 (German).
  12. Gerald Wurm:Duke Nukem 3D has its USK clearance ( Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  13. Apple Duke Nukem 3D Download
  14. 3Gapps Duke Nukem 3D
  15. Icculus Duke3D for Linux, project homepage for the open source port
  16. Gerald Wurm:Duke Nukem 3D – Cut review: Duke Nukem 64.In: Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  17. Jason Robitaille:Duke3D Headed to webOS.In: webOS Nation, 8 March 2010, retrieved 25 January 2021 (English).
  18. Duke Nukem 3D for Xbox LIVE Arcade.In:, retrieved January 26, 2021.
  19. License text on
  20. New edition of Duke Nukem 3D, article on
  21. Website about the project(Memento of Originals february 2, 2014 on the Internet Archive) Info:The archive linkwas automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check original and archive link according to instructions and then remove this note.@1@2Template:Webachiv/IABot/
  22. Andre Linken:Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded – Work on the fan project stopped for the time being.In: GameStar. 29 September 2011, retrieved 1 July 2017.
  23. Sebastian Klix:Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded – Why the ambitious remake project was put on hold in 2011.In: GameStar. 26 July 2013, retrieved 1 July 2017.