How Nuclear Throne on PS3, PS4 & PS Vita aims to be mean, fun and never unfair

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How Nuclear Throne on PS3, PS4 & PS Vita aims to be mean, fun and never unfair

Everything you need to know about the latest from Luftrausers’ dev Vlambeer

In Nuclear Throne, your goal is simple: reach the Nuclear Throne. It’s a brutal mix of fast-paced, top-down action, random generation, permadeath, and player choice — and honestly, you probably won’t stand a chance. More than anything, the result of your run will be seven simple words: “You did not reach the Nuclear Throne.”


To the two of us at Vlambeer and the four others who have been working on the game for the past two and a half years, there’s something exciting about making a game that’s intentionally mean to you in every possible way, without becoming unfair. When we set out to make this game, we wanted to make a game that would be fun to play for us as its creators — something even we couldn’t fully predict.

Nuclear Throne did that, and then we made it harder and added more content. We continued adding little mean things to the game until eventually our gaming skills were pushed to the absolute limit. We didn’t stop pushing until we saw that dreaded “Did Not Reach” pop up because of mimics we forgot about while playing, or enemies that snuck up on us and ended our runs with a single well-placed hit.


In Nuclear Throne, you choose one of 12 mutants to reach that Nuclear Throne. Each of them has a passive and an active ability — sometimes simple, such as a temporary shield or higher ammo drops, and sometimes ridiculous, such as interdimensional airstrikes and the ability to fight on as a headless chicken after you die. When you get better at the game, you will get access to their own powerful Throne Butt or even more powerful Ultra abilities for your current run.

A mutant can carry two weapons at once, and there are approximately 125 weapons in Nuclear Throne. Some of them are the usual fare, pistols, machineguns, screwdrivers, laserguns — and some of them are completely over the top — things like gatling sluggers, super plasma guns and the golden nuke launcher. Either way, power isn’t everything — the more powerful weapons take longer to reload and use more ammo, and if you run out of ammo, you’re going to have a pretty pathetic end to your run.

As you kill enemies and bosses in the wastelands, your mutant will gain radiation — or rads — that help your mutant achieve mutations. There are almost 30 mutations in the game — but you’ll only get to pick from a random selection of four at any time. Some of them are fun, some of them are practical, and some of them are very situational.


Scarier Face is a good one to come across, because it lowers the health on every enemy you come across. Impact Wrists — which increases the force your weaponry has on enemies, slinging them further away — works wonders when you’re playing with the mutant Melting, whose active ability allows you to blow up corpses from a distance. Or you might want to avoid Euphoria when you’re playing as Crystal, because her shield ability reflects bullets, and Euphoria slows down all projectiles in the game.

And that’s just the core of Nuclear Throne. As you struggle to figure out a way to beat the game’s areas and bosses, there are dozens of useful and less useful secrets to find — things called crowns, secret characters, areas, endings, cursed weapons, and all sorts of mysterious meta.

There are dozens of ways to enhance your run, or to make it harder. And if you feel like you’re ready to show off, we’ve got you covered, too. Play couch co-op with a friend, or participate in our daily challenge and a weekly challenge to show off your skills against everybody else.

Nuclear Throne will have an exclusive console launch on PlayStation platforms, and we’re looking forward to seeing how you do not reach the Throne.


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  • Do you guys have a release date set yet? I recall one being announced while eating some very hot peppers, but I can’t remember what it was.

    • We’re working on it. While Anthony forced a date out of me by withholding milk after eating a habanero pepper, that was a ‘tracking date’ – and we decided we’d rather polish a bit more. We’ll have more news on a release date somewhere in the future, but for now, we’re polishing, optimising and wrapping up.

    • @rami_ismail If you can answer, will it be released at the same date as the pc version? And will it be the same price?

    • Thanks for the response! I’m happy to wait until you guys are satisfied that the game is as you want it, it’s just always nice to know a date if there is one.

  • dear pals, We -the vita users- really appreciate your support, as well as the general support the indie developers have on our underestimated hand-held…

    but… dont you think is time to forgot about all the stupid pixel art?, dont misunderstand me… I love pixel art, I’m almost on my fourties and been playing since amstrad and amiga… but, speaking of the devil, don’t you think it’s kind of weird a 2015/2016 games looks worse than… let’s say “chaos engine”… yeah…. your game mechanics and replayability are far superior, I’m really sure, but as with food, first you must please the eye…

    And this 8bit style is getting too many users bored…. and tired….

    Anyway, I’m really thrilled, I like your trailer and seems a good game for my vita, but can’t help but dream for an art style more from this century…

    • In the beginning I thought the same, but it has grown on me over time, maybe it will be the same for you.

    • That’s a super valid opinion, and I’d love to explain why we went with pixel art.

      In our case, we went with pixel art because we believe the graphics should support our gameplay. Nuclear Throne is a game about precision, and about accuracy. While 3D art and handdrawn art both offer great benefits in some regards, nothing is more accurate than a pixel: after all, they either overlap, or they don’t.

      We’re making a game in which a single pixel can make the difference between life and death, between your run succeeding and failing. We found that the best way of showing you whether there’s a pixel difference between you and a bullet or not is by actually using pixels. Raytracing, collisions, or soft lines just make it harder to read.

      Finally, we feel a lot of the lore and atmosphere of Nuclear Throne is ‘between the lines’, so to speak. Paul Veer, the pixel artist on the game, very explicitely breaks the rules of ‘retro’ pixel art to create new styles of pixel art that are modern, allow for more character and animation than was possible back in the days. That allows us to define the basic traits and look of the universe, and trust you as a player to fill in those blanks with your imagination.

    • Well, we’ll see, anyway you deserve us to be grateful just to believe in vita, so I’ll believe i you too.

      Thanks for your answer, btw.

    • We’ve been huge Vita fans since the start. I can honestly say that I believe that Nuclear Throne on Vita is one of the best ways to play it.

    • The pixel art in this game is done very well and looks fantastic. And no it’s not weird, well done pixel art is timeless. The Chaos Engine still looks fine, though Nuclear Throne looks better. Pixel art isn’t any more boring than any other kind of art, at this point it’s all over used anyway (unless we’re talking about something like Kirby’s Epic Yarn). It would look worse and more generic without its pixel art.
      But again, pixel art is timeless. It will always be in use and when it’s well done it will always look good.

    • At the end of the day graphics are a tool. They should serve the gameplay. Anything less and the game suffers, anything more (complex and detailed models that do not have complex and detailed movement) and it is nothing more than a novelty, if not a false impression. Minecraft is an example of this. A lesson of this is most remasters, for example take the remaster of halo 1 (master chief collection) same mechanics, but upgraded skins and lighting I would argue it does not improve the game much, if at all, and some feel it just feels strange.

      With all that said, there is a soft spot in my heart for 16 bit graphics. (8 is a little to restrictive, but 16bit seems to be a great cross for the creativity that comes from rendering restricted 2d graphics, but the ability to have some range in properly doing so).

  • Awesome! I have it on the PC but I don’t play it much because my mouse and keyboard and my PC in general suck. Besides I prefer playing twin stick shooters with a controller anyway. I do love the game itself though, I can’t wait for it to come to the PS4 and especially Vita! Until then I will get my dose of Nuclear Throne from Northernlion’s Daily Challenge videos!

    • Hey, I’ve been watching Northernlion’s Nuclear Throne vids too! As far as I’m concerned, he’s gameplay commentary is second to none. Top lets-play entertainment that’s a blast to watch.

  • ANOTHER pixel art game how original *yawn*

  • I can’t wait to play this game on the VITA! You know what would be cool though? Bringing ridiculous fishing to the VITA as well.

  • Hope it comes soon.. I waited almost 2 years for it.

  • Will the day come, when you patch Luftrausers regarding the two trophies “DONT MESS WITH THE RAUSER *” and “MASTER RAUSER” which never ever worked?

    • Absolutely something on our to-do list. We can’t promise a fix because of the work that might be involved, but we’re going to look into it when Nuclear Throne is done. We’ll keep you up to date.

  • So I think I heard long ago that this game is gonna be ps+ when it releases, but my memory might just be dull. Is it true?

    • That’s not correct – we’ve traditionally avoided discounts as much as we can where it’s in our control. The game will launch as a paid title, and will keep the price it has on launch for quite a while.

    • “The game will … will keep the price it has on launch for quite a while.”
      I am sure this is the goal of most titles. I also assume the timespan till first significant sale is a difference of anticipated sales vs actual sales. Games that have a strong current sales rarely have strong discounts (aside from bundle agreements, if those count as an actual discount).

      With that said. Good luck. And good on you for plans of releasing this for the vita; I look forward to trying this on my vita at some point after the release.

  • It’s a great game by the way ;) definitely a must buy anyway

  • This both looks and sounds like a horrible game. No doubt we’ll get it on PS Plus in a few months.

  • As a huge fan of Vlambeer, I’m unbelievably hyped for the fabulous Nuclear Throne! In fact, I’d even go as far as saying that it’s my most anticipated Vita game. And by quite some margin too! I’ll certainly play Nuclear Throne on my PS4 as well, but for indie heroes like The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Shovel Knight, Spelunky and Super Meat Boy, Vita is most definitely where it’s at :-)

  • Looking forward to it :)

    Oh and I demand another hot peppers round!!…please? :)

  • Very much looking forward to this!

    Mr. Ismail, is there any chance of Super Crate Box seeing a Vita release? I know the game was at one point available via Playstation Mobile, but now that that service has been removed… Please say yes!

  • i like the art work that youve posted but thats about it its like looking at 2 different games the game may be good but i just hate the pixel look and i will save you the trouble of saying it indie lovers theres more to a game than graphics in this day and age we should have both scrap the pixel rubbish

  • Y would any one. Buy this. If the company will not fix glitch trophys on luftrausers y would sony deal with people like this.

  • I’m very excited for this game, I’ve waited over a year for the vita release, it’s going to be fantastic. You’ve definitely got one fan Vlambeer! Keep up the good work.

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