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Updated November 20, 2004

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Commander Keen 7 Build 15
(Kevin Wellwood)

"Billy Blaze says Goodbye Galaxy in QB!"

When Commander Keen intercepts a message from the Shikadi race involving the destruction of the galaxy, he decides to take his pogo-stick and spaceship along for an whole new adventure!

In Commander Keen 7, your mission is to save the Ancients. It's Keen's hunch that these Keepers of the Oracle are the key to discovering more about the Shikadi. Little does Billy Blaze know just how close his hunch is to the truth...

Game Review
Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
Keen 7 is technologically brilliant, featuring smooth scrolling, layering and plenty of animated items. You fly behind clouds, and behind, and even through some ledges. In the background the anthropomorphized trees will blink, and the fires lighting the enormous slug shrine are animated. Everything looks excellent and the engine does no injustice to Goodbye Galaxy.

Although there are no original graphics (they are pulled directly from the original), the sprites used some of the finest even today. At first glance, you may not even notice that they are constructed using only the 16 color standard EGA palette (even though the game is in 13h VGA). Colorful and detailed, these sprites were drawn quite professionally and used an isometric platform style that would be perfected 5 years later in "Metal Slug." However, the lack of any new or original graphics keep Commander Keen 7 from achieving more than an average graphics score.
New to build 13 is a much more complete tile set, feature graphics from multiple levels.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
Like everything else in the game, sounds and music are ripped from the original game and replicated using MP3s and DS4QB. While using MP3s to replicate synthesized is a bit extreme method, it is accurate and compresses well, the music being so simple. While the music and sounds stay true, they are only capable of getting an average score for the same reason as the graphics. Other than extra songs, nothing has changed in this version.
Gameplay (n.)
The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe
Keen 7 is close to having all of the original elements of gameplay from Goodbye Galaxy. The gem-locked doors, switchable platforms are all new to build 13, while Build 15 offers the Keen menu, and the ability to encounter ancients. Other Keen-ian gameplay elements include the ray gun (which can be shot in different directions), the pogo-stick, grabbing on to ledges, items, friendly and enemy NPCs, poles, secrets and more were already in the game by build 12. Again, this is a technological masterpiece. Everything is fluid and complete. The gameplay is so incredibly close to the original I found myself immersed into the game.

However, there was nothing notably new: I even found secrets I remembered from the original. If you've played Keen 4 through, you're not missing much. It would've been nice to see new levels and puzzles, but this game does as much as it can to emulate the original. While V Planet's review policy does sadly punish lack of originality, however it gets an extra point for including the level editor, allowing players to create new levels.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
(Very Poor) Unfortunately, this is a build in progress, and none of the wacky story elements from the original appear in this clone as of yet.
Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
While this clone is nothing short of fun, it is nothing close to new. The original Keen 4, in which Keen 7 attempts to clone in every way, had great replay value, with multiple passages and secrets, as does this game if youve never played a Keen game, but it has been over 10 years since the release of Commander Keen 4. I, along with many others, have played through the classic. Keen 7 offers nothing new in terms of gameplay, and therefore nothing new in replay value, as the two are closely tied.
Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
If you've never played Commander Keen, its jumping puzzles and item finding are more than enough to keep even a veteran from breezing through the game. With the exception of the fact that stunned enemies do not come back to life, this kind of gameplay is copied perfectly. The multiple paths almost always offer a an easy route and a challenging route, so depending on your skill level you can take the one that suits you. However, all of the levels are not yet integrated in this build, so the game does seem shorter than it should.
Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
Commander Keen IV is of the most professionally done platformers in video game history, nonetheless PC history. Nearly every aspect of the gameplay is preserved perfectly in this excellent clone, and the attention to detail is incredible. The graphics, the physics, the gameplay elements and the sound are so precise and complete that it crosses the thin invisible barrier of QB games that leaves gamers ignoring details, glitches and methodology of the coding and just having fun. This kind of combination is just incredibly fun and entertaining.

Keen style games are not original in concept. Billy has a ray gun, collect items and have one or two defining gadgets. But what makes Commander Keen special is in the extra layer of polish and presentation in both the original and QB version of the game. Its combination of excellent elements make it more fun, at least to me, than any other QB platformer yet. The only problem, mentioned several times already, is the lack of originality, as it is a clone. Had there been new levels, or levels different enough to distinguish itself from the original game, Commander Keen 7 may have pogo-jumped its way to the top of the platformer list.

Commander Keen 7 Build 15 Reviewed by Toonski

Players 1 player Genre: Arcade Game
Rating To solve: 3-4 hours Final Rating: 17/35

To download Commander Keen 7 Build 15 (529KB), click here.
wIf you're unzipping this program in DOS, you may have to use the -d option.
wTo play Commander Keen 7, unzip the file and run "KEEN7.EXE".

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Game Summary
Coding Group
Kevin Wellwood
Homepage URL
Final Rating
17 out of 35 points

The Highs: Some of the most solid gameplay mechanics in a QB platform game to date, based on one of the most popular platforming games of all time.
The Lows: Since it's an exact clone, Commander Keen 7 doesn't offer any surprises for platform game veterans.

V Planet! Archive
This is an archive of V Planet, circa November 2004, when the site was last active. This is read-only, and preserved here as part of the QB Zines Archive at Pete's QB Site.

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