Video Game: Impossible Mission
They didn't stamp this IMPOSSIBLE for nothing!
Another visitor. Stay awhile. Stay FOREVER!
A video game created by Epyx
for the Commodore 64
and a few other contemporary systems. Dr. Elvin Atombender, the resident Mad Scientist
, is plotting to blow up the world in six hours, and you play a secret agent who has to stop him. You do this by running and jumping through a large number of rooms to search the furniture in each. Hidden in the furniture are thirty-six punch cards; combining four of these will give you a letter of the nine-letter password you require to enter the mad scientist's lair.
Of course, the 32 rooms and 8 elevators are in different positions, the puzzle pieces you need to find are in different locations, the puzzles you need to solve to retrieve the password consist of different pieces, and the rooms are filled with laser-shooting robots that disintegrate you at a touch. You didn't think a game by this name was going to be easy
, did you?Impossible Mission
became one of the classic titles of The Eighties
, and is considered one of the best games ever for the Commodore 64
, ZX Spectrum
, and other home computers of the era. A sequel, Impossible Mission II,
was released in 1988, adding new traps, new items, several towers to traverse, and an audio password to be recovered.
The game shows examples of the following tropes:
- All There in the Manual: The mad scientist's name is Elvin Atombender, which is never mentioned in-game.
- Big "NO!": If you manage to reach the Mad Scientist's lair in time (in the first game at least), he will do this:
Elvin: No. No! NO!
- Blackout Basement: Some rooms in the second game require a Light Bulb item to navigate.
- Bottomless Pit: Many of the rooms feature these, even if there is a room directly below. Of course, forcing one enemy through the pit causes it to Wrap Around at the top.
- Collision Damage: The player dies whenever he touches a robot, unless the robot is "snoozed".
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Downplayed. Any death will advance the doomsday clock by ten minutes and return you to the room's entrance, but at six hours, the Doomsday Device will activate—so too many deaths will, hem, kill your chances of winning. Given the game's difficulty, it's very easy to reach this limit.
- Death Ray: Quite a few of the robots shoot these.
- Doomsday Device: If you run out of time, this activates, causing an...
- Evil Laugh: Elvin gives one if time runs out.
- Faux Affably Evil: Elvin's opening line, as per the page quote.
- Game-Breaking Bug: The NTSC Atari 7800 port of the game is known to be (randomly but often) actually impossible, because some of the cards you need can be placed behind computer terminals, which cannot be searched (the game interprets this as accessing the terminal instead). This was fixed in the PAL version of the game.
- Game Over Man: If time expires, Elvin's Evil Laugh will signal your failure to you.
- Mad Scientist: Elvin Atombender to a T.
- Magic Countdown: In the first game, the clock counts forward to 6:00:00 until the Doomsday Device activates, as well as advancing 10 minutes with each player death. In the sequel, the clock counts down, but there's a per-section countdown and a global countdown.
- Nintendo Hard: It's called Impossible Mission for a reason.
- Omnicidal Maniac: How else to describe a Mad Scientist threatening to blow up the world?
- Procedural Generation: An early example.
- Signature Sound Effect: The secret agent's scream when he falls into a Bottomless Pit.
- Songs in the Key of Lock:
- The code rooms in the first game. They seem to be a simple Simon-type game, but the way to solve them is actually to order them from low pitch to high.
- Also, the password for the control room elevator in the second game is musical in nature.
- Synthetic Voice Actor: An early example. "Destroy him, my robots!"
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: The punch-cards always form a coherent nine-letter password such as "albatross" or "cormorant". Unfortunately, you need the punch cards themselves to enter the lair, so you can't really take advantage of this fact.
- Unexplained Recovery: After disintegrating, no less. However, the clock advances by 10 minutes with each death.
- Unwinnable: There are many ways in Impossible Mission II to get stuck, such as running out of robot-disabling or platform-moving items in a tower, preventing access to a passcode number needed to access the next tower, or accidentally blowing up a safe with a landmine, preventing you from completing the musical sequence to unlock the control room elevator. It's not clear whether this was on purpose or not.
- Unwinnable by Mistake: As noted above, a Game-Breaking Bug in the NTSC version of the Atari 7800 port can make it truly impossible to win. Otherwise averted in the first game; there are two code rooms that allow the secret agent to gain passwords for "snoozing" the robots or reseting the lifts in a room as needed, though the more you use the code rooms the more difficult they become.
- Video Game Lives: You seem to have infinite lives, but you really have six hours before the bomb goes off, and each death moves the clock ten minutes closer to doomsday. (By the math, you can have no more than thirty-six lives in one game, but unless you can complete the game in less than ten minutes total, if you're on life #36 you've already lost the game.) When time is up, Elvin's maniacal laughter sounds and the screen fades to white.