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SummaryA definitive shareware classic.
The GoodCommander Keen is arguably a legend by now, one of the first really stellar games published by Apogee and famed developers id. The concept is super-simple and fits perfectly for these games: Billy Blaze, eight years old genius, builds himself a functioning spaceship and after donning his brother's football helmet and calling himself "Commander Keen" the biggest badass in space, decides to explore the stars looking for adventure. His adventures would eventually take him on 7 sequels and around some of the weirdest planets in the universe, but seeing as how this was the first shareware release, Keen just decided to take a trip to Mars. What he finds there goes beyond that stupid face, and he encounters the evil Vorticons, which have stolen key parts off his spaceship. Mission? Get the parts back and leave Mars before mom finds out you are gone!
The gameplay of Keen is that of a standard platform game in which you jump around a lot grabbing items, avoiding enemies and clearing insanely twisting levels filled with all sorts of platforms, columns, blocks, etc... You also have a lot of key-card collecting and some levels require more thought that just "getting all the way to the right-side of the level" but that's as far as it goes. While this alone would have meant a "Dear god, not ANOTHER Mario Clone!" from almost anyone, two key factors saved it from that abyss: first the undeniable charm present in the game with it's wacky yet cuddly story, cute colorful graphics, and inventive levels. The other saving factor was that it was for the pc. Yes, FOR THE PC!!! Holy Shit! You mean PCs can handle smooth scrolling and all that jumping-shooting action and not explode?? Yup. Goodbye Nes, I won't miss you... well maybe a little but just until they find a way to emulate Metroid and Zelda...
The BadWell, while most of my memories are laced with the sweet smell of nostalgia, I still consider that there were very few flaws in the Keen series overall and practically none in this first release. The backgrounds needed some work for this first CK, and the mixing of the jump, pogo and fire controls was kinda awkward, but overall this is an absolutely solid game whose only other flaws are those defined by its genre.
The Bottom LineAnyway, very entertaining levels, great graphics, silky-smooth scrolling and no peyote-eating plumbers in sight!! That spells golden for me!
Really, I can trace this game to many childhood memories of my past. Clearly being amongst the kickass games that definetively grounded me into PC-gaming first and foremost since it was one of those games that proved that consoles just weren't any magic boxes and anything they did the pc could do better. :)) Ya!...but even if I am one rambling idiot and consoles are king of the hill, the fact remains that CK is a very very good platformer game.