Bethesda’s E3 2019 show has revealed the first look at the return of Commander Keen, a platforming series that started its life as a DOS game back in 1990. It was one of id Software’s earliest titles, and its corpse has been resurrected by ZeniMax Online Studios (a subsidiary of ZeniMax Media, Bethesda's parent company) as a free-to-play reinterpretation of the series for mobile. As you can imagine, fans aren't very pleased.

If you take a second to watch the above gameplay trailer from Bethesda Softworks' YouTube page, you may notice the large dislike ratio as well as many angry comments. It would appear that fans of the Commander Keen series aren't very happy with the free-to-play mobile reinterpretation. Not only does the art and card-based strategic gameplay look nothing like what anyone would ever expect of a Commander Keen game, one has to wonder who in the world this upcoming release is actually for.

It seems quite apparent that those familiar with the original Commander Keen titles would not be pleased with a free-to-play card-based mobile game. Why risk angering those fans? Newcomers will have no nostalgia to drive their interest, so you'd think any skin on top of this game's mechanics would do, but then again, I wouldn't be writing this article if Bethesda had chosen to go with an unknown, which appears to be the catch-22 of this situation. There's less money to be made with a new intellectual property, and press coverage would be nonexistent, but clearly trotting out a familiar face like Commander Keen for quick cash isn't doing Bethesda any favors. The risk must indeed be worth the reward, which only serves to make this situation an even sadder one.

Further details are still lacking, though we do know that Commander Keen will come to both Android and iOS and that the game will contain a single-player adventure mode as well as a real-time competitive multiplayer mode. A release date is still to-be-determined, though if you'd like to receive updates about the title's development as well as an exclusive Space Keen costume, you can register on the official Commander Keen website.

Press Release

Commander Keen is a fresh, fun reimagining of id Software’s classic Commander Keen franchise for mobile devices from ZeniMax Online Studios. The twin children of the original Billy Blaze – Billie and her brother Billy – will use wacky gadgets, quick thinking, and ingenuity to outmaneuver invading Vorticons to save Earth.

A new experience for a new generation of fans, Commander Keen re-envisions the platforming gameplay from the classic titles and injects it with card-based, strategic gameplay. Long-time Keen fans will return to familiar storylines from the past when adventuring in singleplayer Story Mode and encounter new challenges when going head-to-head against other players in real-time gadget races in Battle Mode.

Commander Keen will be free-to-play for iOS and Android mobile devices at launch.


Fun, Fast-Paced Gameplay
Commander Keen combines strategic platforming and quick thinking with gadget-based gameplay while innovating on the real-time platforming history of the original series. Mixing movement and attacking with a deckbuilding card game for the series’ wacky gadgets provides fans of Keen and new players alike a unique experience filled with inventive combos and wild moments.

Nostalgic Style and Humor
Commander Keen brings back the visual style made popular by Saturday morning cartoons in the 1980s and 90s. The irreverent Billie and Billy will fight their way through ABSOLUTELY DIABOLICAL bad guys that look and act as if they were ripped right out of classic childhood cartoons.

Build an Arsenal of Gadgets, Gear, and Weapons
Collect dozens of cards to stuff your deck with cool gadgets (including Keen’s iconic pogo stick), gear, and weapons to blast, bounce, and zap your way through the bad guys. With so many gadgets at your disposal, you can overcome any challenge the alien invaders throw at you.

Callbacks to Classic Keen Storylines
Designed to harken back to the nostalgic feeling of the original Keen games, the new Commander Keen will have familiar storylines fans enjoyed in the original, with Easter eggs and callbacks sprinkled throughout the game.