A leaked prototype of Duke Nukem Forever from 1996 that takes 3D Realms’ wisecracking hero back to his side-scrolling roots has been posted online.
Fans of 3D Realms’ foul-mouthed, alien-bashing antihero Duke Nukem can now check out a side-scrolling version of the ill-fated Duke Nukem Forever, as leakers post a 1996 prototype build of the game online. News of the Duke Nukem Forever build being leaked online comes just days after a prototype of 3D Realms’ portal-powered shooter Prey from 1995 was similarly leaked.
First announced in 1997, Duke Nukem Forever has become infamous for both its protracted development cycle as well as the critical and commercial roasting it received upon release. A follow-up to 1996’s hit first-person shooter Duke Nukem 3D, which was praised by critics and fans for its skewering of pop culture and remarkably interactive game world for the era, Duke Nukem Forever went through numerous revisions over the course of more than a decade before eventually being handed over to Gearbox Software and released in 2011. After an early build of the game was leaked online earlier this year, Duke Nukem co-creator Scott Miller took to Twitter to discuss what went wrong with Duke Nukem Forever’s troubled development.
In surprise news for fans still holding a candle for Duke despite his disastrous last outing, a user named x0r_jmp has leaked a 1996 build of Duke Nukem Forever to Archive.org that sees Duke returning to the side-scrolling gameplay of Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem II. The leaked build contains the original game files and a level editor for the prototype, as well as patched versions designed to work on modern hardware. This isn’t the first time that x0r_jmp has provided a major leak related to the Duke Nukem franchise, either, as they also posted the leak earlier this year that served as the foundation for the Duke Nukem Forever 2001 fan restoration project.
Despite featuring an extremely limited amount of content, the side-scrolling Duke Nukem Forever prototype contains many of the classic elements associated with the franchise. Players can use a variety of different weapons, and trademark gadgets like Duke’s jetpack, as they fight their way through the limited selection of levels. Although returning to a side-scrolling format after the success of Duke Nukem 3D may have been an unusual choice for 3D Realms, the impressive graphics and physics for the time show that the developer was still dedicated to producing a game that would be a technical showcase, regardless of perspective.
For gamers still stinging from the lackluster release of Duke Nukem Forever, this leak may serve as just another example of everything that went wrong with the storied game’s troubled development. While Duke’s most dedicated fans may never get their hands on the version of Duke Nukem Forever that they’d been looking forward to for so many years, at least they still have a possible Duke Nukem movie to look forward to at some point.
Duke Nukem Forever is available on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
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Christopher has been playing, working on, and writing about video games for over 20 years, and has a lifelong passion for the gaming industry as a whole.
Following a childhood spent playing and reading about games whenever he had the chance, Christopher began working as a gaming writer for ActiveXbox.com in 2004. During his time at ActiveXbox, Christopher posted news stories, wrote reviews of new and upcoming games, and provided on-site editorial coverage of E3 for three years in a row. After several years spent writing about games, Christopher made the move to Los Angeles where he would spend the next part of his career helping to create them. During his time in the gaming industry, Christopher worked with multiple developers and publishers, including Activision Blizzard and Saber Interactive, and provided production support and quality assurance assistance on over a dozen shipped titles for PC and consoles.
After several years spent away from the gaming industry, Christopher is excited to be a part of the team at Game Rant and writing once again about the hobby that has brought him so much joy. A self-professed XR evangelist, Christopher has spent the last several years exploring new possibilities for gaming and entertainment with virtual and augmented reality. When he's not playing games you can find Christopher exploring his beautiful home state of Colorado, auditioning for voice over work, creating VR and AR art, or planning out his next overseas adventure.