Duke Nukem Advance is not a port of the classic PC game Duke Nukem 3D, but rather an original game that borrows graphics and audio from its PC ancestor to create a brand-new first-person shooter for the Game Boy Advance. The game features 19 single-player levels, as well as a deathmatch mode with support for up to four simultaneous players. On the basis of technical merit, Duke Nukem Advance is nowhere near as pretty or diverse as the original 1996 PC game, but it's easily the best FPS to hit the GBA since Doom.
As the story goes, a group of alien scientists plan to clone Earth's most attractive women and then kill off the rest of the population. It's up to you, as Duke Nukem, to stop their scheme. The game's 19 levels are spread throughout four different primary locations, including Area 51 in Nevada, a temple in Egypt, a shopping district in Australia, and an orbiting alien spacecraft. There are eight available weapons, ranging from traditional FPS armaments such as pistols and shotguns to items specific to the Duke Nukem franchise such as pipe bombs and a shrink ray. The jetpack from the PC game is absent, however.
The gameplay is typical of what you'd expect from a first-person shooter. You can run, strafe, jump, and shoot, and your primary goal is to kill as many enemies as possible while gathering the keys or items necessary to advance to the next level. Most levels are pretty large and often include multiple building structures, which can really bring about a sense of monotony when you find yourself wandering back and forth through the same carbon-copy passageways. To its credit, however, Duke Nukem Advance does mix things up fairly well by incorporating a number of platform-based puzzles and timed escape challenges.
Much of what makes Duke Nukem Advance unique is that it totally captures the brash attitude of the Duke Nukem character. The game is full of speech samples in the form of Duke's trademarked one-liners, including such exclamations as, "Come get some," and, "Hail to the king, baby." Whenever you complete an area, there are also hand-drawn cutscenes that show Duke at his best--blasting aliens.
The visuals for the actual gameplay are exceptional as well. The levels are large, and the level of detail in the graphics is high enough to allow for the inclusion of superficial details such as furniture and advertising slogans. Characters, items, and projectiles are composed of sprites that scale in size as you approach them. This technique creates a believable amount of depth, although some enemies become extremely pixilated up close. The frame rate remains smooth and constant at all times, regardless of the number of corpses and items littering the screen.
The only really questionable aspect of Duke Nukem Advance is its longevity. Most players will finish the single-player campaign in about five or six hours, though it may take longer to uncover every secret area and rack up 100-percent kills. If you have multiple friends with GBA systems, the game's replay value is increased considerably, thanks to the inclusion of a four-player deathmatch option.
Attitude is what distinguishes Duke Nukem Advance from the other FPS games available for the Game Boy Advance. The overall gameplay is solid enough to satisfy most players, but it's the preponderance of vocal one-liners that you'll remember long after you've powered down the system.