Video Game: Nuclear Throne

The playable characters, from left to right, Horror, Rebel, Plant, Robot, Eyes, Steroids, Fish, Crystal, Melting, Y.V, Rogue and Chicken

At some point in the past, humanity messed up. They tried their best but they went extinct, either dying in the wake of the apocalypse or mutating to a point where they could no longer be called humans. Though the human race was destroyed, earth was not, it merely changed. Life became a struggle for survival, but it continued ever onward. A long time has passed since the apocalypse, and now rumours of the mysterious Nuclear Throne has led a small group of mutants together to a campfire. They have very little in common, but they all have the same goal: Seeking the Nuclear Throne. This will by no means be easy, however, as the path to the Throne is guarded by murderous bandits, ravenous mutants, and the mysterious Interdimensional Police Department (IDPD), a heavily armed militia determined to prevent anyone from reaching the Nuclear Throne for unknown reasons.

Nuclear Throne is an Action Roguelike-like by Vlambeer, creator of Super Crate Box, Luftrausers and Serious Sam: The Random Encounter. The game is currently available on Steam, PS4, and PSVita. The game is focused on high-adrenaline shootouts in randomly generated environments with a large amount of guns available at the player's disposal. Every character has different passive and active abilities, ranging from blowing up corpses to spending their own health to spawn allies. In addition as you defeat enemies you gain radiation, which allows your character to mutate, gaining new perks as you travel across the wasteland. But no matter how strong you or your weapons are, you must still be careful because death comes quickly, and death means you're going on a one-way trip back to the campfire.


This game contains examples of:

  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: You fight Throne II inside of a swirling, purple portal.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Each character has an unlockable B skin that can be obtained through completing various tasks. These challenges' difficulty ranges from "stuff you will probably do by accident" to "pro players will have trouble with this".
  • All There in the Manual: Most everything about the characters. Things like Steroids being a doctor, Fish having been a police officer and even a few character's genders are never mentioned during gameplay, or at best hinted at in the loading screen hints. Even the bosses have backstories that the game never even touches upon on.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Robot will not eat his weapon if he only has one. This prevents you from accidentally ending up weaponless.
    • If you open up the portal to the next level and a weapon is near it, it will get sucked in with you and be there at the start of the next level in case you wanted to pick it up. Same goes for rad canisters. This can actually be frustrating if you're trying to avoid weapon chests or rad canisters for the secrets you get by skipping them.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Lightning guns. They fire a multi-hitting bolt of energy, but it functions much like lightning really would by routing to the nearest object. This means in narrow corridors it'll often arc away from your target and into a wall, unless you're up close and personal.
    • Disc Guns, guns that fire, uh, discs (in this case, buzzsaws). They do respectable damage, but the ricochets will hurt you just as much as it'll hurt an enemy (and are hard to dodge), and if the game spawns a level with tight corridors, kiss your life goodbye.
    • The Super Plasma Cannon can pretty much kill anything it hits in 1 shot, and can even down the final boss in only 4 shots. It also has a 10-second reload time and chews through ammo like nobody's business.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The crystal spiders in the Crystal Cave, who behave much like the rats in the sewer but are faster and more resilient, and the flies in the jungle, which are twice as big as all of the player characters, and shoot out maggots at the player.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The true ending. The Captain and the IDPD are all but destroyed, bringing an end to the annihilation of universes, but all of your friends that the IDPD murdered are dead and it's uncertain whether or not you can even travel to a dimension where your friends are still alive anymore now that the IDPD is dismantled.
  • The Blank: Guardians seem to have a tiny, active portal, where you'd expect their faces to be.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Y.V. starts off with a golden revolver, in keeping with his "money to burn" characterization. Other characters can also find rare golden weapons, which have minor improvements over the originals such as increased rate of fire. Entering a portal with a golden weapon sets it as that characters starting weapon.
  • Blood Knight: Plant's loading tips include things like "No mercy" and "Kill kill kill" and "Blood blood blood".
  • Body Horror: Melting, Eyes, and a few other enemy mutants.
  • Boring but Practical:
    • Melee weapons. Compared to the other, more unique weapons, they can be fairly underwhelming. But they can block enemy fire and kill most enemies that you encounter in one or two swings.
    • The Ultra Revolver. It has an extremely high fire rate, has the same ammo cost as a regular revolver (plus a trivial radiation cost) and deals around the same amount of damage as a slugger.
  • Boss Remix: All of the bosses (except for the Final Boss) have themes which remix the title music.
  • Cast from Hit Points:
    • Rebel can summon Allies at the cost of health, 1 HP for the first minion, and 2 HP for every Allies spawned when at least one is out.
    • If you run out of explosive ammo, the Blood Launcher and Cannon will use your health for ammo instead.
    • Cast From Experience: Horror can fire a beam of radiation that reduces its EXP bar. Upgrading this ability makes it heal Horror the longer its firing the beam.
    • Skeleton's special fires a shot without using ammo, but it has a small chance of damaging you.
  • Character Blog: Yung Venuz's Twitter account. #verifyvenuz
  • Collision Damage: Some enemies, like maggots and rats, can do this. Picking up the Gamma Guts mutation lets you do the same to your opponents.
  • Cowboy Cop: Rogue's rifle references this - one of the tips becomes "Loose Cannon".
  • Crapsack World: All civilization has been destroyed in the apocalypse, and the horribly mutated survivors fight relentlessly over what remains.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: The Nuclear Throne. It has a whooping 2000 health, more than any other enemy in the game. Better hope you brought enough ammo.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: Robot's special ability is to devour his current gun for ammo and/or health. This is incredibly useful, but if you had just played someone like Fish or Crystal who use their abilities much more liberally, you may end up chowing down on your gun in the middle of a fire fight.
  • Deadly Disc: The Discgun from Super Crate Box makes a reappearance in this game, and functions more or less the same way.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • In update 25 of the game, Vlambeer added footstep sound effects, which changed based on what sort of surface players walked on. In update 27, getting the Extra Feet mutation gave you more footsteps. Y.V.'s B-Skin, where he floats, doesn't make any footstep noises.
    • Rebel has a B-skin which gives her a winter coat. What happens when you reach the frozen city with her? She puts on the hood over her head.
    • Whenever Robot levels up, the "select a mutation" screen is rewritten to say "install an update".
    • The hidden underwater "Oasis" zone has every playable character and bandit in it encased in a bubble except for Robot and Fish, who obviously don't need it to breathe. (Y.V. only has one to keep his money dry.)
    • The clock hands in Crown of Haste will change with your computer's clock.
    • Dying to the final boss gives you a special message: "You almost reached the Nuclear Throne"
  • Desert Bandits: While the common Bandit enemies appear in nearly all levels, they feature most prominently in the first, desert area, with their leader being the boss of that part of the game. They also look the part, wrapped in white cloth and with their faces covered.
  • Difficulty Spike: The Scrapyard. The area is the first to include stage hazards that are difficult to avoid (exploding cars and flame-launchers), is replete with both Goddamn Bats (Crows) AND Demonic Spiders(those goddamn Assassins, Snipers), and the boss of the stage, Big Dog, spams out Bullet Hell and explodes as a Kaizo Trap; both tropes which becomes themes for all bosses after him.
  • Drop the Hammer: There's a sledgehammer that can be picked up in the middle of the game, and an energy hammer you can pick up later. There's also the blood and lightning hammers that you can pick up far later than both.
  • Dual Wielding: The unique ability of the Steroids character; all other characters can only have one weapon in use at a time.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Robot can eat guns for ammo and HP.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Eyes has, well, eyes all over his head.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: For most of its Early Access duration, the game had no "win state": reaching the throne and killing the final boss only loops you from level 1-1 except significantly harder, meaning that you'll die eventually. Update 92 finally lets you win the game.
  • Flechette Storm: The Splinter Guns fire multiple smaller bolts like a shotgun. Seeker guns will fire multiple projectile that home in on enemies.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Weapons that use energy ammo fall under this category, and the mutation Laser Brain increases the effectiveness of all of them.
  • The Goomba: Bandits, the first enemies to appear and present as fodder for the rest of the game. While their shots are as dangerous as anything else, they have a very low rate of fire and don't move around much, on top of having very little HP. They're only dangerous in big groups.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: One of the mutations powers up the on-death knockback enemies receive to such an extreme that other enemies take damage if the body careens into them.
  • Harder Than Hard: Hard mode, which you unlock by looping the game twice in a single run. The fact that the game considers just reaching The Sewers as Chicken in hard mode as an accomplishment should give you a pretty good idea of how brutal it is.
  • Hungry Jungle: The Jungle, a secret level where everything is trying to kill you.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Radiation is the name of the game: all enemies drop it, and it functions as the game's exp system, with you being able to select a new mutation with each level. In addition the Ultra weapons all drain radiation on use but are insanely powerful as result. Horror takes it even further by being literally living radiation and having the ability to blast enemies with it.
  • Incendiary Exponent: The flame weapons, ranging from standard flamethrowers to even flaming shotguns.
  • Item Caddy: Several mutations work like this: Rabbit's Paw increase enemy drops, Open Mind adds an additional chest each level, Plutonium Hunger makes you gather items from a bigger distance...
  • Joke Weapon:
    • The Screwdriver. It has short range, can only hit enemies head-on, as opposed to the wrench, sledgehammer and shovel, which hits enemies on a wider radius, and it's one of the weakest of the melee weapons. However, it can be used to repair a car in the scrapyard, which takes you to a mansion where you can find a golden weapon.
    • The Pop Gun and Rifle, two guns that have stupidly high fire rates but pitifully low damage due to firing shells instead of bullets. Fun, but not something you would ever rely on past the first couple of levels.
  • Kaizo Trap:
    • The Dog boss of the scrapyard goes out in a series of spectacular explosions. These can kill you.
    • Also, if a next level portal appears next to a car, it can blow up the car while drawing you in, killing you.
    • Lil' Hunter in the Frozen City loses control of his jetpack when you kill him, he can crash into you and explode.
    • Don't use a disc gun on the final enemy of a level if you're close enough to get sucked in immediately. The disc will grind you to pieces before the level can end.
    • The throne itself.
  • King Mook: Big Bandit, the boss of the first area. The loop bosses also qualify.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: The Strong Spirit mutation. Doesn't work if your character's maximum HP is at 1, naturally, and goes away after you hit 1 HP, but you can re-activate it by getting back to full HP in the next area.
  • Magikarp Power: Melting starts the game with 2 HP (For reference, a single bullet does 3 damage), but he gains levels much faster. If you can survive a few levels, he becomes incredibly powerful, especially if you can upgrade his special power to deal tons of explosive damage at no ammo cost.
  • Mook Medic: The Necromancers in the lab, which revive fallen enemies as Freaks. The Technomancer takes this a step further by reviving dead enemies as Necromancers.
  • More Dakka: Many weapons in the game have an automatic counterpart, which fires continuously as long as the attack is held, or an assault counterpart, which fires multiple rounds with each shot. Y.V.'s special attack also lets you fire two shots at once, and can be upgraded to four shots. Steroids can upgrade his special attack to get 20% of every shot free and make every weapon fully automatic, making the normal auto (and less accurate) variants of each weapon redundant.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • A few enemies will instantly kill the player if they touch them. Namely, all laser crystal variants, the Hyper Crystal, and I.D.P.D Vans.
    • You can also do this to most enemies as well provided you have a strong enough weapon. You can even pull this off on the Final Boss by using YV's special ability (when upgraded with Throne Butt) while holding a Super Plasma Cannon, as long as you have Back Muscle with at least 96 energy and Scarier Face. Difficult but Awesome, to say the least. Watch it in action here.
  • One Hitpoint Wonder: Melting, in spite the fact he has 2 HP still is this due to the fact that everything (except touching maggots, being in fire for a short period of time, and a few others) does more than 2 HP in damage. The only way to alleviate this is by taking Rhino Skin... which makes him into a two-hit point wonder.
  • One-Hit Polykill: Crossbows can pull this off with smaller enemies, while the Heavy Crossbow will pierce through just about anyone.
  • One-Winged Angel: The Throne returns in 0-1 after killing the last IDPD unit as Throne II.
  • Petting Zoo People: Fish and Chicken.
  • Plant People: Plant is a giant walking plant.
  • Power at a Price: All the crowns come with a drawback. None of their effects are strictly beneficial.
  • Promoted to Playable: As an April Fools' Day joke, Big Dog.
  • Retirony: Fish was a cop one day from retirement before the apocalypse hit. He's not dead yet, of course, but this is a roguelike...
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Every character has a revolver as their starting weapon, except for the Chicken and Rogue, as mentioned above. Y.V.'s happens to be made of gold. Averted since these are their starting weapons and as such usually the weakest weapon in their arsenal.
  • Samus Is a Girl:
    • Crystal and Chicken are both female, but you'd never know that unless you looked it up.
    • The I.D.P.D. Captain, due to the all-covering armour she wears. While she has a few lines and is voiced by a woman, her voice is just distorted enough to not be obviously female.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: There's a wide variety of shotgun-based weapons, ranging from the traditional kind, to a slugger that fires one giant shell, to a flak cannon that fires one shell that explodes into multiple shells on impact.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Disc Gun, Minigun and Laser Cannon from Super Crate Box make a reappearance, and Yung Venus from their previous game Gun Godz is now a playable character.
    • A secret exit portal in the sewer level takes you to a bonus room where the only enemies are four turtles and a rat.
    • One of the loading screen tips when playing as Fish is "Like Kevin Costner".
    • A random loading screen tip will just display the word "Rosebud".
    • Another tip references an infamous review of Doom, where the reviewer lamented an inability to talk to the monsters.
    • Plant's B-skin was recolored to give him red vines and blue petals. Being the character with the fastest speed in the game, it comes to no surprise that he resembles a certain blue hedgehog. Better yet, one of its loading tips is "GOTTA GO FAST".
    • In a similar vein, Robot's B-skin was updated to change its purple coloration to a deep blue. This suggests that Robot was used by the IDPD, but the ear-like fins on it's head and the new grimace it sports for it's optic give it a passing likeness to said blue hedgehog's mechanical doppelganger.
    • Yung Venuz' mansion rap references Teen Wolf, hakuna matata, and Rudy Huxtable.
    • One of the loading tips simply says The Zone.
    • The Flak Cannon and Ion Cannon work almost exactly like their Unreal Tournament and Unreal Tournament 2004 counterparts, respectively, being a shotgun weapon that fires a sphere of multi-hit death and a massive beam strike.
  • Spread Shot: Several instances of these, usable by both the players and the enemy.
  • Standard FPS Guns: Out of the ordinary for a non-FPS game, but not for a game about guns. Each weapon belongs to a different category, and as such uses the same ammunition as its ilk. In addition, each ammo type has a special mutation that benefits it.
    • Bullets: The most basic of weaponry, starting with the regular Revolver, and subsequent guns firing more and more bullets at a time, leading up to the Minigun or the Hyper Rifle, which shoots five bullets at once, and has autofire. Its special mutation is the Recycle Gland, which gives you a chance of recovering any bullet that hits a target. (The Pop weapons fire shotgun-like pellets despite using bullet ammo; they aren't affected by Recycle Gland, but they are affected by the Shell's special mutation, seen below.)
    • Shells: Shotguns of all shapes and sizes, which vary between firing either regular pellets, which hit in a spread, flame pellets that ignite on contact, or slugs, which are single heavy shots with enough force to kill giant scorpions in one hit. These shots have less range than other weapons, but bounce off walls and deal more damage up close, making them useful for closed spaces or crowd control. The Shotgun Shoulders mutation increases the range and speed at which they bounce off of walls.
    • Bolts: Crossbows, obviously. These weapons come in either traditional bolts, which fire straight with perfect accuracy and pierce through small enemies killing them instantly, splinters, which fire in a spray similar to the shotgun, and seekers, which deal lower damage but home in on enemies. Also includes the Toxic Bow, whose bolts release poison gas on impact, and the Disc Launcher, which fires bouncing buzzsaws of friendly fire death. The Bolt Marrow mutation gives bolts slight homing capabilities.
    • Explosives: Grenade Launchers of various types, with an obligatory Sticky Bomb variant, a mini grenade variant whose weapons fire multiple grenades at once, and one that also releases poison gas on detonation. The only weapon class capable of destroying terrain by itself. Curiously, Flamethrowers and Flare Guns use this ammo type too, as well as the Jackhammer, despite being a melee weapon. Its special mutation is the Boiling Veins, which makes the player immune to fire and explosions when at or under 4 HP.
    • Energy: Laser weapons which fire single piercing beams, plasma weapons which fire balls of energy which eventually explode, an orbital strike Ion Cannon, and lightning weapons that home in on objects. Similarly to the Explosives above, the Energy Screwdriver, Energy Sword, and Energy Hammer are all melee weapons which use Energy ammo. The Laser Brain mutation increases the strength and duration of all energy attacks.
  • Speaking Simlish: Supposedly, the mutants speak a language called Trashtalk. If you listen closely, there is some consistency to the near-gibberish sounds they make.
  • Spider Tank:
    • Tank enemies from the frozen city level are exactly this.
    • The throne becomes one when you reach it.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The entire line of explosive-based weapons, and Melting's special attack, which blows up every corpse on screen.
  • Summon Magic: Rebel's special attack summons a bandit to fight on her side, for the cost of 1 HP for the first on stage, and 2 HP for all additional bandits while at least one is on stage. Upgrading her ability increases their fire rate.
  • Tentacle Rope: Plant's special ability ensnares enemies in vines. When upgraded, the vines grow thorns that instantly kill low health enemies and/or summon explosive minions when enemies trapped in it are killed.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: The fight against Throne II is topped off by a resurgence of the main theme to the game, usually heard on the character selection menu, heralding either triumph on your part, or a hint of where you're going in the next few seconds depending on your skill level.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Some of the weapons you can pick up are ridiculously excessive in how much projectiles they fire and how much damage they do, though this isn't really a bad thing. For example, the Super Crossbow (a crossbow that fires five bolts at once) is great for taking out both a tanky enemy and anything unfortunate enough to be around it.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Chicken's ability lets her throw her weapons - even if she only has one of them. This, of course, includes her starting weapon.
  • Time Police: The I.D.P.D. are from a timeline where the Apocalypse never happened, and will try and stop you as you get close to the Throne. If you manage to loop a third time, all the I.D.P.D. troops are turned into mutated freaks, which goes to show they do it to protect their own timeline.
  • True Final Boss: The I.D.P.D. Captain.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The cocoons in the crystal caves contain trapped enemies that you can free by shooting. They'll still try to murder you on sight, of course.
  • Warmup Boss: Big Bandit, the boss of the first area. A real challenge for new players, but a complete pushover once you beat him the first time.
  • Wham Line: One of the verses from the credits song provides more context for an oft-seen loading screen tip, making the course of the game suddenly seem much sadder.
    It's not fair, it's not right, there's no reason to fight

YOU DID NOT REACH THE NUCLEAR THRONE