Impossible Mission Review
Posted by Kelvin Green
During the past three days, key military computer installations of every major world power have reported security failures.
Impossible Mission is highly regarded as one of the classic Commodore 64 titles, particularly impressive given that it was one of the earliest games released for the system. The considerable success of the game led to numerous ports and sequels, including a recent Wii update, but the C64 original is most fondly remembered.
Like many titles from the C64's early period, the presentation leaves something to be desired these days. The graphics are simplistic and more functional than impressive, although the main sprite boasts excellent animation. Similarly, the sound design is rather bare bones, mainly made up of ambient buzzes and beeps, although one could argue that the lack of music reinforces the tension. All that said, the famous digitised speech, like the smooth main sprite, is still quite impressive.
The main strength of Impossible Mission is undoubtedly the gameplay, and that's one area where the game still excels. While it looks like a platform title, this game is arguably more of a puzzler, and a player will often find their brains tested more frequently than their reflexes. The most efficient path through the danger-filled rooms is not always clear, nor always the safest route, and it is often difficult to judge whether to investigate every item in a room for a password piece, or gamble and look elsewhere. A good memory (or decent mapping skills) is also essential when navigating the labyrinthine corridors of Professor Atombender's base, as it is quite easy to get lost. And then of course there's the all-important secret password, the assembly of which is almost a game in itself.
Adding to the game's complexity and replay potential is an inherent element of chance. The base's layout is randomly generated each time the game starts, as is the position, distribution and behaviour of the killer robots, and the locations of the elusive password pieces. While the core gameplay mechanics are quite simple, the forward planning involved in every player action, as well as the random nature of the game's design, makes it a serious, although never unfair, challenge.
Impossible Mission is a platformer, it's a puzzler, it's about eight games in one, all wrapped up in nifty 60's style spy thriller trappings. There's nothing quite like it on the Virtual Console, and while the dated presentation is something of a downside, the gameplay is varied, complex and faultless. This is undoubtedly the first "must-buy" C64 game released so far for the Wii's Virtual Console.