In short, I love this game. I love it. I grew up on this game. I played it for the first time when I was 6-7 years old, and my parents had a then-new computer which could run it and other DOS games. Heck, I probably owe much of my love of and prowess within the English language to this game, as playing this game was among the few activities that I found entertaining as a kid(others of them involved the language, too, but enough about me). I have beaten this game more times than I have been able to keep track of... a rough estimate would be 20-30 times... no, seriously! I played this so many times, growing up, that I can remember almost all of the hidden items, hidden features and even mastered the Pong-type game(Paddle War, which, don't let the name fool you, isn't *actually* about war) featured in it(brought to us by Keen's intellect, as he's programmed it into his wrist-computer) at one time(not that that's particularly hard, though... entertaining, though). I recently played it through again, and for the first time I even beat it on all three difficulty levels(previously I had only beaten 'easy', but since that held no challenge anymore, I decided to take it up a notch... or, rather, two). The game is great. It's got a great story, great, cartoony and not too childish humor, excellent game-play that won't disappoint any fan of platform/DOS games. It's also got my favorite planet(Gnosticus IV, home to the Oracle that the game's title refers to), my favorite levels(an enormous chasm, a deep, dark cavern, a fortress and a glass building, just to name a few), my favorite enemies(Poison Slug, Lick, Mad Mushroom, those cool rocks, not to mention the awesome Wormouth... my gosh, I could go on forever... however, this review has a word-limit, so I won't, don't worry)... my favorite everything. And even though I've beaten this game so many times, I am certain that I haven't played it for the last time. This is the first game in the series/franchise(apart from the "lost" episode, Keen Dreams, which was released before this) to feature one-button shooting, the in-level save feature, and my personal favorite ray gun(which remained through the next two games, instead of being replaced from the start of the next, the way the trilogy had a new gun per game), the Neural Stunner(which, as the title alludes to, only stuns the enemies, so some will be able to regain consciousness after a short while, and it won't work on all enemies, either... wouldn't want to make it too easy) and the much better controls of the last few games of the Commander Keen series. In addition to the pole-climbing, more easily controlled jumps and ability to fire in all four directions(including doing so with great aim whilst jumping through the air, which is an *excellent* feature) that were introduced by Keen Dreams, which was released before this, Keen can grab onto ledges if he misses the platform he was jumping for, and either hang on indefinitely or climb up onto it, he can walk into and back out of doors within the levels(which is where the slanted 3D look, which was also introduced in the last game but is more utilized here, really shows its full potency) and look up and down by pressing and briefly holding down the corresponding button, giving you a chance to preview the dangers ahead before you dive right into it(rather literally, at one particular point in the game). That brings me to a really cool and well-integrated feature that I believe is exclusive to this episode of the series; swimming. It's only for one level, but my gosh is it entertaining and the control is really good. Also, the Neural Stunner can't be used underwater, so the level will have you avoiding all the enemies(one particularly fierce(and seemingly quite popular, seeing as how it makes cameos in tons of later id Software titles, including several of the dark and/or serious games) one, especially, who I won't tell you the name of or describe... it is simply too good to spoil(though it is described in the in-game Help section), in my opinion). You may need to find an in-level item to complete the game, and many levels require you to search for colored gems to open doors, as well as activate switches... and who could forget the many moving platforms that you need to jump onto and off of? This is the first episode to feature both them *and* a movement system that doesn't make it a chore, but rather quite entertaining, along with the rest of the game. The game has you searching and rescuing the eight elders, Keepers of the Oracle, all of which he needs to find out about the Shikadi, which the game after this centers on(and who plan to destroy the galaxy, hence the title of the two-game series). The level design is excellent, and the levels are, simply put, vast in size. The enemies in this episode are largely based on life indigenous to the planet(slightly reminiscent of the Gargs of the first episode, Marooned on Mars, which were also aliens of an aggressive nature... and like that game, there are also friendly ones, and they prove to be really, really helpful at several points), and even include one enemy that is both sneaky and smart. The AI is really good, and some enemies may prove rather challenging to defeat(and on Hard difficulty, believe me, you'll face more than enough of them to make things intense). The game is exciting, cute, fun, easy to get into and very fulfilling. I warmly recommend it to any fan of DOS/platform games, and, quite frankly, consider it mandatory play for any fan of the franchise. I absolutely love this game; this is, in my opinion, as good as it gets, when it comes to platform gaming(at the very least, for this time period). 8/10
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