Commander Keen came to Switch back in February last year when Lone Wolf Interactive published the 1991 DOS game Commander Keen in Keen Dreams on your favourite handheld hybrid. Originally programmed by id Software legends John Carmack and John Romero, it's safe to say the game isn't up there with DOOM in the list of all-time greats, but it was still pleasant to see the Commander come to Nintendo's console.
It seems that the Commander is coming back later this month--and in the same game, no less--in Commander Keen in Keen Dreams: Definitive Edition, releasing on 27th August with Diplodocus Games on publishing duties this time round.
This new version of the game reworks the original and adds new features, levels and more, according to the game page on Nintendo's website:
Commander Keen is back. In the modernised Definitive Edition of the lost episode "Keen Dream", Keen has to fend off a nasty nightmare about evil vegetables. The Definitive Edition features full widescreen support, twelve all-new levels - doubling the length over the 1990 original - and a full music score. The game structure has been reworked to make the game a more modern experience without sacrificing any of the original charm!
And here are some screenshots:
This Definitive Edition is priced at $14.99 - a hefty increase from last year's version which goes for $5.99 at the time of writing.
Did you play the original last year (or way back in 1991)? Like the look of this definitive version better? Let us know if you're keen on Keen below.
I'm curious how many people here played the original as well. I've never heard of this game before.
@Kalmaro I played a lot of Keen 4 (this one) and other numbered entries on our PC when I was a kid. I loved these games.
I "know" the original but have never played it since I was never a PC gamer. PC never seemed like a good platform for, well... "platform" games, as most ran like sh** in those days, though commander keen was one of the few that actually ran decently on hardware that was designed with scrolling visuals in mind.
My wife and her family loved this as kids! I had never heard of it till she showed me a few years ago! It is quite a good platformer from back in the day.
I have fond memories of the franchise. It was summer and both my parents were working, so I'd stay at my dad's dental office playing on the computer, since I was too young to stay home unsupervised. And for whatever reason, the ancient computer at the office had only two games, the first Commander Keen (Keen Dreams is the second — or the fourth, depending on how you're counting — in the series) and The Incredible Machine. I played the heck out of them. That said, I also remember Commander Keen being janky and hard to control, and though I fondly recall the context of playing it, I don't necessarily fondly recall the game itself. I was a veteran of Super Nintendo platformers like Super Mario World and the DKC series, which are nothing if not sharp and responsive, so Commander Keen fell a bit short of that. Still, it's my understanding, from reading the excellent Masters of Doom book, that it was something of a technological miracle that the "two Johns" got a side-scrolling platformer like Keen to work at all on a PC. And its success allowed them to make Doom, which is now one of my favorite games. So I appreciate the significance of Keen.
I played this game all time as a kid, if I remember right it was made by Apogee, they made some of the best computer games ever. Crystal caves, Secret Agent, Duke Nukem, Death Rally. Good times
I'll reserve judgement until I see some footage of the new levels, because this is frankly ridiculous. The screenshots are all from the original levels FFS.
And the original release was already laughably overpriced, being AU$15 at launch. As a lifelong Keen fan, I couldn't resist, but this new version is AU$22.50. This is a game that can be completed 100% in about an hour and ploughed through in under 10 minutes. Even if the game were remade from scratch with new graphics/engine, it would still be stupidly overpriced, but this is something else.
The fact that this seems to be developed and published by a new team (it looks to be ported from scratch) also seems to rule out any sort of upgrade discount for owners of the original release.
At this point, this is the equivalent of public domain cartoons being sold by various companies in new packaging/videotapes, but a hell of a lot more expensive. And PSA for those of you who want to try before you buy, or perhaps consider not buying at all, the shareware version on PC is the full version (paying for it was merely an act of goodwill to the developers back in the day).
I'm still keen (no pun intended), and as excited as I was for the Switch release last year, I really shouldn't give these guys my money unless the upgrade is substantial as I have already paid far too much for this game, and I am skeptical about the quality of glorified fan-made levels that have no involvement whatsoever from the original developers.
I have also read murmurs about this release potentially censoring one of the enemies due to "racial sensitivities", which is among the stupidest things I have ever heard in my life. It seems everything is "racist" nowadays. I only hope that it was some sort of miscommunication as the self-defeating champagne victimhood of silver-spooned pests in our society has far exceeded the threshold of absurdity that even the most open-minded person with a modicum of intelligence can reasonably tolerate.
@geshem That's really cool! I must have missed this growing up.
My earliest pc game memory is Oregon trail and Math munchers.
@Silly_G wait, wut? Are people being offended on my behalf again?
You are correct. The controls were/are terrible. I still have these games from when I bought them on release.
@uniacke : Apogee published Keens 1-6, but they didn't develop them. Keen Dreams was developed/published via Softdisk, which involved the original iD Software boys.
I was interested but the price is way out reality here. I get they need to port it but the lack of polishing on this is apparent.
Keen Dreams is okay. It was made as a sort of settlement with their previous employer, the diskmag publisher Softdisk, so it's a small game that needed to also fit with other other software on a single floppy. They used Softdisk's equipment to make Keen 1-3 which is a big no-no; id got off very easy. It's an interesting historical curiosity as the test bed episode 4 and 5's engine, but the size and quality of the levels is all over the place.
I think Keen Dreams originally launched at $10 and even the reduced price is high. $15 is almost criminal even for more levels.
This is a separate game for the one released before on the update, should have been a 4.99 DLC....i think i'll pass this one.
@dsparil : All true. Fun fact is that they couldn't include music in the original release of Keen Dreams as they needed to squeeze the game onto a smaller capacity floppy disk (only 320kB) to cut costs. To think that levels may also have been cut in order to meet this ridiculous requirement!
One of the tracks that was intended for use in the game was called Eat Your Veggies, which was eventually used in Keen 4 (which can be heard in a few levels, including Well of Wishes).
-> No thank you
I'd be up for playing the other Commander Keen games again if they came to Switch, but Keen Dreams is by far the worst one. I didn't particularly like it as a kid and I doubt I would now.
We need a Commander Keen Collection. I'm probably not the only one who thinks this.
I remember laughing at these games and thinking how this was the state of pc platformers at the same time Super Mario World was coming out.
It's not so bad but PC had a serious lack of art style in some of their popular games back then and they look like they were drawn in paint now.
no way this holds up, but it was cool at the time. wasn't the original build of this game a PC port of SMB3?
Please be aware of the opinions and overall terribleness of the current owner of the Keen trademark:
While I'm sure the game is nostalgic for PC only gamers back in the day its just not a very good game. I respect the nostalgia but compared to console platformers of the time this game was rough. Its similar to lots of Amiga titles. Just not that good compared to consoles.
I played it in 1991 and was happy to see it coming to Switch and played it again.
Seems there's no upgrade option (paid DLC - something like that) for early adopters and I'll have to double dip?
This game is "lost" because it is not considered part of the main canon.
Supposedly why this specific game was even made was more of some kind of legal contract fulfillment than one the developers wanted to make.
This was made after the first three Episodes (which can be counted as either one game or three, depending on your opinion. What shareware meant was the first was freely distributable but you were expected to pay if you wanted to play the other two games in the set.) but before Goodbye Galaxy (which I think is officially considered the fourth Episode. And itself was a freely distributed game, with the expectation you'd buy the fifth game if you wanted to see the conclusion of its story.)
@boatie Ouch! Thanx for the info! Didn't know that. I'm out now. No way supporting s*heads like this one!
Played this in my youth, and got the first Switch release. I'll definitely get it, but not until a sale. Now if only that Commander Keen collection on Steam would be ported over...
@Kalmaro I did. But as shareware, if I remember correctly
This is why the e-shop needs sorting out. I loved the original pc game back in the day and have no hesitations picking up the release last year. Gonna wait for the definitive edition.
I remember playing this one on my dad's PC when I was little. My childhood gaming memories come from Commander Keen, Duke Nukem, TIE Fighter, Monkey Island, Stunts, Day of the Tentacle, among many others.
@Kalmaro As a kid without an NES or a Genesis in the early 90's – Commander Keen was life.
I played the original, got it on a magazine coverdisk (Anybody remember those?), i loved all "Commander Keen"-games, and most of the other games Apogee would publish, still play them with DosBox...
this is the game of my childhood and I had no idea it was even on the switch
Hefty price indeed.
Strangely, Nintendolife didn’t mention this with Pikmin 3 which was 19.99 on WiiU and will be 59.99 on Switch....
I want Captn Comic!
I played the original, along with Duke Nukem, with my Gravis Gamepad!
I think the versions I had were shareware versions so I probably never had the complete games... I didn't care when I was 9.
Way back? Are you 12?
Of course I played it when it came out on floppies.
@Beaucine Awesome story! Not being ironic.
Stuff like that is what Videogames are all about in my opinion.
@Kalmaro Played this a lot back in the 90s. Fun game, though probably not as good as the other games in the series. Steep price, too. The first five (of six) primary episodes of the Commander Keen series go for $4.99 on Steam for all five, and each episode is about as long as this game.
For those who don't know, Commander Keen was released in six episodes in 1990 and 1991. Episodes 1 - 3 were released first as a trilogy, with episode 1 being a shareware title. Episodes 4 and 5, featuring graphical and gameplay improvements, were released in 1991, with episode 4 being shareware. Episode 6 was released as a standalone title, with a shareware demo also released.
Keen Dreams was developed in between the first trilogy and episode 4. As a sort of proof-of-concept, and due to the fact that it was distributed by a different publisher, it became a "lost episode." While id Software still holds the rights to the six main episodes, as well as the Commander Keen name, Keen Dreams is owned by someone else.
I had both the PC version and grabbed the switch one while on sale for nostalgia purposes.
It’s disappointing there isn’t an upgrade path for those who already have it...
I played Keen 1 and Keen 4 on a Shareware CD from the store. Then when I saw KeenDreams for sale, I got that. I always wanted to play 5, but could never find it. Dreams was on a floppy you had to lead with DOS. There were cheats which I used regularly. The pogo stick was gone in this one, and the raygun was replaced with "pesterballs." I couldn't even beat the first level. The part where you have to climb a pole, but there's a potato soldier at the top. I think he has a bayonette. I'd buy this for nostalgia, but I already remember the base game being very hard, and the controls being, maybe not the most responsive. The guys who added levels may have played it as young kids. That'd be crazy. I wish they'd port the other games over. A side note: Commander Keen was one of my secret wants for Smash. Until they worked him over and ruined his legacy with that trash mobile game. He was on gameboy, man. Gameboy. Why'd they have to do him like that?
I was not aware that Keen had been released on Switch. Cool. Not that I am... keen... on playing it, but cool nonetheless.
Was that purple monster the inspiration for cupheads carrot monster?
NO ONE SHOULD SUPPORT THIS RELEASE, or anything else that will profit Javier Chavez, a Nazi who crowdfunded the funds to buy the rights to Keen Dreams so that he could profit off ports to modern systems. Instead you should just download all the games for free online and play in DOS Box.
Full musical score has caught my attention.
I will pay full for this ungodly thing ... cuz who would expect to see a '90s era platformer awaken from the dead like this. Who knows maybe it should have stayed asleep, but I'm too curious.
The quality of some of the levels was pretty bonkers/bad so it wouldn't necessarily be a high bar to eclipse some of the designs; too soon to tell on that front however.
I'm so sick of Doom, I think Commander Keen was always much better.
I bought the current version for Switch, thinking it was like the space-based Commander Keen games I remember playing as Shareware. It is not — and it is not much fun — and I certainly won't be paying to upgrade.
Those screenshots look exactly as I remember the original.
And even back then the graphics were crap, but you let them off as it was shareware, and pc graphics were generally crap for games back then.
For a “definitive” version, I’d hope for at least a sprite upgrade,
I've never heard of it before.
Wow...this news was SUPER disappointing. For a moment I thought the good Keen games were coming to Switch. Keen V was what I grew up on, and is still one of my favorite games ever. I've played Dreams before on Dosbox, and I would rather play any other game in the series but it. This is like wanting Mario 64 on your switch and getting Hotel Mario instead.
@Slowdive It's funny you mention seeing it as an alternative to console platformers — that's exactly what it was.
Pre-ID software John Carmack/Romero essentially reverse-engineered Super Mario Bros 3 as a proof of concept for a DOS port of the game. Nintendo, naturally, axed that as soon as they saw it and they just decided to turn their work into a new IP.
I have a Commander Keen collection (I think it's a collection at least) on Steam and it's a pretty fun series of games, if I remember correctly. I don't think they've aged as well as their console counterparts though personally.
Btw is your name inspired by the band? Slowdive is one of my favorite bands of all time so it's always cool to see another fan out there!
I played the original and it was great in the 90's... it came out around the time of the original wolfenstien and duke nukem (before he went 3D, when he was still in sidescrollers). It brings back a lot of VGA monitor games memories to see this. lol
@sportvater ohh I have forgotten about that game! Someone should bring that back!
Are they gonna offer this at a discount to those who bought the earlier release or are they going to do a Shantae: Half-Genie Hero? I'm aware of the purchaseble upgrades to that game, but none of them include the Tinkerbat transformation.
@Slowdive sick! Souvlaki for life lol
@Kalmaro Ofc they are, whenever someone creates somethin there will be upper-middleclass person throwing a fit.
At least the new features might make this one worth buying, unlike the original release which was pointless compared to just downloading the original DOS version for free.
I don't think they can improve the original, rather mediocre game enough to personally make me want it, though. All the other games in the series are much better, naturally since this was the only one subcontracted to a separate developer.
@BoFiS You can download "Dreams" (the original version of this game) and Episodes 1 & 4 for free, but you should still pay for the others. ("Abadonware" is a myth unless they eventually get so old as to actually fall into the public domain decades from now.) You can buy Episodes 2, 3, & 5 (with 1 & 4 also included) from Steam, but unfortunately there's currently no legal outlet to play Episode 6 (aside from the free demo) and unlikely to be one anytime soon due to complicated rights issues. It's still not okay to pirate it, though.
@DrDaisy Eh, it's really your own fault if you were foolish enough to actually pay money for a game that is and always has been free on PC. Sure, you need DOSBox to play it on modern PCs, but it's a free utility that isn't that hard to use.
EDIT: There, is that less insulting? Sorry about that. However, it's not trolling if the comment actually has merit, and it certainly doesn't give you the right to be an abusive troll in return.
@NicheAbou Maybe Episodes 1-3 haven't aged that well, but I find Episodes 4-5 to still be just as good if not better than the classic Super Mario NES games. "Super Mario World" is still better, but then there's only a short list of 2D platformers that have ever been made that can match that level of brilliance.
@BulbasaurusRex I don't have to take this crap from a stupid troll such as you.
Honestly, I don't know why I come to this damn site anymore. Between the increasing irrelevant articles and idiotic trolls in the comments section, this place is going downhill. I guess I'm a creature of habit. At least TheBlackDragon seems to be gone, but who knows when an even more abusive moderator comes around?
I just paid 39p for this game... I like the surprise discounts when the points add up.
Although I would happily pay a little more.
I am a die-hard Keen fan, and have been wishing for a faithful console port of his (later episodes) games to be released on consoles.
I kind of wish we could get "Goodbye, Galaxy" though, as that's the one I spent a huge portion of my childhood playing.
(And in my opinion, the best one in the series.)
But, it seems that greedy corporations do what greedy corporations do; cruelly deny fans of franchises because they'd rather sit on an IP than let anyone (even their own developers) work on them. Even if it is just to develop an easy cash making port.
I think the laws regarding who has the legal right to dictate what and what cannot be done with an IP need to change.
Give the original creators complete and unrestricted control over these decisions. Not the company that they work for.
All these legal restrictions do is punish the fans.
Think of all the re-releases of 'locked-away' franchises we'd have now if greed wasn't the deciding factor when developing pre existing IPs.
Exclusivity is one thing, but using that to deny us all the games we love, and would happily pay money for is just sadistic.
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