Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39520)
Written on  :  Oct 12, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars

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Warning: Not eating vegetables can cause nightmares

The Good

Back at home, Billy's mom serves dinner with broccoli and mashed potatoes. Billy has a problem with vegetables, and after refusing to eat them and saying a negative comment regarding his mashed potatoes, Billy was sent to bed. He has a dream in which he wakes up in the land of Tuberia, a place where vegetables are alive and out to get him. He discovers a device called The Dream Machine, responsible for bringing him to the land, as well as turning the inhabitants into vegetables. So Keen sets out to destroy this device and restore peace to Tuberia.

Keen Dreams draws away from the Commander Keen series, but it retains the elements that made the series popular. You still have the world map, in which you can walk around at your leisure. While walking around the map, it is nice to see those green aliens in the patches of grass waving at you. After leaving your computer idol for a few seconds, Keen can be seen snoozing on the ground, and this looks quite neat.

And you still have the stages played in a 3rd-person perspective, where the object is to get to the other side of the stage to reach the exit. The only difference is Keen not having his raygun with him. To deal with the killer vegetables, he must throw pellets at them to make them turn into flowers and stay that way for a few seconds.

The graphics are excellent and up to scratch with the rest of the Keen series. They made me feel that I am actually walking through detailed environments such as riverbanks, cities, and swamps. There are many platforms in the air, and most of them lead up to items that award you with more points and increased supply of pellets. These platforms are easy to get to using a normal jump.

The controls are easy to get used to. The [Ctrl] and [Alt] keys are used for jumping and shooting, respectively. I like this control method. Having played more than enough Apogee games, I got used to this a long time ago.

The Bad

Keen's infamous pogo stick has vanished, making it difficult for him to jump to hard-to-reach places. The pogo stick is what made the Keen series so popular. To add insult to injury, he cannot cling onto a ledge if he just misses it.

The problems with some graphics concern the structures on the world map in which you have to enter to play the normal levels. They look basically like cardboard cut-outs and do not resemble anything like the structures used in episodes four through six. Most levels do not have interesting backgrounds, except near the bottom of the screen.

The sound is all in Adlib, there is no way I could enable Sound Blaster instead. It seemed to be disabled all the time in the sound menu. Also, there is no music in the game, except when you enter and exit an area.

Four levels, in which you can access by using the warp cheat, are all the same, making them repetitive. What was wrong with SoftDisk using these levels as secret levels that you can only get to by discovering a secret passage in the level or collecting a special gem, like ID did with the Keen series. It would give the game a boost, extending the number of secret levels in a CK game ever.

The Bottom Line

Just because everybody calls this episode “Keen 3.5” does not mean that you have to call it that. They only call this due to the technological advancements, and it is the Keen game that was made between “Invasion of the Vorticons” and “Goodbye Galaxy”. If you have played the other Keen games (1-6) and would like to play more, then you would probably like Keen Dreams.