By Andrew Liszewski
The Commodore 64 had it’s share of frustratingly difficult games, but none were as aptly named as Impossible Mission. I’m sure I would have had a bit more success with the game if I had access to the instruction manual, but since my copy of the game was probably a copied copy of a friend’s copied copy, the original manual was at least 10 steps removed from me. Needless to say I never even made it close to finishing it.
In the game you play as a secret agent tasked with stopping Professor Elvin Atombender’s evil plans by infiltrating his maze of a lair and collecting various puzzle pieces that will eventually give you access to the computer in his main control room. Some of the rooms you visited had a lab motif, while others were clearly bedrooms with furniture like dressers and beds scattered about, but they all seemed to be designed by an architect with a fetish for 2D platform games. I mean it’s a great design if you’re trying to trip up a secret agent, but imagine the poor chap who has to navigate the room seen below on his way to bed each night. Oh, and did I mention that the majority of the rooms were filled with robot henchmen that could shoot electricity? Yeah, that didn’t make things any easier.
At most I think I maybe solved 2% of the game’s puzzle, but I still played it quite a bit, not because it was fun or challenging, but because I was oddly fascinated with Impossible Mission’s synthesized speech. As a kid I was pretty blown away that my C64 could actually talk, just like the computers I saw in the movies, and if you mention Impossible Mission to anyone who had a C64 (or one of the many consoles and computers the game was available for) I guarantee their first response will be to quote Professor Elvin Atombender’s famous ‘Stay A While’ greeting from the start of the game. Your character also had a rather entertaining scream whenever he fell down a hole, and I purposely sent many a secret agent to their doom just to hear it again and again.
And if you were a big fan of Impossible Mission and have been hankering to try it again, I highly recommend picking up the version released for the Nintendo DS last year. While you can play a modernized version of the game with improved graphics, it also includes the original version of the game in all of its 1984 graphics glory. (The way it should be played.)