Duke Nukem Resurrected?

Duke Nukem has been missing for 13 years, which is long enough to be legally declared dead in many places. But now it appears that the wait Forever might not literally be so.

Gearbox Software, the company behind Borderlands, has bought out the rights to the brand and says Duke Nukem Forever — first announced in 1997 — will launch next year on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

Exactly why the game was delayed so often is a mystery, though one of the most common theories is that the designers kept fruitlessly trying to keep up with the latest developments in both hardware technology and the techniques used in other popular games. That certainly makes sense: take a game first designed for the original PlayStation and imagine it as a PS3 release and you can see how that would be quite the task.

In the later years of the last decade it seems that money became the main issue: those involved had to decide whether to continue sinking cash into something that showed no signs of appearing, or to cut their losses. By this time the original publishers, Infogame, had sold the rights to Take-Two for $12 million. Take-Two then went to court over 3D Realms’ failure to deliver the game, though 3D Realms said it hadn’t received any of the cash. (The case was settled out of court earlier this year.)

When 3D Realms laid off the team working on the game last year, it appeared the character and game were finally doomed. At the time Take-Two said that although it retained the publishing rights, it wasn’t prepared to continue funding its development.

Now Gearbox has bought the rights to the character and will finish the game, which will then be published by 2K, a subsidiary of Take-Two. And amid the legal jargon and management-speak, there’s one specific promise from Gearbox: “memorable ass-kicking mayhem.”

Of course, that might also be what happens if this latest release promise doesn’t come to fruition…

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