Review: Duke Nukem 3D (Sega Mega Drive)

In this review, we check out the Sega Mega Drive port of Duke Nukem 3D to see how this FPS port performed.

This particular port was released in 1998. This is two years after the original DOS version which we have already reviewed.

When we reviewed Duke Nukem 3D for DOS, we thought it was an extremely amazing game. Naturally, we were intrigued by other ports such as the Mega Drive version. The game takes place in space and is definitely a different game from the original DOS version. It’s surprising when a game with the same name takes a drastically different turn in terms of content, but we forged ahead anyway. Another surprise was the fact that the space levels are featured right off the bat. The space episode in Duke Nukem 3D left a bit to be desired, but was, nevertheless, fun even though we preferred the episodes that took place on Earth.

When playing, you have a choice of three difficulties: Piece of Cake (easy), Let’s Rock (medium), and Damn I’m Good (hard). Since this is new terrain, we chose Piece of Cake. To our surprise, this difficulty was anything but a piece of cake. The main problem was the fact that there were so few item drops. By the time we got to the third yellow key lock, we managed to pick up 3 pistol clips, ammo for shotgun (no shotgun), a 30+ health, protective boots, and a portable medkit. I remember getting far more by the time I entered the theater in the first level of the DOS version, yet that is supposed to last us maybe two thirds of a level? The enemies were certainly plentiful, though. We encountered at least a half a dozen of the lizard soldiers and at least 3 exploding flying robots.

A drawback is the controls. In order to change weapons, you had to hold down start and press the fire button. Map was pause and strafe button. Strafing required holding down one button and pressing left or right. In other words, it was impossible to strafe and turn at the same time. There were other controls, but I couldn’t be bothered to puzzle through them all. I had activate, fire, and an archaic strafing system.

The game also seemed to have very limited feedback as well. The first puzzle you encounter with switches involved three switches. Thinking it was a case of trying to get a nice combination of 3 that solves the puzzle, I went about mashing the activate button until I discovered that the first one is actually locked (not something found in the original Duke Nukem 3D game). The other two controls a strange two door system. Sometimes, it required multiple attempts, but even with unlocked switches, the switches can be surprisingly finicky.

Suffice to say, this game was so punishingly difficult, I couldn’t even finish the first level. We needed the mighty boot for a number of enemies because their simply wasn’t enough ammo. Even then, good luck taking down enemies without taking damage.

Generally speaking, I found this game incredibly frustrating. It was really difficult to find any enjoyment in this game.

Graphically, this game was stunningly bad for a game released in 1998. This game was released in the same year as Turok 2 – Seeds of Evil. You’d think it was released in the same year as Wolfenstein 3D – and the SNES version had better graphics than this. Enemies in the distance looked like a mash of pixels. The ground had a single color. The textures on the walls made everything look like a grey soup most of the time, making it difficult to see what you were looking at. When you die, the screen simply had a red tint added that faded in at a really bad frame rate. The game was also a choppy mess in terms of smoothness.

The audio was also a disappointment. I expected at least a half decent rendition of the Duke Nukem grabbag theme and we ended up with what sounded like the theme played out on a cheap toy piano of some sort. The sound effects were definitely taken from the original DOS version, but it was also reduced in quality and choppy.

Overall, I’m stunned that a Duke Nukem game could be this bad. There was a lot of good Duke Nukem games out there, but this was definitely not one of those games. The game was insultingly hard, the graphics were abysmal and the sound quality was greatly reduced from what little I heard. So, overall, this game was an absolute disaster. I would recommend avoiding this game – especially if you are a fan of the franchise.


Furthest point in game: Made it far enough to start looking for the yellow keycard. Made it a little ways into the area after the teleporter before getting blown to bits on the Piece of Cake difficulty.

General gameplay: 5/25
Replay value: 3/10
Graphics: 1/10
Audio: 1/5

Overall rating: 20%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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