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Duke Nukem Battlefields is a first-person shooter that was based on Duke Nukem Arena and released via the Verizon mobile app store in 2010. The game features all content from Duke Nukem Arena but lacks multiplayer functionality.

Duke Nukem Battlefields is notable for its poorly documented history; the game's title does not return any Google search results prior to its rediscovery in March 2020. Extensive work was put into trying to identify the game, including direct correspondence with multiple developers listed in the game's credits. However, even the lead designer could not conclusively identify the game. Over the course of two years, the game was misidentified as a prequel to Duke Nukem Arena, then an unauthorized bootleg, then an official port for the Zeebo, and then an unreleased prototype kept solely for internal tech demos at a cellular phone company. In October 2021, all of those explanations were ruled-out in light of a data cache recovered from a cell phone that contained memory from a version of the Verizon mobile app store in which the game was listed for commercial sale.

Only one month after the game's March 2020 rediscovery, another lost adaptation of Duke Nukem Arena titled Duke Nukem DS was also discovered and shared on YouTube.

Contents

Duke Nukem Battlefields features all content from Duke Nukem Arena but without the multiplayer functionality. Because there are no known surviving copies of Duke Nukem Arena on the consumer market, Duke Nukem Battlefields provides extensive insight into the lost game, which was substantially different from the better known Duke Nukem Mobile 3D. Notably, the game includes the "Depth of Evil" singleplayer campaign and the "Nukem Dead!" survival game mode, both of which were first introduced in Duke Nukem Arena.

Promised sequel

Upon completing the game, a cutscene plays of Duke stealing the aliens' zeppelin. A message on the screen reads:

Duke sticks the keycard in and pulls the switch. The auto-pilot takes over and the engines rumble to life... Where's the airship going? What are the aliens plotting? There's only one way to find out...

Visit www.dukenukemmobile.com for the upcoming sequel!

The only records of that site in the Wayback Machine feature an advertisement for Duke Nukem Mobile, the 2D side-scrolling game. There is no recorded mention of a sequel.

Rediscovery and identification

The first recorded mention of Duke Nukem Battlefields was in March 2020 by KrZ One, an avid collector of BREW-based devices and applications. KrZ One recovered the game from a "demo server" cache, where it was kept in many folders labeled for deployment on LG enV3 (VX9200), Motorola VU204, LG VX5500, LG Chocolate Touch (VX8575), Samsung Alias (SCH-u740), and LG VX5400 mobile phones.

Initial video

Initially, KrZ One uploaded footage of the game to YouTube on March 6, 2020. He identified the game as an application for BREW-based mobile phones that was probably released in 2006, based on comparisons to Duke Nukem Mobile 3D and Duke Nukem Arena. The footage KrZ One uploaded was captured on a Zeebo console, but he did not believe the game was created for the Zeebo. The game shown in the video was labeled for the LG enV3.

At the time, Google returned zero instances of the term "Duke Nukem Battlefields" anywhere on the Internet, so it was difficult to find any information about the game.

Correspondence with Mark Fassett

On June 8, 2020, Mark Fassett, one of the programmers listed in the game's credits, responded to an email inquiry about the game. He watched KrZ One's video, and he explained that the footage contained elements that Fassett specifically created for Duke Nukem Arena in 2007. Therefore, the game must have been created sometime after Duke Nukem Arena. However, Fassett left MachineWorks Northwest immediately after completing Duke Nukem Arena, so apart from noting that there were strange anomalies in the display, he could not comment on the game's authenticity, since his work could have been repurposed after he left the company. Fassett also explained that Seth Robinson was the lead developer on Duke Nukem Arena, so he might know more.

Correspondence with Seth Robinson

On June 14, 2020, Seth Robinson confirmed that the footage was genuine, ruling-out speculation that it may have been an unauthorized bootleg. He identified Duke Nukem Battlefields as an authorized port for the Zeebo video game console. He elaborated that he was hired to create a "quick port" as part of a series of "all kinds of weird hired gun jobs like this." Regarding the display anomalies, Robinson speculated that the footage may have been recorded on an emulator or modified system.

Doubts about its connection to the Zeebo

Although Robinson initially identified Duke Nukem Battlefields as a port for the Zeebo, there were several reasons to think he may have confused Duke Nukem Battlefields with another title.

  • KrZ One recorded his gameplay footage on a Zeebo, even though KrZ One never believed that the game was intended for the Zeebo. It is possible this may have led Robinson to mistake the game for a different project.
  • MachineWorks Northwest actually ported Duke Nukem 3D to the Zeebo in the Ripp3D engine, though the port does not appear to have been released. It is possible Robinson may be confusing Duke Nukem Battlefields with this other title.
  • KrZ One found that the user interface and the background image on the menu screen are fitted to a width of 320 pixels. In contrast, Zeebo games use a 640x480 resolution.
  • The font is too small to read on a CRT screen from a normal distance.
  • Despite an exhaustive search effort, there is no mention of any game like this anywhere in the Zeebo community forums.
  • The game does not contain Spanish or Portuguese translations. However, Zeebo games were usually translated into one of these two languages, since the Zeebo console was only released in Brazil and Mexico.
  • When KrZ One discovered the game, the application was labeled for deployment on mobile phones, not the Zeebo.

Follow-up with Seth Robinson

On July 1, 2020, Robinson replied to a request for clarification, in light of the conflicting information. Robinson generously watched the video again and combed through his Zeebo collection. He concluded that he could not definitively identify the game in the video, but he offered his best guess:

"My guess is someone did a build with the title menu graphic changed, and the about screen modified for the name, but nothing else. I might have done it after being asked, it would have taken a few minutes."

He provided a few more guesses as to why this might have been done, but there were good reasons to doubt both guesses. First, he suggested it might have been a prototype of Duke Nukem Arena that was shown to publishers. However, this is impossible because of the game's Verisign code signature (acquired by NortonLifeLock), which cannot be forged without a digital key that was given only to MachineWorks Northwest. Duke Nukem Battlefields will not launch if the game's files or code signature have been altered. Crucially, the game's code signature is dated November 5, 2010, three years after the release of Duke Nukem Arena. This is further supported by disassembling the game's code, which reveals that features from Duke Nukem Arena had merely been disabled. Second, Robinson suggested it might have been "just a rebrand for contractual reasons." For instance, Verizon Wireless may have required that MachineWorks Northwest re-release the game under a new title for their next phone release (Robinson had previously done this with Prey Mobile 3D and Prey Evil for the Zeebo). While something like this seemed more likely, it did not appear that the game was ever released on the commercial market. Therefore, it was instead concluded that a cellular phone company may have kept the game merely for internal tech demos, hence its discovery on a "demo server."

Recovered data cache

In October 2021, KrZ One obtained a data backup from a Samsung Gusto 3 (SM-B311V) that someone had used to browse the Verizon app store sometime in 2016. Cached data from the Verizon app store showed that Duke Nukem Battlefields was listed for sale at $8.99. The following information was cached for the store item:

ID:20862464
IN:Duke Nukem Battlefields
Icon:40
DT:Duke Nukem Battlefields is the latest First Person Shooter in the Duke Nukem Series
of mobile games.  WithoutВ a price plan that includes an unlimited data feature, you
will incur eitherВ (depending on your plan) airtime charges at applicable overage
rates if you exceed your minutes bundle or megabyte ("MB") charges of $1.99/MB for
downloading the application. Some applications may result in additional charges forВ
sending/receiving data during use.
MINAPI:3.0.0
RM:6968
PM:2
PBT:2
PH:785785822
PD:$8.99
BV:4294967295
PI:354864
MI:280389
PF:7140987
PI:274764
MI:265425
PF:72787
PID:14347264

Disabled multiplayer functionality

In private correspondence, KrZ One was able to disassemble the game's code and show that multiplayer still existed in the game but had merely been disabled. It may be possible to re-enable the multiplayer menu, but because Duke Nukem Arena relied on a specially dedicated server, it would be difficult to re-enable full multiplayer functionality. Despite the code signature technology, it is possible to modify the game using the BREW SDK and to create a new code signature file, but the new code signature would not contain the MachineWorks Northwest signature.

Videos

The videos below are sourced directly from KrZ One's YouTube channel. Clicking a video will redirect to YouTube.

KrZ_One_-_Main_Menu_and_Levels_1-7

KrZ One - Main Menu and Levels 1-7

KrZ_One_-_Levels_7-12

KrZ One - Levels 7-12

KrZ_One_-_Levels_12-14

KrZ One - Levels 12-14

KrZ_One_-_Levels_14-22

KrZ One - Levels 14-22

KrZ_One_-_Levels_23-25

KrZ One - Levels 23-25

KrZ_One_-_Levels_26-32_and_Ending

KrZ One - Levels 26-32 and Ending

Credits

Duke Nukem Battlefields was produced under exclusive license from Apogee Inc. by MachineWorks Northwest LLC.

Executive Producer:

Scott Miller

Producer for MachineWorks:

Andreas "Andy" Vasen

Additional Production:

Seth Robinson

Mark Fassett

Programming:

Seth Robinson

Mark Fassett

Scott Pugh

Additional Programming:

Dean Nuttall

Art:

Les Pardue

Akiko Robinson

Weston Tracy

Steve Seator

Special Thanks to:

Scott Miller

Mitzi McGilvray

External links


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