Commander Keen 3: Keen Must Die!

aka: Commander Keen: "Invasion of the Vorticons" - Episode Three: Keen Must Die!
Moby ID: 218


Commander Keen has already foiled the Vorticons' plans to destroy Earth. Now he heads to their home planet in order to confront the Grand Intellect: a mysterious leader who enslaved all the Vorticons and forced them to carry out his evil deeds. But before Keen reaches him, he must get through numerous Vorticon cities whose mind-controlled residents all received one order from the Grand Intellect: "Keen must die!"

Commander Keen 3: Keen Must Die! is the third in a series of platform games. The game begins with a top-down map of the Vorticon planet. 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. Once you reach the exit, you're back on the overhead map.

The levels are typically full of enemy creatures (mainly various types of Vorticons) and hazards. If Keen gets shot or touched by an enemy, or falls into a pit or something hazardous, he dies, and you're booted out of the level back to the overhead map and lose one life.

Thankfully, Keen can defeat most enemies with his raygun. He also has a pogo stick which allows him to jump very high. Other items to find include keycards that open locked doors, bonus items which give score (Keen gets an extra life if he collects enough score) and the Ankh, which gives temporary invulnerability.

Groups +


Credits (DOS version)

4 People

Game Designer
Level Design



Average score: 82% (based on 2 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 44 ratings with 4 reviews)

Keen wraps up his first major adventure. Bonus: A boss fight!!

The Good
Third and last of Keen's original "Invasion of the Vorticons" trilogy. This time Keen decides to go all out and heads for the Vorticon homeworld to kick their asses and see who's behind all the earth invasion plots... The answer will be pretty interesting to little Billy Blaze, and it will provide the closest thing to an actual boss battle in the entire series, an entire level in which you have to beat your nemesis in his giant robot thingie, sort of like Metal Gear Solid only without the crap.

Seeing as how the game now takes place on the Vorticon homeland, the levels are much more detailed and populated, with plenty of new enemies like the Vorticon Ninjas and those weird singing thingies. The levels span cities, military instalations, houses, temples and all sort of weird places and for a change, the levels often include serious challenges and many secrets that can or cannotbe tackled depending on how you feel. In fact, some levels often have different ways of completing them, usually going for the big challenge, or taking the wuss-route and finishing them with a minimum of trouble.

The Bad
Probably too challenging, at least for me.

The Bottom Line
Keen closes his first game series with an all-out bash of platforming gameplay that ends with the coolest level in the series (I wonder why they didn't do this again on the later games...). The game just takes everything you grasped at in the later games and throws them to you into a well-designed, fun and challengin platforming classic.

DOS · by Zovni (10503) · 2003

The final chapter in a great platform series.

The Good
The final chapter of the "Invasion of the Vorticons" series is probably the best. Sure it looks and feels just like the first two chapters, but this time you get to visit the aliens homeworld. This beautifully designed and is a lot of fun to play. Wander around their cities, through their homes and their schools (a lovely touch). You'll have to learn their language to complete this game, and watch out for the baby Vorticons who run around the place at high speed - their trick is to knock you over, stunning you for a few seconds. The final scene involves one of the toughest bosses in any platfrom game, and there's a little surprise for anyone who gets this far.

The Bad
I've said it before and I'll say it again - the control system is a real pain. If I ever find the guy who decided that CTRL+ALT would make a good fire button...

The Bottom Line
The best of the bunch, it makes a great finale to the series. Obviously you would have finished the first two games before you play this, but it's well worth the wait.

DOS · by Steve Hall (329) · 2000

Probably the toughest of all CK games.

The Good
Graphically it's the same as part 1 and 2 because it's from the same release (the try one free and get the others by buying them formula) but it there is much more to see in this one because you are on the home planet of the Vorticans. You will see buildings with houses and schools in them and lots of different Vortican enemies such as ninja's big mother's and kids. This is also the only Keen with an actual boss battle, which is nice. You must help eight-year old genius Billy Blaze A.K.A as Commander Keen defeat the Grand Intellect after having repaired his ship and destroyed the Vortican ship in the first two parts. The identity of the Grand Intellect is unknown but if you manage to reach him it will be kind of surprising. It's a pretty good story. There are some secret areas as well just as before which is a cool twist. The controls are still the same too, which is good because it was very smooth for such an old PC game.

The Bad
There's still the annoying ALT+CONTROL shooting method and the sound is just some simple bleeps just as before. The controls were good as I said but are dated now, especially when you are jumping. It may also be a bit too hard even for a CK game which are all pretty tough games.

The Bottom Line
Yet another fun classic that should be in your collection for DOS games. It's old but still brilliant and addictive.

DOS · by Rensch (203) · 2005

[ View all 4 player reviews ]


Galactic alphabet

In the schoolhouse in the Secret Level, you can see the English to Standard Galactic alphabet translation! This can be used to translate the signs and markers in the game.


Messie, the Loch-Ness-like monster, tours the globe constantly, but she's hard to see. If you find the area on the world map where you can get close to water, wait there until Messie shows up and she'll take you to the Secret Level.


Keen Must Die! is the third of three episodes of the series Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons.

Information also contributed by John Romero


MobyPro Early Access

Upgrade to MobyPro to view research rankings!

Related Games

Commander Keen: Keen Dreams
Released 1991 on DOS, 2013 on Android, Windows...
Commander Keen Combo CD
Released 1998 on DOS, 2007 on Windows
Commander Keen: Keen Dreams - Definitive Edition
Released 2020 on Wii U, 2022 on Xbox One, 2023 on Windows...
Commander Keen: Robot's Revenge!
Released 2000 on Windows

Related Sites +

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 218
  • [ Please login / register to view all identifiers ]


Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tomer Gabel.

Additional contributors: Xantheous, Steve Hall, Frenkel, John Romero, formercontrib, Patrick Bregger.

Game added August 14, 1999. Last modified February 28, 2024.