Review Summary: a precious gem of old, the game doesn't even require an IQ of 314 to play it!
Possibly the most underrated computer game series of all time, yet also one of the more iconic, Commander Keen never reached the critical acclaim it deserved. Although it pioneered EGA graphics, shareware distribution, and (most exciting of all) a smooth-scrolling graphics engine, the series didn’t exactly win awards. The games were barely reviewed, and were never televised, going generally under the radar all the while the Mario franchise took the world by storm. How did this happen" I suppose it is because the Mario franchise came first, and by the time the first Commander Keen game came out in the same year as Super Mario World, the Mario fever had spread too far. Mario had already received the fame, and although Commander Keen would eventually gain cult status, it was too little too late. Commander Keen would be remembered and loved by all who played the games in their childhood, and that is where its legacy lies.
When recalling the classic computer game series of Commander Keen, it is impossible to forget its quirky music. Not only is it fun, but each song is perfectly suited to the levels in which the songs are played. The game is a silly adventure with bright levels and ridiculous creatures. The goal of the game is to save the eight council members that form the High Council of Gnosticus IV. Once completed, they will access the Oracle, which will tell Keen what the Shikadi (an evil race of beings made from translucent energy) are up to. The council members you must save are, well, really old. Fittingly, whenever Keen saves them, old, boring, cemetery-like music plays (‘A World of Wonderment’) – Bobby Prince thought of everything.
The music is composed of simple MIDI files that were downgraded from Sequencer Plus Gold in order to use IMF (id Music Format) and be made to play on an Adlib board. Nowadays, making MIDI music is a piece of cake, but back in the day, the process would have been difficult – Commander Keen’s music, back then, would have seemed incredible. Although the longest song is a dismal one minute and fifty six seconds, Bobby Prince managed to put character in the music that was undeniable, and infectious. Right from the get go, while exploring the world map, catchy, rockin’ music blasts through the speakers, but the experience has only just begun. Entering the first level, the extremely silly and bouncy music begins to play a long as you control Keen jumping around on his pogo stick. As expected, the music is extremely fun, and you can bet that that adds quite a bit to the already hysterically fun gameplay.
Commander Keen without its music is like bread without butter, or a sundae without ice cream – it must accompany the game or else it will feel lacking. This is especially true when considering the extremely popular song, ‘You’ve Got To Eat Your Vegetables’, which excellently describes, through music, the Dopefish: “the second-dumbest creature in the universe”. If one had to describe the soundtrack of the game in a couple words, “completely ridiculous” might come to mind. The game is fairly childish in nature, and therefore the music is as well, but this was never a negative aspect. After all, what else would you expect from a game when the main hero is an eight year old genius who constructed The Bean-with-Bacon Megarocket from old soup cans and random household objects" The Commander Keen series was always a pile of fun, and Commander Keen IV: Secret of the Oracle
was perhaps the most memorable of them all (save for the first one ever released). After playing this absurdly fun game and listening to its music, you will never look at a pogo stick in the same way again. That's all! Now go play Commander Keen!