Commander Keen: Keen Dreams

aka: Commander Keen 3.5, Commander Keen 7, Commander Keen in Keen Dreams
Moby ID: 1666
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Commander Keen: Keen Dreams is a platform game. Its events take place after Commander Keen 3: Keen Must Die! but before Commander Keen 4: Secret of the Oracle.

Eight-year-old genius Billy "Commander Keen" Blaze, the hero of the universe, the saver of planets has a problem: his mom forces him to eat yucky vegetables. This night, he dreams that he found himself in the land of Tuberia, where sentient vegetables live and reign supreme, and where the evil king Boobus Tuber enslaves children brought by his Dream Machine.

The objective is to reach and destroy king Boobus Tuber, but before this happens, Keen must find a number of Boobus Bombs which are the only things that can harm the king. The game begins with a top-down map of the land of Tuberia. This is the level select screen, where you can walk around and choose the next level you want to enter. On each level, you have to make your way to the exit, collecting Boobus Bombs on the way if there are any on this level. Once you finish the level, you're back on the overhead map.

The levels are full of evil vegetables of all kinds and deadly hazards. If Keen gets hit or touched by an enemy, or falls into a pit or touches something hazardous, he dies, and you lose one life.

Unlike in other Commander Keen games, Keen does not have a raygun or a pogo stick to help himself. Rather, Keen fights his enemies with "Flower Power" - special bombs which can be thrown to temporarily turn enemies into harmless flowers. If they miss an enemy and fall to the ground, they can be retrieved. Other items to find include: keys to open locked doors, bonus points that give score, an extra life and a rare "magic eyeball" which gives three extra lives and a lot of ammo.

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5 People

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Average score: 58% (based on 1 ratings)

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Average score: 3.2 out of 5 (based on 40 ratings with 3 reviews)

Sort of different from the other games in the series, this "lost episode"

The Good
This game was meant as a follow up to "invasion of the Vorticons" (parts 1-3) which was published by Apogee. This game was published by Softdisk. However former Softdisk employees founded the company Id software who also made the first trilogy. They were, however, still obligated to create some games for Softdisk. This is one of them. It fits between part 3 and 4 and is often called the "lost episode or episode 3.5. Probably because of this reason Keen Dreams doesn't fit well in the series because it's not space and alien related. Instead, Keen walks trough a dreamworld full of monstrous vegetables. He needs to save other kids from the dream machine and defeat the potato king called Boobus Tuber. The game's graphics are not yet as good as Keen 4's but still way better than the first trilogy. However some things are nice such as keen walking in pajama's making him fit well with the game's theme and there's those poles you can climb also seen in keen 4. I found that sound effects are working well which is at least better than the first trilogy. In those games you didn't have sound card support.

The Bad
The levels are fun but a lot of them are short and very easy and you usually can skip lots of rooms if you want to reach the end of a bigger level. There should be music only in the registered version but it didn't work on my PC. And as I said the story is not bad but it just doesn't make sense if all the other games are more space and alien related. What I missed most is the pogo-stick and the gun. You now only have some silly bombs that transform your enemies in flowers for just a short time which is a bit disappointing.

The Bottom Line
A fun game but if you want the ultimate Keen experience, play part 4,5 or 6.

DOS · by Rensch (203) · 2005

Another very good Keen game, but could have been better

The Good
Keen Dreams is considered the lost episode of the Commander Keen series, and it is sandwiched between “Invasion of the Vorticons” and “Goodbye Galaxy!”, both in terms of technology and chronology. It is still developed by id Software, but Apogee did not publish it this time.

One of Billy’s first tasks after getting back from Vorticon VI is to eat dinner served with broccoli and mashed potatoes. Having an argument with his mother and refusing to eat his meal, he is transported to Tuberia, a land populated entirely by vegetables. He is told that a device called The Dream Machine was responsible for bringing him there. To get back to reality, he needs to destroy King Boobus Tuber and dismantle the Dream Machine.

Keen Dreams retains most of the elements that made the series popular. As soon as you start the game, you are still presented with the world map displayed in a top-down perspective, in which you can walk around at your leisure and enter individual levels. The green hills all around you as well as the brown path blend in with the vegetable theme, and the way the inhabitants wave at you is a nice touch.

Upon entering each level, the perspective changes to a side-on view, where you need to find the exit while dealing with live vegetables that try to kill you. There are some differences to the gameplay. As well as Keen wearing his pajamas, he doesn’t have his pogo stick or his raygun (he is walking around in a dream, after all.) Keen obtains power pellets along the way and uses them to temporarily turn vegetables into flowers. If a life is lost, you have the option of trying the level again or returning to the map. Some levels contain Boobus Bombs, which you need to collect if you want to defeat Boobus Tuber in the end. If you successfully complete a level, the word “Done” is written on a wooden sign right near the entrance, and you won’t be allowed to enter the level again.

The graphics are excellent and up to scratch with Keens 4-6. They made me feel that I was actually walking through detailed environments such as riverbanks, cities, and swamps. There are many platforms in the air, and some of them even have a pole that Keen can climb up to arrive at another. The Tomateeth (Killer Tomatoes) take advantage of these poles, in the same way Amptons in Keen 5 do. The way Keen shimmies down them like firefighters is a nice touch, so is Keen taking a nap if you leave him idle for a minute or two.

The controls can be configured to your satisfaction, but even with the defaults, controlling Keen is pretty simple, however. Only two keys - the [Ctrl] and [Alt] keys – are needed for jumping and shooting, respectively. I like this control method, because having played more than enough Apogee games, I got used to this a long time ago.

The Bad
There are a few omissions in Keen Dreams, and one of them is the lack of music. There is a button for it on the main menu, but the settings don’t do anything. This is purely id’s fault. Employees were still obliged to create games for Softdisk, whose policies dictate that all games made by a company must fit on a single 360K disk. id could have worked on a new Dangerous Dave and still signed a publishing deal with Apogee.

Also, Keen no longer has the ability to hoist himself up onto platforms if he does not make it. This means that you are expected to know where on the platform’s edge you have to jump without missing your target platform. Many times did I miss and landed on the ground, and have to work my way up again. As well as these two keys, [Space] can be used to bring up the status dialog box, and this tells you the score and the number of lives (also shown in the upper-left corner), as well as the number of keys and Boobus Bombs.

The Bottom Line
Overall, Keen Dreams is right up there with the other episodes of the series, but there are a few changes to the gameplay; there is no pogo stick and Keen can only stun enemies. The graphics blend in with the vegetable setting as well. Although the game is good, it is a shame that there is no music. This is a game every Keen fanatic should play.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2021

Supposedly the missing CK game. Should have been left where it was.

The Good
Well, it's still CK...

The Bad
...but this chapter loses the great stories and compelling action of the other episodes.

The Bottom Line
Really not worth bothering with.

DOS · by Steve Hall (329) · 2000

Trivia

Music

This game was originally to have music created by Commander Keen composer Bobby Prince, but the music was scrapped at the last minute to make it all fit on one disk. This is why the song entitled "Eat Your Veggies" is in Commander Keen 4: Secret of the Oracle.

Series

This is sometimes referred to as the "Lost Episode" of Commander Keen. According to Joe Siegler of Apogee, he called it Keen Episode 3.5. The reason stated for this is that the game falls between the Invasion of the Vorticons series (Episodes 1-3) and the Goodbye Galaxy series (Episode 4 and 5).

Softdisk

Unlike the other Keen games this game was not published by Apogee but by Softdisk. The id developers were all former Softdisk employees and when they formed id, the group still had the obligation to produce a couple of games for Softdisk.

Removal from Steam

The game was removed from Steam on July 19, 2017, after Valve severed their relationship with the publisher due to multiple complaints about their behavior - and changing their company name into an insult against Gabe Newell, one of Valve's founders.

Information also contributed by Roedie and Tony Gies

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Roger Wilco.

Nintendo Switch added by Rik Hideto. Macintosh added by Foxhack. Android added by Brandon Cobb. Linux, Windows added by lights out party.

Additional contributors: Xantheous, Steve Hall, Frenkel, Foxhack, formercontrib, Crawly, Patrick Bregger.

Game added June 17th, 2000. Last modified September 28th, 2023.