Commander Keen in Invasion of the Vorticons
for PC (DOS)

Wandrell:Popular Vote:
Company: Apogee
Year: 1990
Genre: Action
Theme: Science Fiction
Language: English
Licence: Shareware
Views: 36496
Review by Wandrell (2007-11-29)

Billy Blaze, better known as Commander Keen, is stuck on planet Mars after the evil aliens stole vital parts from his ship. Now there is just one thing to do if he wants to save the earth from their attack and that is travelling around through their weird constructions to recover what was stolen.

There are just two tools that will help in that quest, both alien artefact of great power: the ray gun that stuns most of your enemies, and the pogo stick that allows you to make really high jumps. But do not abuse from the first, as its battery has a limit of shots (even thought it can be increased getting more guns), and jumping over your enemies tends to work as well.

Not counting that, this is in base what you would expect a platform game to be, there are lives (which become a nuisance as they make you save and load when you have few) that increase when reaching point ranges. And there are those points, got from several objects that await around all the level.

But several things make it different from the average platforms game. First not all of the enemies have claws and big mouths, there is a good bunch that only can push you to pits and several dangers, or that shoots in easy to avoid intervals so you can jump over them. The game is about finding your way more than anything, the levels are built with that idea, and while some are harder and others simpler always expect several paths, traps and hidden things that will require observation. Along with key cards to make you walk around, something that with worse maps would be a nuisance.

There is a variety of places to see: there are ice levels, dark levels, confusing levels, and at least one secret one. All of which helped by the smooth and easy to use control system keep the game fun from start to end.

Shareware meant games that ranged from bad to good, but this one is really great, and one that would show that not only consoles could have well made platform games.

Comments (7) [Post comment]

Is ID: 2597 really Vorticons or is it Aliens Ate My Babysitter?
Mr Creosote:
I've finished James Pond 2, but only using an unlimited life cheat. You're right, you can't save, but I just kept the computer on all day and paused the game :)

I remember James Pond 2, even thought I played the PC version, and yes it was good and enormous, has anybody finished that castle? I don't remember you could save. And by the way, it was published in a version for new consoles (PS2 and DS at least for what I remember) a few years ago.

Rick Dangerous games, to which I have played little, made me think on the Dizzy the egg games, to which also I played little but looked fun.

Anyway this is a thing of tastes. For example I like also games like Megaman X and the Metroids where you need to practise a lot until you can control it well and fast, but I don't think they the kind of platformer you preffer.

Mr Creosote:

I'm not the largest fan of Jump'n'Runs (which is why they're only sparsely represented on the site), but if you check out the few entries on the site, you'll find some. Take the Rick Dangerous games, they're a lot better. Or even James Pond 2 (probably my favourite in the genre, however, that's most likely related to memories again) - there just is no contest, both graphically and concerning playability and variation (the game is massive!).

Commander Keen certainly compares favourably to the likes of Manic Miner or Sword of Destiny, but those are a lot older, so one can hardly call them 'from the same time'.

If you just look on the IBM compatibles, Keen is excellent, of course. After all, there wasn't a single game on it which had even only decent scrolling before...


Probably why I liked it so much was because I had no better platformer when I was a kid. And I still like things I loved as a kid (I suppose is something of the mind, as I don't think all of them are good).

Really, I hardly can remember which games of that time I had at reach, but the first games I played as a kid probably where the ones from the old Atari my father bought, so the jump to PC games was great for me.

So well, apart from that obviously I'm always biased when talking about games from my childhood, I still find this game great. What games of that year are a lot better than it? This discussion could end in a duel of reviews.

Mr Creosote:
Highly overrated game in my opinion. Not particularly bad, but absolutely nothing compared to what other games of the same genre offered at that time. Just not for owners of text-driven typewriters, of course. However, since the latter won the 'format war', this game is now held up as an example of genius - because there simply wasn't anything else on that particular machine. Which is nothing short of a heavy distortion of history, if you ask me.