It is yesterday once more. Well, you would not blame some iOS gamers for thinking on the lines of the famous Carpenters’ number. Recent times have seen a surge in the number of games that made it big in the eighties and nineties coming to the iPad and iPhone. We had Shadow Warrior, Final Fantasy, Karateka, and now, on the stroke of its twentieth anniversary (yes, it really was released that long ago), we have Duke Nukem 2 stroll – or swagger – into the iTunes App Store.
And ‘swagger’ is the key word here. For those born in the new millennium or in the decade that preceded it, Duke Nukem was every inch a testosterone driven, male chauvinist game. The main protagonist seems like a blonde avatar of Bruce Willis from Die Hard, complete with guns, muscles, denims, crazed villains and oh yes, how could we forget the vest! Anyway, the Duke (as we call him) is a super hero of sorts who always manages to muscle and gun his way to protect the Earth. And he is required to do so yet again as he kidnapped by aliens (the evil Rigelatins no less) while being interviewed on television. The aliens have a grand plan to use the Duke’s brains to destroy Earth. Not much of a threat, some think but the Duke, he thinks differently. And decides to fight his way out of the alien hideout after blowing up his cell using a bomb hidden in his…teeth.
Duke Nukem 2 is basically a side scrolling, 2D platformer. Your job is to run jump, turn around and gun your way through the enemy hordes, blasting pretty much everything that comes in your way. The game is pretty much an exact reproduction of its 1993 counterpart, with 32 levels and the VGA graphics that were the rage in the nineties. Of course, as you are playing it on an iOS device, you have to use a touch interface rather than go button mashing – there is a button on the right for taking pot shots at people, one on the left for moving, looking and turning around, and tapping on the screen makes the Duke jump. The music might sound tinny to the uninitiated but will bring a sentimental tear to the eyes of older gamers, as will the explosions and over-sized weaponry. Yes, this is the Duke back all right.
Which is just fine if you are a tech old-timer (anyone above thirty – no, we are not telling you our ages), but in this day and age, Duke Nukem 2 seems honestly a bit too rough and ready. Some games, like Myst and the Prince of Persia, age well and gracefully. The Duke, he does not do grace anyway, forget about aging. We honestly cannot see gamers addicted to titles like Temple Run, Agent Dash and even relatively sleek 2D scrollers like Vector taking Duke Nukem 2 to their hearts. It simply does not look that great, does not have any mind-bending innovation, and does not adapt too well to an all-touch interface. It took us a fair bit of time to get the hang of moving him, and well, the jumping often did not work the way it was supposed to.
Which leaves with mixed feelings about the return of the Duke. Yes, nostalgia lovers will think nothing of handing out $1.99 to get into ‘Yesterday Once More’ mode but we cannot see it posing a serious threat to other action titles out there, or even as a great addition to iOS’ amazing game array. We hate to be cruel to a legend, but Duke Nukem 2 on iOS is more in the memorabilia category than in the memorable one. Truth be told, we preferred the Duke on the PC. There, we said it.
Available from: iTunes App Store