Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour (Switch) Review
Duke Nukem 3D was one of the big three PC shooters of the 1990s. Best known for its incredibly detailed and interactive world, attitude, fun and different weapons, Duke set it apart from the likes of Doom and Quake. I first played Duke Nuked 3D probably at an age before I should have been able to back on the PC. Coming back to Duke Nukem 3D after all these years is a nostalgia trip, but it’s all still a lot of fun. There’s a reason this game gets re-released so much, and not the other Duke games.
World Tour contains all the game’s original episodes and one more new one that was created by the original developers. It puts Duke all around the world as he stomps the alien scourge from several countries. All of the episodes and levels can be played in any order, the new levels feel at home with the originals and push the game just that little bit further with more enemies on screen and a ramped-up difficulty. Perhaps because I’ve played this game many times over its 24-year history, it’s not the longest game ever. If you’ve never played it some of the ‘old school’ game design might annoy you, wandering around finding keys or a switch to get through with no indication that’s what you have to do could be annoying. If you look at the list of levels, there might not seem like there’s a tonne, but each level in Duke takes a little bit longer than most shooters. Plus you’ll get distracted with all the world to explore. Exploring the world and interacting gets you funny quips from Duke, and you’ll find secrets with tonnes of meta and 1990s joke. It’s a time capsule of the era for better or worse.
Luckily now in 2020 if you do die halfway through these long levels, you’ll be able to respawn just by sliding a bar back to replay the level. Diehards, I know you’ll hate it – but you don’t have to use it! As a teenager, I wouldn’t have cared for this feature, but now this time-saver is a welcome addition. I think I’ll also be going back and playing through this again just for the developer commentary which is littered around the world.
The game’s graphics have also been given a fresh coat of paint. It still looks like the 1996 game you know running on the Build engine, but the developers have added in a mode called ‘True 3D’. True 3D fixes the perspective of the game’s engine so the fudged-3D it used looks a little more realistic. The updated graphics give it better lighting effects from the world and weapons as well. You can turn this on and off with a press of a button if you want to play with the classic graphics.
The game’s sound has also received a boost with all new music for the new episode from the original composers. Jon St. John is back with original Duke lines and the entirety of game audio is redone, I’m not sure if he’s putting all his effort into it this time around, or just that because it sounds so clean compared to the rest of the game that something is just off about it.
Aside from the singleplayer campaign, the Switch version of World Tour contains a bevy of multiplayer options. You can even play the campaign through with 8-players if you want to, that just sounds like absolute chaos. The game can be played multiplayer over Nintendo Switch Online, through local wireless play and LAN play as well. All of the options are the same, no matter what way you connect to others. I found plenty of games post-release as well, and it all worked rather well. You can also play DukeMatch (Deathmatch) with bots if you want!
So not that you would expect any different considering a game of this vintage, but World Tour runs exceptionally well both in handheld and docked mode. Even the new True 3D mode runs well, and that improves the framerate for the most part although there are some drops in places. They’ve ticked all the “Switch” boxes, HD Rumble is implemented smartly as it notifies you of enemies, and when you pump lead into the alien scum you can feel it too. Well done for taking the time on it. Motion control and aiming are also included. You can use motion to activate the Mighty Foot and use gyro aiming. It all works well enough, although sometimes the enemies will appear paper-thin considering the angle gyro controls will allow you to get at.
Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour is a time capsule of mid-1990s shooters, jokes and game design – for better or worse. If you’re a long time fan, there’s more to see than just the game, and it’s great to jump back into the Duke 3D world. If you’ve never played Duke Nukem before, you’re in a for a treat. Grab your bubblegum for this one.
+ True 3D gives the game a fresh look
+ New episode feels like it was always there
+ Still fun to play after all these years
+ Time capsule of the 1990s
- New audio feels too clean compared to the rest of the game
- First-person platforming still sucks
- Sprite enemies can disappear at certain angles
- Less content than Megaton edition, but cheaper