3D Realms Anthology – Review
Follow Genre: Collection, retro
Developer: 3D Realms (Apogee Software) et al.
Publisher: 3D Realms (Apogee Software)
Platforms: PC, Mac
Tested on: PC

3D Realms Anthology – Review

Site Score
Good: Nostalgia galore, a chance to relive 90s gaming
Bad: Most titles didn't age well, many games also available as freeware
User Score
(7 votes)
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Rating: 5.1/10 (7 votes cast)

3D Realms has become a household name over the years. Originally having started out as Apogee Software– which is still its legal name, by the way – the studio has been responsible for such classics as Duke Nukem, Shadow Warrior and, at least partly, Prey.

Apogee was established in 1987 and managed to build up its games catalogue pretty quickly. We’re talking about 28 years ago, however, which is ancient history in the videogame timeline. Therefore, the studio has decided to release the 3D Realms Anthology, a collection of thirty-two games of times past.


This includes such timeless classics as Shadow Warrior, Duke Nukem, Duke Nukem II, Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, Duke Nukem 3D… Wow, there’s a lot of Duke in there. This is exactly where the problem lays with this collection: for most people, Nukem will be the main reason for buying this collection. However, these are the classic DOS versions, which essentially means that the most popular of its titles, Duke Nukem 3D, doesn’t play nearly as smoothly as the Megaton Edition, which is optimized for modern mouse and keyboard control schemes.

Normally, 3rd Strike reviews follow a certain pattern, reviewing each facet of a game separately for our readers. With a collection this big, however, such a pattern holds no merit. Therefore, we discuss the collection as a whole.


As mentioned before, it’s important to realise that 3D Realms has not optimized any game in this collection to work with modern operating systems. Instead, it has opted to use DOSBOX so we can enjoy the games in their original state. While this should in theory be great news for nostalgia hunters, it mostly serves to show how badly most of these games have aged.

Most of these titles are 2D platformers, such as Arctic Adventure, Bio Menace, two Commander Keen games and Crystal Caves, among others. Two of those platformers, Math Rescue and Word Rescue, are aimed solely at children, combining extremely easy platforming with short math or language exercises.


Weirdly enough, the official website of 3D Realms states that Wolfenstein 3D is part of this collection, yet we couldn’t find it in our Steam library. We did play some copycats, though, such as the Blake Stone games and Rise of the Triad: Dark War. Retro race fanatics might want to take a look at Death Rally, a top down racer which is more about destroying enemies than fairly beating them, or Wacky Wheels, a Mario Kart-esque kart racer.

One game does stand out and actually managed to age quite well in spite of its early 3D graphics: Balls of Steel. It’s a pinball game with one table in the Duke Nukem 3D theme and a few others with more generic themes added for good measure. Out of all the games in the Anthology, this is the one that could hold our attention the longest. Of course, it is again – if only partly – a Duke Nukem game, so the general point of this review holds firm.


If none of these games sound particularly exciting, then that’s simply because they aren’t. Sure, it has a certain charm to (re)play these games of what seems like ages past, but there is a reason why videogames have evolved. The main problem is that in many of these games, the controls tend to stick a bit, which makes them a far cry from the silky smooth reactions we have come to expect from our avatars. Also, the entire collection essentially falls back – again – on Duke Nukem. The more time we spent with this collection, the clearer it became that every new title Apogee made was in fact another step towards the one true classic it would create. After having played the flagship Nukem series, this means that every other game in the catalogue seems to be missing something, as if it were a cheap knockoff of this masterpiece. It’s hard not to spot the somewhat sad irony in this.



This collection should really only be acquired by nostalgic gamers or those who want to live through what is fundamentally the genesis of Duke Nukem. Even genre companion Shadow Warrior can’t even try to live up to this grandmaster, but luckily, the 2014 remake more than makes up for its slashing goriness. At a current recommend price tag of $39.99, the 3D Realms Anthology is simply overpriced, especially considering a large part of its content is also available for free on many retro sites. Add to this the fact that the greatest game of the collection can be bought separately for $9.99 – fully optimized for modern day computers, and it becomes very hard to recommend the Anthology purchase.

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Rating: 5.1/10 (7 votes cast)
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3D Realms Anthology - Review, 5.1 out of 10 based on 7 ratings
Tom Cornelis

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