Review by Goodbye Galaxy

"Old-school platforming at its finest. (Plus it's free)"

Super Mario Bros. was the first game I ever played. Arkanoid was the first game I ever owned. Commander Keen 4 was the game that made me a gamer. This is the first chapter in the “Goodbye, Galaxy!” saga. There's a very good reason why my GameFAQs username is Goodbye Galaxy, and this game is it.

Young Billy Blaze was working on his intergalactic “faster-than-light radio” one day when he hears a cryptic cry for help. Apparently a group of aliens called the Shikadi are trying to blow up the galaxy. That's not a good thing. However, aside from that cryptic message, he knows next to nothing about the Shikadi, or about their plans. Billy (having an IQ of 314) knows that it's not best to rush into things...you can't go take on an entire race of aliens without knowing a thing or two about them. So, he decides his best bet is to ask the advice of the High Council of Gnosticus IV. Unfortunately, the Shikadi were prepared for this, and kidnapped the Keepers of the Oracle and had them imprisoned all around the planet. So, Billy don's his brother's football helmet, grabs his pogo stick and neural stunner, hops into his Bean-with-Bacon Megarocket, and blasts off to save the day as his alter-ego: COMMANDER KEEN!

This game uses a completely new game engine from the first three games, and it improves the series in almost every way possible.

The core of this game is the level design (as should be the case with any side-scrolling platformer). Each level is quite large, and like the other games, there are often many paths to the exit, and many more to explore for points. Often, the levels are maze-like, and you must explore the entire level to find the gems (that are used as keys to open special doors). The environments are detailed and varied, which makes each level fun to roam around. There are loads of secrets as well. Some are in hard to reach places, and others are hidden in the walls. These most often will yield more points, ammo, or free lives. I always try to get as many points as possible, as should any serious gamer.

The controls are excellent, and after a few minutes of playing you won't even notice them. You'll just think, “I want jump down to that ledge, switch to pogo in midair, and then do a super jump and grab that ledge,” and then Keen will just do it automatically. Perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit, but the controls really are excellent, especially the pogo-stick controls. Very few games give the hero a pogo stick, and I just can't figure out why. It's a brilliant addition to this game...and while it's been featured in each Keen game up to this point, it was in this game that the controls for it were perfected.

With the new game engine game shiny new graphics, and they really are quire good for the time...much better than anything you'd find on a console at the time. This was actually the first computer game to use VGA colour graphics, so it was quite something to behold at the time. Even today, the graphics are crisp and colourful, and you can tell that there was a lot of imagination put into the sprite designs.

There are actually two sound mixes for the game. If you were lucky enough to have a Soundblaster sound card, then you'd get imaginative music, and great sound effects. If you didn't, then there'd be no music, and the sound effects that you did get would be tinny squawks coming out of your PC speakers. But, since I was lucky enough to have a Soundblaster as a kid, I was able to enjoy the game to it's fullest.

On top of all of this, the game is free. That's right, you don't have to pay a cent. Like the first episode of Commander Keen, this one is Shareware, meaning they'd give it to you for free, and the hope was that you'd like it enough to buy the sequel (which was usually released at the same time). Hey, it worked for me. So, if you've never played this game before...hell, even if you have...go download it right now (a quick Google search should land it), otherwise you're missing out on a fantastic game.

Oh, and there's one more awesome thing: Dopefish.

The Good:
-Brilliant level design
-Precise controls
-Pogo stick
-It's goddamned FREE

The Bad:
-Nothing


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/28/06


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