DRAWING SOME UNWRITTEN INSPIRATION from the classic TV show Mission Impossible, the game itself is a combination of platform action and puzzle solving, all set against a ticking clock. There are no guns or gadgets; it’s just your smart-suited character and his circus-like somersaulting skills.
Starting in a lift shaft as you lower yourself into the deadly maze of Elvin Atombender, you explored static-screen rooms interconnected by lifts and corridors. It’s worth noting that the layout of the maze was randomly generated with each game, ensuring a fresh adventure every time. Within each room there would be a combination of platforms, lifts and robots. Navigating these areas took pixel-perfect control and patience. Your goal was to search the furniture dotted around for key-card clues. You would manipulate these clues in your PDA-style pocket computer in a puzzle section where brightly coloured sprites had to be moved and rotated to ensure they fi t together. Once the clues were complete they would give you access to the keyword that would stop Elvin and his robots for good. The robots were functional sprites, almost like unicycling Daleks. Once you recognised the room on offer, you would also soon recognise the patterns the robots used. Contact with a robot, of course, meant death and you’d be forced to restart the room.
The robots came in various flavours: stationary, roving, fast, slow, and some would fire electricity in front of them as an added obstacle.
The game operated on a time system, so any accident that would cause a loss of life would reduce the time available to complete the game. Also, any use of hints via the modems scattered around the environment would also reduce your allotted time.
With great use of colours, some pretty smart animation for the early ‘80s and a game that even used digitised speech samples for effect, Impossible Mission was ahead of its time. It spawned one offi cial sequel, was ported to most popular systems of the time, and is apparently available on the Wii Virtual Console. Even today I would consider it a keeper; it’s a game that I fi nished many times due to its enjoyable, replayable nature.
I can still hear the maniacal tone of Elvin Atombender ordering his drones with an over-thetop “Destroy him, my robots!”