Maybe it was the story that sucked us in?
Here was a kid, much like we were then, who had an IQ in the upper limits and a cool secret identity. Barry Blaze, ordinary schoolkid, by day, Commander Keen, intergalactic superhero, by night.
In this, the first story, Billy gets stuck on Mars when the evil Vorticons steal his space ship pieces and has to travel around the whole planet looking for them so he can get back and stop the Vorticons from blowing up earth.
Riveting storyline right? Well… ok, so maybe it wasn’t brilliant but to give it some credit, not too many games included real stories linked into the action in those days. Here you were actually on a mission linked to the plot and not just wandering around from level to level like a nerd at a hot party.
The story of Keen 1, while not mind-blowing is certainly passable and definitely adds a little extra to the whole game.