The first part of a Duke Nukem retrospective reveals the macho character’s tame origin.
Many people may not know this, but Duke Nukem wasn’t always the strip club-faring, alien testicle-punching macho man he is today. Part one of a Duke Nukem video retrospective called “History of a Legend” delves into the character as he was before Gearbox’s upcoming Duke Nukem Forever.
Duke Nukem’s first appearance was in the self-titled Duke Nukem, a 2D sidescroller released by Apogee Software (which later became 3D Realms) in 1991. 3D Realms co-founder and CEO Scott Miller says it was a “huge hit,” despite sound effects that are maddening today. Duke’s goal wasn’t to save the world’s babes, but to stop the evil Dr. Proton from taking over the world. It looked like this:
Would you ever have thought Duke would be caught wearing pink? The series moved a little closer to what it is today with Duke Nukem II in 1993, another sidescroller that introduced aliens called Rigelatins as the main foe. The video reveals that Duke’s voice got its start in Duke Nukem II, though Jon St. John didn’t become the voice of Duke until Duke Nukem 3D.
It’s interesting to see how iteration took Duke from a generic character to the icon he is today. Part 2 of the retrospective will likely cover Duke Nukem 3D, where Duke really hit his stride.