Review – Duke Nukem 3D: World Tour – 20th Anniversary Edition (Switch)

Back in the mid-90’s, three first-person shooters dominated the PC gaming scene. The infamous id Software’s Doom and Quake were absolute juggernauts that pushed graphical and gameplay boundaries, but there was another contender stealing the spotlight. A title developed by a small team called 3D Realms, starring a cocky one-liner machine, a game that also featured impressive graphics and gameplay features for the time. That game was Duke Nukem 3D. Not only did it prove that other studios were able to compete against iD’s masterpieces, but it also cemented Duke’s spot in the gaming world, as one of the first true (im)mature icons of the industry.

Despite its massive success and its myriad of console ports, Duke has never managed to repeat his success in another mainline game. Sure, there was the surprisingly decent Nintendo 64 exclusive, Duke Nukem: Zero Hour, but that was a third-person spinoff. It took nearly fifteen years for Duke Nukem 3D‘s sequel, Duke Nukem Forever, to be released, only for it to become one of the biggest jokes in the history of gaming, right alongside titles like Daikatana. But the legacy of Duke Nukem 3D still lives on, and you can finally play it on a Nintendo platform thanks to its 2016 remaster finally being released on the Switch, courtesy of Sonka and Gearbox.

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A shotgun is a retro shooter player’s best friend.

The nonsensically long named Duke Nukem 3D: World Tour – 20th Anniversary Edition, is a fantastic remaster. It features fully revamped graphics, slightly improved physics, a vastly superior framerate, and responsive motion controls. It even has a brand new chapter not featured in the original 1996 release, designed by the game’s original staff. You can actually toggle between the original graphics and the brand new visuals with the touch of a button, only to quickly realize how poorly the original game aged when it comes to its classic look.

Another thing that didn’t age very well is Duke himself. Back in 1996, the sole fact that a game had voice acting was something downright revolutionary. Especially true when a character would quote famous movie one-liners, but this is 2020. Voice acting isn’t that impressive anymore, and Austin St. John’s voice acting, as well as Duke’s overall persona, aged as well as your middle-aged uncle still trying to act fully macho in order to hide his insecurities at family reunions. Thankfully, you can toggle Duke’s voice off, allowing for the game’s surprisingly decent soundtrack to steal the spotlight for once.

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Everybody clearly loves Duke.

What did age incredibly well, however, was the gameplay. Duke Nukem 3D didn’t become a hit solely due to its loudmouth protagonist. As the Bubsy games would eventually find out, one-liners aren’t everything, you also need fun gameplay to make the experience truly enjoyable. Duke Nukem 3D‘s level design is still sublime, with tons of secret passages to unveil, items to collect, babes to save, and aliens to kill. Murdering these baddies wouldn’t be that much fun if it wasn’t for the game’s excellent collection of weapons and gadgets at your disposal. From chain-guns to rocket launchers; there’s something for everybody in here. Although, considering the fact this is a retro shooter from the mid-90’s, we all know that the shotgun will always be your best friend in here.

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A totally realistic and definitely not exaggerated portrayal of Amsterdam.

This remaster of Duke Nukem 3D helped remind me that the original game didn’t become a hit because of its idiotic protagonist. More so because it was a fun shooter that actually managed to stand the test of time, thanks to its fun combat and pristine level design. Being able to finally play a proper port of Duke Nukem 3D on-the-go, with revamped visuals, functional motion controls, and even some extra levels, makes this Switch version stand out from all other previously released versions of the remaster. Not to mention the novelty factor of playing an uncensored version of this game on a Nintendo platform, much to Howard Lincoln’s dismay. Hail to the portable king, baby!

 

Graphics: 7.5

The brand new visuals make the game a lot more pleasing to the eyes than ever before, with a rock-solid framerate to top things off. You can still play with the older 1996 graphics and weird camera angles, if you’re crazy.

Gameplay: 8.5

The controls are very responsive, and the gameplay didn’t suffer that much from the lack of precision caused by the joycons. The game features gyro aiming and the option to kick enemies with motion controls. It’s dumb, but also charming.

Sound: 6.0

Duke’s one-liners have aged as well as your middle-aged uncle still trying to act macho at family reunions. You can toggle it off, letting the somewhat decent soundtrack steal the spotlight.

Fun Factor: 8.5

Duke Nukem 3D might be mostly known for its imbecile protagonist, but it’s still one of the most entertaining and well-designed first-person shooters of all time. Being able to finally play a proper port of the original on-the-go, with revamped visuals and extra levels, makes things even better.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Duke Nukem 3D: World Tour – 20th Anniversary Edition is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Duke Nukem 3D: World Tour – 20th Anniversary Edition was provided by the publisher.