Ken’s Labyrinth

1993
Developer: Ken Silverman
Publisher: Advanced Systems, Epic Megagames


Oh no! Aliens from the planet Zogar have kidnapped you and your dog Sparky. They’ve put you in a gigantic underground labyrinth which you can only escape by matching wits with the Zogorian robots and other bizarre inhabitants. Will you and Sparky ever return to earth alive, or will Earth be reduced to a lump of coal by Ken, the evil Zogarian leader?

Ken’s Labyrinth takes place in a 3D world of virtual reality. You’ll travel through the underground labyrinth and encounter logs of puzzles to solve and enemies to battle. Featuring the programming of Ken Silverman and the artwork of Future Crew!


Ken’s Labyrinth consists of three episodes, the first of which was released as shareware.

Ken’s Labyrinth is graphically similar to id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D in that the levels were designed using a grid-based plane, resulting in perpendicular walls and textureless floors and ceilings. Arguably its most astounding feature was the existence of interactive sprites and textures, like slot machines. This move towards engines allowing greater interactivity was later elaborated upon by Silverman’s Build engine.

Ken’s Labyrinth was released as freeware on November 16, 1999. Several different versions were released and are available for download from the official website. The source code followed on July 1, 2001.

The first version is known as “Walken”, the version which Ken Silverman sent to companies for evaluation. This was the first version created, and therefore it had very few features. There was almost no interactivity, and the code was mostly a test.

The first version to be released was a modified version of Walken called Ken’s Labyrinth. Many changes were made, including interactivity, an early money system and music. It was sold January to February 1993 by Advanced Systems.

Following that was version 2x, which featured 27 levels and an alternate final boss. New enemies, textures and music were added, as well as a money system with which the player could locate money and use it to purchase a random item from a vending machine. Slot machines were also implemented.

Released in March 1993 By Epic Megagames, the final version (3x) featured 30 levels, and many new features that older versions of the game lacked, such as the ability to choose the item purchased from the vending machines, a difficulty option (on “easy” mode, or “Don’t hurt me,” enemies do not use melee attacks, while on “hard” mode, or “Ouch!” they do), an episode select, and also new enemies, textures and music.

A Ken’s Labyrinth port to modern operating systems such as Windows and Linux called “LAB3D/SDL” was created by Jan Lönnberg and released in 2002. A version of the port which includes new higher resolution textures was also created by Jared Stafford.

Reception

The game was reviewed in 1993 in Dragon #199 by Sandy Petersen in the “Eye of the Monitor” column. Petersen gave the game 2 out of 5 stars.


  • Joystick and mouse support
  • 256-color high-resolution (360×240) graphics
  • a musical sound track and digital sound
  • large and etailed levels (ten per episode)
  • a hilarious storyline
  • over 30 unique enemies and bosses to battle
    Three huge episodes:

  1. The Search for Sparky
  2. Sparky’s Revenge
  3. Find the Way Home