Top 100 N64 Review: #47 – Duke Nukem: Zero Hour (1999)

Toxic Masculinity Was Never So Much Fun.

You get to play as Johnny Bravo while objectify woman and aliens. 

Duke Nukem Zero Hour Title ScreenLesLites’ Ranking#47/100
My Rating: StarStarStarStar

Duke Nukem is an anachronistic, hyper-masculine protagonist released from the imagination of pre-teen boys. He’s charmingly foul-mouthed, can perform any feat due to machismo, and ladies find him irresistible. Who else could the FBI rely on to travel through time and save Earth from an alien invasion?

The game is a blast since it realizes its front man is ridiculous. Instead of apologizing for Duke, they decide to turn the dial up to 100.  Sexual innuendos are abound and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud quips. The enemies are varied with distinct gun types that lead to a fair amount of strategy. While the shooting is old school, at least the mapping to the N64 controller is serviceable.

Let’s go save some babes, shall we?

Duke Nukem Zero Hour n64 play on words
The Booby Trap.


Duke to the rescue when aliens take over New York. The trick? He has to go through time to finish the job, traveling to Victorian London, the Wild West, and the Apocalyptic future. Along the way, he’ll save plenty of babes, and many will compliment him on his “equipment.”

Duke Nuke Zero Hour N64 Burgers
Speak for yourself lady.


Let’s start with the gameplay first.

It’s an awkward third person shooter mostly due to the N64 controller. You need to use all three handles as things are mapped to the D-pad, control stick, and c-buttons. It became surprisingly natural after a 30 minute learning curve. The auto-aim feature saves you from many headaches while not robbing you of any requisite skill.

There is a “menu” to see objectives, but none of it matters. Meandering through the stages exploring is more than enough to complete levels. There are plenty of hidden goodies to find including girls tied to rocks.

Duke Nukem Zero Hour Babes n64
It’s hard to pick which babes are my favorite between Modern American, Victorian British, and Old Western.

Known as babes, each stage has multiple damsels in distress to be saved from their perilous position of being tied to a rock. Their compliments are as voluptuous as their figures as saving a babe elicits a sexually-laced compliment. I could almost taste the hormones.

Duke Nukem Zero Hour N64
In Apocalyptic New York, everyone’s dead, but the apartments are still the same size: small.

In between blasting aliens, Duke has several quips of his own. My favorite was when you kill Lizard-themed aliens:

“Great. Just the kind of tail I don’t need.”

The game has such a great sense of humor with many different styles.

The only reason you know what’s going on is that the Duke from the past beams in a transmission to tell you about his predicament at the start of the game. When you end up going into the past, you end up completing the mission of sending that transmission to the future which is really you while in the past to the future… making a full loop of the time paradox you have created.

Then, when you go to Victorian London, you end up in a mini-boss fight with Jack the Ripper. Hard to identify a serial killer when Duke Nukem stomps the life out of him.

Duke Nukem Zero Hour N64 CD-ROM
While the wild west setting might be old, seeing a CD-ROM made me feel older.

There are plenty of Easter Eggs to find that run the gamut of weird. There is one storefront that has five models in the display case that are the Spice Girls. Graffiti is everywhere, particularly the word beefcake. Pop culture references are everywhere.

Duke Nukem Zero Hour Goldeneye
A reference and a 69 joke? You’re too much Duke 🥰

While the game’s main character and humor is what makes the game stand out, the shoot-em up and puzzles aren’t too shabby either.  The varied guns with positives and negatives made combat interesting enough and there are plenty of tricks the game plays on you.

My favorite: I once took an elevator up, but ended up going back down via a secret room with bonus goodies. When I pressed the button to ride the elevator back up, I forgot it was already on the second floor, and it came down and crushed me for an instant death. Yea, I was pissed, but it just fit the game so well.


I really liked this game — go save some babes!


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