Okay, before diving into the review, let’s deal with the elephant in the room right from the start. Impossible Mission is an old game. A VERY old game in fact. First released in 1984 for the Commodore 64, it was developed by Dennis Caswell and released by US publisher Epyx.
I remember playing this when it was first released, and still own several copies of it to this day. But over the years it’s been re-released and updated a number of times. One of the more popular modern versions was released as far back as 2007 and featured three different versions of Impossible Mission. The original C64 title, a remastered edition and a hybrid of the two. It’s this game that were looking at now following it’s eventual release on the Switch in 2019 by publisher System 3…
Impossible Mission… And Not A Tom Cruise In Sight!
The plot to Impossible Mission puts you in the role of an agent who has been sent on a mission… an impossible one at that, to stop the evil Professor Elvin Atombender. He has been infiltrating the National Security Computers and it’s your task to penetrate Atombender’s headquarters, retrieve the password for his computer system (which has been spread throughout his base) and shut down his computer before it’s too late.
The puzzle-platform game starts off with a warning from Atombender and then you’re thrown into the platform game action. You have to explore his complex, searching furniture within different rooms while avoiding robots that are patrolling the base. Some parts of each room need to use lifts to reach them and precision jumping is essential. Once you’ve searched every object, it’s onto the next room through the use of connecting tunnels and elevator shafts.
A Tough Challenge Ahead
To help you along the way, you can use computer terminals found in most of the rooms to reset the in-room lifts if you mis-time any jumps or to temporarily disable the patrol robots should you have a “snooze pass” but apart from that you’re on your own… And if that wasn’t enough, it’s a race against time as you only have six hours to complete the game and you lose 10 minutes every time you are caught by a robot or fall to your doom from a platform…
To find the final password for the game, you need to find various puzzle pieces in each room and then assemble them into small puzzle blocks in the corridors between rooms. Once you find Atombender’s main control room you can put all these completed puzzles together, enter the room and complete the game but it’s a lot tougher than it sounds.
As I said earlier, there are three versions of Impossible Mission here – the original Commodore 64 version complete with all the graphics from the 1984 original, the Hybrid version featuring a combination of original C64 gameplay elements and updated graphics. Finishing off the trio is the New which is a brand new incarnation of the game featuring all new graphics, animation, speech, sound effects and features a choice of three different characters. All three play identically although personally as a fan of the original that’s the one I prefer to play more although in terms of gameplay there’s no real difference between any of them.
Compared to modern Switch games, even indie platform titles, it’s looking rather dated now even when disregarding the Commodore 64 version. The reality is that this collection is 15 years old and it’s showing its age. For some bizarre reason, the Commodore 64 original has been changed, with the original speech and sound effects removed, being replaced with modern sound. Background music has been added and new graphics have been added to the control panel, spoiling the look and feel completely. Previous ports were left untouched so there’s no reason I can see why this has been done.
Ignoring the conversion flaws for a moment, the gameplay itself has managed to stand the test of time remarkably well. The near pixel perfect positioning that you need to negotiate some of the platforms may be off-putting for some and will prove infuriating for others. It’s certainly not a platform game that you can play quickly and move through levels and rooms rapidly.
You need to stop and think about where you are going to move and jump and study the movement of all of the robots and position of everything in each room before you take a single step. So if that way of approach for a platform game is too cerebral for you and you would rather get stuck into running and jumping straight away then this won’t be for you.
If you’re looking for something to challenge you mentally as well as your platforming skills then this could be right up your street despite its £9.99 price tag. Unfortunately, if you ever owned the original of Impossible Mission or if you were ever a C64 fan then you’re likely to be disappointed with the inaccuracies of the port, and I’d advise you to look elsewhere. Alternatively, try the cheaper version released as part of the PlayStation Minis range available to download for the PSP and PS Vita.