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"You're wrong Proton-breath. I'll be done with you and still have time to watch Oprah!"
Earth's greatest hero. Terrifying, isn't it?
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Duke Nukem is the first game of the Duke Nukem series.

A no-brainer Platform Game, the title was split into three episodes, and starts in the near future of 1997, where Dr. Proton, your average Mad Scientist, attempts to Take Over the World with his army of Techbots. The eponymous Duke Nukem, self proclaimed hero extraordinaire, who is very angry about the fact that the attack has interrupted his favorite day-time Soap Operas, gets hired by the CIA to repel the invasion and take the fight back to Dr. Proton's lunar base.

The events of the story then set off the plot of the sequel.


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This game shows examples of:

  • Attackable Pickup:
    • Soda cans will fly upwards when shot, and catching them will give you more points than regular soda cans, but they no longer grant health.
    • The turkey becomes bigger when shot once, giving double health and double points.
  • Attract Mode: Showing a playthrough of the second episode's first level with slightly different layout and different backdrops and powerups.
  • Bag of Spilling: Duke loses all his upgrades and extra firepower between episodes.
  • Booby Trap:
    • Grey boxes, when opened, will sometimes reveal bombs. Duke has about a second to run or jump away before they cover the ground in a carpet of flames.
    • Soda cans will sometimes be hidden behind boxes — meaning that when you try to shoot the box, you first hit the can, probably wasting it (and certainly not getting any health from it).
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  • Collision Damage: Everywhere. Some of the techbots don't even have weapons, they just hurt you by touching you. Depending on the specific bot, they may or may not die in the process.
  • Crate Expectations: Dr. Proton's bases are filled with crates that can be shot for points, most of the time also containing bonus items, health, and other pickups. Some boxes are booby trapped as well.
  • Cute Bruiser: The bright magenta Bunny Techbots. Cuddling them is worth a lot more than just shooting them (although of course at the cost of a health point).
  • Destroy the Security Camera: Some shootable targets are security cameras suspended from the ceiling, that track Duke as he moves; each camera Duke zaps is worth 100 points. Doc Proton appears on a video screen in the first level, taunting Duke that he'll be tracking his every move. Destroying every camera on a level gives bonus points.
  • Destroyable Items: The soda cans and balloons. Shooting cans at least has a purpose, if you already have full health and want more points, but balloons just pop.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: From Duke being a "self-proclaimed hero" working as an unofficial CIA agent before he even has a reputation whatsoever, to a predominantly human antagonist trying to take over the world compared to the alien threats in the rest of the series, to the absolutely strange assortment of enemies. From alien-like creatures and living flames, to Energizer Bunnies called "Rabbitoids" and all sorts of weird stuff, not to mention actual ACME weights all strewn about. Whereas future games have at least some semblance of seriousness mixed with satire, the first game is one wacky jaunt of a platformer.
  • Easter Egg:
    • All three episodes have a secret eleventh level (with largely the same design as Episode 2's first level but differing in backdrops and items), which is the level featured in the Attract Mode. It can be reached only by the warp-to-next-level cheat (or by using a Level Editor to add an exit door to Level 10), and cannot be completed (upon exiting it, the exit door simply disappears, along with everything else in the level except for Duke himself, forever trapping him in a level completely devoid of life).
    • E1L9 has "TODD '91" spelled out in barrels below the level, not visible in standard gameplay.
  • The Goomba: The first enemy encountered is a tiny robot half the size of Duke walking back and forth and takes one shot to destroy.
  • Goomba Stomp: Attack Drone techbots can be defeated by landing on top of them. If the landing isn't precise, though, Duke will get hurt in the process.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Health is gained from consuming turkey and soda.
  • In a Single Bound: Duke can jump about 1.5x his height. 2x with the super jump boots powerup.
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: The game has Duke roaming around ten levels of Dr. Proton's Elaborate Underground Base, with an occasional turkey drumstick available to add about 12% health. Interestingly, Duke's handheld Wave-Motion Gun can be used to "cook" a turkey drumstick into a complete turkey dinner worth 25% health. Averted with the soda, which is sealed in a can.
  • Inconveniently Placed Conveyor Belt: Dr. Proton's lunar base (E2L10) is full of them.
  • Instant Roast: One shot from Nukem's gun is all it takes.
  • The Maze: Many levels are like this, most prominently E1L5 (which Dr. Proton even refers to as his "Maze of Madness").
  • Mercy Invincibility: While Duke is flashing from being hurt, he can't be hurt again.
  • Moving Target Bonus: You can get a can of cola for one health point, or shoot the can and catch it while it's in the air before it disappears off the top of the screen for 1,000 score points. Some blue crates contain red balloons; catching (not shooting) them before they float away is worth 10,000 points. Then there's the Bunny Techbots; you can shoot them for just 200 points, or cuddle them for 5000 points (at the cost of a health point).note 
  • Name's the Same: Invoked. Soon after the launch of the first game, the name was changed to "Duke Nukum" because of the character Duke Nukem from Captain Planet; however, since the name was not trademarked, they switched back to "Duke Nukem."
  • No-Damage Run: One of the secret end-of-level bonuses awards 10000 points for not getting hurt at all during the level. The game manual notes that it's very tough to do.
  • One-Hit Kill: Keep a watch out (and maybe a listen too) for those vertical barriers, the only thing in the game that can do this. On the bright side, destroying them is worth a lot of points, and will often deactivate some of the nearby environmental hazards.
  • Plagiarism: The game lifts many graphics from Turrican, and swipes some from Mega Man (DOS), too.
  • The Points Mean Nothing: There's tons and tons of opportunities to rack up some serious points, but since the game has unlimited lives, there isn't really anything to do with them other than getting on the High Score table.
  • Real Men Eat Meat: And shoot it first (to turn it into bigger meat).
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Classic Duke is a bit more in touch with his feminine side. He wears a pink beater (The 16-color EGA graphics didn't leave much choice, since red was already taken up by his skin tone), watches Oprah, and rocks a curlier hairdo compared to later games.
  • Score Screen: The game has tons of secrets and achievements that reward bonus points.
  • Segmented Serpent: The Snake Techbot consists of four blue/white balls linked together that have to be destroyed individually. For some reason, the remaning segments don't join into a shorter snake, but instead leave gaps where the destroyed segments were.
  • Shareware: Episode 1 was published for free.
  • Spelling Bonus: Collect D-U-K-E for points (if you do it out of order) or lots of points (if you do it in order).
  • Spiritual Successor: Bio Menace is another shoot-em-up platformer that was developed by the same company and feels much too similar to Duke Nukeum to be a coincidence.
  • X-Ray Sparks: Happens to Duke whenever he takes Collision Damage, including non-electrical objects such as Spikes of Doom.

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