Keen 1 Bugs

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This page lists all the bugs, odd behaviors and unexpected actions that have been discovered in Keen 1.

Shoot through the roof

Jumping through the ceiling in Border Town

Keen's pogo and jump sprites have slightly different hitbox heights; therefore, if Keen jumps until just before he hits a ceiling, then pogoes, he will occasionally shoot right through the ceiling on top of it. This only works for ceilings one tile thick. (Though it can be seen with all other ceilings, Keen just will not go through the second row of tiles.) This is easier with God mode, but is still difficult to do.

Steps to reproduce:

  • Enable God mode
  • Jump somewhere you'll hit the roof
  • Press pogo right before you hit the roof, it helps to be moving forward

F8 Crash

The game has crashed because F8 has been pressed.

In version 1.1 of the game, pressing the F8 key would crash the game, showing garbage data on the screen. If pressed inside a level, it will most likely kill Keen. If pressed on the map, it will most likely allow Keen to walk around the garbage tiles.

Steps to reproduce:

Extra levels

One of the extra "levels"

By walking off the edge of the world map (cheats required) you can enter "levels" composed of random garbage (although most of which are tile zero), and if you enable God mode and fly up quickly enough you can float around these bizarre levels without dying. These "levels" are actually random locations in memory the engine has tried to interpret as levels. The exact level/memory location is random because once Keen has wandered off the world map he wanders off the valid level data and into whatever data happens to be in memory nearby. Some of these random values will just happen to be the code to enter a level, and most of these will specify invalid levels, thus causing random data to be displayed since no real level data could be loaded.

Sometimes you can even get into the level shown on the title screen, as well as the high scores and story screens (although there are much easier ways of doing that, such as renaming the level files.) Pressing "Esc" in the title level will cause it to ask you if you want to quit to DOS.

[TODO: Link to somewhere explaining how to do this by renaming level files or patching the "title screen" level number.]

Steps to reproduce:

  • Go to the world map (e.g. start a new game)
  • Enable God mode
  • Keep walking in one direction until Keen disappears off the edge of the screen
  • Press Ctrl as if you were trying to enter a level — often this will not do anything, but if you keep walking and pressing Ctrl, you will eventually enter a "level". It may reload the main map, or re-enter a normal level.


It is possible to do many neat things with the Vorticons. Firstly, you can get past all four without shooting them:

  • Joystick Guard: Go to the farthest right edge of the ledge below the exit (the one with a raygun on it). The Vorticon will go off the right edge, and plummet to his death.
  • Car Battery Guard: Get the guard to follow you, and make him jump off the platform. Getting the Car Battery should now be easy.
  • Vacuum Cleaner Guard: Get the Vorticon to jump on the blue cylinders, and run underneath him, through the door. Alternately, stand on the blue cylinders and let the guard run underneath you.
  • Everclear Guard (the Vorticon Commander): It is not necessary to drop the falling rock on the Vorticon Commander. You can pass him by either jumping over him, or waiting for him to jump and then run under him. The first way is easier. Be careful to collect the Everclear afterwards by jumping to the other side of the exit door, as without collecting it you will be left stranded on Mars after exiting the level.
    • You can also kill the Vorticon Commander with 105 shots. If you save your ammunition, there is enough in the game to allow you to do this. Alternatively, you can repeatedly play a level in which you can get ammo and an extra Keen by collecting points, and then die, and repeat as many times as you need to, while the extra Keen keeps you from getting a game over. A more interesting way to obtain a lot of ammo quickly might be to play all other levels than Red Maze City (and Vorticon Commander's Castle because the Everclear Guard is there) and collect points to get a lot of extra Keens (while keep from dying and losing them) and use ammo sparingly, then go to Red Maze City, collect the 3 rayguns at the beginning of the level, die at the first garg, repeat. Using this method, for example 60 shots can be collected by losing four Keens.

Vorticons also have a bad habit of jumping too close to a wall, and becoming stuck. They can jump straight up in the air, but are unable to free themselves horizontally from the wall itself. Based on some experimentation, the bug appears to be caused by a mixture of the vorticon's programmed movement, and the area of the sprite. There is currently no way to fix this bug, although modders have been trying to do so for quite some time.

Stuck yorp and inaccessible book

A level design bug in Secret City.

In Secret City, there is an area close to the top-left corner that you cannot access as the entrance is only one tile high. This makes a book unobtainable and a yorp stuck in place.

Ice City's point of no return

If you go to the area with the Vorticon Guard in Ice City without a pogo, you will be unable to backtrack. This is because the ice block above is too high to reach with a normal jump. If you end up here without the red keycard, you'll have to either let the Vorticon Guard kill you (provided you didn't kill him) or quit the game.