Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons
An early 90s platformer without any music and only blip-blops (like the first Duke Nukem), where your goal is to guide the young hero Commander Keen to the end of each stage, while being hampered by aliens and environmental hazards with just his trusty pistol (with limited shots) and his pogo stick (which allows higher jumps, but at the expense of precision). In your journey, you will go from Mars to the insides of a spaceship to the Vorticon homeworld itself and I was quite impressed at how different each episode felt, both in the variety of stages and the types of enemies. But, that was the extend of what I liked about the game.
No, I didn't think Commander Keen had any chance of stealing Mario's thunder or anything like that, but I supposed that it could provide some entertainment like Duke Nukem or Secret Agent. Unfortunately, it doesn't. The biggest problem that Commander Keen suffers from is frustration. High levels of frustration, indeed. You see, not only does the game sport some pretty lengthy levels at times, but also makes Commander Keen a one-hit-point wonder. Get used to the idea of passing some stressful parts, only to be confronted with a danger below that you had absolutely no way of knowing beforehands as the game has a nasty tendency for leaps of faith, so you end up restarting the level, tossing yet another 5-10 minute chunk of your time down the drain. And nope, there is no quicksave here, sir.
Not helping the situation at all is that the game gives you almost no chance to react properly against projectile-shooting enemies, as you can't crouch and attempting to jump might either be be a case of too little, too late ((further worsened by Keen taking some time before he jumps) or giving you no room to jump above it. In many cases, you'll feel that the game is overdoing it with its trial-and-error approach, which results in your reflexes having little to do with success, while memorization and positioning play a far more important role. A role that I don't like at all. Hopefully, Keen Dreams and the other two episodes will do a better job at that. Full list