Commander Keen

Commander Keen Memories

Commander Keen: A classic old school side scrolling fun game.

Commander Keen

Commander Keen successfully brought the side-scrolling action of Super Mario Bros. to DOS. The series of games had an original cartoon style and was developed by id Software, who later went on to make Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake. There are 7 parts to the historical series, released in the early 1990’s.

Back when I was 6, my mother bought her first home computer. This was back in the very early 90’s. This thing, I can only describe as a beast of a machine, had 4 games on it. It was the first time I’d ever played a computer game on a keyboard and boy was it weird! Using left, down, up, right, alt, ctrl and altgr… It felt alien. At the time I was used to the Mega Drive controller!

I can only begin to explain how much I loved this game. I would stay awake at night so I could sneak downstairs and play it, putting my hands over the machine as it made the loud beep while it turned on. I did get caught a few times and sent straight back to bed, but the nights I didn’t get caught were fantastic! I would sit and die over and over again (kinda like I do in CS:GO nowadays.)

So, Commander Keen: The series is primarily based on an 8-year-old boy called Billy Blaze, who travels through space under the assumed name of Commander Keen. Whilst Keen is travelling and exploring Mars the Vorticons steal four of his vital space ship parts, which you have to recover in order to fix his ship and go home!

You have to navigate your way through different Martian cities to find the components needed that have been stolen by the fierce dog-humanoid race, The Vorticons!

The first level you have to get through is just a tutorial level which is perfect, because none of the monsters there can kill you, however there is a hole and something on the floor you have to avoid. The monsters in this level just push you around, but you can jump on them to daze them somewhat!

Commander Keen Tutorial

Commander Keen Tutorial Level

Don’t get me wrong, nowadays I can bounce through the levels in minutes, whereas back in the day when I had no real hand eye coordination, it took an hour to get through the first few levels, up until you get his trusty Pogo stick which means you can jump higher and further, making it easier to avoid the actual monsters that can kill you. Then you’ll find yourself with a little ray-gun too! With this ray gun, you can kill the smaller enemies, but not the dogs! These normally have to be avoided rather than killed because of the limited amount of ammo you’re given.

Commander Keen vs Vorticon Dog Boss

Commander Keen vs Vorticon Dog Boss

The final Dog cannot be killed no matter how many charges you have in your ray-gun, so you have to find a way around him. All in all, playing this game again brings back cheerful memories of being a child, and my first house. Sneaking to play the game whenever I could, I remember that as a kid I only ever completed the game once! That was a heroic achievement in my eyes.

It was only earlier this year that I found this game on Steam. I would recommend it to anyone who fancies a bit of nostalgic gameplay!

James from Spindle Gaming

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