Beyond the Duke: These, Too, Were 3D Realms

There are two things that people and companies are remembered for: their biggest success and their biggest failure. Video game publishers are not an exception from this rule. In the case of 3D Realms, both of them happen to be in their best-known franchise – Duke Nukem. The developer has reached the apogee (sic!) of its fame with Duke Nukem 3D in 1996, then fell out of grace due to its direct sequel Duke Nukem Forever that spent 15 years in development hell, only to become an underwhelming product failing to live up to the players’ expectations – and its predecessor.

But Duke Nukem is just one of the many titles 3D Realms has released over the decades of its existence. And while few of them managed to even gain on the Duke, they were a source of fun – and fond memories – for generations of gamers.

Rise of the Triad

Finally, let’s not forget one of the early games 3D Realms (then Apogee) released in 1994 that almost became a follow-up to ID Software’s successful Wolfenstein 3D: Rise of the Triad.

The game’s story might sound familiar: members of HUNT (High-risk United Nations Task-force) are deployed to a remote island to investigate – and stop – a deadly cult with a selection of traditional and magic weapons across several player classes.

The game was little more than a Doom clone, built on a modified Wolfenstein 3D engine. What sets it apart is the use of simulated dynamic lighting, breakable glass walls, bullet holes, and panoramic skies, making it an important, if unremarkable, step forward in the history of video games.

ROTT was eventually remade in 2013 on Unreal Engine 3.

Shadow Warrior

Lo Wang was a bit like a Japanese Duke Nukem with his impressive arsenal of weapons and one-liners. And when his employer turned to the ‘dark side’ for help in his quest to conquer Japan, he puts both of these to good use in defeating pretty much everything that moves.

The game has introduced many new features to the world of first-person shooters, including the use of sticky bombs (later made popular by the Halo series), different firing modes for weapons, drivable vehicles, turrets, and climbable ladders. Last but not least, it also introduced the possibility of using the enemies’ body parts as weapons.

Shadow Warrior was remastered, released for smartphones, and remade over the years, with the latest title in the series released in 2016.


Domasi “Tommy” Tawodi saw his girlfriend and grandfather abducted by a mysterious alien craft, The Sphere, and he took it upon himself to rescue them – this is the shorters version of the game’s plot. It’s pretty thin, of course, but this is not why we should remember Prey – but for its innovative features.

Prey introduced the concept of ‘portals’ to gaming – these would transport the player instantly from one area to another. Plus, it also added variable gravity to the mix – various objects in the game had their own gravity.

One of the interesting additions to the game is the bar where the story begins. It is equipped with a working restroom, a TV, a Pac-Man style game, and several games you’d normally find at the JackpotCity online casino: blackjack, draw poker, and a slot machine. Unlike the games at the JackpotCity, these games didn’t offer the player any real, usable wins but adding them to the game was a genuinely nice touch from the developers.

Prey has become one of the most successful titles released in 2006. Critics and gamers praised it for its gameplay, top-notch graphics, and gameplay system.