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Duke: Nuclear Winter, also known as Duke Nukem: Nuclear Winter, is a Christmas-themed expansion pack for Duke Nukem 3D. It was developed by Simply Silly Software and published by WizardWorks on December 30, 1997.


New levels

Duke: Nuclear Winter replaces Lunar Apocalypse with a new episode, Nuclear Winter, that is comprised of the following seven levels:

  1. Deja Vu
  2. Where It All Began
  3. Land of Forgotten Toys
  4. Santa's Corporate HQ
  5. The Backdoor
  6. Christmas Village
  7. Here Comes Santa Claws

New enemies

Several classic enemies, including the Assault Trooper, Assault Captain, Pig Cop, and Enforcer, have been redesigned with Christmas-themed costumes. In addition, Duke: Nuclear Winter introduces the following six new enemies:


Santa Claus has been captured and brainwashed by the aliens that Duke previously defeated. To make matters worse, the aliens are now supported by an enemy force calling themselves the Feminist Elven Militia. Duke Nukem must travel to the North Pole in order to stop the brainwashed Santa Claus and his manipulative captors.


Reactions to Duke: Nuclear Winter have generally ranged from negative to lukewarm.

Many reviewers, such as the popular YouTuber "LGR," have criticized the repurposing of maps from L.A. Meltdown as "lazy," given that the maps do not exhibit many changes from the original game. The other levels have been the subject of even harsher criticism, with Old PC Gaming describing them as "consistently drab, muddled key hunts with too much backtracking and too little atmospheric variation."

Whenever Duke4, the most popular Duke Nukem website on the Internet, has conducted informal opinion polls, many users have provided responses for other expansions but refused to discuss Duke: Nuclear Winter due to a shared sense that the add-on is an embarrassment to the franchise.

Mikko Sandt, the webmaster of his own popular Duke Nukem website, gave it a lukewarm review. He noted that the levels are "fun to play" and that the "design is ok," but he concluded with an advisory that there are many total conversions for Duke Nukem 3D that are better and free to play.

Current status

Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition was removed from the Steam store in 2016, however , Nuclear Winter is available for commercial sale as part of Zoom-Platform's Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition.

Randy Pitchford, the CEO of Gearbox Software, revealed in a May 6, 2020 interview with LoveLaughLeslie that the company was in fact working to package Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour with several of the classic expansion packs. Although he specifically cited the expansions by Sunstorm Interactive, he did not indicate whether Duke: Nuclear Winter, an expansion by Simply Silly Software, was also being considered. Regardless, Pitchford explained that the project was actually stalling due to multiple publishing-related problems. Without providing too many details, Pitchford seemed to imply there was a separation of powers between the development studio under Pitchford at Gearbox Software and the publishing house under Steve Gibson at Gearbox Publishing. "I keep putting my thumb on that scale," Pitchford explained, but "this is a publishing project."

According to Pitchford, one problem facing the project, though possibly not the chief problem, was that the publishing team had identified content in the expansions that they considered borderline "sexist and racist." This was news to Pitchford, who said, "it's not exactly the Duke that I remember." For this reason, Gibson was not yet "ready" to move forward with publishing the expansions. Pitchford added, "I don't want to censor it," suggesting the team was considering this as a possible solution. Pitchford further clarified "we stand behind" everything in Duke Nukem 3D and Duke Nukem Forever.

Internet users in the online Duke Nukem community speculated on several possible sources of the borderline "sexist and racist" content in the expansions. These included the portrayal of Caribbean culture in Duke Caribbean: Life's A Beach, the Gorilla Captain in Duke Xtreme, and the Feminist Elven Militia in Duke: Nuclear Winter.


  • This expansion did not add any new one-liners to be spoken by Duke Nukem. This is because voice actor Jon St. John was not contacted by WizardWorks to record dialogue for the expansion, nor was he even aware that it was being made at all.
  • The title of the game, Nuclear Winter, is a reference to the climatic effect of a global all-out nuclear war.
  • Mario from the extremely popular Mario games can be found in the Land of Forgotten Toys level; he has his back turned to the player and is seen playing Mario Kart on a TV.
  • Santa Claws movie posters can be found throughout the game - whether they're supposed to be an homage or not to the Santa Claws movie is not made clear.
  • A small portion of the first level from the popular Doom game was recreated in Duke: Nuclear Winter when the player enters a portal from the Land of Forgotten Toys level in order to find a Access Card. A space marine's severed mutilated corpse can be found in the level.
  • The first two levels in Duke: Nuclear Winter are modified versions of the first two levels in L.A. Meltdown and whilst having some new places to explore, some events that already happened in the original versions will happen again in the Nuclear Winter versions, such as an earthquake just before going up the stairs before a hole in the wall emerges in Where It All Began (which also happened in its counterpart from the original game Hollywood Holocaust).
  • Unlike the Enforcer's and Troopers new sprites that replace their original counterparts, the Christmas Pig Cop sprites in this don't replace the original Pig Cops since for unknown reasons the original Pig Cop's sprites are replaced by Santa Claws and the Christmas Pig Cop sprites replace other sprites.
  • The Episodes that come with the original Duke Nukem 3D are rendered almost unplayable while Nuclear Winter is active due to sprites being replaced. (The Battlelord, the Overlord and the Cycloid Emperor are inactive etc.). A particularly notable change is all the original Pig Cops encountered in the normal episodes will be replaced by Santa Claws since he overrides their sprites; so if there was five pig cops in one area normally the player would have to face five Santa Claws' instead, and if the player killed one it would automatically end the episode (the player's chances of survival against more than one Santa Claws would be quite low in any case).


External links

Duke: Nuclear Winter
Levels Deja Vu | Where It All Began | Land of Forgotten Toys | Santa's Corporate HQ
The Backdoor | Christmas Village | Here Comes Santa Claws
Items Access Card | Holoduke | Jetpack | Night Vision Goggles | Portable Medkit
Protective Boots | Scuba Gear | Steroids
Health: Small Medkit | Large Medkit | Atomic Health | Armor
Weapons Mighty Foot | Pistol | Shotgun | Chaingun Cannon | RPG | Shrinker
Microwave Expander | Pipe Bomb | Devastator | Laser Tripbomb | Freezethrower
Enemies Common enemies: Assault Captain | Enforcer | Assault Trooper | Pig Cop
Protozoid Slimer | Shark | Turret
New: Flying Frosty | Frosted Battle Mobile | Groan | Grunt | Snowman
Boss: Santa Claws
Expansion packs
and add-ons
Duke Assault | Duke Caribbean: Life's A Beach | Duke: Nuclear Winter | Duke It Out In D.C.
Duke Xtreme | Duke!ZONE | Duke!ZONE II | Plutonium PAK | Unofficial expansion packs
Main game: Duke Nukem 3D
Fan community User maps | Mods & Total Conversions | Speedruns
Source ports | High Resolution Pack
Other Difficulty | Hazards | Multiplayer | Cheat codes | Quotes | Music
Simply Silly Software | Duke Nukem | Feminist Elven Militia | Present