Duke Nukem - Episode 1: Shrapnel City

Action 1991 Dos Apogee Science Fiction Arcade style

Surprisingly poor start to a legendary series

You might not know it, but the legendary action hero of Duke Nukem 3D actually started out life as a 2D star in a series of side-on platformers which share more than a passing resemblance to the Commander Keen games. This first episode, which was followed by Mission: Moonbase, sets down many of Duke's defining characteristics, although the tongue-in-cheek humour and gratuitous violence would come later. The story here revolves around the typically over-the-top shenanigans of the villainous Dr. Proton, who has developed mechanical creatures with which he intends to take over the world. Duke Nukem is of course the only man who can stop and which requires him to travel through a series of side-scrolling levels, jumping off platforms and collecting power-ups but mainly blowing apart the myriad enemies which stand in his way of reaching the nearest exit. In a nice touch which is notable for being included at such an early time, parts of the environment are destructible while you also receive bonus points for certain achievements completed during the level, something which is now much more widespread. Duke Nukem is certainly worth playing for the nostalgia factor and for its introduction of a now legendary character, but in all honesty it's not actually that great a game. The graphics are pretty crude and lacking in the personality and charm of other platformers from the period, with things like Mega Man and Rick Dangerous having aged much more gracefully, while the gameplay itself simply isn't much fun either, being quite repetitive and lacking the spark that great examples of the genre have. Play it by all mean to see how the series started, but don't expect to find a genuine classic.

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