Lassy Fenn | Commander Keen – Retro

Commander Keen – Retro

Commander Keen was a side scrolling platform video game. It was developed at the time by id Software. After part 1 there would be 5 more parts and one ‘lost’ part. Which combined became a series kids would enjoy.

The series follows the protagonist Commander Keen, who was actually an 8 year old genius. As he tries to defend the Earth and galaxy from invasion with a ship, a pogo stick and a ray gun. The first game of the series was called Commander Keen in Invasion of the Voritcons. It came out in 1990 for MS-DOS

The game is split in 3 parts Marooned on Mars, The Earths Explodes and Keen must Die! The plot roughly follows the boy Billy Blaze, who builds a space ship and flies to Mars with it. While he is exploring the Vorticons steal four parts of the ship, and hid them throughout 4 cities on Mars, it’s now up to Billy, who dubs himself Commander Keen, to find the parts to be able to return home.

The controls were pretty straight forwards. The arrow keys moved you left and right, and control made you jump. Alt would draw your pogo stick and with alt+ctrl you could shoot.

The problem with the last part was that sometimes it would trigger your pogo, or make you jump instead of shoot. Which caused for a lot of deaths in my case. Later versions would solve this by giving the pogo the shift key and shooting the alt key.

Sometimes the game would be a bit hard, and in an era where you had no guides or cheats, you had to figure it out yourself. Or wait for someone to tell you. For me this meant struggling through many levels and often times rage quitting before finally getting to the next level.

Aside from that I did always really enjoy the games. They were stressful at times, and though at the time I didn’t fully get the story I loved collecting the little bears and lolly pops around the game.

The Aliens each had their own way of attacks you could avoid easily once you knew them, or exploit when you had more than one in front of you. They didn’t look scary. Just funny. Which added to the game me as a child really adored.

So all in all. It doesn’t really hold up anymore in this day and time. It’s a bit out dated with the new graphics that came out, even if the story is to this day very entertaining. The controls sometimes lack and I think in this time with how some games have been made ‘easier’ these days. These days kids won’t lose a game, game over doesn’t seem to exist. Commander Keen would have these game over screens, which will turn off a lot of these days 8 year olds.

I certainly remember this game with a warm heart and knowing it’s in the steam store. I might just pick it up for my kids. It’s definitely worth it. For me

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