Mark Marrow
31 May, 2007

Impossible Mission Review

DS Review | Another visitor. Stay awhile... staaay FOREVER!
Impossible Mission is a bit of cult classic for those of you who are familiar with the old C64 days. Back then it was pretty special to be given such games with excellent strategy, despite its simplistic visual and audio offerings – though, it was pretty impressive back then. However, that was back then, when life was simpler and games weren’t nearly as jammed-packed as they are now. Unfortunately, this is ultimately where System 3’s remake of Impossible Mission falls short of the mark – it just doesn’t hold up too well by today’s standards.

The game can only be described as a puzzle/platformer game, where your only weapon in defeating the evil Professor Elvin Atombender – a man who is believed to be tampering with national security computers – is your ability to jump. Players begin in the Professor’s stronghold where you’re required to search a few dozen rooms for all the password pieces that are required to open the main control room – where the evil Professor is hiding. Naturally, the stronghold is crawling with patrolling robots whose intentions are to prevent you from reaching the Professor before time runs out, and he fires a deadly missile. The remake now allows players to find all puzzle pieces within 8hrs, though you can change the difficultly back to the original's 6hr limit.

Each time you play the game, the location of rooms will alter; making the game slightly fresher each time you play. Robots also have various movement and aggression patterns. Some robots will try to zap you as soon as they see you, while others will stay stationary or follow a linear path. To add even more strategy to the game, Impossible Mission uses lifts that can either move up or down, which often helps to avoid robots or to reach destinations quicker - if you plan everything out correctly. Before jumping into a room (no pun intended), it’s important to understand each robot’s movement patterns and the formation of the lifts. If you don’t, you can often get stuck and waste further time; or worst yet, you could get caught by one of the robots which results in a small time reduction.

The old C64 version.

The old C64 version.
Searching objects in rooms provides several items – puzzle pieces, lift resets or robot immobilizes. Puzzle pieces are ideally what you want to find, and find quickly, though the other two items offer additional help in succeeding much quicker. Lift resets are generally helpful if you manage to find yourself stuck without a lift to elevate you to higher ground, or to lower floors. While lift resets aren’t used too frequently, you’ll certainly want to hoard as many robot immobilizes as possible. This item allows you to temporary immobilize all robots that are in the room, which is something you’re often forced to use if certain robots won’t allow you much room to work in. Activating these two items is done by the computer terminals that are found in each room.

As soon as you’ve recovered all of the puzzle pieces, you’ll then be faced with a further task of forming all these pieces into nine separate keycards. The puzzle pieces are ironically puzzles in themselves, with each fitting perfectly in place with other pieces – sort of like a small jigsaw puzzle. With the DS, you’ll be able to rotate the pieces and hope to combine them with others.

Impossible Mission for the DS includes three methods of play – Original, Enhanced and Hybrid. Original is merely Impossible Mission that players will remember exactly from the C64 days, Enhanced adds a few touch ups including graphical changes, audio adjustments and the ability to play as three playable characters (a female, a male and a robot-male character), and finally Hybrid combines the first two modes together. There isn’t a great deal of difference outside of graphical and audio adjustments between these modes though. So, unless you want to hear the muffled audio from the original, chances are you’ll be sticking with the Enhanced mode.

Times have certainly changed.

Times have certainly changed.
Probably the biggest downfall to Impossible Mission is that what was possibly a good gameplay structure back on the C64, it just isn’t that compelling by today's standards. Another major downside is that the rooms, the robot movements and the puzzles all become second-nature as soon as you’ve finished the game a handful of times. You’ll be able to memorise the precise jump methods to reach certain objects, you’ll discover a strategy to avoid all robots and the puzzle formations will become far too obvious. If System 3 managed to implement a randomize feature that would mix up the puzzles, robot layout and room variation more frequently, then the game would’ve held a lot more substance and longevity than what already exist.

Graphics and audio are only mere distractions in a puzzle game like Impossible Mission. While neither of them are stellar, the game isn’t at all faulted because of this; they fit well in the context of the game, and that’s all that matters. Readers familiar with the original C64 version will be pleased to hear that the remake does include a graphical and audio overhaul though. Things look much cleaner, and the animation of your character is much more fluid.

Actual DS features are minimal. The top screen is used as a convenient map that tracks which rooms you have visited, meanwhile the bottom screen is where all the core gameplay takes place. The touch-screen is only used to navigate the main menu, to activate items, and to combine puzzle pieces. While the use of the exclusive DS features is minimal, there really isn’t much else that could’ve been incorporate.

The value of this title largely depends on what you expected from this remake. If you were after a portable Impossible Mission with a minor coat of new paint, then this is probably a good investment, though if you’re hoping for a puzzle game that has plenty of depth, longevity and is cheap then look elsewhere because Impossible Mission is not that game. At AU$49, it’s a tough ask to expect too many people to be convinced by this fairly ordinary remake.
The Score
Not particularly sure why this game is valued at AU$49, since it is such a simplified game that barely holds any substance compared to newer and similarly priced games. And that in itself, warrants a few points off the final score and of course, the other shortcomings. 5
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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6 years ago
WHERE IS IT - noone has seen it yet - EBs has it listed as released today, but it still says "coming soon" on their systems, which means their warehouse hasn't received it yet (according to pmatta shops) and GAME (wizards) tells me its DISCONTINUED on their systems....... I WANTS IT...............
6 years ago
I would rather an "ordinary" remake then an "enhanced' edition --- look at the DS bubble bobbles as ways to stuff up a classic (amongst others)

Having played this back in the day, dispite "easy" pattern recognition it is still challenging to complete within the time limits. Most players I know will speak of 100 attempts with a 3 or 4% success rate. Again, I would rather have perdictable avoidance jumps where a failure is my fault then a death resulting from wonky collision detection or control irresponsivness.

Speaking of control, it was my ownly real concern about this port and as your review makes no complaints about it I say its a must-buy. Throw in the convience of touch-screen puzzle manipulation and I'm sold.

OK, I'm biased. I'm a 30 something year old gamer who loved the game back in the day. Sure there are plenty of older games that are way dated, yet we still see their compilmation discs selling (and being recommended here) like their hot (sonic *cough cough* - FLAME SHEILDS UP)

Sure, at Full RRP ($70 plus) it would proberbly be a let-down. But for my two cents (well $45, surely it will be on special somewhere...even if just targets 15% off deal) its money well spent..........stay a while, I'll be staying forever..........
6 years ago
It's actually still a very enjoyable game, in my opinion. I've been fighting with myself for the last day or two whether I should've given it a 6.5, 6, 7, and then I finally settled on the 5. I found that the price largely contributed to the downfall of this remake, but seeing as though I got this for free I guess it didn't really matter for me. However, it's a review, I had to put the price factor into play. And the DS version will be retailing for $49.99. Not sure about the PS2, PSP and Wii versions though.

And the challenge slowly diminishes the more and more you play it I found. Perhaps I'm far too much of a pro-gamer icon_wink.gif But the recognition of puzzles, rooms and robots becomes all too familiar. There isn't really much longevity involved in the game, in my opinion.

Though, I hope the review reflects that this game is still worth purchasing if this is the sort of game you hoped for. It's still pretty much the original but with minor upgrades that enhance the game significantly. Though, as a new game, and a new experience, I don't think it's worth $49.99. In regards to controls, not really a problem; not really sure why you would've had concerns that there would've been.

Also, the game has been delayed until June 7th. It was originally scheduled for today, but got pushed back only a few days ago.
6 years ago
@ $49 bucks this a bargain for a new release & better still for a classic game like Impossible Mission. Sounds like the original gameplay mechanics remain in tacked which is the main thing. A great game is a GREAT GAME period.

PS: I've read they've added a save feature too...phew..nice
6 years ago
A bargain? Hardly.

I dunno, $49 can get you either this, or say Gears. I'd say Gears offers just a bit better value for money.

And by a bit, I mean like, s**tloads.
6 years ago
Or you can wait for the 'cheap' Wii download.
6 years ago
sure $50 is alot and we would all like to pay less for our games - but so is $110 (plus) rrp on current gen console games. Eventually it will proberbly $30 or so (again if only at an EBs 1/2 price DS sale) and if you want to wait for a price drop do so, but $50 is the lower end of the DS launch prices (and with $70 the avg that is more then 25% less) and gears was not $50 at launch.

as I stated, Im biased. I enjoy platform games and puzzle challenges. Would I like an update? Sure (Splinter cell is proberbly the closest Ive played) and if it was glossy 3D and all I prob would pay $110 (plus) -- till then this will do...and I'm too impatient to wait for the discount........
6 years ago
Cerebral wrote
A bargain? Hardly.

I dunno, $49 can get you either this, or say Gears. I'd say Gears offers just a bit better value for money.

And by a bit, I mean like, s**tloads.
You must work for A Current Affairs or Today Tonight dude as you see/read only what you want to see/read.

I clearly stated NEW RELEASE @ $50 on the NDS! Gears was $100 @ launch.
6 years ago
I love the original, and will be picking this one up for sure.

Undecided in which platform yet though.
6 years ago
There are actually a few things this reviewer didn't notice (they are subtle, so I don’t blame him). For one thing, easy mode doesn't only give you extra time, but the map also indicates which rooms have been completely searched and which hasn't, and also which room has the exit. This is a great help when you decide to leave a difficult room for later. Some other things may have been changed too, but I didn't notice.

The enhanced mode also adds some other minor changes that make the game a little easier. Each robot type now has its own unique appearance which makes it easy to predict behaviours and patterns. I don’t object to this.

The new sprites are also much smaller than the original one (which will throw you off at first) but they still control great, and the new size makes the jumping action actually feel a little smoother.

Anyway, I have a copy of this remake and love it. The original version is pretty much perfect, with the addition of modern features such as saving, and easy mode and the use of the stylus and dual screen (which, in my opinion, will make this better than any other version). The new version looks and sounds great (although I turn the music off since I'd rather just listen to my echoing steps through halls and the buzzing of robots), reminding me of the beautiful Flashback. Hybrid version is probably my favourite though. Love that original sprite!

I don’t really agree with the longevity issues in the review. I mean, you could say the same of the Metroid games. Yet, like Metroid, this is my idea of the perfect portable game. Now that I know the game off by heart, I play for the best time/score and also attempt to not lose a single life (I managed to do it only losing one. Take a guess in which room I lost it in). I can sit down and finish it in one sitting while riding the train, and the randomness just makes it even more perfect, assuring each game will be a little different. However, I do agree that the new mode could have had new rooms and puzzle pieces, and the hybrid version could have been just the original ones, but still.

Oh, and the game is still good a challenge, assuming you play on the original difficulty. I cut it REAL close when I only lost one life, since I was playing so slowly and catiously.

Fantastic remake, in my opinion, and well worth $50. Hell, if the new Wario was $50 I’d still pick this game. Then again, I've been a fan of IM since I was a child, so perhaps I'm biased.
6 years ago
Sorry for a bump --- but finally got this of an ebay import having waited forever for the AU release (dealyaed yet again) -- and as a die-hard fane, I should have waited some more............

Not mentioned in the review (perhaps he didnt know?)

FAULTS: the checkerboard rooms only hand out snoozes and never lift resets; the ball is missing in one of the rooms; and the droids occasionally change behaviour mid-screen; and the searching is faster, negating some of the challenge (although with the smaller screen, the robots have less distance to travel -------- still could have had the robots travel slower instead or something)

Dont get me wrong, the touch screen puzzle manipulation and portabiltiy still make it good, but being unable to accuralty perdict the robots behaviour by observation (as is possible in the original) as it changes brings down this port ALOT.

As for the graphic update, its all too murky and unclear for my liking. Seems the orginal score is about right. WOUld have had an 8.5 for me, but its faults are, well, at fault................5/10
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Australian Release Date:
  28/06/2007 (Released)
Standard Retail Price:
  $49.95 AU
Year Made:

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