We knew this day would come. Duke Nukem Forever might have been a bona-fide turkey on the next-gen consoles, but the source material still has its fans. Rebirthing the original classic on the Android platform, Duke Nukem 3D is proof positive that you can't keep a good ol' boy down.
How does it play?
It's a first-person shooter. As in, a quasi three-dimensional environment where you stomp around, firing large guns at enemies and blowing things up. Each level design is highly destructible and interactive, so players can destroy most of the props at will. Controls are via the standard (but not quite perfect) touchscreen buttons.
Duke Nukem 3D takes you through street scenes, military bases, deserts, a flooded city, space stations, moon bases and a Japanese restaurant. It's stuffed to the gills with pop-culture references, and whilst playing you'll encounter the remnants of Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones, the protagonist of Doom, and a smashed Terminator T-800. At one point, even The Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey makes a cameo appearance.
What really makes the game so distinctive, however, is the character of the titular macho hero Duke Nukem, memorably voiced by Jon St. John. His job is to repel an alien invasion on Earth, and he goes about his business in a manner that's not what you'd call politically correct. It's all done with a healthy splash of ironic b-movie humour, but some folks have been known to take offence.
Why do we like it?
Call it nostalgia. This was one of the first FPS games to rival Doom in the playability stakes, and it stood apart even further through its whacky, satirical nature. Does anyone remember the pigs dressed as cops? Or the strippers that showed a little extra when you gave them a tip? Adolescent behaviour, certainly, but very transgressive in an era when cutesy wootsy Nintendo and Sega dominated the gaming landscape.
Most famously, Duke Nukem 3D prompted a great deal of hurrumphing from an American pressure group called Media Watch, who accused the game of promoting pornography and murder. Unsurprisingly, this led to its banning in several countries, including Germany, Australia, and Brazil. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, you can now download it to your mobile phone and smuggle it past customs.
This version for Android is ported by MachineWorks Northwest, and is available on Android Market for only 61p. The only drawback is that only the first stage is playable, with the next two stages unlocked via in-app purchases. But still, that's a very small price to pay to relive one of the most offensive games in our medium's short history.
Available to buy now on Android Market, for all phones running Android 1.6 upwards [link].