Duke Nukem on the Game Boy Color is a conversion of the classic MS-DOS game and was developed by Australian company Torus Games and published by GT Interactive in 1999. It is based on both Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem II although it plays more like the second game than the first.
Duke Nukem can be played at three different difficulty levels and is basically a platform shooter where you control Duke, who must escape from an alien planet and return back to Earth. Unlike the original Duke Nukem this port is not episodic and you must play through a linear set of levels instead.
Duke himself is fairly agile and can jump, shoot and duck, as well as climb ladders, hang from platforms and pull himself up, and look up and down and shoot. Unlike in Duke Nukem II he can also shoot while on ladders, which is a welcomed new addition. Overall, Duke‘s movement is better than in the original games this is based upon.
Duke‘s health bar is shown at the bottom of the screen and reduces with damage taken. Collecting red crosses will top-up Duke‘s health, but if it reaches zero he’ll die and the game will return you to the start of the level. You can re-try a level as many times as you like, though, and there are no ‘lives’ as such.
The aim of each level is to shoot aliens, find keycards to unlock doors, and find the exit to the next level, while at the same time collecting as many points-based items as possible. Enemies constantly re-spawn and avoiding their bullets is not easy. Some explosions and vents will also damage Duke, so it’s important not to walk into these, to save health.
Pressing Select allows you to choose between weapons, and these vary from the default shotgun. There’s a rapid-fire machine gun, a flamethrower, a bazooka, and others to find. Occasionally you’ll come across large gun emplacements that you can also use to blast enemies.
Duke‘s response when jumping is pretty slow, although his jump mechanic is good overall. You can at least adjust his movement in mid air, which is useful. There’s not a whole lot of subtlety to the gameplay, and Duke Nukem at times seems more of a war of attrition than anything requiring skill, but overall the game is reasonably enjoyable. There are no level passwords, but you can save the game at the end of each level so that you can continue later.
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