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Video Game / Impossible Mission

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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 '80s, 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.

In 2007, a remake of sorts was produced and released as a budget title for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, and Wii. It allowed you to play with the Commodore graphics, an updated version with new backgrounds and sprites, or a merger of the two.

Has nothing to do with the Mission: Impossible franchise.


  • All There in the Manual: The mad scientist's name is Elvin Atombender, which is never mentioned in-game.
  • A.I. Roulette: Enemy behavior is randomized, chosen from a list of behaviours, but remain consistent in a given game. This affects movement and attack patterns, including "peeking over the shoulder".
  • 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".
  • Copy Protection: Improperly copied discs will result in the hero getting vaporized in one particular area of a particular room for no reason at all. Thankfully, this occurred very early in the game so you don't waste too much time finding out. Unfortunately, it appears that a lot of disk images of this game have this copy protection triggered, so if you intend to emulate the game, good luck...
  • 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, ahem, kill your chances of winning. Given the game's difficulty, it's very easy to reach this limit.
  • Death Ray: The robots have a short range lighting-beam, but only some of them use it as part of their patrol pattern.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Elvin wants to destroy the world because, as a university student, he was determined to max out the score counter on the computer game Giggling Penguin Invaders from Outer Space in the Vicinity of Ursa Minor (he'd never liked penguins from Ursa Minor), only for a power cut to wipe his score after a marathon session left him one penguin away from the maximum.
  • Doomsday Device: If you run out of time, this activates, causing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
  • 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.
    • The Commodore 64 version had an "NTSC" version, and if it was played on PAL (which could happen if emulating the game), would have a robot fire off the left edge of the screen and kill the player. This can be worked around by disabling robots. When republished for PAL systems, robot behavior was changed to not fire off-screen and thus removes the bug (but causing a minor timing change.)
  • 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.
  • Metroidvania: Either one of the earliest examples or an immediate predecessor, depending on your definition.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: If you fall down a Bottomless Pit, you die (and lose 10 minutes). If you manage to force a flying robot down the same pit, it reappears at the top of the screen a few seconds later.
  • Nintendo Hard: It's called Impossible Mission for a reason.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Elvin Atombender. If you make it to his lair, you win.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: How else to describe a Mad Scientist threatening to blow up the world?
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": The punch-cards always form a coherent nine-letter password such as "albatross", "cormorant", or (yes) "swordfish". Unfortunately, you need the punch cards themselves to enter the lair, so you can't really take advantage of this fact.
  • Procedural Generation: An early example.
  • Shout-Out: Word of God has confirmed that the title is a blatant shout-out to Mission: Impossible.
  • Sic 'Em: When you enter a room on the next hour, you have Atombender commanding his robots to attack you.
  • 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 Says" Mini-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 hilarious thing is, the synthesis was so good that the developers of the game actually thought they got the service of a ''human'' voice actor! note 
  • Timed Mission:
    • You have six hours to finish the game, although 10 minutes get deducted whenever you die. Running out will cause the kaboom.
    • In the sequel, you have eight hours and a more generous deduction of only 6 minutes per death. Each tower also has an individual time limit of 30 minutes but no deduction on death. Three beeps when the time limit is hit, but simply sends the player to the game over scoring screen.
  • 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.
  • 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.