May 23, 2022

Video of Cancelled Duke Nukem Begins Surfaces Online

Before he was King, before he was Forever, Duke had to Begin

A video of Gearbox’s ill-fated Duke Nukem game has appeared online.

Gregor Punchatz [sidenote; definitely one of the best last names ever!] oversaw a project commissioned by Gearbox.

The project saw Punchatz’s Janimation create a “vertical slice”, or a concept, animated version of what the game would look like.

Duke Nukem Begins would have acted as an origin story and feature third-person shooting using a variety of weapons.

Enemies included police pigs and aliens – typical Duke Nukem fodder.

The game’s combat included the usual gunplay as well as ripping limbs off of enemies.

Duke could then use these limbs as melee weapons.

Punchatz said on the cancelled project;

In 2008, when I was working for the good folks at Janimation in Dallas Tx, we were hired by Gearbox to create a vertical slice for the game ‘Duke Nukem Begins‘, a Duke origin story.

I headed up this project, as the director at Janimation, and did a lot of the character development, including the design and modeling of Duke.

We poured everything we had into making the most awesome cinematic Janimation had ever created. But unfortunately, we got word the game was canceled due to the legal issues with Duke Nukem at the time.

These “legal issues” mentioned were a legal dispute between Take-Two and 3D Realms.

3D Realms had claimed ownership of the Duke Nukem IP over Gearbox.

Punchatz added;

“It crushed us, as this was what we thought could help us compete with bigger players in the game trailer market at the time. Because it is still a piece I am damn proud of, I am releasing it 13 years after its creation. The whole team that worked with me deserves to see this released into the wild.

I hope this somehow resurrects this version of the game by showing the world how awesome it would have been…”.

YouTube player

Intriguingly, the trailer also shows that multiplayer gameplay could have been an implementation.

Alas, unless Embracer Group, new owner of Gearbox and 3D Realms greenlights it, this is as close as we’ll ever get to Duke Nukem Begins.

Whether that is something to lament or not is still up for debate.

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