This post is written by Jake Parr.
Soon after Duke Nukem 3D shook the gaming universe with its brilliance, many expansion packs were released, some with permission and many others without. Duke Caribbean: Life’s a Beach, developed by Sunstorm Interactive and published by WizardWorks Software in 1997, was one of official expansion packs released. It is what Duke fans describe as perhaps the greatest add-on for the game for many reasons.
Just when Duke Nukem thought he could get some rest and relaxation on a sunny, babe-filled tropical island in the Caribbean, the aliens have returned to ruin things for him. They were sneaky enough to establish an underwater base nearby Duke’s vacation spot. Ready for some more action, Duke sets off to fight the sun-tanned scum whose plans were to crash his party. It even comes with a slideshow for its ending, which is simple but satisfying.
The new, bright and colourful textures add a well-suited, vibrant atmosphere to the Caribbean setting. There are also sprite-swaps of almost every weapon, item and enemy. For instance, Pig Cops wear Hawaiian shirts with sunglasses whilst Assault Troopers stroll around in bath robes! Weapons are replaced with water guns (only Duke could turn a harmless water pistol into a lethal weapon), explosive coconuts, bamboo weapons, and even a mini-fridge which fires ice cubes. Even Duke is dressed up in some stylish shorts and flip-flops! Points can certainly be given to the detail of these new sprite-swaps, as well as how imaginative and funny they look. This may be the one time we’ll ever see the piggies in such dashing outfits…
The fun in the sun doesn’t stop there, for there are some brand new, cheery tunes that accompany the new missions. Bombing markets and perforating lizards in hotels to the sounds of frantic pan pipes and the smooth hum of the saxaphone is blissful fun. Even more so, Sunstorm Interactive hired an impersonator called Dave Manuel to provide some new one-liners for Duke (instead of Jon St. John, the true voice of Duke). These new lines are uncanny compared to the original. You’ll hear the ultimate arse-kicker say things like “You’re blocking my sun, ass-wipe!”, “It’s time to limbo!”, and many other appropriately cheesy quips.
Duke Caribbean’s levels are absolutely brilliant. Each level is very well-designed, featuring locations like a local market, a water park, and even a cruise ship under the stars. A secret level set in a casino is also available, too. Each of them dish out a good challenge and also consist of some clever puzzles as well, which make a change from the usual three-digit combination puzzles that plagued the main game. Alongside these maps are four Duke-match levels which are quite fun, but perhaps not as great in terms of quality. One of them is a copied and pasted version of the aforementioned cruise ship, which was a lazy move.
Aside from the new appearances to the weapons, there are no new additions to the firearms, although there are three new enemies. The seagull’s main attack is a load of crap (literally), dealing a bit of damage to Duke’s health and much damage to his dignity, whilst the harmless beach babes will wander around aimlessly whilst screaming and blocking your path. They replace the chaingun-wielding Enforcers, unfortunately. Undoubtedly, the most annoying enemy are the Pig Cops that bounce around in their inflatable sea monsters, since they’re equipped with bazookas. Whilst they are weak and can be dispatched easily, they are usually positioned to flank you, and will probably kill you in one shot before you even know it.
Despite its flaws and nitpicks, Duke Caribbean: Life’s a Beach is easily the best of the ‘big three’ expansions for Duke Nukem 3D. Its cheerful atmosphere, funky music, hilarious sprite-swaps and much more make it a definite choice for any Duke 3D fan to try out, despite the occasional bug and those pesky inflatable monsters. Try it out, it’s as satisfying as sitting in a nice, cosy jacuzzi…just the place where Duke wants to spend the rest of his summer!