Review Authored by:

Commander Genius - Commander Keen For Android

Authored by: Yan Matusevich — Oct 23, 2011

There was once a time when smartphones, powerful computers and gaming consoles were only a distant dream. Back in the middle ages of home computing, Commandeer Keen was like a ray of shining light in the darkness of PC backwardness. It was the first side scroller for PC – something that had been reserved for consoles up to that point. Commander Genius brings you the old-school game to your Android device!



Reviewed version Latest version

Features & Use

iD Software should be a recognizable term for any PC player. John Carmack, co-founder of iD Software, has always shown how to squeeze out the most graphics out of any piece of hardware. Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein – all of them were iD brain childs.

But iD got its real start with Commander Keen! Back then it was impossible to play NES game on your PC because of the limited computer hardware. John Carmack, however, managed to make a breakthrough in the world of PC gaming.

Here’s a short rundown of what Commander Keen is about. The game revolves around an eight-year-old kid named Billy Blaze that lands with his own spaceship on mars. Evil Vorticons end up stealing parts of his spaceship that he needs to continue his journey. Commander Keen is a traditional sidescroller game without any fluff. Jumping, running, zapping aliens and collection stuff – that’s what the game is all about.

Commander Genius brings the joy of Commander Keen, episode 1 through 4 on your Android device. Or does it? The biggest problem is that based on my experience I wasn’t able to play episode 4. As soon as you start the first level, you’ll notice a lot of glitches with the graphics. The first episode is the only one that is actually playable. Based on everything, you can tell that Commander Genius is a raw beta version. It’s basically an Android porting of the original game gone wrong. Yikes!

You also have to be really quick when you start up the game. The thing is that the options screen for adjusting graphics, audio and controls pops up for literally one second before dissappearing never to be seen again. The on-screen controls work OK, but they should make the buttons bigger and place them more strategically on the touchscreen. After getting the first couple of hurldes, the main problem is trying to actually play the game. In the first episode of Commander Keen i.e. Commander Genius is virtually impossible to control, especially when it comes to jumping.

There’s a whole set of things that just aren’t working in the game. Multi-touch gestures are a good example. Although the multi-touch works fine in the game, it doesn’t work as intended in the menu.

Bottom Line:

Commander Genius is really a mixed bag of apples. On the one hand, I’m happy to finally be able to play the first episode of this PC classic on my Android, but at the same time I am totally bummed out by the fact that episode 4 refuses to work. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg since a whole lot of thins are just plain buggy. So although this app doesn’t deserve a good rating, I would still strongly recommend it to retro gaming fans.


Screen & Controls

The graphics aren’t very demanding which is obviously a result of the emulation of Commander Keen.

Otherwise Commander Genius fairly well in gameplay, even if the menu navigation isn’t exactly self-explanatory.


Speed & Stability

You might be surprised, but despite a lot of things not working, Commander Genius actually runs smoothly and doesn't force close. 

Price/Performance Ratio

Commander Genius is available for free (and ad-free, too) from the Android Market. 


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