Fans of old-school platforming may want to give Commander Keen in Keen Dreams: Definitive Edition a look. I stress old-school, as this release is less about how we remember old games and more about how they were in reality. Which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself—some of the music is catchy—just uncommon.

Since I never played the original (also on Switch), I can’t comment much on what’s “Definitive” in this version. In truth, this version seems to be missing a couple of options like difficulty modes and sound settings, which is bizarre. But the game is still amusing, in how it makes me question if I did indeed play this as a kid or not. An implanted memory, so to speak, no doubt stemming from playing titles with one of my PC-gaming friends back in the day. So, it’s memorable in a sense, and I also enjoyed reading up on the history of the Commander Keen series in preparation for this review. This quasi classic, considered a “lost level,” is loaded with quirks.

The story is my childhood in more ways than one. I didn’t appreciate the salad bar as a kid nearly as much as I do now. Well, pre COVID-19 anyway. But aren’t potatoes a universal vegetable (starch)? Regardless, Billy, aka Commander Keen, finds himself in a dream versus veggies. I give it kudos for ripping off an obscure book from when I was first learning to read. Plaudits also go toward the non-violent approach, with veggies altered to flowers (for a bit) rather than blasted into oblivion.

Keen’s jumps are floaty, to say the least. Some of the effects sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. The hit detection is loose, made even worse by most hits sending Keen back to start. All the same, the main game is short, as I probably spent more time on the castle than I did the ten prior levels.

But it’s also non-linear, hugely impressive for a 30-year-old platformer. Besides picking between levels, the designs themselves are somewhat maze-like, going in all directions as you search for the exit. The game could certainly do better to encourage scouring each level’s corners—here’s where you’ll miss difficulty modes—but the designs impress (to a degree) nonetheless. You can replay levels to hit strict points or time goals.

While Commander Keen in Keen Dreams: Definitive Edition kind of checks off some of my old-school boxes, it’s not a markedly high-quality release on the Nintendo Switch in 2020. By all means, wishlist it if you have fond memories of the original, the series, or late ’80s/early ’90s DOS games in general. Even then, wait for a sale; $14.99 is too much for this short “definitive” release.