A few years before he was "all outta gum", Duke Nukem starred in a pair of MS-DOS action platformers which were distributed as shareware. Created by Apogee Software, Duke Nukem (1991) and Duke Nukem II (1993) were two rare beasts, at least on PC; while home consoles had plenty of Contra-style run-and-gun blasters, home computer users were poorly served in this regard.
As a result, both games found a receptive audience on PC, and while Duke's later adventures in the realm of 3D are what earned him his mainstream fame, this pair of PC platformers is nonetheless important in a historical context – and that's why Blaze's remaster efforts on Duke Nukem Collection 1 are to be thoroughly commended.
Both titles have been adapted to run natively on the Evercade hardware – that means you're not getting emulated games here, but title which are making full use of the host platform's power. This is evidenced by the fact that you can instantly toggle between the remaster and the original game at the touch of a button. At first glance, the remaster appears to be slight; the graphics are largely the same between both versions. The key difference here is that the remaster fills the whole of the Evercade's display, and adds in smoother scrolling and improved presentation.
The end result is a wonderful way to rediscover these two cult classics. Granted, neither title is in quite the same league as, say, Metal Slug or Contra III, but then they were never designed to be; they have more in common with Western-made titles, like the beloved Turrican series.
Also included in this pack is a console port of what is arguably Duke's most famous outing, Duke Nukem 3D. The catch is that this is the PlayStation version of the game, entitled Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown (or just plain old Duke Nukem if you're in Europe), which was ported by Aardvark Software in 1997. Lobotomy Software's Saturn port is considered to be the better of the two, but at least Total Meltdown benefits from an exclusive fourth chapter (Plug 'n' Pray), making this the most 'complete' version of the game for consoles. However, it's not as polished as the PC original or the Saturn port, so it does feel like you're playing a lesser version of the game, despite that extra content.
Duke Nukem Collection 1 is a fine example of how Blaze is using its Evercade platform to revisit classic games in new and unique ways, and we sincerely hope it's the first of many to come.