Commander Keen (Serien-FAQ) (e)

Commander Keen Faq


0. Why still have a Keen faq?
1. Who is Commander Keen?
2. What Commander Keen games have been issued?
3. Is Apogee on the World Wide Web?
4. Where can I get shareware copies of Commander Keen games?
5. What is anonymous ftp?
6. How do I download a game?
7. What does .zip mean and how do I install the game?
8. How do I get enough memory to run Apogee games?
9. Who are the creatures in the games?
10. Give me some hints, please.
11. How do I register the shareware version?
12. How do I obtain non-shareware episodes?
13. Where do I go for help?
14. How do I run Keen games under Windows 95?
15. Other Keen WWW sites
16. Will there be any more Keen episodes?
17. What is the Dopefish?
18. Has Keen appeared in any other games?
19. SPOILER Section
20. How do I enter the cheat mode?
21. KEEN4 Tricks
22. KEEN4 Walk-Throughs
23. KEEN5 Questions/Answers

0. Why still have a Keen faq?

Yes I admit that I have not been faithfully posting this faq over the
past few years.  I have been receiving E-mails from several folks,
though, and have responded as best I could.  Like many of you, I have
added a Pentium with Windows 95 and have enjoyed several of the new
generation, video intensive games.  Nevertheless, I still hold a fond 
affection for that first fantastic, EGA platform game - Commander
Keen.  I still see postings to this newsgroup on Keen.  If my work 
environment is any indication, I suspect there are still several 386 
PCs out there - I know I gave mine to one of my sons.  I still go 
back and play Keen now and then.  So here is a major re-work of my 
original faq.  I have added some walk-throughs I generated when 
answering pleas for help.  Plus, I added my experiences in trying to 
get the Keen games to run under Windows 95.  I would like to thank
Joe Siegler, Apogee's on-line support guru, who has been a great help 
and inspiration.  Yes Joe, I still don’t forgive you for giving up 
your Dopefish signature.  I have re-published it in this faq for 
those who never saw it years ago.  Finally, I know I have not always 
responded to those many E-mails.  I have fallen victim to majordomo-
itis - sometimes I have over 1000 unread E-mails.  So I apologize to 
those folks I have not replied to.  Please post your comments, 
requests, and recommended additions to the 
newsgroup. I do read this group and scan for “keen” in the subject 

1. Who is Commander Keen?

The following description is extracted from the Apogee catalog and
other documentation that comes with the Commander Keen games.

"Commander Keen is the alter ego of Billy Blaze, eight year-old kid
genius who builds an interstellar ship when not working at home on
his college fast-track degree. Among other household objects, Billy
uses his Nintendo joystick for flight control and his mom's vacuum
cleaner (heavily modified) for his ship's ion propulsion system (with
pile height adjustment).

At the hint of galactic trouble, Billy dons his brother's football
helmet and becomes "Commander Keen" defender of Earth!  Ever on the
side of justice, fairness, and high calorie junk food, Keen dispenses
justice with an iron hand."

2. What Commander Keen games have been issued?

There have been four series of Keen games issued, with seven (7)
missions or episodes. They are:

First Series:  Invasion of the Vorticons (12/90)
  Keen #1 - Marooned on Mars
  Keen #2 - The Earth Explodes
  Keen #3 - Keen Must Die

Second Series:  Goodbye Galaxy (6/91)
  Keen #4 - Secret of the Oracle
  Keen #5 - The Armageddon Machine

Special Edition Series:
  Keen #6 - Aliens ate my Babysitter! (11/91)

"Lost Game Collection of Id Software" Series from Gamer's Edge:
  Keen Dreams (9/92) aka Keen 3.5

A very comprehensive explanation of the history of the Keen series
is found in "The Official Apogee FAQ."  This was provided by Joe
Siegler, the Apogee "netspokesman."  Joe provided the following 
details [updated 15 Aug 1997]:

“Episodes 1-3 are collectively called "Invasion of the Vorticons,” 
and are published by Apogee Software. This series of Commander Keen 
was released on December 14th, 1990 according to Tom Hall (Ion 
Storm), and at the time, Creative Director of id Software.

Episodes 4 & 5 are collectively called "Goodbye Galaxy," and are also 
published by Apogee Software.  This series of Commander Keen was 
released somewhere around June of 1991.  There was also a special CGA 
edition of Keens 4-5 made.  The game is functionally exactly the same 
as the standard EGA version of the game, but the graphics are in CGA. 

Episode 6 is a "stand alone" game, and is entitled "Aliens Ate my 
Babysitter."  From its inception in 1991 until 1996, it was 
distributed by FormGen.  In 1996, FormGen was bought out by GT 
Software, and as such, Apogee was left with only what stock we had at 
the time of the game. It was never actually an APOGEE game, it was a 
FormGen game that Apogee distributed. In August of 1997, Apogee’s 
stock of the game finally ran out, and as such, Keen 6 is no longer 
available from Apogee. As of now, the only way to get Keen 6 now is 
as part of the package “The id Anthology” (more info later) from GT 
Software.  Two side notes to this: first, for some reason, only the 
CGA version of Keen 6 is on the CD, and second, for awhile, FormGen 
distributed a playable 3 level commercial demo of Keen 6.

Keen Dreams has kind of an interesting story.  This is referred to as 
the "Lost Episode" of Commander Keen. I like to think of it as "Keen 
Episode 3.5." The reason for that is that Keen Dreams falls in 
between Vorticons and Galaxy, both in terms of technology and 
storyline. Before the id guys actually formed id, the majority of 
them worked at Softdisk, a computer software publisher in Shreveport, 
LA.  The founding members of id Software left Softdisk to do the 
Vorticons series of Keen for Apogee Software.  However, they were 
contractually obligated to deliver another game to Softdisk, and 
since development had started on the Galaxy series, they threw 
together a Keen game for Softdisk, and Keen Dreams was born.  This 
game is not sold by Apogee Software, nor does Apogee have anything at 
all to do with it.  You'd need to contact Softdisk for any further 
information regarding Keen Dreams.

In December 1996, id Software published a package called “The id 
Anthology.” This is a product that contained every single game that 
id Software ever made, as well as some others that were made by id 
people for other companies like Softdisk. In this package are all 7 
Commander Keen games mentioned above. As a side note, for some 
reason, the person at id Software who put the package together put in 
only the CGA version of Keen6. Why they did this, we don’t know. For 
more info on the id Anthology, contact id Software (Apogee has 
nothing to do with the id Anthology).”

3. Is Apogee on the World Wide Web?

Yes!  Thanks to Joe Siegler, Apogee has a home page at:

4. Where can I get shareware copies of Commander Keen games?

Only three of the seven episodes of Commander Keen plus a three level 
demo of Keen #6 are available as shareware (you can legally upload 
and download these anywhere):
  Keen #1 ("Marooned on Mars")
  Keen #4 ("Secret of the Oracle")
  Keen Dreams (Keen #3.5)
  Keen #6 (3 level demo)

Note that all other episodes (2, 3, 5, and the full version of 6) are 
commercial software and should not appear on any BBS, online service, 
or sold by other than authorized sellers of these games.

There are many anonymous ftp servers on the Internet that mirror
the Commander Keen games (as well as several other excellent games
such as Halloween Harry, Duke Nukum, Cosmo's Cosmic Adventures, and
Doom). An Altavista search reveals 39 sites hosting “” 
Apogee’s “Official FTP site” is at Washington University in St. 
Louis, MO at URL:
  At this site, you will find the following Keen games:  (Keen #1)  (Keen #4 EGA version) (Keen #4 CGA version)

Apogee maintains a web page pointing to their games on wuarchive at:

Another good server for freeware, shareware, demos and cheats is Lord 
Soth’s site at:

5. What is anonymous ftp?

The file transfer protocol (ftp), a part of the application layer
of the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), is
the most common method of moving files around on the Internet. As a
courtesy to all users, many server sites allow access to controlled
portions of their hosts without prior arrangement to establish an
account and a password. This general access, when used to transfer
files, is termed "anonymous ftp." Typically, you issue the ftp
command on your Internet host (e.g., ftp and, when
prompted to login, you enter "anonymous." Internet convention
("netiquette") usually calls for you to enter your e-mail name as the
password to provide statistics for usage tracking by the server site
administrator. Upon completion of login, you should read whatever
"readme's" are indicated in the welcome message. You may then
navigate through the authorized directories using the change
directory command (cd). Use the directory listing command (dir) to
view accessible files. Use the get and put commands to receive or
submit files. Ftp will then transfer the specified file to or from
your own host system.

With the advent of the World Wide Web, I wonder how many of you still 
use UNIX Internet hosts?  You can easily access anonymous ftp servers 
from your web browser by entering a URL like - all the logon handshaking is done 
automatically by your browser.  Likewise, as long as your browser has 
mime type association for saving .zip or .exe files to disk, when you 
click on the desired download file, transfer to your hard drive will 
occur. For Netscape, select Options/General/Helpers and look for mime 
type application/octet-stream.  Note the file extensions of exe and 
bin. If “save to disk” is not selected, do so.  Likewise, look for 
mime type application/x-zip-compressed.  You should see file 
extension of zip and the “save to disk” option selected.

6. How do I download a game?

This section may be OBE if you are using a Web browser.  See the 
previous section.  Otherwise, if you must use a UNIX Internet server 
first and your Internet Service Provider restricts you to shell 
accounts, read the next paragraph.

Following transfer of a game to your Internet host, the next step is 
to download it to your home computer. Several protocols can be used 
to accomplish this. Your communications software most likely supports
the more common protocols such as xmodem, ymodem, zmodem, and Kermit. 
Use the protocol supported by both your communications software and 
your Internet host. Here is an example using xmodem to transfer a 
game from a UNIX host to a PC running Procomm Plus:

on UNIX host
  % xmodem -sbk  [this instructs the host to send a binary
                            file using xmodem protocol and 1K 

on PC
                [this brings up the file transfer menu]
  o                        [this selects xmodem 1K packets]
  c:\keen\        [this points to the directory into which
                            the file, 4KEEN.ZIP, will be transferred]

The next step, after logging off your Internet host, is to
uncompress the game. Note that the .zip file extension indicates that
the game is compressed using a utility available from PKWARE. To
expand the game into its full distribution, you must use the
shareware program, PKUNZIP, as follows:

  >pkunzip 4keen

You will see several files displayed as they are "inflated." If no
errors are displayed, copy the .zip file to a floppy diskette and
delete it from the hard disk to conserve disk space. Read the
documentation files and information on registering the shareware

7. What does .zip mean and how do I install the game?

The shareware versions of the Keen games are archived in compressed
form. The file extension .zip indicates that the compression format
used is from the PK company. To uncompress the game, you must run
the PKUNZIP utility (or Winzip). The entire distribution is archived 
in the self-expanding archive program PKZ204G.EXE. Obtain this 
shareware package from PKZ204G.EXE is also a 
compressed form; however, the .EXE extension indicates that you 
merely execute this archive and it automatically uncompresses. 
Following that, you will see several files, including the PKUNZIP.EXE 
utility as well as information for registering (and paying for) this 

A great Windows GUI application for performing file compression and 
uncompression is the WinZip utility (see  
This program greatly simplifies archival operations, particularly 
when you must span multiple floppy disks!

8. How do I get enough memory to run Apogee games?

If you are running Windows 95 - no problem!  See section 17 below for 
configuration settings.  If you are still suffering under the DOS 
memory management nightmare, here is a condensed version of the 
CONFIG.SYS file I used for practically all my DOS games on my old PC. 
Note that I ran DOS 6.22 on a 386/33 system with the SoundBlaster 16 
sound card and 8MB RAM. Use MEMMAKER.EXE to fine tune your CONFIG.SYS 
(particularly to determine the memory exclusions for your specific 
configuration). I get 613K of conventional memory free to run my 
Apogee games with this configuration. In my AUTOEXEC.BAT I include a 
line that displays all the game choices - type c:\games.txt|more. 
Each game is launched by a simple code such as k4 which executes a 
k4.bat batch file containing the following lines:

  cd \apogee\keen\k4
  keen4e /comp/nomouse
  cd \

##CONFIG.SYS Format (note-remove the X= field in the DEVICE line and 
the L: field in the DEVICEHIGH line - memmaker will set these fields 
for your system):


menuitem=full, Load all drivers for Windows and CD-ROM

rem lines eliminated for clarity

  I:5 D:1 H:5


9. Who are the creatures in the games?




10. Give me some hints, please.

KEEN #4:
- Level 1 has 7 free Keens
- At the Pyramid of the Moons, you can get to the top on the outside
- At the top of the Cave of the Descendants, there is a hidden area
- Princess Lindsey appears twice
- A slug in the Chasm of Chills holds a secret
- In Hillville, there is "stuff" hidden
- In Miragia is a free Keen
- In the Pyramid of the Ancients is a free Keen
- On the Isle of Fire is a free Keen
- In the Pyramid of Shadows are 7 free Keens
- You can get to the secret pyramid with something in the Pyramid of
  the Moons (see the spoiler section)
- Dopefish will eat the small schoolfish that follow you
- Push the  key to swim faster
- Jump on skypests with your pogo stick to squash them
- Only shoot mimrocks when they are jumping at you
- Mad Mushrooms leap higher on the third bounce
- Stand on the little moon on the floor in the Pyramid of the Moons
  for an interesting display
- In the tunnel under the houses of the first village by the lava
  pool there is a hidden gap (revealed by the F10 J cheat) you can
  jump through (with the F10 J cheat) to get 9 free Keens. Note you
  can also enter the gap without cheating. Pogo into the gap using an
  extended jump (pogo then jump quickly to get the maximum height).
  When just below the gap, pogo again and push left to enter the
  special area.

- Level 1 has 9 free Keens
- Level designers Tom Hall and John Romero have hidden their names in
  two of the levels
- Near the start of Defense Tunnel Sorra are 30,000 hidden points
- Pogo on the fuses to break them
- The Gravitational Damping Hub contains the way to the secret level.
  Look down and translate the message.
- Find someone or something to destroy the QED.
- Duck under Slicestars and Volte-faces but not Robo Red.
- You can stand right next to Robo Red and not get shot.

11. How do I obtain non-shareware episodes?

The simplest way is to call Apogee at 1-800-APOGEE1 (1.800.276.4331) 
or 1-800-3DREALMS (1.800.337.3256) to order any of their games. Check 
out for ordering information 
or any changes (e.g., Keen 6 is no longer available). Current pricing 
is as follows:

  Invasion of the Vorticons (Keen 1-3) $29.95
  Goodbye Galaxy series (Keen 4-5)     $34.95

Aliens Ate My Baby Sitter (Keen 6) is no longer available from Apogee 
(see paragraph 2).

12. Where do I go for help?

Your best resource for help is this newsgroup (
The Apogee WWW page has a help link for customer support, including 
instructions for a Windows 95 boot environment, E-mail support, and a 
one-way mailist. See

13. How do I run Keen games under Windows 95?

Check out the section of the Windows 95 FAQ dealing with DOS games. 
Bottom line - never re-boot your Windows 95 system in DOS mode. 
Rather, use a PIF file to configure the system environment. Here is a 
short summary from the FAQ (please read the full FAQ):
- Right click on the KEEN executable, select Properties, select the 
Program tab, add additional command line fields as needed
- Select the advanced button and select “Prevent MS-DOS programs from 
detecting Windows”
- Select the memory tab and configure the type of memory (I’m still 
optimizing this section - for now, I just use the auto mode)
- Select the Screen tab and disable “Dynamic memory allocation” and 
“Fast ROM emulation.” (I’m also playing with these settings too - I 
can’t stop a jittery display with my Matrox Millennium video board - 
HELP anyone?)
- After you exit, note the MS-DOS icon shortcut - this is your PIF 
file.  Start the game by double clicking on the PIF file, not the 
actual executable.

I am still refining this section. Any contributions would be greatly 

14. Other Keen WWW sites

Our game playing mates in Australia have a great web site containing 
lots of graphics, “The Intergalactic Alphabet” to help translate 
those secret messages, a Commander Keen FAQ with additional 
information not in this FAQ, and links to Dopefish sites.  Thanks to 
Geoff Sims - Check out: [for IG Alphabet 

Also, for hints and cheats in German, check out:

Joe Siegler hosts “The Official Dopefish Homepage” at:

Samual Stoddard maintains an Apogee FAQ that includes information on 
Keen as well at:

15. Will there be any more Keen episodes?

Joe Siegler passed on the following information:

“If you played Keen 5, there was a screen that said something to the 
effect of "Join us in December 1992 for the greatest Keen adventure 
yet."  There was a picture of Keen smiling, with a Santa Claus hat 

At the time, id Software was intending to do a third series of 
Commander Keen, tentatively entitled "Commander Keen: The Universe is 
Toast".  However, other projects came up (Wolfenstein 3D, Spear of 
Destiny, and later, Doom).  There are no serious plans now to do more 
Keen.  The main reason is that id Software owns the rights to 
Commander Keen, and any new project would have to be either done by 
them directly (EXTREMELY unlikely), or at least approved by them.  At 
this time, there are no Keen games under development by either 
Apogee, id, or Ion Storm (where Tom Hall & John Romero now work as of 
1997).  If and when there ever is more Keen, it will be state of the 
art of whatever technology is current at the time.”

I sure hope Keen returns. I’ll even be happy with a SVGA version! 
These new generation games with hours of Quicktime movies and high 
resolution graphics still don’t give the same playing satisfaction of 
those early Keen games.

16. What is the Dopefish?

Years ago, this was Joe Siegler’s signature block:
| Joe Siegler - Apogee Software    |       _|\_                     |
|                                  |   \  /    \   Pisces Swimeatus |
|           |   |>< |>  OO    The Dopefish   |
|                |   /  \___/UU                   |

He now uses a different signature; however, many of us still love 
that Dopefish character. See the following URLs to learn more about 
him: [go to section 2.4 of this 
Apogee and 3D Realms FAQ] [The Well of Wishes, The 
Official Dopefish Homepage] [Dopefish 

17. Has Keen appeared in any other games?

Commander Keen has made guest appearances in the following games:

- In Paganitzu, Keen’s helmet makes an apprearance in a hidden area.
- In Bio Menace episode 2, Keen appears as one of the hostages you 
need to rescue.
- Four Keens made an appearance in a secret level of id’s Doom II.
- Keen’s helmet appeared in a level of Crystal Caves.

[thanks to Joe S. for this info]

18. SPOILER Section

WARNING - Don't read this section yet. You should really keep
trying to solve the puzzles in the game first for the maximum
enjoyment. Likewise, I reluctantly include the instructions on how
to enter the CHEAT mode - this really ruins the thrill of
discovering those hidden passages and other tricks. Don't worry,
there is nothing past this point except spoiler items. The walk-
throughs and questions/answers are not complete. These are responses 
I have made to various gamers who have E-mailed me asking for help.

19. How do I enter the cheat mode?

The cheat mode is also known as the debugging mode. It is typically
used by software designers to assist during a game's final testing
phase. The code is often left in when the program goes to full scale
production (e.g., Microsoft programmers have left some personal
touches in Windows to display the programming team and show a
cartoon destroying IBM).

In the Invasion of the Vorticon series (Keen #1 - #3), press C, T
and SPACE simultaneously. You will receive the pogo stick, all key
cards, and lots of ray gun charges. While at the map level, pressing
SHIFT and TAB will allow you to bypass a city. Press G, O, and D
simultaneously to get the jump cheat. This is an early implementation
of the more complete debug mode found in the next Keen series.

In the Goodbye Galaxy series (Keen #4 and #5), press B, A, and T
simultaneously to enter the cheat mode. This gives you additional
shots, gems, and an extra life.

Also in Goodbye Galaxy, push A 2 ENTER at the same time to enter the
debugging mode (used during beta testing). Then the following codes
can be used to cheat or gather information (hold down F10 and push
the letter key):
  B - Set border color (1-15)
  C - Number of active/inactive objects in the level
  D - Record a demo
  E - End or finish the current level
  G - God mode (you can't die)
  I - Free items (add 3000 points and 99 shots)
  J - Jump mode (you can fly anywhere)
  M - Memory usage display
  N - No clipping (fall through ground)
  S - Slow motion
  T - Sprite test display
  V - Add 0-8 VBLs
  W - Warp to any level
  Y - Reveal hidden areas (shown in normal color)

Note that several of the above codes also work in Keen Dreams and
Aliens Ate My Baby-sitter (particularly the God and jump modes).

20. KEEN4 Tricks

POGO/CLIMB TRICK:  Hit ALT (pogo), hold down CTRL (jump) until you
jump up as high as possible, quickly push ALT (to stop pogoing) and
left/right arrow to climb left/right.

To get to the secret pyramid (the one with the hand on it), go in
the Pyramid of the Moons. Take the yellow diamond and go down. Use
the diamond on the second yellow keyhole. Assemble 12 of the little
yellow worms in one place. They will turn into a giant foot. Jump
on the foot to go to the secret pyramid.

You can not get to the raindrops and lifewater flasks floating over
the underground river in Lifewater Oasis (it's just a tease).

In the Pyramid of the Moons, stand on the moon drawing on the floor
in the upper right portion of the game level. Wait for a while -
Keen will "moon" you.

21. KEEN4 Walk-Throughs

NOTE:  In all these walk-throughs, it is assumed you will avoid/shoot
dangerous creatures-I won't give you warnings here. Also, it is
assumed you will gather all objects you find and explore rooms not
mentioned below.

Level 15 (Isle of Tar)

Go right - get guns in house - continue right - drop down pit - go
left -  jump up on platform - jump up and left - climb up -
pogo/climb up to right (see pogo/climb trick above) - go right
avoiding tar pits - fall down, hugging the right wall - turn on
switch then continue falling down - jump up to level just below and
to left of platform - go left - notice platform going up and down -
stand on edge and jump up and left onto platform [if you miss, hug
the right wall going down and try again: go right, enter door, enter
door again, go left back to edge] - jump up to right at highest point
platform rises - get red diamond and go back down on platform -
TRICK: jump on left edge of platform to fall under it - fall down,
hugging right wall [NOTE: you can skip the first right exit and enter
the next - do not fall all the way down or you will hit a spike!] -
go right - enter door - enter door again - go right - pass trap door
and continue right - climb down pole - go left and drop down - turn
on switch - jump onto platform - go all the way up - get yellow
diamond - go back down and get off at middle level - climb up 2nd
pole (same one you came down) - go back left - keep going, down ramp
- go through door using yellow diamond - go down and turn on switch -
go right through secret passage in wall - go right and through door -
go left and fall down - go right - jump to get blue diamond - BE
CAREFUL, jump from platform to platform to the right quickly before
falling into tar pit - climb up pole - go left - go up on platform
one level - go right and climb up 2nd pole again - go right through
door using blue diamond - go up on platform - climb up to left - pogo
up to right and EXIT

22. KEEN5 Questions/Answers

- Where are the 9 free Keens in level 1? They are at the bottom 
right, outside the OmegaMatic. You get to this location through a 
secret tunnel at the top left, immediately to the left of the laser 
gun. Pogo jump up then go all the way to the right and down.
- What does the secret message say in level 11, the Gravitational 
Dumping Hub? It tells you how to get to the secret level: “Jump down 
at arch.” This is the arch just before the exit door.
Bill Amon
The MITRE Corporation