Early game, incidentally, there is little reason to shoot. They don’t provide you with much ammo throughout the game. Yet, shooting is a skill you have to master, because it’s necessary in order to beat the game. I use the term “skill” because you have to hit the ctrl key and alt key at the same time to produce a blast. This is my one disappointment. They really should have made it easier to fire your weapon, especially since your weapon gets used more frequently in the two sequels that follow. I’ll have more on that later.
One of the fun aspects of the game is the exploration. In each level, you need to proceed to the exit to “finish” it, but sometimes getting to the exit is a difficult task. In some cases, the challenge lies in finding the exit, and other times getting to the exit. Each level is filled with various items (for points), charges for your blaster, and menacing foes. If you get too caught up in trying to get all the items in a level, you’ll find yourself dead before you can reach the finish.
Overall, however, the challenge added to the game. It wouldn’t be quite as fun if it were too easy to beat.
Commander Keen The Earth Explodes
This is everything a game sequel should be. New collectibles, new enemies, and a new weapon (well, its function is the same but it looks different). This time the setting for the game is the Vorticon ship. One bad move results in the detonation of Earth. Same fun game-play, more challenge.
Commander Keen Must Die
Another Commander Keen sequel? Great! Only this one isn’t quite as good as its predecessors. They decided to change up the enemies and items again, but this time they didn’t really receive a full makeover. Each level feels a bit too much like the last, and only gets progressively harder. More often than not, you find yourself looking for the quickest way out instead of exploring or dawdling. The charges you can obtain for your weapon are superfluous at times, and insufficient at other. The extra Keens you can get are unbalanced as well; too many early game, not enough late game. The game-play, of course, is basically the same as the last but there’s a lot more shooting in this one.
In all honesty, though, there’s only so much bad I can say about the Commander Keen trilogy. After all, it’s Commander Keen; it’s a classic DOS game. It isn’t just some sort of “kid’s game”, it’s a game that’s challenging and fun, even for a seasoned gamer like me.
Check out Commander Keen on the Game Boy Color.