Just when you thought you’d played Duke Nukem 3D every way it could possibly be played, someone finds another way to persuade you to spend money on it. We already thought we’d seen the last of the 24-year-old game in 2016 when the “20th Anniversary World Tour” edition was released, but there’s still some life left in the old dog yet. As of last month, you can now buy the “20th Anniversary World Tour” edition of the game for the Nintendo Switch. It might seem like a strange choice of game for a handheld console that is solely and unashamedly aimed at children, but it’s there nonetheless. How has the conversion been handled, though, and is it worth playing?
Before you can answer that question, you’d have to get your hands on a Nintendo Switch. That’s been easier said than done for the past few months, with stock shortages reported all over the world. Apparently, that’s because the virus situation has adversely affected Nintendo in two ways. Firstly they haven’t been able to get the parts that they need to continue making Switch consoles in the volumes that they need to, and secondly, because people who’ve been stuck indoors for months on end have been buying more Switch consoles than they would under normal circumstances. That’s a bad combination, and it’s also the reason why you may have seen drastically overpriced Switch consoles on eBay recently. We don’t recommend paying over the odds to get hold of one just for the sake of playing this game. If you do happen to have one already, though, you’re in business.
We don’t know whether to blame the issues with the Switch for the fact that Duke Nukem arrived upon it later than planned or not. We do know for certain that there was a delay, though. At one point, the game was scheduled for a release in June, but that slipped back by around a month. Perhaps the new lawsuit between Gearbox and 3D Realms (a matter that appears to be doomed to repeat itself until the end of time, paralyzing the future of the character in the process) caused problems. Whatever the reason for the delay, the game is now out at a price of ten dollars (or $9.99) and comes with the promise of apparently Switch-exclusive features like HD rumble, gyroscopic controls, and localized wireless multiplayer compatibility. All of that sounds interesting, and ten bucks isn’t a major investment, so is it worth ten dollars of your money?
The simple answer to that question is that if you already have this game – which we presume you do, because if not, your presence at a dedicated Duke Nukem fan site confuses us – you won’t get much here that you haven’t had before. There are a few neat tweaks that might make you want to consider ponying up the money, though. One of them is the fact that on the Switch, you can choose which level you want to start from. If there was a part of the game that you could never get past, no matter how hard you tried, that should no longer be a problem. There’s also a brand new ‘rewind’ function that allows you literally wind the game back to a point just before you died, and have another go at dodging that attack or not making that mistake or even just killing someone you forgot to kill the first time around. These are conveniences rather than new gameplay features, but it makes those ‘surprise’ deaths a little less annoying when they happen. In theory, it would also make the game easier to play for younger fans, although young people probably shouldn’t be playing Duke Nukem games to begin with. Twenty-four years on, some of his one-liners sound even more offensive than they did when they were new.
While there are a few things added, there have also been a few things taken away. The three popular expansion packs for the game, “Life’s a Beach,” “Nuclear Winter,” and “Duke It Out In D.C.” aren’t included in the Switch version. That’s probably not a deal-breaker for most people – especially when you consider the fact that “Alien World Order” is included from 2016 – but it’s still slightly irritating when no reason for their omission has been given, and presumably someone would have had to strip that content away from the game before performing the full conversion for the Nintendo device. It can’t have been done to save space, so we’re forced to presume there was another issue that we’re unaware of.
All in all, this is fine as a conversion. If you haven’t played Duke Nukem 3D for a while because you don’t have a working machine to play it on, picking it up for ten dollars for the Switch is a solid plan, and you’re sure to enjoy it. The release of the game does, however, act as a painful reminder that we’re still not getting any brand new Duke Nukem content, and perhaps we never will again. There’s still no new Duke Nukem game in development, and there won’t be until the Gearbox – 3D Realms issue is resolved. There hasn’t even been a Duke Nukem online slots game with 10 free spins created, despite the inclusion of one in Duke Nukem forever. Almost every classic video game star of the past, from Lara Croft to the cast of Street Fighter, has been reimagined as a game for online slots websites in the past year or two. The fact that the people who own Duke Nukem can’t even get the rights issue resolved sufficiently to allow an online slots game to be created probably doesn’t bode well for the future of the franchise.
If you’re looking for the “too long, didn’t read” version of this review, here are the cliff notes. This handheld version of the game includes a couple of features that make it easier to play than you might remember, and includes the “Alien World Order” level form the 2016 edition, but omits three maps. If you can deal with that and you’re looking for a nostalgia kick, play the ten dollars and get hold of the game. It’s a reminder of happier times!