by July 3, 2020 @ 8:21 am
Reviewed on Switch
There have been a lot of versions of 1996’s Duke Nukem 3D. It seems like the game is re-released in updated form or for new hardware every few years. The latest is Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour for Nintendo Switch. Previously released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, this version of the game is arguably the best edition, featuring new levels, handheld play, and a few extra features that really round out the overall package nicely.
To clarify, it’s still Duke Nukem 3D, which is to say it’s a pretty-good-but-not-great game, but now it’s on Switch. So yeah, if that’s something you needed in your life, well, there ya go!
Hail to the King, I Guess
You know the drill by now: alien warthogs have invaded Earth, and Duke Nukem is one badass dude with a bad haircut, which means he’s the only one who can stop them. Admittedly, there’s a bit of fun nostalgia tied to the game’s story. Back in the ‘90s, there seemed to be a common thread among first-person shooters. You were either killing evil Nazis, hellspawn, or aliens. Oh, dinosaurs, too! Duke Nukem 3D leaned toward big ol’ pig aliens, and that novelty hasn’t worn thin just yet.
What maybe has worn thin is some of the game’s humor and themes, at least it may have for some folks. If you dig irreverent comedy and raunchy content, you’ll dig hearing Duke’s one-liners as he tosses dollar bills at pixelated strippers. It’s all pretty dumb, no doubt, but there’s a charm to it.
Like the writing and tone, the gameplay of Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour straddles the line between holding up well enough and feeling dated at the same time. The shooting is fine, and there are a lot of bad guys to take down. It’s not as refined as, say, 2016’s Doom, but it’s right in line with that style of open-area combat.
I had this problem when I played Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour on PS4 in 2016, and it can’t be ignored here: The level designs feel kind of old. Yes, the shooting works well and is actually a lot of fun, but moving through levels can be a mixed bag. You’ll go down narrow corridors or run around large open streets, kill some dudes, and then keep going — then you’ll find that you accidentally just went in a circle. This sort of stuff is very telling of the era Duke Nukem 3D was created in.
The strange part is that the new levels made specifically for this edition of Duke Nukem 3D suffer from similar design flaws. It’s almost like the developers set out to make the new content feel like it was taken directly from the ‘90s without omitting any of the problems of that era. That said, the new levels are pretty fun thanks to the fact that there are a lot of enemy pig aliens to shoot. That’s always enjoyable!
Duke Nukem 3D Forever… and Ever
Not much new outside of playing it in handheld form is present in the Nintendo Switch version of Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour. That said, there’s plenty of content there to keep you busy. The game’s campaign is decent in length, and the new stages help to bulk it up a bit.
You can also switch between the game’s original graphics and a “True 3D” mode that retains the old school pixelated look but on an actual 3D plane. This helps to make movement and camera control a lot smoother, especially when you’re looking up and down, as the original’s graphics can be kind of jarring at times.
There’s a lot of voice work by John St. John in this game, and you can switch between the original voice track and re-recorded audio, also dubbed by John St. John. This is a nice little feature, and either way you go, you’ll get a whole lotta Duke.
The real treat is the developer commentary, which you can toggle on or off. It can definitely distract from the action, so if it’s your first time playing, maybe keep the commentary option off. Folks returning to the game and longtime fans, however, are likely to find some enjoyable nuggets of information regarding the development of Duke Nukem 3D.
So, um, yeah, Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour on Switch. It’s fun. It’s pretty good. It’s also what you’d expect from yet another port of Duke Nukem 3D.
Score: 7 out of 10
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