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One of the best shareware era platformers
Commander Keen is the first in its series, a side scroller, adventure, platformer, action game, with a very sweet and familiar character, Keen, the space explorer, and all the staples that made the Shareware era of DOS gaming so interesting. One of those aspects, as I just mentioned is overall likeability; but that was not because these games were exceptional, or gimmicky or flashy, or had anything that made them stand out; nope, they impressed with being sufficiently polished, sufficiently diverse, but always confident enough never to go out of their way and be the best! Yeah, it sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo, I know, but it's true. Take the animations of the baddies or of the player character in the game: they don't have a lot of frames, but they do the job great. The backgrounds too, are never too exquisite, but they look good enough to offer you information about where you are and to make the foreground pop out, stand out, and that is certainly what they need to accomplish. So, with that said, you pretty much can't say that you aren't having fun. Download Xargon too, for yet another great example of the shareware era platformers, probably the best section, as well as the most player friendly of the entire DOS catalogue.
Platforming King of DOS
Commander Keen is probably the king of platforming on DOS. If you've mastered Mario and sped through Sonic, this will remain challenging. Commander Keen takes some getting used to. I used to be able to beat the first episode in one sitting. Now I can barely get halfway through. The game is a solid platforming action game with some minor maze-like elements with colored key cards to find. The story is about as charming and innocent as the first Super Mario and suitable for all audiences. This is a good game to get young children interested in platforming gaming without exposing them to the morally gray areas of later anti-heroes. Commander Keen is a boy genius that invents a rocket ship that takes him to Mars. He lands on the Red Planet and has to find replacement parts in order to get back home. It comes from Apogee software, one of the best platform game producing companies on the PC, back in the age of Shareware where one episode could be downloaded for free, and then the second and or third parts will have to be purchased. Even with just the demo, this game will keep you satisfied.