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Video Game / Duke Nukem 3D

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"Damn! Those alien bastards are gonna pay for shooting up my ride!"
"Nobody steals our chicks... and lives!"
"It's time to kick ass and Chew Bubblegum, and I'm all outta gum."
"Somebody's gonna friggin' pay for screwing up MY vacation!"
"I'm getting too old for this shit!"
Duke, at the beginning of each episode.

Duke Nukem 3D is the third game of the Duke Nukem series. Unlike the previous installments, it's a First-Person Shooter. It was the most controversial of the installments, due to its portrayal of women and erotic elements.

3D is set after the events of Duke Nukem II, as Duke returns to Earth to celebrate his victory over the Rigelatins. However, his space shuttle is shot down by an unknown force, and he is forced to crash land onto the roof of a tower in downtown Los Angeles. He quickly finds out that an army of aliens is in the process of invading the city, and have turned all members of the LAPD into grotesque pigmen-monsters, while abducting women left and right. Duke decides to take matters into his own hands, and starts to repel the alien invasion, street by street.

The game is packed with non-linearity; the player could take shortcuts to the end of the level and find secrets, and there were plenty of usable (and destructible) things, such as hydrants, fountains, toilets (all of which regenerate health) and light switches. While this is nothing new in our era, at the time of its release, a fair amount of these elements were a novelty. As an early FPS, it has plenty of weapons (such as kicks, pistols, shotguns, chainguns, rocket launchers, pipebombs, wallmines, and even shrink rays and a freeze gun) and items (Medkits, night vision goggles, steroids, a hologram device, a scuba gear and protective boots among others). Oh, and it also has a Multiplayer mode. It was also among the first FPS games to use the z-axis and is still one of, if not the, best at integrating it into the majority of gameplay, rather than the occasional sniper and hidden target.

3D has seen a handful of Expansion Packs, with only one of these (Plutonium Pak) being made by 3DRealms. It added a new weapon, (the Expander) two new foes, and a fourth episode, where it's discovered that the aliens were capturing women to produce Queens, which can rapidly give birth to alien drones. An Updated Re-release, the Atomic Edition, included both the original game and the Plutonium Pak.

Three official themed level packs made by 3rd party developers were released for the game; Caribbean: Life's a Beach, Nuclear Winter, and Duke it out in D.C.. The level packs featured themed palette-swapped weapons (i.e. a super soaker instead of a shotgun in the Caribbean pack), palette swapped enemies (i.e. Pig Cops wearing hula skirts or Santa outfits), a couple new enemies (a bouncing dinosaur life preserver in Caribbean and uzi-wielding feminist elves in Nuclear Winter), and one new boss (Santa Claus in Nuclear Winter).

The game also got several console ports, such as Duke Nukem 64 (Nintendo 64), Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown (PlayStation) and versions for the Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn,, Xbox Live Arcade, and mobile platforms.

On October 13, 2010, an officially-sanctioned indie Unreal Engine 3 reimagination of the game called Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded was announced... and then put on indefinite hold on September 24, 2011 due to legal issues (some fairly asinine). It is probably safe to assume that it was canned. This thread may lead to some rather curious insight. Two years after the incident the project's leader Frederick Schreiber (who founded Interceptor Entertainment) talked about how Gearbox shut down the project for being better than Duke Nukem Forever. Gearbox's Steve Gibson responded with the claim that the game always had the right to be developed and released for free as intended. Let's keep it professional and just say that the project may yet see release now that Interceptor Entertainment has finished work on their Rise of the Triad remake and may be quite eager to tie up this loose end.

In March 2013, an officially sanctioned 3D-accelerated Open GL port of the game and all its expansion packs, with PC support for downloading mods through the Steam Workshop, was released on Steam, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita as the "Megaton Edition". The port was done by the indie group Devolver Digital, who are probably best known for publishing the indie hit Hotline Miami (and, ironically, Serious Sam, which was known for its Take Thats at Forever's perennially-delayed release). However, Devolver eventually lost the license for this edition and it was pulled from Steam and from Sony's storefronts in early 2016.

In September 2016, Gearbox announced Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One: a new re-release featuring all the content of the Atomic Edition (the third-party expansions not included) plus a brand-new fifth episode created by two of the original game's level designers, with a new musical score by the original composer, a new weapon and enemy, new and re-recorded Duke Talk by Jon St. John, and enhanced graphics, released that October. A Nintendo Switch port was released later in June, four years later.

Chronologically and canonically followed by Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project.

Damn. Those alien bastards are gonna pay for shooting up my tropes!

  • Adjustable Censorship: The PC version added a parental control system (with password), which hid some of the sexual content. This made the women invisible, causing Duke to bump against invisible objects, allow him to drop money at random positions, and to cause aliens to spawn when a rocket hits thin air.
  • All There in the Manual: The strategy guide reveals the aliens' true motivation which has very little to do with just kidnapping and impregnating women like many players assume. The aliens in question are space miners who attempt to harvest Earth for resources by drilling a hole in the San Andreas fault and then firing their Kill Sat into that hole, with predictable consequences. The main goal of this is to split Earth into several asteroids for easier retrieval. The starship at the end of the first episode is implied to be the drilling vessel operated by the first Battlelord encountered whereas the orbital station is all but said to be operated by the Overlord.
  • Alien Geometries: The level Lunatic Fringe has a 720 degree hallway, i.e you have to take two laps around it to end up where you started. As you take one lap the scenery in the middle completely changes despite it seemingly being the same place you just walked by.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Sentry drones will charge you and explode. However, they go by proximity without detecting if the explosion will actually hurt you. Because of this, a popular way to get rid of them is to open a door, shoot in their direction, close the door, and wait to hear an explosion on the other side.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: Duke can kick a Protozoid Slimer off his face. He can also kick with both legs simultaneously if you select kick as your main weapon and use the quick kick move while kicking.
  • Artistic License – Space: The gravity on the moon is no different from Earth. Likely this is due to technical limitations.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The Pig Cop riot tanks in the Atomic Edition can take a lot of punishment and sport a wide range of weaponry. If you can get behind one though and press the nuclear trefoil symbol on the back, it self-destructs.
  • BFG: The Devastator fires a barrage of tiny rockets. Hard to use, but as the name implies, it can be devastating on anyone unfortunate enough to be in their path.
  • Bad Santa: You have to fight the literal one, the Brainwashed and Crazy Santa, in order to bring him down to normal in the final stage of Duke: Nuclear Winter.
  • Bag of Spilling: At the beginning of each episode you lose all of the weapons and ammo you acquired during the previous episode, except for the pistol and 72 rounds of bullets.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: In some levels of Lunar Apocalypse. Justified due to the game's technical limitations.
  • Beating A Dead Player: Should a monster kill you, it will continue to attack your corpse, even to the detriment to other nearby monsters.
  • Bizarrchitecture:
    • "Lunatic Fringe" takes place in a circular room. It takes two laps around the perimeter to get back to where you started, with the scenery changing after one lap. A cylindrical room in the middle could be entered by several doors and windows. Alternating entrances looked out on alternate versions of the outer room.
    • "Tier Drops" has four rooms occupying the same space, connected by a ring around the outside and by chutes leading to the other rooms.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The original games were bloodless, even though the second game already had stuff like rockets and flamethrowers; Enemies mostly died in a sequence of small explosions and colored particles of random colors. 3D's violence is full-blown blood and gore, with blood sprays, pools under bodies, and chunks strewn everywhere when a corpse is gibbed.
  • Bond One-Liner: At the end of "L.A. Meltdown", the first episode, the boss asks Duke, "Who the hell are you?" Duke shoots his head off and announces that "I'm Duke Nukem and I'm coming to get the rest of you alien bastards!"
  • Boss Corridor:
    • The first boss of the original three episodes, the Battlelord, has a lot of long hallways prior to his large room (some canyon halls, then three halls inside his palace; the last of these is behind the essential boss door, and walking across a certain point towards the end of the hall shuts the door behind you; if you fly over it, you can retreat back to the room just prior to the Battlelord if things get too hot).
    • The fourth episode's last level and the final level of the extended main game, The Queen, forces Duke to run across a river of magenta plasma that will sap his health rather quickly (you will want Boots and you should take Steroids before attempting to cross the river), followed by a dry cave and then an underwater cavern passage with RPG ammo and Atomic Health, the second of which is in front of a hidden door that opens into the Queen's room, starting the Final Boss fight of the extended game (hope you have Scuba Gear).
    • Life's A Beach and Duke it Out in D.C. also have corridors just prior to the rooms with the Cycloid Emperor rematches at the end of the expansions' last stages.
  • Boss-Only Level: There's only one boss-only stage in the main game, which is the "Stadium" at the end of EP3; Duke starts in an elevator that carries him up into a football field with the Cycloid Emperor and a handful of Troopers behind him; this is outside, you can blow up a blimp high in the sky for refills, and accidentally killing the cheerleaders is possible (this will summon the fat Commanders onto the field). The N64 version, however, has all three of its boss fights in their own levels that are separate from the levels preceding them; the falls at the end of "The Abyss" and "Overlord" now end the stage when you take them and go to a smaller area (the "Battlelord" level for EP1, and the "Overlord" level for EP2; the stage before the Overlord was renamed "Dreadnought") for the boss fight. The Cycloid Emperor's stage starts with you staring him in the face right away, is now in an indoor stadium, and you can't kill the cheerleaders.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • The Nintendo 64 version removed the nudity, alcohol, drugs, swearing and religious referencesnote , made the weapons have no effect on women; and toned down the gore as well. The Stripperific attire and Ludicrous Gibs remained, though.
    • The Australian version cut the sexual content out entirely.
  • Brain Monster: One of the monsters is Octobrain, a large floating brain-like creature with tentacles hanging down beneath, 3 red eyes and a large mandibled mouth.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Duke fakes a German accent briefly in one part of Hotel Hell when he says, "Ve meet again, Dr. Jones."
  • Call-Back:
    • The Derelict map from The Atomic Edition's Episode 4 is a reworked (as in actually functional) level from an early beta of the game called Lameduke.
    • Some ideas and design from Lameduke's prison (E3L1) and city level with a bar and a strip club (E1L6) were reused in Death Row and Red Light District of the final game, respectively.
    • In the beginning of Hollywood Holocaust (E1L1), the spacecraft Duke operates is shot down and he says, "Damn! Those alien bastards are gonna pay for shooting up my ride!". The Movie Set map (E3L5) begins with the helicopter Duke pilots being shot down and him saying, "Damn! That's the second time those alien bastards shot up my ride!".
  • Camping a Crapper: There are several public restrooms throughout the game, and you'll want to check each stall to look for health, ammo, and other goodies. Sometimes, you'll find an Assault Trooper in the stall... on the toilet taking a shit. They aren't exactly expecting you to barge in, so they'll be slow to attack, allowing you to easily kill them before they get the chance. If they do get that chance, they're at least considerate enough to flush after themselves.
  • Casual High Drop: The first mission has Duke on a rooftop, loading his pistol, and grousing "Damn! Those alien bastards are gonna pay for shooting up my ride!" Duke's fun begins when he kicks out the fan on a roof vent and climbs into the shaft, falling three of four stories to the alien-infested street below. This barely gets a grunt out of him, and has no effect on his health because he lands on a pair of medkits which instantly heal the damage from the fall.
  • Cherry Tapping: Duke's Mighty Foot, which is both an equippable weapon (except in the Live Arcade version, provided you have ammo of any kind), and available separately while you're holding another weapon, which led to the fantastic ability to kick with both feet simultaneously while walking. The precursor to the melee button found in many newer video games.
  • Chew Bubblegum: Duke's line to open E3L1.
  • Collision Damage: Only against bosses. Killer doors are also the bane of all Build engine games.
  • The Colored Cross: The Medkits were changed from red crosses to red-and-white pills.
  • Come Back to Bed, Honey:
    Duke: My name's Duke Nukem! After a few days of R&R, I'll be ready for more action!
    Woman: Aww, come back to bed, Duke! I'm ready for some action, nowww!
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In Duke 3D, the bullet based enemies (pig cops etc) are capable of hitting you with pin-point accuracy, no matter how far across a large open space they happen to be, while the player may not even be able to see them.
    • This is due to the hitscan weapons having no travel time (which was common in older FPS titles). You can also get great accuracy with the pistol at longer ranges too because of this.
  • Container Maze: Several, including E4L9 (Critical Mass).
  • Content Warnings: The Sega Saturn port of Duke3D was one of only three games to bear Sega's custom-made Deep Water rating, which was used for games meant only for adults and/or mature audiences.
  • Control Room Puzzle: In E1L2, a building must be demolished by entering the correct sequence.
  • Coup de Grâce Cutscene: At the end of each episode.
  • Crossphase Viewport: Lunatic Fringe does this, with the 720-degree column in the center, where one set of windows peers out into one half of the level, and the other set looks out into the other half, on the same wall. However, with conventional geometry, these two locations both sit in the exact same location and space, but are on opposite sides of the level and oh no I've gone crosseyed...
  • Darker and Edgier: Amidst all of the corny movie one-liners and self-aware Black Comedy, Duke went from a fairly cartoony pair of predecessors to blowing up his foes in pretty brutal fashion. Levels are dark, sometimes even bordering on horror tropes and design with the occasional enemy ambush Jump Scare in specific places, and the aliens are not played for laughs whatsoever this time around. Some of the scenes you can find, and even what's happened to some of the babes, even enter Gorn territory.
  • Dead-End Room: In the XBox Live Arcade version, it was found that E4L9 (Critical Mass) had an Unintentionally Unwinnable scenario; that level involves getting past a room which collapses behind you, so that there's no way back. Unfortunately, dying sends you back to the start of the level and you are thus required to get past the collapsing room again — which in multiplayer is no longer possible as the level doesn't reset. In deathmatch this isn't a problem as there's a switch which opens a teleport to bypass the collapsing room, but the designers forgot to make this available in co-op. When the walkthrough was written, this mistake was found and corrected.
  • Degraded Boss:
    • The Battlelord re-appears throughout the other three episodes. He's much weaker, but those who just finished playing Doom don't know that. He still retains the deadly firepower, though, and you can potentially fight two or more at a time. (especially in custom maps).
    • The N64 version also degrades the Overlord; he reappears in this port's "Hotel Hell" and "Freeway" levels, which are the last stages one can play in this version prior to confronting the 3D Cycloid Emperor in an indoor stadium (there's no EP4 on the Nintendo64; the game ends after the Emperor is defeated). The mini-Overlord only appears once in each of these levels (in spots occupied by mini-Battlelords in the other ports) and only on the "Come Get Some" and "Damn I'm Good" difficulties. He's still a handful here.
    • The 20th Anniversary World Tour degrades all three main bosses from the original 3 episodes for Episode 5, and in one level, "Bloody Hell", a cathedral has at least one mini version of each of the bosses (the Battlelord, Overlord and Cycloid Emperor) stationed outside it. The level ends with a full-sized Cycloid Emperor, but he's not counted as a full boss and an exit panel is right behind him (a full-sized Battlelord follows in a later level).
  • Depth Perplexion: The Protozoid Slimer attacks by latching onto Duke's face, blocking the player's vision. However, your weapons are drawn on top of everything else, including these bastards, so shooting your weapon will get them off you. It's not clear how firing a gun that's held in your hand and pointed away from you would kill a creature that's on your head. This will also block rockets from your RPG, blowing you up if you use that weapon while one is latched onto you. In some versions of the game, you can even kick them off your face.
  • Destroyable Items: Stray pipebombs and grenade rounds in Duke Nukem 3D can be blown up by shooting them.
  • Determinator: Immediately after destroying an alien empire and having his ride back to Earth shot down, he declares war on this new alien menace. In Plutonium, he breaks his vacation to do it all over again.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: Many of the props can be destroyed.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Typing "DNBETA" causes the game to display the message, "PIRATES SUCK!" note 
  • Direct Continuous Levels: In the first two episodes, every level leads logically to the next. In episode three, this is only the case once or twice. They discard level-to-level continuity completely for the Plutonium Pak episode.
    • Taken to borderline absurd levels in Duke it out in D.C. Some levels will literally start in the same corridor or room the previous one ended in!
  • Disk One Nuke: Right at the start of the first level of the 2nd episode (Lunar Apocalypse) there is a teleporter taking you into your ship, where you can find an RPG.
  • Disintegrator Ray: The Plasma Rifle in 64, if an enemy happens to die from a shot. It doesn't matter if you only used the plasma rifle, or you pumped them full of lead before finishing them off with the plasma rifle: if the last shot is with the plasma rifle, they will turn into sparkly silhouettes before fading away.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Enemies can't shoot and move at the same time.
  • Down L.A. Drain: A big part of E2L1 in Lameduke takes place in the L.A. River.
  • Duck!: In the Pigsty map, one security monitor shows an image of a duck accompanied with an exclamation mark. Right after Duke has seen it, a rocket fired by an enemy flies towards him. The image is a message which tells Duke to duck, so the rocket wouldn't hit him.
  • Due to the Dead: Duke threatens the end boss of Episode 2 with ripping off his head and shitting down his neck. Sure enough, a cut scene after you kill the boss shows Duke doing just that, ending off with him sitting on the alien's neck reading a newspaper while he takes a good long dump.
    • In the outro text for Episode 2, he states that the last thing that will go through the Cycloid Emperor's mind when he dies, is his size-13 boot. The final cutscene is just that.
  • Easter Egg.
    • The most common is "You're not supposed to be here" found in The Abyss. Probably intended to be unvisitable, but visible in plain view if you collect the Jet Pack on the Secret Level. Most others need the no-clipping cheat entered.
    • The Dopefish Lives
    • Using the automap cheat reveals the level designer's name created as rooms in the shape of each letter.
    • On any level with a non-surveillance image on the security camera, it's possible to visit the place where this image is set up using no-clip mode.
    • The "How did you get here?" message in Toxic Dump.
    • "Duke was here 2017" in Hotel Hell.
    • In the bathroom in the first level, one of the developers left his (now long defunct) email address on the wall in the stall with the pooping alien trooper.note 
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Averted. The game is still fully playable even on Piece of Cake difficulty, and Duke will deal with less enemies than usual.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: The Hollywood sign can be seen in the skybox of all Los Angeles levels, nestled between many skyscrapers
  • The End... Or Is It?: Parodied in Lameduke: When you exit the game, a message "Game Over, or is it?" appears on the screen.
  • Enter Solution Here: In order to complete E4L11, the player must launch two missiles in the end by entering a code which is revealed in another part of the level.
  • Event Flag: In The Abyss, a major route is blocked. To open it, you need to stand near the sign for the San Andreas fault, and watch the terrain ahead collapse.
  • Evil Laugh: The alien commanders have a throaty evil laugh as their active sound.
  • Exact Words: See Due to the Dead.
  • Exploding Barrels:
  • Explosive Decompression: If the player turns the Noclip cheat off and enters outer space, Duke will simply die instantly. Not even the Scuba Gear could save him, though. (This is very likely caused by the invisible "liquid" in the game's engine in which it works the same as the toxic waste, albeit causing a One-Hit Kill) Oddly enough, this won't happen if Duke is exposed to outer space during the several portions of the second episode's levels (For example: E2L8: Dark Side).
    • This is due to a scrapped feature where Duke was going to have the ability to wear a spacesuit (but which only played a meaningful role in E2L8: Dark Side, hence why it was removed). Nevertheless, entering sectors with a space ceiling or floor will still instantly kill the player. Such areas where the player can survive have a tag set so the effect is disabled.
  • Face Hugger: The Protozoid Slimer, who provides some disturbing Interface Screw while jumping at Duke's face.
  • Fan Disservice: Many levels (especially in episode 2) feature naked or nearly nude women trapped in cocoons and the like. It's hard to feel much arousal however, considering they are being forced to be incubators for baby aliens and are basically stuck in a Fate Worse than Death as they will simply say "kill me" when you talk to them.
  • Fanservice Pack: Penthouse Magazine actually released their own Duke Nukem 3D map which added scanned images of nude penthouse pets into the game.
  • Final Boss: The Cycloid Emperor fills this role in the original three episodes and two of the expansion packs; he touts Devastator ammo in all three fights. In "The Birth", the Queen is the last enemy and the hardest since she can electrify the water you're swimming in and birth reinforcements. As for the Christmas expansion, Santa Claus himself appears in the last level of the pack when you enter his office, and he's similar to fighting a Dukematch opponent. The Alien World Order Episode 5 for the game's 20th anniversary has a reskinned Cycloid Emperor with a flamethrower.
  • First-Person Ghost: Being one of the first FPS games with mouselook, it falls victim to this trope. The only time you see your feet is when performing a kick attack.
  • First-Person Shooter: A major one in the genre, one of the first to make a real attempt at not just blindly copying Doom.
  • Flunky Boss:
    • Almost all of the episode bosses can or will have some help with them when confronted. The Battlelord initially attacks solo, but there are three babes in his arena that, if killed by accident, will summon other enemies. The Overlord on all versions has a bunch of Slimer Pods in his room (they can be destroyed before he appears), the Cycloid Emperor has Troopers behind him in the main game (killing a cheerleader will bring out Alien Commanders) and the Life's a Beach expansion also can have him assisted by the bouncing rubber monsters, and the Queen has Aliens and Octobrains and can birth more. The reskinned Cycloid Emperor in Alien World Order has Pig Cops in flying cars around him.
    • The exceptions are Santa Claus in Nuclear Winter, the Cycloid Emperor rematch in Duke it out in D.C., and all bosses in the N64 version; the Overlord still has the Slimer Pods on the harder difficulties, but the others are fought solo.
  • Flushing-Edge Interactivity: Toilets and urinals can be used (the way they're typically used...) every few minutes to restore 10 health points, and they can also be destroyed to yield a stream of water that can heal the player to maximum, though very slowly.
  • Force-Field Door: Introduced in the level "Death Row" and is common in space-themed levels.
  • Freeze Ray: The Freezethrower.
  • Freudian Slip: "This is KTIT. Playing the breast—uh... the best tunes in town!"
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The second level in Nuclear Winter soft locks upon trying to update the leaderboard on the Playstation Vita version, making it impossible to even have the game register the level as completed.
  • Game Mod: Like Doom, there are a whole slew of custom maps for this game, and also like Doom, when the respective source ports were released, there are also a whole slew of gameplay mods, from the gameplay enhancing Duke Plus to the Duke Nukem 3D Alien Armageddon, which adds Bombshell based on the early Duke Nukem Forever trailer with her own set of weapons, and the High Resolution Pack which replaces the original 2d character models with 3d ones.
  • Girliness Upgrade: Gender inverted. Before this game, he had curly hair, watched Oprah and was never shown drinking or ogling women.
  • Going Critical: Several levels have reactors that must be destroyed (with explosive results, naturally) before the player could progress in the game. The level "Critical Mass" plays this straight.
  • Groin Attack: The shrink ray works on the mini-Battlelords if you use it to do this.
    • Duke also finishes off the Alien Queen by shoving a pipe bomb up her birth canal.
  • The Grunting Orgasm: Duke during the ending, after defeating the Cycloid Emperor, does a few loud grunts and growls with a babe who wanted some more action. Thankfully it's not shown.
  • Guns Akimbo: The Nintendo 64 port replaces the Ripper with a pair of MP5K sub machineguns.
    • In Duke Plus, you're given the ability to use dual pistols.
  • Harder Than Hard: The "Damn, I'm Good" difficulty setting, which disables cheat toggles and resurrects any fallen enemies that aren't gibbed.
  • Harmless Freezing: Using freezethrower on the enemy will freeze him solid, but if you won't shatter him into pieces quickly enough (either by shooting or kicking him), he will thaw in time, with no ill effects.
  • Heal It with Water: The game allows the mechanic of adding 1% health for drinking water, up to 9%. This is usually done after wrecking a fire hydrant or a toilet, then sipping from the fountain thusly created.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The sound of a Protozoid Slimer crawling around when you don't know where it is.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: The Battlelord Jr has a weird example: while they aren't immune to the Shrink Ray like some monsters, for some reason you have to shoot them in below the waist for the hit to register (near the left foot works best). As no other monster has this problem, it is presumably a bug due to the Battlelord Jr's sprite being so big.
  • Hitscan: The pistol, the shotgun, and the chaingun shoot bullets that instantly "teleport" to their target.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The original two games didn't even hint at naughtiness.
  • Ice Breaker: The freeze ray. Frozen enemies would shatter into a million tiny pieces if kicked or shot, even with a single round from the pistol. But if they thawed they'd be able to somehow continue fighting.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Named after catchphrases that Duke sometimes utters in-game:
    • "Piece of Cake": The easiest.
    • "Let's Rock": Normal difficulty.
    • "Come Get Some": Hard difficulty.
    • "Damn, I'm Good": Harder Than Hard, roughly equivalent to Doom's Nightmare difficulty. The enemies respawn on this difficulty if the player does not destroy their corpses.
  • Idle Animation: If Duke is left alone for some time, he will crack his knuckles and say either "Come on!" or "What are you waiting for? Christmas?"
  • Immediate Sequel: In the beginning of "Hollywood Holocaust", the very first level, Duke's ride is shot down as he's returning to Earth after defeating the Rigelatins. This trope is apparently played even straighter in the beginning of Lameduke where he has just arrived into a space station, i.e. presumably travelled a shorter distance than in the final game. In general, this beta version also is stylistically closer to its prequels.
  • In a Single Bound: Reduced to slightly more realistic jumping height in the less-platformy third one.
  • Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt
  • Increasingly Lethal Enemy: The Final Boss is the alien queen, who gives birth to a dangerous drone every thirty seconds. Extra difficulty comes from the battle being underwater: once the player's air tank runs out, he's compelled to surface for air periodically, during which one or two new drones will be spawned.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Useful items are commonly found inside garbage bins.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Devastator.
  • Innocent Bystander: Hookers and captured women.
  • Instant-Win Condition: There might be keys you need to get to unlock the way to the exit, but (with the exception of boss levels) reaching the exit will take you to the next level with full health.
  • Jenny's Number: The Hollywood Holocaust level has "867-5309" written above the leftmost urinal.
  • Jet Pack: It's also the first FPS to implement one.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: A zigzagged example, the alien invaders have soldiers equipped with energy-based weapons, but they also used balistic weapons such as the Ripper, RPG, and Grenades. High-ranking enemies such as the Battlelords favor Rippers and Grenade Launchers.
  • Kill It with Fire: The new Alien World Order campaign from the 20th Anniversary World Tour adds a flamethrower weapon, as well as a new enemy type and new final boss that both use the flamethrower as their primary weapon.
  • Lamprey Mouth: The Protozoid Slimers have mouths like these, which they just love to fill your screen with.
  • Large Ham: Duke Nukem himself. One of the largest video game hams, exaggerated for laughs.
  • Laser Sight: Appears in Duke's pistol in Lameduke but is unused in the final game.
  • The Last Thing You Ever See: Combined with Exact Words. "I'm coming back to town, and the last thing that's gonna go through your mind before you die... is my size-13 boot!"
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Shrink Ray may be funny, but it's actually a pretty good weapon for taking out more powerful enemies, as it effectively is a One-Hit KO if it works and you stomp them in time. Even though doesn't work on bosses, as well as any enemies with mechanical parts for some reason, it's still good for taking out alien commanders and Battlelord Jrs.
  • Level in Reverse: Not in the main title, but in the Nuclear Winter expansion pack, where the first two levels are the first two from the standard edition, played backwards and more Christmas-y.
  • Level-Map Display: The game features an overhead map view (with an untextured and a textured mode) which shows the areas you have explored (or the whole map if you use cheat code).
  • Literal-Minded: When Duke Nukem threatens to tear off your head and shit down your neck, he will in fact, literally tear off your head and shit down your neck.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Using the freezethrower will result in this.
  • Lizard Folk: Many enemies in this game have shades of this, sporting short lizard-like tails or digitigrade feet. The only one which plays this trope completely straight, though, is Assault Enforcer.
  • Locked Door: At least one in almost each level; usually opened with a blue, yellow or red keycard, but some are unlocked with a switch or a combination of switches.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Explosive weapons would send pieces flying, and getting squished by a ceiling/floor would leave a stretchy patch of gore connecting the floor and ceiling. The game's objects were also scripted, meaning it was more than possible to make the gibs MORE ludicrous. (Or, if you used one of the given examples, made enemies gib into money.)
    • Notably, reducing an enemy to Ludicrous Gibs (which can include blowing up the corpse) is the only way to prevent an enemy from resurrecting on the "Damn, I'm Good!" difficulty
  • Macro Zone: While the shrink ray is primarily used to attack enemies, there are at least three parts of the game which require Duke be shrunk to get into another part of the level. (One can be bypassed by taking a route through one of the secret areas, which also means that the blue key is not needed, but the standard route is arguably easier.)
  • Made of Explodium: Apparently the fire extinguishers in the game's universe are filled with explodium, as when shot with anything they explode like an RPG going off, often blowing holes in walls and the like.
  • Marijuana Is LSD: In High Times (which takes place in Amsterdam) Duke goes to a coffee shop and starts having vivid hallucinations after using some... "coffee".
  • Mirror Boss: Santa Claus in the Nuclear Winter level pack. In stark contrast to all the other enemies and bosses in the series, he fights like a multiplayer opponent; moving and jumping around quite fast, equipped with multiple weapons (a shotgun, chaingun, and rocket launcher, as well as a kick attack) and is even able to use a jetpack to counter you if you try to use one.
  • Monster Closet: Many examples, many of which could be avoided by using the jetpack to quickly fly over the Event Flag.
  • Moon-Landing Hoax: An area of the Hollywood level includes a movie set containing fake lunar scenery with an American flag and the lunar module standing there...except you visit the ACTUAL moon in Episode 2, complete with human-made moon base. The studio was just filming "Lunar Apocalypse", the movie version of Duke's trip to the moon in Episode 2.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Whenever a player uses the quick-kick key, the game displays a message saying, "Mighty Foot Engaged."
  • Mushroom Samba: The first level of Alien World Order takes place in Amsterdam, complete with a "coffee" shop where Duke must...ahem...partake to reach the end of the level, which causes him to hallucinate (depicted via clever design tricks in the level editor).
    Duke: Whoa, that's some good..."coffee"!
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Aside of the Duke, it applies to some of the weapons like the Devastator.
  • No-Gear Level: Duke is stripped of all of his weapons and inventory after being captured two levels into the first episode, and starts the third level of the game, "Death Row", with zilch. However, a resourceful player will only spend only a maximum of a minute or so with only Duke's size 13 boot as a weapon, and will only need to kick one Pig Cop to death with it before he can reclaim his pistol and acquire a new shotgun.
  • No Name Given: Strangely enough, while Duke Nukem I names the main enemies the Techbots and Duke Nukem II names the aliens he faces the Rigelatins, the alien race in Duke Nukem 3D is never given a real name.
  • Noodle Incident: We never learn why the aliens are invading in the first place (other than possibly to use human women as incubators for the protozoid slimers, although that raises the question of what creatures they used for this purpose before they invaded, and why they ran out.) The official manual reveals that their motivation is a bit more complex.
  • Not Completely Useless: The freeze thrower is basically the shrink ray except that it requires sustained shots instead of disabling a foe right away and the ammo for it is rarer. The fourth episode's exclusive spawn normally takes a lot (two direct RPGs to kill) and is fast, plus immune to the shrink ray. It is not immune to the freeze thrower and is stunlocked by its shots.
  • No Fair Cheating: The "Damn, I'm Good" difficulty will disable all the cheats. At the same time it can also be worked around if you know how to use the mapwarp and Godmode code right.
    • The same thing also happens if you attempt to explore the outer space while using Noclip. If you turn it off, you'll die instantly. (See Explosive Decompression)
  • Not Hyperbole: Before facing the Overlord in Episode 2, Duke says "I’ll rip your head off and shit down your neck!" After beating it, he does.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • Assault Troopers and their slightly stronger Assault Captain counterparts, sometimes don't die right away but get on their knees and die moments later - unless they're killed in other ways before natural death. Any Trooper/Captain dying this way has a chance of coming back to life at the worst possible moment, and the only way to be sure it won't happen is to gib the body. Killing them before they die on their own does not influence this chance!
    • This trope applies to every single non-boss monster on the "Damn I'm Good" difficulty, the main difference being that they will keep getting resurrected unless you gib them.
  • One Bullet Clips: Since Duke 3D was one of the first "Doom clone"-era shooters where any of its weapons - the pistol in this case - required an actual reloading animation, this was bound to happen. Due to technical limitations of that period, the game does not track the 12 bullets that fit in the magazine; instead, the game just plays the reload animation when the pistol ammo counter hits a multiple of 12. Strangely, your maximum ammo for the pistol isn't divisible by twelve, so at full ammo Duke carries around a good number of fully-loaded mags, plus one that's down-loaded to eight rounds which he'll load first - and if you can consistently kill enemies who drop pistol mags within those eight shots, he can continue firing far more bullets than he should be able to from the mag that's supposedly carrying less ammo.
  • Personal Space Invader: Protozoid Slimers attack Duke by crawling either up his leg or down from the ceiling onto his face, which translates to your screen being filled with a horrific toothy maw. Luckily, you can get rid of them either by shooting or kicking them off (don't ask how kicking a Slimer off your face would work).
  • Pinball Spin-Off: Balls of Steel, appropriately enough, published by 3D Realms and features a "Duke" table in its collection.
  • Playing with Fire: The Alien World Order episode from the 20th Anniversary edition adds new troopers with flamethrowers (these guys will self-destruct when killed), and the new Cycloid Emperor at the end of the episode also has a flamethrower. The episode also adds a flamethrower for Duke to use. Torching a non-boss enemy will sap their health down quickly (it will kill the weaker enemies), but stepping on flamethrower fire or getting hit yourself will send your health plummeting.
  • Pocket Rocket Launcher: The game has a pair of gauntlets that launch small rockets from the knuckles, up to thirty rockets maximum. Ammo for these gauntlets is scarce, so it's wise to save this weapon for use against the Final Boss.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Duke is practically the Trope Codifier when it comes to video game characters. Duke hates aliens, loves booze and strippers, and couldn't care less if people are offended by his antics.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Duke tells the second boss "I'll rip your head off and shit down your neck!" and the final boss "It's down to you and me, you one eyed freak!". The Bonus Boss gets "I'm gonna kick your ass, bitch!" Oddly the first boss doesn't get one.
  • Prison Level: Duke gets captured at the end of "Red Light District". The next level, "Death Row", starts with him in the electric chair.
  • Produce Pelting: Implied in the level "XXX-Stacy" which has a comedy club where you can see a tomato thrown on the wall behind the stage.
  • Product Displacement: Real-world credit card logos which were featured on the "Order Now!" screen but also repurposed for in-game cash registers were replaced with Bland-Name Product versions of the logos for 20th Anniversary World Tour
  • Pulled from Your Day Off: The fourth episode "The Birth", opens with Duke grousing, "Someone's going to pay for screwing up my vacation." He then loads and cocks a pistol vengefully.
  • Rated M for Manly: And beyond.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Pig Cops have red eyes, which actually makes it possible to see them in the dark.
  • Reference Overdosed: Evil Dead, Star Wars, They Live!, Terminator, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Easy Rider, Pulp Fiction, Doom, Quake, Indiana Jones, Full Metal Jacket, Die Hard, Predator, Fantastic Four... you get the picture. Most of them are quotes said word-for-word by Duke.
  • Rearrange the Song: The BGM for High Times "Bullet Dam", is (first level of Alien World Order) basically a remix of "The Stalker" (the BGM for Hollywood Holocaust, the first level of L.A. Meltdown.)
  • Refuge in Audacity: Part of the series' driving humor was that everyone in Duke Nukem spoke of crude sex puns, cheesy one-liners, and wacky enemies. One of the developers stated that the fact NPCs take it so seriously just adds to it.
  • Saving Christmas: The entire plot of Duke: Nuclear Winter revolves around this a lot, especially when you have to destroy the Feminist Elven Militia's control over Santa by shooting him a lot.
  • Score Screen: The game doesn't have points but does have a screen to show you how many of the level's secrets you found or missed, enemies you killed and missed, and to compare your time to two different par times. (a standard par time and 3D Realms' best time)
  • Screen Shake: Whenever there's an earthquake.
  • Secret Level: One in episode 1, two each in episodes 2 and 3, and another one in episode 4. Also one each in Life's A Beach and Duke it Out in D.C..
  • Sequel Escalation: The new Alien World Order episode in 20th Anniversary World Tour; ammo is a lot more common than in the original, but you fight a lot more enemies at once as well. Overall the new campaign takes advantage of modern systems to do things that were technically possible in the original engine but couldn't be done due to system limitations at the time.
  • Set Piece Puzzle: In one level, to continue you have to demolish a building, by setting four switches in the correct on/off sequence.
    • In Bank Roll, you need to align four rotating rooms correctly to continue.
  • Shareware: The six levels of episode 1 are available for free. Buying the full version gets you an additional 22 levels, and the Plutonium Pak (which upgrades to the Atomic Edition) adds another 11 on top of that.
  • Shock and Awe: The boss of "The Birth", the Queen, can electrify the water, hurting you no matter where you are.
    • Also, the third level of the game loads you up in an electric chair, so you need to move immediately. Oh, and your weapons have been taken away.
  • Shout-Out: Check the page.
  • Shrink Ray: One of Duke's available weapons is a shrink ray. Some wall-mounted cannons (and the Alien Beasts in Episode 4 (The Birth) of the Atomic Edition) can use the same attack. Anyone who is hit by this attack other than final bosses will be shrunk to the size of a mouse and can be instantly killed if any normal-sized foe gets too close. When Duke kills an enemy this way, he is seen to be stepping on them like a bug. When Duke himself is hit with this attack, the camera drops to insect-height and he loses his ability to attack. If he gets too close to an enemy, they can in turn step on Duke and kill him regardless of his current health or armor.
  • Smug Super: Duke knows full well how skilled and powerful he is and doesn't hesitate to brag about it.
  • Soft Water: In Duke Nukem 3D, landing in water means no falling damage. Used at the end of one level, where the level exit is located at the bottom of a pit deep enough to kill Duke if the water wasn't present.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In the stages of Duke: Nuclear Winter, there's some jolly Christmas music to go along with attacking and then getting attacked by aliens, reindeer, monstrous snowmen, renegade elves, and eventually Santa Claus.
    • In "Shop-N-Bag", the music is mostly suspenseful ambiance... except for prominent sections that are a Muzak version of the Duke Nukem theme "Grabbag".
    • The level "Movie Set" is very comedic in tone and is about the making of a movie about Duke's exploits in the previous two episodes, including a moon and spaceship set. The BGM "Invader" is very serious and sounds more like a military march than anything
    • "The Queen" (the final level of episode 4 and thus the final level of the game until 2016) has the track "Departure", which is very sad and melancholy, rather than scary or action-y as you may expect.
  • Space Base: Episode 2 takes place on one. And there's one on the moon.
  • Standard FPS Guns: Kick, pistol, shotgun, machine gun, rocket launcher, pipe bombs. However, it also has several more specialized and original guns, such as the freeze ray or the shrinker.
  • Strange Secret Entrance: One level had an area with the message "You're not supposed to be here" and later had "The Dopefish lives!" at the bottom of a pillar (though both are reachable without cheating by collecting the jetpack in the previous level), and an earlier level had a hidden area asking "How did you get here?".
    • And you start outside a building with a sign out front that proudly declares it to be the "Impossible Mission Facility".
  • Stock Sound Effects: The Battlelord's iconic and terrifying roar is taken from the Tyrannosaurus Rex in The Land Unknown. Sound familiar?
  • A Taste of Power: In the very first level of first chapter it si possible to obtain the RPG from a secret.
  • Take That!:
    • There are a pair of billboards in the game referencing the OJ Simpson trial, one saying Innocent? and the other proclaiming Guilty! Both are written in blood. OJ's white Bronco chase can be seen on one of the TVs as well. And in the level "Pigsty" (a police station), you can find the infamous leather glove next to a bloody knife.
    • In E1L3, "Death Row", Duke sees a Space Marine's corpse behind a temple and quips, "That's one Doomed space marine!"
    • In E2L7, "Lunar Reactor", you can find Luke Skywalker's corpse hanging from the ceiling. Duke comments "Now that's a Force to be reckoned with!"
    • In E3L4, "L.A. Rumble", there is a building named "East Town Towers", which is a pun on the name of the id Software offices at the time, "Town East Towers". Initially an Homage, but when you approach the "Quake Site" warning sign, an earthquake damages the building, at which point Duke quips: "I ain't afraid of no Quake!" (released the same year as Duke 3D)
    • In E3L8, "Hotel Hell", you can find Indiana Jones, who fell victim to a booby trap. Duke puts on a German accent and says "Ve meet again, Dr. Jones!"
    • In the World Tour level E5L4, "Mirage Barrage", Duke can find Serious Sam's corpse and quip "Why so serious, Sam?"
  • Testosterone Poisoning: As a parody of action movie heroes, Duke is a swaggering, muscle-bound, steroid-using, foul-mouthed, larger than life alpha male badass with a corny one-liner for every occasion. And he's going after the aliens because they stole his babes.
  • This Page Will Self-Destruct: An explosive homage in the "It's Impossible" level of the Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition. A tape recorder in the entry hall will play, "This tape will self-destruct in one second", and then promptly blow up; this is really the only Easter Egg capable of damaging the player.
  • Third Is 3D: Both the name of the game, and its version number, 1.3d.
  • Toilet Humour:
    • The map Lunar Reactor has a restricted area sign above a door. The only room it leads to is the washroom.
    • Duke can also use one every 10 or so minutes per level to recover 10% of his health, complete with a sound of him pissing and then saying "Ah, much better!" Even better than that, you can just shoot the toilet and drink the water. You can recover your health this way, 1% at a time (you can recover it fully, but it takes a long time standing and holding the "use" key).
    • The ending cinematic of episode 2. When Duke told the boss he'd rip off his head and shit down his neck, well, he wasn't lying.
    • Each time the Assault Enforcer (that big, light brown lizardman with machine gun for hand) performs his crouching animation, there is a chance that he will take a shite while doing that. No, really. In 20th Anniversary World Tour edition there is even an achievement for stepping into his pile of poop.
    • In the Duke Burger level, you will find yourself in a kennel with dog shit everywhere. And yes, you can step in it.
  • Too Awesome to Use: The Devastator is a double-barreled, fully automatic rocket launcher that can clear an entire room full of baddies in mere seconds. However, it burns through rockets very quickly and spare ammo for it is very rare, meaning most players will probably just save it until they reach an episode's boss enemy.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: Some levels have barrels with burning trash inside. Destroying these barrels spawns small fires which will die after a few moments.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Generally averted by the base game. However, the Nuclear Winter expansion makes a habit of spawning trip bomb traps and ambushes right on top of you, often killing you before you have a chance to react (until you inevitably resort to Save Scumming to get past them).
  • Trope Codifier: Hard as it is to remember now, but First Person Shooters prior to this one didn't feature "realistic" real world locations. Things that Duke 3d did first include: televisions that show different programs; closed circuit security cameras that let you see other areas of the level than the bit you're in; working subway trains that take you across "town"; strip bars/clubs; breakable glass/destroyable furniture/mirrors that you can see your own reflection in; triggered set pieces such as earthquakes that can destroy the architecture around the player; and working toilets that you can use to gain extra health. These things were quite revolutionary at the time, and the level design in later games of the genre (such as Half-Life, Deus Ex, Soldier of Fortune, and even aspects of Doom³) show signs of its groundbreaking influence. It could be argued that this organic approach to level design would have come about anyway as a direct result of increasingly better technology... but nevertheless, Duke 3d was there first.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: The Duke Caribbean expansion pack, set on a tropical island resort with the enemies and weapons altered to match.
  • 20 Minutes in the Future: The game is set in 2007 (11 years after its release). Humans have space stations and a moonbase, and there's all the advanced weaponry, but Earth looks just like the modern-day world.
  • Underwater Boss Battle: The Alien Queen in Episode 4. Not only is she 1500 Hit Points tougher than the other bosses, you have to fight her underwater, she can give you a nasty zap, and she keeps laying more enemies!
  • Updated Re-release: the Atomic edition, which includes the official expansion pack (which effectively consists in a patch to turn the normal edition into the Atomic Edition), and the Xbox Live Arcade version, almost identical to the Atomic Edition (one small bug in co-op which could trap players was fixed), with improved stats tracking and online multiplayer.

    One of the stat tracking features also allowed you to watch a recorded level and play from the position the recorded player was in. It doesn't keep track of the stats from that reason unless it's your replay every time you died when you played in single player though.
    • The Megaton Edition, which was released for Steam and PS3. It includes the first four episodes, plus the Duke it Out in D.C., Duke Caribbean, and Nuclear Winter expansion packs.
    • The 20th Anniversary World Tour edition lacks the expansion packs, but features improved lighting, truly 3D environments, cleaner textures, new and re-recorded dialogue by Jon St. John, and developer commentary tracks. And most notable of all, it includes a brand new fifth episode by the original designers with new music from the original composer, a new enemy type, and a new weapon.
  • Videogame Caring Potential:
    • Duke can give a lot of money to strippers.
    • Also in the Nintendo 64 port, Duke was able to rescue women trapped in alien pods in exchange for being immune to damage.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: You can kill the strippers if you want, although doing so will often make more enemies spawn. You can also kill the women trapped in the cocoons, although considering their current plight, it can hardly be called cruel.
  • Visual Pun: Amongst the many instances of Black Humor, perhaps the most memorable is the aliens' transformation of the LA Police Department into literal pigs, with the letter on their shirts spelled as L.A.R.D. rather than L.A.P.D.
    • Another very dark Visual Pun occurs in the fourth episode, when Duke enters a courtroom. Upon entering one of the siderooms to the court, Duke comes across about a dozen or so corpses hanging from nooses, or a "hung jury".
    • In the map Pigsty, there is an example of the Duck! pun.
  • Weaponized Offspring: The 1996 release had Duke face the alien queen as the Final Boss. The queen routinely birthed drones that could fire shrink rays at Duke, making him very squishable.
  • Who Are You?: The cutscene at the end of LA Meltdown has the episode's boss, a Battlelord, asking this of Duke Nukem after being defeated.
    Battlelord: Who the hell are you?!
    Duke Nukem: (blows the Battlelord's head open) I'm Duke Nukem, and I'm coming to get the rest of you alien bastards!
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The previous game took place in 1998note , and while it's never stated how long Duke's vacation was, calendars in the game set the game in 2046, meaning at a bare minimum, Duke should be in his late 60s/early 70snote .
  • You Must Be This Tall to Ride: In Atomic Edition, the level "Babe Land" has a sign with Duke's likeness before a ride entrance, saying "You must be 48 pixels tall to enter".

"My name is Duke Nukem, and after a few days of R&R, I'll be ready for more action."