Commander Keen is an old DOS game by Apogee and iD Software. Although put aside by bigger games like Duke Nukem 3D, Wolfenstein, and Doom, Commander Keen was one of Apogee's biggest hits and is a classic never to be forgotten.
Beyond the Pogo is the ultimate Commander Keen fansite - here you will find almost every Keen-related fanwork created, from games, to modifications, to applications, to art. Interesting information about the original Keen games is available, as well as a full encyclopedia about them. Finally, there is a newsletter you can sign up for, and tutorials you can read to learn how to use the tools available to mod, edit, and hack Keen to its fullest.
A breakdown of the sections on the site: Fanart - A library of all known Commander Keen fanart from the past couple years Downloads - The largest collection of Commander Keen downloads on the internet! Browse the massive amount of tools, fangames, modifications, and other trinkets. Keencyclopedia - A dynamic encylopedia containing information and pictures on anything and everything relating to Commander Keen. Commander Keen Newsletter - The site devoted to the (almost) monthly Keen eNewsletter. Official Keen Games - Detailed information, maps, and screenshots about all seven original Commander Keen games. Application Tutorials - So you want to learn how to make modifications and levelpacks? Here's a few articles that can get you well on your way. Modifications - The latest rage in the world of Keen. Modifications allow you to change the levels, graphics, and story of a Commander Keen game using one of the original Keen engines. This page has information on all of the fanmade modifications, even including level maps. Links and Archives - Links to other active or cool Commander Keen sites as well as archived restorations of nostalgic Keen sites.
What is Commander Keen?
New to Commander Keen? Read this to get you introduced and see why it is one the most popular DOS platformers to this day.
Commander Keen started as a tech demo programmer John Carmack created to demonstrate a technique he found to produce smooth-scrolling graphics for PC. This demo was an exact replica of the first level of Super Mario Bros. 3. Carmack and his crew called it Dangerous Dave in Copyright Infringement. (As a sidenote, a modification of Commander Keen 1 has been created parodying this venture: Link.)
Carmack eventually formed a company that would become id Software, contacted Apogee to set up a production contract, and produced a number of successful games including the Commander Keen series and Doom.
The technological skills of Carmack and the creative genius of Tom Hall eventually produced the wildy popular series Commander Keen. The hero is an eight-year-old boy genius (who has an IQ of 314) named Billy Blaze. He has created an interstellar starship called the Bean-with-Bacon Megarocket in his clubhouse from old soup cans, rubber cement, plastic tubing, and other household items (for full details, see the BWBMR Technical Manual). While his folks are out on the town and his babysitter has fallen asleep, Billy travels into his backyard workshop, dons his brother's football helmet, and transforms into Commander Keen - Defender of Earth. Perhaps Commander Keen's most inventive possession is his pogo stick, which allows for a style of gameplay unavailable an most platformers.
Title screen of Commander Keen 1. Click for screenshots.
Using the shareware model, the first episode of Keen in the trilogy Invasion of the Vorticons was released on December 14, 1990. The trilogy contained three episodes: In "Marooned on Mars" Vorticons have stolen four vital ship parts of your Bean-with-Bacon Megarocket and you must travel around Mars to find them. In "The Earth Explodes" you must sneak aboard the Vorticon Mothership and disable the tantulus rays that are poised to destroy eight of Earth's major cities. In "Keen Must Die" you must travel to the Vorticon home planet in search of the mysterious Grand Intellect.
Title screen of Commander Keen 4. Click for screenshots.
Little more than a year later, on December 15, 1991, the next two episodes were released in a series called Goodbye Galaxy! These episodes featured a fully updated engine and even more versatile gameplay, with ledge grabbing, poles, and much more. In "Secret of the Oracle," Commander Keen learns of a Shikadi plot to blow up the galaxy with his newly-invented Photachyon Tranceiver. He rushs to Gnosticus IV to consult the members of the Oracle Council, only to find that they've been kidnapped and hidden in the dangerous Shadowlands. In "The Armageddon Machine,"
Keen boards the Shikadi space station in an attempt to destroy the Quantom Explosive Dynamo, the machine rumored to be able to destroy the galaxy.
Title screen of Commander Keen 6. Click for screenshots.
Two more episodes of Commander Keen were also released. Commander Keen 6, called "Aliens Ate My Babysitter" entails Commander Keen's attempt to rescue his babysitter who was taken captive to Fribbulus Xax, home planet of the Bloogs. Also released was "Keen Dreams," sometimes called the Lost Episode or Episode 3.5 because it was published by Softdisk. In this extremely weird episode, Commander Keen falls asleep in his bed and wakes up in the confusing land of Tuberia, run by terrifying vegetables. It is Keen's job to destroy the evil Boobus Tuber to free the other sleeping children that have been taken there.
At the end of Commander Keen 5, there was a messaging hinting at a new Commander Keen series in development called The Universe is Toast! Unfortunately, this game never got off the ground as it was pushed aside for projects such as Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. Commander Keen fans can only hope that one day Tom Hall will get the rights to finish his dream - a 3D conclusion to the Commander Keen series, the game fans have been waiting for since 1992.
Now that you've read this, you'll probably want to play the games. Get to the Download Section and download Episodes 1, 4, the demo of 6, and Keen Dreams. If you want to buy any of the games to get the other excellent episodes, go to the ID ordering form. The only legal way to get the full version of Keen 6 is to buy the ID Anthology and then update the game with the proper patches in the download center. You might be able to find good deals on the Keen games on eBay.
We've recently gotten praise from a website called Pokerlistings (they do guides regarding most things poker related). Here's what they had to say about our site: "We love old classic DOS games, and the Commander Keen series may be our favorite. It's great to see that there are still people out there that put effort into keeping the Keen experience alive. Keep up the good work!"