Duke Caribbean: Life's a Beach would be the Sunstorm Interactive's final expansion pack for Duke Nukem 3D. It doesn't necessarily maintain any direct continuity with previous Duke Nukem expansions other than Duke, months after having saved the world, is off to the beach to enjoy his vacation. Unfortunately, the alien menace crashes the resort he's staying at and it's up to Duke to put an end to them once and for all. Again.
Charlie Wiederhold, one of the two level designers on the project, would be hired by 3D Realms to work on Duke Nukem Forever and would also be chiefly responsible for the release of the Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior source code packages.
There is one new episode in the expansion, consisting of seven levels in addition to a secret eighth level. The levels all play on the Caribbean theme and consist of relatively large, detailed environments. Listed below are the map names from within the Vacation.PRG file followed by the official level names from the end of level screen:
- VACA1.MAP - "Caribbean Catastrophe" - The opening level takes place in and around a beach resort, with Duke starting off in the water off the shore before winding through the resort complex. Features multiple guest rooms, a bar and a dance club before winding down at the pool.
- VACA2.MAP - "Market Melee" - Duke starts off imprisoned and must break out before battling the aliens throughout the downtown marketplace. Small convenience stores and food stands line the streets in the small city.
- VACA3.MAP - "Mr. Spashy's" - A vast amusement park with functional rides ranging from a wave pool to a lengthy boat ride. Initially Duke has to sneak into the park from the Kobayashi Maru, but then it's off to explore the park, including sneaking behind the scenes at Tadpole's Wild Ride and riding the Keelboat Canal.
- VACA4.MAP - "The WaveMistress" - A large cruise ship, initially entered by sneaking on from the boat used to exit the previous level. The fight continues below the decks, through the passenger's quarters, the bar, the galley, engine room and the bridge.
- VACA5.MAP - "Lost Lagoon" - Long river segments weaving through multiple cave systems and destroyed ruins give way to a secret heliport before transitioning into a jungle region and lost temples..
- VACA6.MAP - "Voodoo Caves" - Claustrophobic romp through an underground labyrinth broken up by short underwater segments.
- VACA7.MAP - "The Alien Remains" - Underwater alien base where Duke faces off against the alien Cycloid Emperor.
- VACASL.MAP - "A Full House" - Battle through a multi-floored Caribbean casino.
Additionally, four new DukeMatch levels were included for multiplayer play.
Two new enemies were created for Life's a Beach. A third was planned (Assault Captain) but was removed despite promotional screenshots of it had already been released.
- Seagulls - Flying creatures that aggressively assault the player by bombarding them with fecal matter.
- Inflatable Sea Monsters - Float on the water and fire coconut missiles towards the player.
Many of the standard Duke Nukem 3D enemies had been reworked to mesh with the Caribbean theme as well, with additions such as hawaiian shirts and sunglasses on the pig cops and an inflatable innertube instead of an anti gravity device for the fat commanders.
Duke's arsenal remains functionally the same, but everything has been retextured and given new sound effects to match the Caribbean theme of the expansion.
Replaces the mighty boot. Rather than seeing Duke's boot come up to kick enemies, you see his bare foot in a flip-flop.
Replaces the standard Duke pistol. Normal looking water gun.
Replaces the shotgun. Heavily inspired by and closely resembles the " Super Soaker 50"
Triple Poison Shooter
Replacing the Ripper Chaingun, the Triple Poison Shooter was a set of bamboo shoots that fired rapid shots of poision darts.
Replaces the rocket launcher and fires highly explosive coconuts.
Tropical replacement for the Pipebomb.
Replaces the Shrinker.
Replacement for the Devastator.
Voodoo Trip Bomb
Laser Trip Mine replacement.
Six new musical tracks were included in the expansion, including a new theme song influenced by the Hawaii Five-O theme and Grabbag, the theme song to Duke Nukem 3D. Of the remaining five tracks, "Doomsday" was the only one to follow in the style of the music from the original game with the rest being either tropical party music or containing heavy tribal influences.
While no new items were added to the game, Sunstorm Interactive added in NPCs in the form of babes. In earlier games, babes were merely strippers or damsels in distress, but in Life's a Beach, babes become full-fledged entities that move about with their own limited AI. Babes occupy the slot that was previously used by the assault captains (explaining their omission within the expansion pack). Small details throughout the levels, such as beach balls and stereos were included to help flesh out the atmosphere.
Finally, a new ending was made for the game. After defeating the Cycloid Emperor, Duke blows up the alien base, steals an escape craft, and finally gets to relax with the babes.
Duke Caribbean: Life's a Beach met with mixed reviews, with the chief complaints focusing around the aging nature of its graphics (the expansion was released after Quake II) while others praised the high quality, creative level design. Emil Pagliarulo of Adrenaline Vault said, " The most frightening monster you'll face in the entire game is the ugly pixelation that lurks around every corner" ( link) of the game's graphics while Geoff Stratton of Computer Games Magazine conveyed a similar impression before commenting on the level design with, " the sprawling levels here stand up to those of the original Duke with intelligent puzzles and effective atmospherics" ( link).
Years after its release, it's frequently cited by the Duke Nukem fanbase as, " being the best of the official expansion packs released for Duke Nukem 3D" ( link).
- Mark McWane recorded a high quality MP3/OGG of the song, "Doomsday" and placed it on his website, along with his other Duke Nukem 3D music projects.
- Teleemahn recorded a complete runthrough of the game on Youtube.
- Hendricks266 started a project to redraw all of the artwork in a higher resolution.