App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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Remember that guy from the early 90’s whose only hobbies were kicking ass and chewing bubblegum? Frankly, it is hard not to get all nostalgic when thinking of 3D Realm’s resident badass, Duke Nukem. The franchise helped pave the way for the current era of first person shooter with a chip on its shoulder. But did you know that before there was a Duke Nukem 3D, there were two side-scrolling 2D shooters also featuring the muscle-bound madman? Coincidentally, the second iteration in the two dimensional universe turns twenty years old this year, and 3D Realms saw fit to celebrate by once again trotting out their favorite cash cow on iOS. Has this gem grown more beautiful with age, or has its luster began to fade in the face of recent competition?
If you can get past all of the nostalgia associated with some of the most popular games of the 8-bit era, rarely does the experience hold up to what you remember. Even the most biased observer would say that even twenty years ago Duke Nukem II was a mediocre action platformer at best, and had controls reminiscent of slogging through freshly solidified jello dressed head-to-toe in a full suit of chainmail. Unfortunately, time cannot heal all wounds; these issues are still very much present.
As far as standard shooters go, Duke Nukem II has players blow away everything in sight and then accomplish objectives needed to proceed through each stage. This results in a mindlessly repetitive process of shooting and dodging, with very little in-between. Yes, there are a few special weapons and vehicles that make an appearance, but it isn’t near enough to dig this game out of the limited gameplay typical of the early 90s.
In one other mind boggling turn, it almost seems like the emulation tech being used performs worse on iOS devices than on the 386 processor that the game originated on. How a game that consists of a handful of sprites can render a stuttering mess to a multi-core mobile device is beyond unacceptable.
Sometimes a trip down memory lane dredges up more bad feelings than genuine glee. Sadly, Duke Nukem II looks to be one of those cases. Just because Duke Nukem Forever set the expectation bar low doesn’t make this mediocre rehash any more justified. It would be best to embrace your inner pacifist and steer clear of this firefight.