Well, if you’ve heard the news, and couldn’t believe that the day would ever come, Duke Nukem Forever has been released.

It seems like such an act would signal the end of the world, like this would be the catalyst for the infamous “Rapture” that was supposed (meant in a tongue in cheek way) to happen. And it’s crazy to think that this game (or who knows how many variants of this title) was in development since 1996. That was my first E3. I think I may actually remember some mention of the game from that show. But it’s been that long.

I wasn’t a huge Duke fan back then. I was more of a Doom player, but the game had its own certain type of charm, parodying all of those action films of the 1980’s and 1990’s. It was entertaining, in a cheesy sort of way. Doom had its grim, silent protagonist. Duke Nukem 3D had this uber-macho, one-liner spouting semi-lovable jerk.

I haven’t played the new Duke, but the reviews have been most… unkind for it. I’m not sure what to think about that. Certainly, Duke is not the first to suffer such a long hiatus between installments (Kid Icarus has been 20, and even games like Punch-Out!! and Donkey Kong Country have had at least decade long absences), but the difference is that those games weren’t in development for 15 years.

Truth is, I don’t know if I will play the new game. Not anytime soon, anyway. I wasn’t a huge fan then, and it takes a lot to really get me excited about a FPS. But from what I have seen and heard, it’s the same old ridiculous nonsense that made the game so popular in the first place. It was never meant to be a serious game, and Forever sounds no different.

And these have been a number of fans clamoring for this release, joking about if it will ever get done and mire through “Development Hell” to the store shelves, and freaking out as an actual release date was set, and the game actually, magically made it to store shelves.

And now that it’s here, people are ripping it apart for being what it is. A decade plus of a very vocal and rabid fanbase have now turned against their retro messiah.

A lot of the problems seem to come from the fact its based off of 20-30 year old stereotypes. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and John-Claude Van Damme are no longer the box-office’s leading action stars anymore. Movies like Army of Darkness and They Live are at the very least 20 years old now. To make us feel all that much older, think about how many of today’s gamers have been born and grew up from pre-school to become a good chunk of the gaming population? Duke Nukem is an anachronism of 1990’s pop culture. His delay and the character itself are a form of parody in their own rights. And now that gamers have gotten exactly what they’ve been begging and screaming for over 15 years, it’s “outdated”, and “bad”. From the reviews, and the videos and articles I’ve seen, Duke didn’t change. But we did.

FPS games have evolved so much since 1996. There was the Nintendo 64 with Goldeneye, Turok, and Perfect Dark. Doom has greatly evolved. Quake, Halo, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead and so many other titles have appeared since then. The FPS became the FPA with Metroid Prime and Bioshock. The genre evolved. Duke didn’t. And now it seems that the nostalgia blinders have fallen off, and people can’t accept a 15 year old game design in modern packaging.

I don’t think the game ever claimed to be anything else but.

I may see what the game is like at a later time (too many games that I’m working on now), but I think people have missed the point of the joke: The whole situation itself is a joke. Fifteen years of waiting, salivation, hoping, wondering, all of the anticipation that built up in one’s mind for that long of a time. Did Duke Nukem Forever ever have a chance in Hell to live up to that level of hype and expectation?

For me, I wonder the same about the arrival of Kid Icarus after a 20 year wait. Then again, the sequel was only announced last year, so I don’t have the same level of hype going into it. Then again, after 20 years, there are definitely some things that I am going to want to see from Pit.

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