Game-related ramblings.

Tag: 3D Realms

History Lessons: Shadow Warrior

Other History Lessons posts can be found here. In particular, you may want to read the post about Duke Nukem 3D for some context. This post is also an honorary member of the Keeping Score series about games and their soundtracks.

Back in the early days of this blog, before I even had screenshots in my posts, I wrote about Duke Nukem 3D. I was curious about the game because of the release of its sequel, Duke Nukem Forever, that same year; a game that had reached near mythical status due to its seemingly endless development cycle. It was crap, by all accounts, but it only made it to release because the original Duke Nukem 3D had been one of the most popular games of its era, before the rise of the linear shooter. Duke Nukem 3D is dumb and very sexist — something for which I didn’t criticize it harshly enough, in retrospect — but its imaginative level design and arsenal made it a lot of fun to play.

While many more games would appear using the Build Engine that powered Duke Nukem 3D, only one was by Duke developers 3D Realms: 1997’s Shadow Warrior. It was not nearly as popular. Duke Nukem 3D had been criticized for its sexism, but Shadow Warrior was also criticized for its racism, and it didn’t seem to do enough to offset its offensive stereotypes. I was surprised, then, when a remake, also titled Shadow Warrior, appeared in 2013, and even more surprised when it got good reviews. Good enough that a sequel appeared in 2016, also receiving critical praise, and a third game is planned for this year. I was intrigued. How did this happen? Why remake a game that seemed better forgotten?

The original Shadow Warrior, now re-dubbed Shadow Warrior Classic, was released for free in 2013 to help promote the remake, and I grabbed it but never got around to it. Now, I’ve decided to check it out, so later I can compare it to its more favorably-received remake. Having played it and the two expansion packs bundled with it, I can confirm that it is very racist.

History Lessons: Duke Nukem 3D

2011 saw the release of Duke Nukem Forever, a mere 14 years after it was originally announced. The game was not well received, but really the release itself is more significant than the actual game. Duke Nukem Forever was the classic example of vaporware, a game that had garnered enormous amounts of hype but which suffered delay after delay, until it entered a state of limbo with few believing it would ever be released. Yet somehow the game was never cancelled, and it became a sort of myth, elevated to legendary status.

Why so much excitement about one game? The protracted development certainly didn’t help, with expectations for the final product rising with each delay, but the original spark was the hit game Duke Nukem 3D. Released back in 1996, the game earned an extremely devoted following. I had never played it, so I decided to try it and see what all the fuss was about.

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