“Taste” is a fickle thing. Some people have good taste, bad taste or even no taste. And while Duke Nukem Forever is currently being criticized for falling into the lattermost category as a bland and boring title, it may surprise you to hear of features pulled from the final game. Features that were deemed just a little too raunchy, a little much too much.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the failed dreams of DNF’s developers, and the nightmares of their PR department.
Nukem As A Modern Man
Duke is the male power fantasy made livid, and of that there is little doubt. He is a Frankenstein's monster of '80s and '90s B-movie action stars, walking upright as some caricature of a man. But the ‘80s were then, and this is now. Today, we're more civilized.
We don't have Jesse Ventura clear-cutting tropical rainforests with Ol' Painless, we have Jesse Eisenberg clear-cutting his way through a forest of women thanks to a mathematical algorithm. So developers adapted. Nerdiness was the “in,” manly thing of the 21st century, so a prototype multiplayer mode had players, as Duke, sit at a computer to argue politics and post status updates for points (“Punched an alien in all six of his balls today. Duke Nukem Likes this.”)
In the end, this was scrapped. After all, what if the fad Nukem latched onto wasn't cool in 2024, which for all anyone knew was when the game would release?
Duke Gets A Makeover
Most women are not the biggest fans of Duke. But with female gamers making up more than 40 percent of the demographic, they couldn’t be just avoided. To try and rake in this crowd, one early build of DNF contained within its testosterone-soaked walls a gender-swap level, where not only did aliens kidnap Earth's hottest women, but turned Duke into said hot chick!
In this level, enemies no longer fired bullets or plasma beams, they shot rays of doubt and insecurity, a woman's greatest enemy (much more dangerous than that pesky “glass ceiling”). To regenerate your self-worth, you had to duck behind cover, pull out your handheld compact mirror, and tap X repeatedly to say, “I'm pretty... I'm pretty...”
Sadly, this too was scrapped. But they did keep the whole “regenerate your ego” thing.
Too Gross, Even For Duke
Look, we all love gratuitous boobs. And other moments of Duke-dom we shall not discuss in polite company. No one's arguing otherwise. But what if Duke had dared to dream of content even sexier and grander than what made it into the released game? Well, long story short: Once upon a time, he did.
But when a crafty pirate who managed to get hold of an early build choked to death on his own vomit after witnessing said acts, they were pulled out of respect. Rest In Peace MastaDee29, you died as you lived: watching horrible, horrible things on the Internet.
Urban legend says that through sneaky manipulation of the game’s code, you can still see these vile creatures. And should you manage to top this challenge, a girl – I assume one of the game’s strippers, as there is no other kind of human female in DNF – gives you a phone call.
Boss Fight: Committed Relationship
It's the same for every hero throughout the entertainment world: the villain is the exact opposite of the hero. So who could play foil to Duke and become the greatest final boss in all of Nukem history? No, not an alien overlord, silly! A virtual vixen in the veins of Alyx Vance, Jade, and other non-sexpot female video game characters!
This doosy of a final fight lasted not minutes or hours, but months as she-who-shall-not-be-named employed Duke-based weaponry such as steady dating, unwinnable arguments, ordering for him at a restaurant, modest dress, intelligence, a job, and speaking her mind.
However, she was eventually replaced with a three-titted mummy demon, which many testers found less threatening.
With Kinect and the PlayStation Eye's ability to record your living room settings mixed with Tron-like wizardry, developers actually managed to put Duke in your living room, where he would blast apart furniture, swear at your grandmother, and commit unspeakable acts with your dog.
Though all of these behaviors were undoubtedly Duke in nature, one gamer was quoted confessing, “It's one thing to play pretend as the Duke for fun, that's just parody. It's another to see him violate your animals and destroy your parents' marriage. Duke even somehow managed to give me a demonspawn half-brother who repeatedly punches me in the balls. Explain that to me.”
I don't think I can, my friend. I don't think I can.
What feature do you think should have been included to make Duke Nukem Forever more popular?