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Duke Nukem Advance Package Art
  Torus Games
  Take 2 Interactive

Duke Nukem Advance

Duke Nukem has been protecting the West Coast from a persistent alien menace for well over a decade now. Two shareware platformers in the early '90s, a breakthrough FPS phenomenon later that decade, countless spin-offs of varying quality across multiple consoles, and an oft-delayed and arguably non-existent third sequel in the main series round out the man's résumé. While most anyone who still follows the Dukester can attest to, it's been a long and painful wait for Duke Nukem Forever (about a decade and counting), and has been all but without reward. Titles like Duke Nukem Advance do not make this eternal wait any easier.


One of the game's higher points comes in its graphics engine. While not quite as clear as its PC predecessor, it's certainly nice to see on a GBA screen; though, the enemy sprites tend to be quite blocky--more than GBA rival Doom. Unlike Doom, Duke retains most of the violence and gore of the original, including red blood. It is certainly fun to look at for a while, but you soon get used to seeing the game run on your handheld. After the initial thrill wears off, you're stuck with bland textures and few enemy encounters per room. The pixelation you see when less than a foot from an enemy is almost unbearable. Granted, this is older hardware, but it has been done better before on the GBA. Ecks & Sever, anyone?


Here is where the ball was really dropped. Let me walk you through a scenario, if I may. You throw this brand new Duke game pak into your GBA and load it up. The main screen loads and the Duke Nukem theme plays in all its glory. You then proceed to start a new game, play for a good half an hour, and come to realize that you can actually hear your own heartbeat. That can't be right... where's the music? You go into the options menu to adjust the music volume and the problem should be solved, right? Not quite. Aside from the title screen, the game is devoid of music, despite the fact that there exists a volume slider to control it. As if that weren't enough, Duke's signature one-liners, once quite abundant, are now limited to about four in the entire game. I kid you not. Now one could assume that these omissions were made for the sake of saving space on the cartridge for things like visuals or save files. Even so, Duke is Duke because of his attitude. Without Jon St. John's voice contribution, the game might as well be just another Doom.


The gameplay is classic Duke fare. If you have played Duke Nukem 3D before (or any other FPS for that matter), you've been here and done this before; however, there are a few minor changes. Don't go in expecting strippers, or roomfuls of foes, or even that wonderfully entertaining subway level. As a matter of fact, don't go in expecting anything from Duke Nukem 3D here except similar visuals. It's a brand new game and the level selection is a bit questionable this time around. As far as the story goes, it sounds a lot like Duke Nukem II in first-person. It doesn't play much different either: get a mission, pick up keys, get another mission, pick up more keys, wash, rinse, and repeat. There's nothing new to see here. In its defense, it does control well, given the limited interface that it has to work with.


The most fun to be had with this title comes in the form of its multiplayer mode. If you can trick a couple of friends into buying themselves a copy of this game pak, then you can enjoy the thrill of unpredictable human interaction for a few hours. But then again, the same could be said of Tetris, so why bother?


Duke Nukem Advance can be summarized as follows:

  • A Duke Nukem 3D-style adventure with all the same baddies and weapons of its predecessor
  • Decent graphics engine for GBA, but horrible pixelation
  • No music during gameplay, whatsoever; the deafening silence is very disorienting
  • Fewer foes per room (in comparison with Duke Nukem 3D), which makes the journey all the more silent
  • Decent, albeit generic multiplayer mode
Despite all its faults, and while its not a horrible game, it’s just really not that fun to play. If you've played every other FPS the GBA has to offer, and absolutely need something else to play, give it a try. If not, then pass on this one and go pick either Ecks vs. Sever or Doom, as both feel like far more polished and complete gaming experiences than Duke Nukem Advance is able to offer.

final score 5.3/10

Staff Avatar Sean Kinsky
Staff Profile | Email
"He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches."

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