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FAQ by BAmon

Version: 0.3 | Updated: 02/19/1995

Commander Keen Stuff

Archive-name: msdos/games/keen-faq
Version: 0.3
Last-modified:  19 February 1995

2/9/94 - added topic 0
       - updated episode descriptions
6/8/94 - repost
8/21/94- post to alt.games.apogee
2/19/95- minor changes


0. Why have a Keen faq?
1. Who is Commander Keen?
2. What Commander Keen games have been issued?
3. What are the background descriptions for each series?
4. What is the difference between Apogee Software and Id Software?
5. Where can I get shareware copies of Commander Keen games?
6. What is anonymous ftp?
7. How do I download a game?
8. What does .zip mean and how do I install the game?
9. Give me some hints, please.
10. How do I enter the cheat mode?
11. How do I register the shareware version?
12. How do I obtain non-shareware edisodes?
13. Where do I go for help?
14. SPOILER Section

0. Why have a Keen faq?

I stumbled across Apogee/Id and their games in the past year, thanks
to a neighbor of mine. I suspect that many other shareware-unaware
people may also be out there. Hence, this faq to share the excitement
I've received since discovering these great games. Yes, I know many
of you may say that Keen is an old game, long played out. But I
suspect that with the astronomical growth of the Internet, many
newbies will start reading this newsgroup who were equally unaware
as I was. Although I have been involved with various computers and
the peculiarities of their software since 1962, I must admit that
somehow I missed the entire shareware scene! True, I'm a recent PC
convert (I bought my first one in 1991 after enjoying IBM and DEC
mainframes at work and Macintoshes at home) and I have come to
realize that PC's have great games (okay, maybe with the exception
of such great oldies as Adventure on those good old PDP-11's - they
required you to imagine - but that's another thread). So after all
this rambling, I want to say that I have tried to assemble in one
place hints and tricks I have discovered from reading the
comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.* newsgroups and playing the games. I would
also like to thank Id Software and Apogee for their hint sheets and
catalog extracts. I hope that this faq reaches new converts to the
shareware scene. Also, like most faq's, this one is "under
construction." Please post recommended additions or comments on this
faq to the comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.misc newsgroup. Use "keen" in
the subject line and I will retrieve it for review and possible
inclusion in subsequent versions.

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"Ddefender 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
  Keen #1 - Marooned on Mars (12/90)
  Keen #2 - The Earth Explodes
  Keen #3 - Keen Must Die

Second Series:  Goodbye Galaxy
  Keen #4 - Secret of the Oracle (12/91)
  Keen #5 - The Armageddon Machine (2/92)

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)

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."
3. What are the background descriptions for each series?

"Keen's first adventure takes you to Mars, where the Vorticon invasion
force is planning their conquest of Earth.  While Keen is exploring
Mars the Vorticons steal pieces of his ship and hide them within
their cities.  Can Keen recover all the pieces and repel the Vorticon
invasion?  You'll explore many dangerous cities, packed with
diabolical traps and hideous creatures, both of Martian and Vorticon
origin.  Use your pogo stick to reach high ledges and jump deadly
pits, and use your ray gun to stun the Vorticon invaders. Can you
find the secret city?

is located on the planet mars.  Episode two takes place on the immense
Vorticon mothership, where you'll need to stop the destruction of
Earth by disabling the eight deadly ray cannons aimed at Earth's
greatest cities and wonders. Episode three takes Keen to the dangerous
Vorticon home planet, where you'll explore huge caves, battle the top
Vorticon ninja fighters and discover the secret of the Grand
Intellect." [extracted from the Apogee catalog.exe dated 11-21-91]

"In episode one, "Secret of the Oracle," Commander Keen rockets to an
alien planet to rescue the Keepers of the Oracle, who are the only
ones capable of helping Keen finding out more about the Shikadi. Who
are the Shikadi and why are they planning to use our galaxy as target
practice!" After completing the mission in episode one, Keen learns
of the Shikadi's enormous ship, which doubles as the latest weapon
ever built. So in episode two, titled "The Armageddon Machine," Keen
faces his greatest challenge yet--to save the Galaxy!" [extracted
from the Apogee catalog.exe dated 11-21-91]

"In this episode, Billy is out in his clubhouse, busily working on
his handy new ComputerWrist wrist computer. He hears Molly, his baby
sitter, calling him to supper but he keeps on working. He hears a
strange noise in the backyard and decides to investigate. On a patch
of scorched grass he finds a note: 'Keen -- Thanks for dinner. -- The
Bloogs of Fribbulus Xax. P.S. Next time get one with more meat,
please.' He puzzles over this for a moment, then notices the baby
sitter has stopped calling. Suddenly, he realizes that aliens are
having her over for supper - and when they say 'for supper' they
mean 'FOR SUPPER'! If he doesn't save her, his parents will be
furious. They'll never believe that 'Aliens Ate My Baby Sitter!'
'This is a job for commander Keen!' he declares. Once again, he dons
his brother's football helmet, hops into the trusty Bean-with-Bacon
Megarocket and starts the launch sequence for  Fribbulus Xax. He's
got to save Molly from becoming a snack for creatures from another
planet!" [extracted from FormGen Corporation and Id Software, Inc.
instruction manual that comes with the game]

"Only you can help Commander Keen overcome the killer vegetables which
have conspired to "clean his plate" in KEEN DREAMS, the "lost
episode" developed for GAMER'S EDGE by Keen's award-winning creators,
ID Software. King Boobus Tuber and his Tater Troopers are ready to
take you on in this choice Keen adventure!" [extracted from the
file_id.diz file description for Keen Dreams]

4. What is the difference between Apogee Software and Id Software?

Joe Siegler (joe.siegler@swcbbs.com) of Apogee Software answered this
question some time ago as follows:

"Here. Read this. It's for people who get confused about the
relationship between Apogee and Id Software.

Apogee and Id Software are two completely different companies. Here
is an explanation as to the two of them.

Apogee Software writes and distributes software. We have published a
total of 28 games over our history up until the writing of this text,
and of those, only 4 have not actually been written by Apogee. Three
are Id games (Keen Vorticons, Keen Galaxy, & Wolf3D). The other is
the current Halloween Harry by SubZero Software in Australia.

Id Software writes software, and up until Doom, has never published
anything themselves. Id has published through a few companies, and
Apogee is one of them. They wrote the Keen Vorticons and Keen Galaxy
series as well as Wolfenstein 3-D. These are distributed by Apogee.
Some earlier Id efforts such as Catacombs Abyss are distributed
through Softdisk. Id's two commercial games, Aliens Ate My
Babysitter (Keen6), and Spear of Destiny are published through
FormGen. These two are quite frequently assumed to be Apogee games,
but they are not. Check them, the name Apogee does not appear in
there. More confusion gets added when I say that Apogee RESELLS
Keen6 and Spear, but they aren't our games. We only sell them.

Now, with Doom, Id is going to be publishing on their own from now
on. Apogee and Id are two completely seperate entities. Apogee
doesn't own Id, nor does Id own Apogee or anything like that.

There has also been no "big divorce", or "big feud" or something
along those lines. The Id guys and the Apogee guys are all really
good friends, and in fact, we all get together for lunch, and shoot
pool up at the Id offices. There is no big fallout, or anything of
the sort. In fact, 3 games that Apogee is currently working on have
some sort of Id Software code in them, so there is no real big
'breakup'. (These games won't all be released until the fall of

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

Only three of the seven episodes of Commander Keen are available as
  Keen #1 ("Marooned on Mars")
  Keen #4 ("Secret of the Oracle")
  Keen Dreams

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).  Here are a few good ftp servers, with directory paths to
Commander Keen, in the United States:

    /msdos/Games/Misc/keendm01.zip (Keen Dreams)
    /msdos/Games/Apogee/1keen.zip        Size: 209754
        Commander Keen, Part 1 - "Invasion of the Vorticons". Requires EGA,
        530k. Supports joystick.
                     /4keen.zip         Size: 648640
        Commander Keen part 4, "Secret of the Oracle", the first of two
        parts to "Goodbye, Galaxy!". The other is commercial. Requires EGA,
        supports Adlib/SB, joystick.


6. 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 ftp.uml.edu) 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.

7. How do I download a game?

Following transfer of a game to your 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 4keen.zip  [this instructs the host to send a binary
                            file using xmodem protocol and 1K packets]

on PC
  <page down>              [this brings up the file transfer menu]
  o                        [this selects xmodem 1K packets]
  c:\keen\4keen.zip        [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

8. 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. The entire distribution is archived in the
self-expanding archive program PKZ204G.EXE. This 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 excellent set of

9. 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 Descendents, 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 <CTRL> 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.

10. 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 Babysitter (particularly the God and jump modes).

11. How do I register the shareware version?

The readme documentation that comes with the games provides details
for registering the game.

12. How do I obtain non-shareware edisodes?

The simplest way is to call Apogee at 1-800-GAME-123 (1-800-426-3123)
to order any of their games. Current pricing is as follows:

  Invasion of the Vorticons series $29.95
  Goodbye Galaxy series            $34.95
  Aliens Ate My Baby Sitter        $34.95

I've seen Aliens Ate My Baby Sitter at Microcenter packaged just like
the other commercial games.

13. Where do I go for help?

Apogee used to maintain a help line for registered players. With the
establishment of their Bulletin Board System (BBS), this requirement
is no longer as critical. As of December 1993, the Apogee BBS had 83
nodes, with plans to increase the number of lines to over 100! They
are running PCBOARD 15 over a Novell v4.0 10 base T network. Storage
capacity is 8GB. Contact them by modem as follows:

  508-365-2359 (2400 baud)
  508-368-7036 (V.32bis or 9600-14.4K)
  508-368-4137 (HST/DS or 14.4K-16.8K)

14. SPOILER Section

  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.

This is a very modest update to the FAQ. I hope some of you new Keen
gamers will contribute to expanding this FAQ. If you have any
additions, please send them to me at my e-mail address (below) since
I do not often keep up with my NewsGroups before the 1 week TTD (time
to die) expires.

Bill Amon
The MITRE Corporation

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