Duke Nukem, the cigar-chomping alien exterminator who packs more one-liners than John Wayne, reprises the role of the one-man army in Duke Nukem Mobile II: Bikini Project. The first Duke Nukem Mobile, which came out in early 2004, was a remarkably fast-moving--albeit very simple--action game that wrung great performance out of the handsets of the day. Although it makes a few notable gameplay innovations and has a presentation that befits modern handsets, Bikini Project follows in its predecessor's footsteps in most respects. It's still a very laterally oriented shooter that concentrates on keeping the action hot and heavy.
Duke Nukem Mobile II: Bikini Project's story picks up right where the original Duke Nukem Mobile left off--in the cargo bay of an exploding zeppelin infested by mutant pig cops. You might think that any adventure following such an insane scenario would be an anticlimax; but, in fact, the aliens continuously turn up the heat on Duke throughout this game's 15 levels. Whether you're fighting your way across burning rafters, hopping over acid pits, or pillaging an ET-held manor house, baddies will rush you from either side of the screen at all times, and you have to jam on the fire button to irrigate them with various types of ordinance. Although you can maneuver up and down as well as side to side in the pseudo-3D environments, dodging enemy shots effectively is extremely difficult, just as it was in the first game. It's a better idea to keep a wall of fire in front of you at all times as you search for the keycard that'll let you into the next level.
Even so, the few meaningful changes that have been made to this basic Duke Nukem formula are good ones. For example, Nukem can now take to the skies on some levels using a jetpack. Actually, he only hovers a few feet off of the ground--but that's high enough to fly over the death traps that populate certain levels. There's not much tactical use for the jetpack, since it doesn't make dodging your enemies' bullets or shooting at them any easier. However, you do need to keep a close eye on your fuel gauge. Some of the levels require a lot of backtracking, and fuel canisters can be hard to come by. Another significant change is the inclusion of multiple boss characters, which pop out of the woodwork every couple of levels. They can absorb a ton of punishment and attack using unfamiliar patterns. There are also a few new types of regular enemies, like pig cop jetcraft. Finally, you've got access to a brand-new weapon: the flamethrower. It can easily dispose of large clumps of enemies, but it also runs out of ammo quickly.
Additionally, Duke Nukem Mobile II: Bikini Project sports an updated presentation. Many of the first game's easy-to-identify sprites have been redrawn to suit the LG VX8000 and plugged into a new series of backgrounds. Bikini Project definitely looks cleaner and runs faster, but that's to be expected after a year and a half. In reality, the game's overall visual impression has remained very much the same, and it even appears to reuse several of the original's weapon effects. Nevertheless, Bikini Project is a fun game to look at, and it employs a subtle camera bounce and a bit of visual humor to good effect. There are also a bunch of new weapon sound effects--in concert with the classic title theme, pig cop death squeal, and pistol shot--as well as more digitized Duke-isms. At the beginning of every level, Nukem will mutter something like "What are you waiting for...Christmas?!" You'll be hard pressed to reply with a straight face.
Duke Nukem Mobile II: Bikini Project stacks up as a worthy sequel to the original mobile alien mauler. It certainly puts a nice, modern sheen on the classic run-and-shoot gameplay, but it's not a huge departure from the first game, either. On any of the four difficulty levels, the recipe for success is still to march from one end of the level to the other, laying down a withering stream of fire as you go. The game's new elements offer you little cause to vary this strategy. Although the developer has avoided fixing things that weren't broken, Bikini Project wouldn't have suffered from a little more experimentation. As is, it's a very good action game, but not a great one.