Duke Nukem Advance is in many ways a modern remake of the venerable Duke
Nukem 3D, the 1996 hit title that truly catapulted Duke and his
one-liners from shareware action games into the commercial limelight.
Surprisingly, Duke Nukem Advance differs very little from that crucial
stepping stone of the Duke franchise. And, upon playing through the
entire title, that's a good thing. It casts the same hero, this time
saving Earth under the orders of a general, same style weapons,
similarly inspired monsters, a few of the classic Duke Nukem lines and
even a multiplayer mode to turn this game into a stellar tour de force
of what FPS gaming has to offer on the Game Boy Advance from a title
that helped defined the FPS genre on the PC no less.
Surpassing Wolfenstein and the delectable Ecks vs. Sever, Duke Nukem
Advance is a title without peer in handheld form, both in terms of
visual quality and speed. However, in the PC sense, we're still talking
about art and architecture that is plumbed from the middle of last
decade with characteristics such as: repeating wall tiles, few
interactive (breakable) game objects, a small number of objects that do
not directly relate to gameplay and simple ninety degrees style walls.
The areas you pass through in Duke Nukem Advance are, however, brightly
lit, featuring a good amount of ornaments and decorations. While it is
still height-challenged, in that, the game's controls are simplified so
you won't have to aim up or down, there are considerable advances in map
design to escape the artificial boxy feel best exemplified in
Wolfenstein. Here, we have elevations, trap-triggered rooms and even a
few platform jumping sequences that are sprinkled in between the action
The actual gameplay is skewed towards the action crowd. Enemies and
opponents are sprinkled around every corner so the only pause throughout
the course of the game is when you're stuck trying to solve simple
puzzles like finding key cards. A key card represents the dullest of
puzzles of course. It's a device that embodies artificiality; that is,
artificially extending the length of time you'll be spending on the
nineteen levels included. But given the era this title is drawn from,
it is excusable and the Duke Nukem Advance interface really cannot and
should not handle more depth than this.
Up until now, my tone may be a little harsh on Duke Nukem Advance and
granted, that's from exposure to FPS titles on other platforms. As far
as FPS titles go on the Game Boy Advance, this title has no equal or
peer. The engine used here is lightning fast and you'll notice the
overall quality of the game is a step above what is previously offered.
It's like a Spear of Destiny overhaul to the original Wolfenstein:
better polished presentation, more sophisticated visuals. That Torus is
able to throw in a few classic Duke lines, the inimitable soundtrack and
a host of reminders of Duke Nukem's finest outing is a bonus and truly,
a bonus that PC players will undoubtedly appreciate.
Even though Duke Nukem Advance runs along a tangent with the original
classic, it's still not out of place. Playing through it, I thought it
acted more like an expansion pack. The action comes at a good pace and
the storyline, bravado and grandiose in the faux pas sense of Duke Nukem
titles, carries you through to a variety of colorful environments. The
only noticeably missing element was the hard-edged humor. The requisite
stripper scenes, for example, were nowhere to be found. This meant no
pick up lines and while Duke spews a number of memorable lines, there is
no cursing-a pandering to children, restrictive rules or Nintendo
certification? I'm not sure but it's the only visible drawback.
In summation, Duke Nukem makes for a wonderfully enjoyable experience on
the Game Boy Advance. The sound fundamentals, intuitive controls and
relative sophistication of the game's engine are, ipso facto,
ingredients to a recipe for an engrossing FPS title license. Throw a
Duke Nukem license into the brew and this is a pot that turns into a
must-have on any FPS player's Game Boy Advance list; a worthy tribute to
the legacy in every sense.