Manhattan Project

In a bold attempt to reintroduce gamers with this retro piece of software, 3D Realms has released ‘Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project’ to the Xbox Live Arcade. Can an eight-year-old port and franchise that hasn’t been relevant since the mid-90s still make an impact; we will let you know as we explore Duke’s Manhattan Project.

‘Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project’ was developed in 2002 by budget PC developer ‘Sunstorm Interactive’ and Duke grand-daddies ‘3D Realms.’ This 'Xbox Live Arcade' edition is a straight forward port with added achievement support, nothing too fancy here. If you have fond memories of the original, Duke is worth giving into your nostalgic cravings, but be warred, sometimes things aren't as good as you remember them.

0.5 Approved
This particular ‘Duke Nukem’ title is a departure from the FPS genre that made “Duke” a success. Switching it up the ‘Manhattan Project’ takes players on a new ride in the Duke Nukem universe. Placing Duke into the shell of a fairly standardized platformer, you will embrace Duke’s 2D-side. This 2D.5 adventure has all the humour you would expect out of a Duke Nukem title, which is made possible by Duke’s patented chauvinistic personality. You will fight the good fight against a mad scientist who is trying to take over Manhattan Island with a group of mutated animals, and most importantly pig Cops!

Jump, Duke, Jump
The graphics are obviously dated and blocky, but at least they are three-dimensional. That’s the (.5) in (2D.5) The rest of the game plays out like a normal 2D side-scroller with the ability to control the camera’s vantage point, important for judging gaps. The action will have you jumping back and forth between platforms looking for key-cards (oh I forgot how much I despise these) and making it across each stage safety. Aside from making it across a level there are other activities to side-track Duke, like hot ladies strapped to lethal bombs... now, that's a combination. Hidden areas also have a role in the game, but its unlikely that you will spend all of your searching them out. This one is more of a “lets get over with” then “wow, these environments are so interesting, I want to explore each nook and cranny.”

Concrete Jungle, Where Dreams are Made of
The levels range from NY-themed areas like Metro, and the Rooftops, to more obscure levels like the outer space episode and the Unholy Underworld. None of the levels are too interesting, but at least they keep fresh from level-to-level. Boss fights are just like the tedious boss battles you remember from a 2D side-scroller, although Duke’s boss battles fall on the other side of challenging, called frustrating. I hope you like dying because it’s going to happen a lot. Dying is a standard theme in ‘Manhattan Project’ as the controls make it easy for you to miss your mark and fall to your death. The controls are very “sticky” and unresponsive at times. I’m not sure if it was tweaked for the porting, but it really shows it age.

Duke is no Jason Fleming
The enemies also show their age as they simply stand in front of you and wait to get blasted. It’s really hard to be objective when we have been spoiled with other great 2D.5 action games like last years Arcade Game of the Year, ‘Shadow Complex.’ Duke might have been something in yesteryear, but his glory days are fading. The ‘Manhattan Project’ would have been so much more if they would have rebuilt the game instead of porting it. Time is money.., I understand, but this is a man’s legacy we are talking about.

‘Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project’ is going to appeal to a very niche market of gamers, mainly the ones who have found memories of playing the original Duke games, or even this 2D offshoot. Duke’s personality and comedy was more popular back in the early 90s when Duke and ‘Andrew Dice Clay’ had audiences laughing along with their misogynistic one-liners. In the current market that is overwhelming filled with quality Xbox Live titles, a porting of an average side-scroller doesn’t cut it. Sadly, the rest of audience, the ones who don’t remember Duke Nukem, ‘Manhattan Project’ isn’t worth a look. Simply put, there are better games to invest your prized Microsoft Points with. Sorry Duke, you can’t win them all.

Final Score: 4.5

Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 07.13.10

  • Duke Nukem fans this is as close as your getting to new game
  • Throwback humour is funny at times
  • Pig Cops, who doesn’t love Pig Cops?
  • Two avatar awards to unlock
  • Eight Year old Port shows its age
  • Duke will only appeal to gamers familiar with him
  • Controls are very sticky, not fluid at all
  • Gameplay is extremely simple
  • Did A.I. exist in 2002?

Similar Games: Matt Hazard: BB&B (5.5) | Bionic Commando: Rearmed (9.0) | Shadow Complex (9.2)


Duke Nukem
Manhattan Project

Xbox Live Arcade

3D Realms


US Release
June '10


Xbox Live Arcade

Player 1
Dolby 5.1
1080p HD
800 MS Points