Sticking with old-school platformers, today I thought I'd actually play something I've downloaded on Steam for a change. I'm of the opinion that Steam is a great tool... you can always get hold of a great (or not-so-great) PC game for a great price. Actually, I've bought quite a few games through the digital distribution websites/providers just because they were cheap and I'd always fancied them, and then never got around to playing them.
The Commander Keen pack costs three quid, and you get five episodes for that. Yes, episodic gaming has been on the go for years. I decided to start at the beginning with Episode One: Marooned on Mars.
The Red Planet. Not as exciting as you've been led to believe.
Commander Keen sees you crashed on the surface of Mars, with a very pulled-back view of the planet. You can only wander around so much of it, but you can't really do anything much... eventually you have to venture into one of the planet's many structures.
Once you do, the view switches and the game becomes a classic side-view platform game. Goodies are scattered around the place in hard and not-so-hard to reach places, and you have to jump around on the platforms in order to collect them. You must also avoid the indigenous life-forms (of course) on your way to finding the room's exit.
Ugh! Look at that thing! Run away! Run awaaaaay!
It's all pretty standard stuff, and an odd choice of game to make for the time, as surely people were moving onto more complicated games by the time this came out. Still, it's fun to visit in retrospect. The game it reminded me of most, strangely, was Thing on a Spring, the old Commodore 64 game. There's a lot of bouncing rather than jumping, at least that's how it feels, and the game has certain aspects in its look that are reminiscent of that game. I'm not sure how much I'll play this (or the other episodes) in the future, but I think that the pack is priced right for what it offers.