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RIP 3D Realms

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Main story over at Shacknews (new window). Going through the comments on that page is like going through an old photo album.

Computers — real ones, as opposed to clunky machines that could just barely run MS-DOS — came late to the country. I remember playing Dangerous Dave (in lush black and white!) the first time. I remember playing Pac Man (in glorious color!) too. But none of them really left as much of an impression on me as the first three proper computer games I played.

I got my first computer (technically, it was the “family” computer, but Yours Truly marked it as his territory from day one) sometime in 2000. Right after the Y2K scare. I remember, one of the first things I asked the assembler was whether it was Y2K compliant or not. Man, I feel stupid now.

It came loaded with Windows 98SE, which, for all intents and purposes, was the best thing. It had a 33.6 kbps modem and oh dear, let’s save the internet story for another time. The assembler loaded it up with a few game demos.

One of those was Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith. Not a bad one for a first. I was hooked, boy, was I. But let’s save the computer game story for another time too.

Because in a few months I downloaded the shareware version of Duke Nukem 3D (5 MB downloaded off a metered phone line internet, sorry for the bills, folks) and things, as they say, changed. Muchachos muchachas.

The first time Duke dropped one of his trademark lines (I think it was, “Your face, your ass, what’s the difference?” but I can’t be sure), I had the computer speakers cranked up high. Dad heard it. Not my finest hour. But I was hooked.

While others were spouting Bollywood dialog, I was busy mouthing Dukeisms.

So, when I went shopping for games a few months later and found a — check this — Premier edition of Duke Nukem 3D, I grabbed it like you’d grab a naked chick. I kid you not. There it was: this thick, black box. Beautiful like you wouldn’t believe. I still have it, along with the Half Life box (but that’s for later). I devoured the game. No other word for it.

When it was over, I went through it again. Then I found the map editor and, for the next month I was the nerd cliche. Dreaming of making games for a living. But I liked playing the damn game more than making my own levels (come on, confess it, I’m not the only one who shoved a truckload of belly dancers in a room with no doors and basically leaned back to watch ’em. Confess!), and thank Christ for that.

I tried running through Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem 2 (which were on the Premier CD-ROM), but I think I just went back to DN3D again halfway through (DN2 was riddled with bugs, anyway). I’m gonna rip off your head and shit down your neck. If only all protagonists were so eloquent.

Duke Nukem Forever, ever since its announcement, has been like retirement for most of us who played the original as kids. Something that will come by when you can enjoy it to its fullest. So, reading through the comments at Shacknews is no surprise. There’s a broken nerd gamer heart for every murdered alien scum today.

Me, I’ll be dusting that beautiful black box, and perhaps giving the CD a try. Witness the old magic in this age of intellectual bankruptcy. Hear that outstanding title song at the very least. They did with MIDI what Metallica couldn’t do with twenty years of technology: explode.

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Written by Jesus Eastwood

May 7, 2009 at 10:30 pm