Cancelled Duke Nukem origin game finally sees the light of day

Duke Nukem
(Image credit: Gearbox Software, Gregor Punchatz)

A trailer for a cancelled Duke Nukem game has emerged online.

Just below, you can see a trailer for Duke Nukem Begins, a planned revival of the shooter franchise which never saw the light of day. This cancelled game would have apparently been a reboot of the entire series, according to animator Gregor Punchatz, who uploaded the trailer to YouTube, acting as an origin story for the titular character.

Punchatz writes in the YouTube video description that in 2008, when he was working at Janimation in Dallas, Texas, his employer was recruited by Duke Nukem developer Gearbox Entertainment to put together a vertical slice for the unannounced game. This vertical slice was never meant to be publicly released, but would instead act as a "proof of concept" for the final game.

Unfortunately, as Punchatz acknowledges, Duke Nukem Begins was ultimately cancelled due to the ongoing legal issues surrounding the series at the time. The existence of Duke Nukem Begins was previously unveiled through lawsuits between 3D Realms and Take-Two Interactive, which revealed that development of Duke Nukem Begins was cancelled in 2009, around the same time 3D Realms claimed ownership of the Duke Nukem IP over Gearbox Software.

It's a messy situation, and Nuke Dukem Begins was just one of the casualties of the lawsuits between 3D Realms and Take-Two Interactive. Who knows what could have become of the promised reboot had the legal proceedings not scuppered the franchise entirely? A few years later in 2015, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford revealed that development had begun on a new game in the Duke Nukem series, but two years after that, a Gearbox employee claimed that development had stalled, and Gearbox wasn't keen to revisit the now-dormant franchise.

For our take on one of the last re-releases in the series, head over to our Duke Nukem 3D Megaton Edition review for more.

Hirun Cryer

Hirun Cryer is a freelance reporter and writer with Gamesradar+ based out of U.K. After earning a degree in American History specializing in journalism, cinema, literature, and history, he stepped into the games writing world, with a focus on shooters, indie games, and RPGs, and has since been the recipient of the MCV 30 Under 30 award for 2021. In his spare time he freelances with other outlets around the industry, practices Japanese, and enjoys contemporary manga and anime.