LGR – Commander Keen Dreams – DOS PC Game Review

LGR – Commander Keen Dreams – DOS PC Game Review


[LGR Theme] [fizz, sip] Aahhh! You ever woke up with one of those
really weird nasal abnormalities? You know, the kind of thing where it
feels like there’s something in there, but you know there’s not.
There’s just nothing there. But the more you start sniffing, the more you get intrigued. Kind of stays like this the next couple of days, you really start to think about it again. It’s just so strange and there that you can’t help thinking about it. [echoing]
Have I grown something new? Is there a new appendage inside of my nostrils? [normal]
Eventually, though, you get used to the idea and it’s not quite as interesting anymore, and you pretty much forget about it. To me, Commander Keen Dreams is a lot like one of those nasal abnormalities. Sort of strange and only comes up from time to time, but when it does, it’s just so awkward you have to just set aside some time and take a look. Keen Dreams is known to some as “The Lost Episode” or “Keen Episode 3.5.” Came out in 1991. It was made by id Software, of course, and published by Softdisk
instead of Apogee this time. It uses the same game engine
as the Keen Galaxy series, but it’s missing a whole lot of the features. We’ll get to that here. So it’s generally accepted that the game falls between the first trilogy and the second series of games. The story is that at the dinner table, our hero Commander Keen, Billy Blaze, refused to eat his vegetables and was sent to his room, he falls asleep, and wakes up tripping balls. It turns out he is in the land of Tuberia, brought there by the Dream Machine. It is an evil land, full of evil vegetables, who have enslaved all bunches
of children through their dreams, holds them here captive, being tortured by
the vegetables that they didn’t want to eat. The menus in this game look completely
different from any of the other ones in the series. There aren’t as many options. Pretty much you can only choose what level of difficulty you want your controls, and whether or not you want PC speaker sound or AdLib sound. There is no music. Comparing once again to Galaxy, you are Commander Keen with all of his moves and abilities, minus the ability to shoot his gun, and minus the ability to use a pogo stick, and also minus the ability to grab onto ledges. This makes the game so much more challenging than it really should be in my opinion. Especially if you’re used to Goodbye Galaxy and Aliens Ate My Babysitter and all that stuff. In this one instead of his stun zapper, you have these little balls that you throw which temporarily stun your enemies, turning them into drug-addled flowers. It is referred to as “flower power”
at least once in the documentation, so I suppose that’s very well what it could be. The levels are your standard platforming fare, complete with secret areas, as all the Keen games do have and are so famous for. Very, very easy to get annoyed at this game, though, just due to the fact that you can’t
grab onto ledges to pull yourself up. You don’t realize how much you
miss that until you’re without it. And once again, you really don’t realize how
much you miss music until you’re without it. I mean, there’s nothing, just little bits of AdLib sound effects here and there that aren’t really that impressive anyway, so just replace it with whatever the heck you want! [“A Volte Il Cuore” by Andrea Boelli plays] Or maybe not that. You can replace it with other AdLib music. [AdLib rock music] And also, the flower power
leaves something to be desired. Other than being ambiguously strange, they have a bit of an arc to them and they also bounce, so it’s kind of like, I don’t know, throwing pipe bombs or something. Occasionally it can be hard to aim, especially for creatures that go across the ground. Speaking of creatures, you have a very varied amount of creatures to go against and turn into flowers. Crazy anthropomorphic vegetables, such as apples, peas, grapes, watermelons. Those kind of things. Okay, so there really are for the most part vegetables
like broccoli and asparagus, carrots, and of course, the Tater Troopers. Many of these guys are extremely annoying, especially with your flower power bombs. They could be hard to hit, or you just end up tossing one over them. Now the flower power isn’t the only
available weapon in the game. The whole point of this is to
get through all of these levels and eventually reach the end boss, named King Boobus. B-o-o-b-u-s. Who is pretty much a large potato. In order to defeat him, you need to go throughout the levels
and collect 12 Boobus bombs. You need 12 of them to take him down,
and in fact you can’t even enter his lair without the 12 bombs. You do that, you win the game and go back to real life with a newfound respect, or hatred, or phobia, of vegetables. You can’t use flower power against him, so it– That’s part of the problem of the game, and in fact possibly its biggest flaw. In order to beat the game at all, you have to know where these bombs are. You have to make sure that you’ll get
them in the levels that you need to. If you fail to do this, and exit a level without getting the bombs, there’s a very good chance that by the end of the game, you won’t have enough bombs to beat king Boobus Tuber and it will effectively be over and you’ll have to start the game from the beginning
and be sure to collect the bombs. Now, if you don’t know this, and just really don’t pay attention, this could break the game for you. At the beginning of the levels that DO contain bombs, you will get a message going into the level saying that there are bombs in the level,
so you’ll know to look out for them, but it’s possible to ignore that, I suppose. Not that this is a walkthrough or anything, but the levels that contain the Boobus bombs are Grape Grove, the Melon Mines, Squash Swamp, Apple Acres, and Spud City. In fact, Apple Acres and Spud City
each have six bombs in there, so it’s possible to get enough bombs just in those two levels. And then you can just go all the
way to the top of the level map and beat the game. So, really, you can do a speed run
pretty quick if you do that, but you probably want to get a few extra bombs, at least the first time around just
to make sure you don’t mess up. Running out of bombs on the last level and being unable to complete the game is not exactly a dream scenario, if you ask me. And the whole idea of this game
being called Keen Dreams anyway always sort of confused me. If this were really a dream,
wouldn’t he have the ability to use a laser gun or a gatling gun for that matter. At least a pogo stick and be able to grab on ledges. I mean, pfft, why couldn’t he just EAT the enemies! I mean, they’re vegetables.
I know he doesn’t like them, but that doesn’t mean that he couldn’t eat them. I mean– you know, if it’s a dream, why not go all the way? Though I suppose calling it
Commander Keen Nightmare might be a little bit harder to market to kids. But it is id Software. It’s not like
they couldn’t have pulled it off. I mean, nightmares are kind of their thing. When it all comes down to it, is Keen Dreams a fun game? For me, it’s ALL about nostalgia. I really don’t like the game. If it weren’t for that, this would
probably be my least favorite Keen game. That blurry, rose-tinted nostalgia comes and kicks me in the
face every time I think about it. I was rather young when I got this one, and at this point, all I had ever
played of Commander Keen, which were some of my favorite
games ever, were Commander Keen 1 and Secret of the Oracle, both of which were free shareware games, so when I got this one, it was known to me as Keen Dreams, or Commander Keen 13. I got it from one of those shareware vendors who labeled all of their disks with a number. The way the label was made, it looked like Commander Keen 13. I was like, “What? Thirteen Commander Keens?
I thought there were only five.” And in fact, there are seven, with this one rounding out the Keen games to a lucky number. The controls are… annoying at best. The level design really isn’t that great. A lot of the graphics look pale Just without spirit, I guess, in comparison to Commander Keen Galaxy, at least. The flower power is ANNOYING, and of course, the potentially fatal flaw of not collecting the Boobus bombs, especially if you were not aware of that. All these things taken into account, it’s actually, as far as Keen games go, relatively weak, but it’s still fun. It’s still a Commander Keen platforming game and it is capable of delivering literally minutes of enjoyment to anybody that happens to come across it, so feel free to peruse the wonders of the Google webs and partake of Commander Keen Dreams.

100 thoughts on “LGR – Commander Keen Dreams – DOS PC Game Review

  1. 7 Keen games? I thought there were only 6. What's the extra game I'm missing? I have all the ones on Steam plus this one.

  2. In order, they are: Invasion of the Vorticons (3 games), Keen Dreams (this game), Goodbye Galaxy! (2 games), and Aliens Ate My Babysitter (1 game).

  3. 80% of your content is stuff I either have no interest in or couldn't possibly get, but your reviews are just so damn entertaining 😀

  4. I played the first games, then I played Goodbye Galaxy which blew my mind. My dad got a kick out of how when you let Keen idle and he would do those animations in Goodbye Galaxy. This one was the worst of them all. Didn't even really like it as a young'un.

  5. Oddly enough this was the only Keen game I've ever had exposure to (back in the 90s that is), so to me the "normal" Keen games have that exact nasal abnormality effect.

  6. I think I have a small rock inside my nose, I was laying on the ground in a playground when my brother who threw rocks at me landed one at the perfect angle in my nose, I then tried to get it out put pushed it deeper in there.
    Doctor said nothing is their when he looked, but my right nostril doesn't have any airflow so 10 years later I think its still there.

  7. What an anomaly. It looks like a crappy thing someone would make as a joke. Kinda curious what the backstory to this is. Why is it so unlike the other Keens?

  8. Hey random question. I used to have a disc that was titled 5 star games or something to that effect and it had HUNDREDS of dos games on it. I remember I got it when I was like 5, but I have seemed to have misplaced it. I cant find it anywhere on ebay or anything. Do you remember anything like this? If so do you think you could lead me in some direction to where I could find it?

  9. They're missing "Aliens Ate My Babysitter" on Steam, so that should explain it. Disappointing, I know.

  10. Keen Dreams is not by ID software and many fans don't consider it to be part of the series because it has a totally different vibe. Omho it sucks especially compared to the other games. The visuals were a total setback compared to "Goodbye, Galaxy!",which btw came an year earlier (1991).As for the gameplay – I prefer a Commander Keen who blast alien slugs that poop radioactive [email protected] with his laser pistol instead of watching my veggie-dinner on the screen. And the game menu…Don't get me started!

  11. Just found out the complete CK-pack (Keen Dreams is not included) is available on Steam. 🙂 It's the first result after I googled "Buy Commander Keen".

  12. I still have K4 on my computer… went from 95, 98, 200, XP, Win7 (and yes, I have to emulate it now) Childhood memories with that game.

  13. I had C.K. 4 on a 386 that had no music…but had sound effects. It may have been the absence of a sound card…I actually prefer it silent

  14. Considering that it feels like one, it's not unreasonable to consider Keen Dreams to be the prototype for Keen 4-6. I can imagine ID making it as a way to test out their Keen 4 engine, then on realising they've got a nearly complete game, giving it to Softdisk to publish.

  15. This is quite the bizarre game…  I haven't a clue what to say about it, other than…  Huh.

    Also, if I may ask, what was the song at 6:16?

  16. There mustve been music in one version of this gme. Theres a "visit to id software" video going around, should be easy to find. T starts with Bobby Prince showing off music he made for this, and explaining his ideas with it. Maybe it didnt make the final cut due to time? Seems odd

  17. Do you have a twin or something? I thought you just did editing magic for the scenes with 2 of you but i realized there way to real to be just editing!

  18. i enjoyed the review, this used to be one of my favourite games as a kid. the whole not being able to grab onto ledges, no pogo stick, no gun always seemed logical to me, because he's dreaming, and dreams can often make us inferior. for instance, he's powerless against his parents who are making him to eat the veggies he doesn't like, hence the no gun, pogo, etc. or maybe i'm reading too much into it.

  19. John Carmack, Adrian Carmack, John Romero, Tom Hall, when i see those names, i know that i must play the game, i did not know about Keen Dreams, it is a new game for me, so why not try and see what it is

  20. I would like so you do the rest of the series,  perhaps a video on the 1st Trilogy and then one on the 2nd…

  21. Ah this game was a pain! It was shareware but you could finish it. I'm annoyed there is no legal  way to obtain this game other than on Mobile or that I can't get Keen 6: Aliens Ate My Babysitter since it was released by Formgen. Only other way I know is the id software anthology which is rare, expensive and I already own most of their games.

  22. I heard they just released the source code for this. Probably a fascinating look-through for those interested in that kind of stuff.

  23. My only Comander Keen game I played was one I doknt know what it was but it came with out computer. I yelled one time for my mom to help me out on the game while she was in the shower she came out naked and helped me I was about 5 or 6 ha ha

  24. This game is in Greenlight now! Please vote for it!
    http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=315040793

  25. On the packaging does "Virus Free" mean that it's free of viruses, or that it comes with a free virus? Please respond LGR, this is very important.

  26. You do not even know how many brownie points you get from me just by saying that you love the Commander Keen series.  Seriously LGR.  I already loved you from your Sims videos, and now this?

  27. Keen Dreams updated to work on windows and linux natively!
    http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=315040793

  28. I love Commander Keen and always liked this game.  At the very least it should be appreciated for the moment in time it captures as a transitional Keen game.  I thought the level design was very good and imaginative and the setting was great.

  29. DOS platform games are always so different than, say… Super Mario Bros. I have some fond memories playing the original Duke Nukem and Halloween Harry, among others. And I just love that old school music!

  30. Was bio-menace was also made by id guys? number of things are similar to that of commander keen. bio-menace was published by Apogee

  31. I've always wondered why he grabs a Xbox 360 controller in his old episodes when he always did PC game reviews.

  32. There must be a way to get more bombs (maybe by getting some and then dying to quit the level?) because I remember getting literally 100 once to take on the boss. It really felt like an epic final battle, too, since he was immune to regular weapons and seemed huge compared to the normal enemies.

    I always liked this game, and I never missed the pogo or the ledge-grabbing. It was a good challenge. Those crazed-looking veggies were really creepy to me at the time, though.

  33. I remember this one. A dos pc at a campground had this, Stunts, and Leisure suit larry (quality taste there) along with a ps1 with some NHL game and quake 2. It was a great time, and sometimes we were able to guess our way through the age check in Larry , but not being native english speakers, not to mention young, we had no idea how to play. We were able to get beer, and then get kiled in the alley (or something like that) but never much more than that.

  34. This. Keen dreams was my first real experience pc gaming.
    And the first game I ever got the within a year of its release…
    Out of two games. ?.
    This old video just made my nose itch.

    I used to believe it was some kind of alpha version of the keen games they just released as sharware to be a nerfed ad.

  35. Never knew this existed. Probably for good reason.

    Which is weird because i grew up with commander keen. Where tf is the awesome music?

  36. Just bought the Switch version, good thing I never played the better sequels of this game, that's my first ever Commander Keen game so I'll never feel I missing the better features of the more popular CK games. The Switch version does offer background music, it's not exactly 4:05! But it's ok!

  37. Why there is a music menu even though it doesn't have music? Also, Sound blaster option is greyed out, even though I have a Sound blaster installed, not Adlib. Easily the worst Keen game, very hard and frustrating, though still somewhat enjoyable.

  38. Vintage LGR! I came here as someone said Keen Dreams > the Goodbye Galaxy series. That person was wrong… wow… how come this game looks worse despite being newer?!

  39. I don't know if this was referred but:
    KEEN DREAMS was a prototype for the Goodbye Galaxy, it was launched for free after KEEN 3 to test the reaction from gamers about the new graphics and engine.
    Obviously got high positive reviews on its time.

  40. This video is almost 10! Did you know a few years back a version of this was out on steam? By a company called hard disk instead of soft disk. Sadly it’s not for sale anymore. I heard rumours as to why. It was came out through green light on steam when that was a thing. Had steam achievements and a bunch of stuff fans asked for! Even could toggle on cga mode if you wanted

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