duke nukem

Duke Nukem: Critical Mass [PSP – Cancelled]

Duke Nukem: Critical Mass is a run & gun shooter game, released on the Nintendo DS platform in 2011 by Apogee Software. The game was originally intended to also come out as a Playstation Portable game but was later cancelled for unknown reasons. Rumours on the game started early as the beginning of 2008 and were later in July of that year confirmed when Apogee Software announced a completely new Duke Nukem adventure: a Trilogy which would be developed for both systems in cooperation with publisher Deep Silver and which would be developed by Frontline Studios. After being rebranded to 3D Realms this would also be the revival of the Apogee brand in game development and publishing. The trilogy would consist of three separate games with Critical Mass being the first; its original release date set in the fall of 2009 and would be followed by the other chapters Duke Nukem: Chain Reaction and Duke Nukem: Proving Grounds.

Besides the storyline the games on DS and PSP would however be completely different from each other; the Nintendo DS version would be more of a side scroller while the Playstation Portable would be more of a third / first person shooter. The game would have on both platforms a multi-mode where players could easily switch between third person, first person, isometric and side scrolling views including some extra options as a sniper mode, a jetpack mode and different boss battle modes. The Critical Mass chapter would have 9 areas to complete, divided into 27 missions and the player was promised 15 different types of weapons, multiple and secret ways to achieve in-game points and on top of that both platforms would have cinematic rendered cut-scenes between levels. The huge difference between the Nintendo DS and the Playstation Portable, being two complete different machines can be seen in the two screenshots below which I took out of a promotional video released by Apogee in March 2009 made specially for the Game Developer’s Conference; the promotional video was cut in two pieces and showed screenshots of both systems. Funny thing was that the PSP version was rated Mature and the DS was only rated Teen. So two complete different games carrying the same story.

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In the first chapter of the trilogy some Earth Defense Organization had been sending out special agents on missions into the future to ensure the safety of the Earth; none of the sent agents however reported back and our hero Duke Nukem is sent into that same future to figure out what is going on. In that future Duke Nukem finds a ruined world in complete chaos and disaster, mankind is almost entirely wiped out and the remains of it are reigned and controlled by aliens. Duke then discover that things might have gone wrong because of him; the moment he left the earth for the future it was attacked by those same alien forces. In the second chapter “Chain Reaction” Duke heads back to the present time in hope of fixing things in the present and thus also in the future. In the third chapter “Proving Grounds” Duke would see things getting worse and ends up being involved in a new World War.

So the DS version was released, being it much later then planned: what happened to the PSP version of the game? In March 2009 Apogee Software confirmed that the release date of both versions was still set for September of that year. They then went a bit silent and rumors about Apogee’s mother company 3D Realms closing its doors start to spread; everybody expected that the same would also happens to Apogee Software. Apogee however denied all rumors and stated that the company under no circumstances would be affected by the 3D Realms situation and that the development of the Duke Nukem Trilogy was going according plans. 3D Realms was at the time also working on Duke Nukem Forever. In May of the same year Take-Two, who was at that moment the holder of the publishing rights for Duke Nukem, filed a law suit against 3D Realms, stating that 3D Realms failed to deliver the game. In 2010 Take-Two announced that Forever had been shifted over from 3D Realms to Gearbox and that it had sold all the rights and the intellectual property to that same company. It was later announced that Critical Mass could no longer carry the Duke Nukem license. They decided to change the game with replacing all traces of Duke Nukem like player models, logos and even voice-overs. The name of the main character was also changed and replaced by a new hero called Cam Nash. Frontline Productions even had a new name for the game, “Extraction Point: Alien Shootout” and decided that the new game now would be released on the Playstation Network. Their biggest problem now was that they faced having to deal with a complete new IP, without a well-known and thus easier selling IP like Duke Nukem.

Things then got even weirder when later in 2011: Apogee Software stated that they did not lost the license for Duke Nukem and that the release date for Duke Nukem: Critical Mass was set for June 2011, but just the DS version. A PSP version was no longer spoken off and was said to be cancelled when developer Frontline was taken off the project; the real reason behind this decision still remains a bit vague but the confusion on loosing or not loosing the original license must have been a large part of that decision. Apogee Software denied that the decision to cancel the PSP version had something to do with the loss of any rights and they even said to have submitted a complete build of the game to Sony for final approval. Unfortunately Apogee declined all comments when asked why the game never got a PSP release.

The Nintendo DS version came out as scheduled in 2011.  It was labeled as the worst handheld game ever and received some very hard and killing critics when reviewed. End of story? No not at all. There is a complete version of the PSP version of Duke Nukem: Critical Mass. Leaked? Nope. Later release? Nope. Port of the game? Also nope.

The Library of Congress in the United States is probably the biggest library in the world. It archives besides just books also things as magazines, comics and yes, also video games. Through the copyright registration process the library receives roughly 400 games in a year. About 99,99% these games are physically released and published computer games. In 2014 a technician of the library was performing an inventory of acquired video games and he stumbled upon a DVD-R labeled Duke Nukem: Critical Mass (PSP).

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Most of the time however these DVD’s contain footage of gameplay of a game. The technician was however triggered by a line of text in the copyright database record: Authorship: entire Video Game, computer code, artwork, music. He put the DVD in his computer and discovered a file directory with the source code of a complete PSP game; a game of which he later found out to be an unreleased Playstation Portable Game. All the contents of the found disc are however copyrighted material and the disc will be stored in the digital archive of the library. Unfortunately it seems that its content cannot be shared. According to Apogee the disc is an early alpha version of the game and it was submitted to the library as required for the copyright process. Duke Nukem: Critical Mass will probably remain another cancelled PSP game that will never be released.

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Duke Nukem (Lame Duke) [PC – Beta]

Duke Nukem 3D is a FPS developed by 3D Realms and published by Apogee Software. It was released on January 29, 1996. LameDuke is an early beta version of Duke Nukem 3D, which was released by 3D Realms as a “bonus” one year after the release of the official version. It has been released as is, with no support, and is currently available to download from Fileplanet. LameDuke features four episodes: Mrr Caliber, Mission Cockroach, Suck Hole and Hard Landing. Some weapons and levels were removed and/or altered in the final game. [Infos from Wikipedia]

As we can read from the official 3D Realms website:

What most of the public does not know is that the game was several years in the making, and the development started almost immediately (to the day) after the release of Duke Nukem II (December 10, 1993).

On January 29, 1997, 3D Realms has decided that for the one year anniversary of Duke Nukem 3D, we’d release a sneak peek into the development of the game. Released now is LAMEDUKE. What’s LameDuke? LameDuke is a beta version of Duke Nukem 3D from December 1994.

In the galleries below you can see many images from different Duke Nukem beta builds. The “Older Gallery” contains images that appear to be from a build somewhere between Lameduke and what became the final Duke Nukem 3D, the “Newer Gallery” seems to be a build that can’t be too much earlier than the v0.99 beta that was leaked.

Treasons made a list of the main differences in these screens (check below):

Older Gallery:

These have a different hud, there is a Kill counter in the main hud and it is in what appears to be single player, this is not present in any build I have seen, there is also an orange shape either side of the hud which appears to light up, this may work like the skulls on the hud in Blood where the eyes light up sometimes. the weapons in the hud are 1 to 9 instead of 2 to 10, in some shots the hud has no “Keys” section.

The Silver-gray robotic enemy did not appear in the final game, his art occupies the same tiles as the Assault Trooper in the final game.

Duke1.png has an older version of the scuba gear.

When there is no Hud in the shot it appears duke has an old-fashioned army torch at the lower left, not seen in the final.

In some shots there is a colored dot in the ammo count.

Enforcer enemies have a strange red design that is not present in the final game.

Recon Patrol Vehicles appear different and also seem to be flown by enforcers rather than pig cops.

The overall palette seems marginally different.

The chaingun graphics in later builds are based upon the plasma gun in Duke2.png

Newer Gallery:

In the newer folder, the shots are not too far different to the v0.99 beta

More old scube gear graphics.

the space suit is on in one screen shot (24.png), code exists for it in v0.99 but no build I ever saw had the hud graphics for it that appear here.

The HUD is still a little different but closer to the final, the levels also closely resemble the final build, being marginally different from V0.99.

It is also worth mentioning that a code exists in v0.99 for a flamethrower weapon, dropped from the final game.

There are also some more beta shots on the box of the game, which are different from the actual game, you can find them with more info on Treason‘s website: www.freewebs.com/hctreason/duke3dstuff1.htm

More infos on LameDuke can be found at Planet Duke and GameFAQs! Thanks to SquarePulse for some of the videos and to Treason and JudgeDeadd for the contributions!

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Duke Nukem: D-Day [PS2 – Cancelled]

In 2001 N-Space was working on a new Duke Nukem game for the Playstation 2 named “D-Day” (also know as Duke Nukem: Man Of Valor), that would have been published by Rockstar Games. Sadly, D-Day was canceled for unknown reasons. This project would have been the third Duke Nukem game developed by N-Space, after DN: Land of the Babes (2000) and DN: Time to Kill (1998). The game would have seen our hero in World War 2 themed levels, with aliens and time travel.

Thanks to Sir_Brando for the english corrections!

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Turok: Dinosaur Hunter [N64 – Proto / Beta]

Published in 1997, Turok has been one of the first Ultra 64 titles to be developed for the console. The game is based on the homonymous comic series, about a native american and his fights between evil cyborgs and dinosaurs. Thanks to its famous fog effect, which covered almost every part of the immense game levels, the game became an icon of the “fog problem” but it surely marked the hearts of many Nintendo 64 owners for its fun gameplay.

Proto / beta:

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Final Version:

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Before the release, the game has been shown in magazines with some pics taken from the early prototype. One of the images show a very raw 3D model of a T-REX: this enemy should be the “alpha” version of Thunder, a genetically modified dinosaur, which later has been used as a boss. The proto differs from the final version by the absence of the metallic parts covering the head and the foot of the dinosaur. Also, the polygonal model was less detailed. At any rate is difficult to note any other details, due to the blurryness of the image. The prototype colors are less shiny and “realistic” than the final version. It’s interesting to note how the fog effect was allready present: this makes us to wonder if Acclaim really intended to use that effect in the game and not just to cover eventual pop-up problems.

Surely the images in the gallery below represent an early beta stage of development, in wich they were still creating the 3D models and the scenario with not much gameplay finished. Do you know if some of these models were not in the final game? Acclaim begun to work on Turok in 1995, initially thinking to make a third person shooter, but later they chosed a first person view, in order to make it more involving.

Thanks to Linkx111 for the contribution!

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Turok 2: Seed of Evil [N64 – Beta]

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Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is a FPS developed by Acclaim for the Nintendo 64, released in 1998. It was one of the first Nintendo 64 games to allow use with the RAM Expansion Pak. The game was announced even before Dinosaur Hunter was released, under the title Turok: Dinosaur Hunter 2. The game was completed in 21 months with a team comprising of roughly the same size as that who worked on Dinosaur Hunter, which was composed of 18 people. During development, more staff were brought onboard to assist in completing the game. Reportedly, over 10,000 hours of game testing was conducted during its creation. The game was originally designed with a 12MB cartridge in mind. When cartridges prices fell, the storage was increased to 16MB allowing the team to add a multiplayer mode. Eventually, the cartridge size was increased again, and was finalised at 32MB.

The base idea for the Cerebral Bore weapon was created during a brainstorming session concerning weapon design. The original concept had the weapon “being slow and agonizing”. An artist suggested a Leech gun, which was rejected by project manager, David Dienstbier: however, a “Vampire Gun” was eventually added to the sequel, Turok 3. Iguana, having received Nintendo 64DD development kits which included the 4MB Expansion Pak, added a high-resolution mode to the game early on in the development timeline. This was demonstrated to Nintendo at E3 98, running at a resolution of 640 x 480, a technical accomplishment for the Nintendo 64 at the time.

In the gallery below we can notice some early screens of the game, with some removed areas and beta versions of some levels. The graphic in the first screens released was much more definite than the one in the final game. Some of these images could have been taken from early tech demos and target renders. It seems that there were many concepts for Turok 2 that were scrapped before the final one was chose, but sadly there are not many info about these lost versions, but a single pic of an unknown enemy that was never used anywhere in the game.

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