Impossible Mission Review

The Commodore 64 classic hits the Nintendo DS.

Developer: System 3

Publisher: Codemasters

Console: Nintendo DS

Players: 1

Rating:

  • E (ESRB)
  • 3+ (PEGI)
  • PG (OFLC)

Release Date:

  • Nobember 15, 2007 (USA)
  • August 31, 2007 (Europe)
  • June 21, 2007 (Australia)

Genre: Action/Adventure/Metroidvania

-Greg Livingston

A cupcake contains two crucial parts: the cakey lower bit and the icing on top. If you so choose, you can eat both at the same time. Or, if you’re five years old, you can eat all of the icing. Then, a responsible adult tells you to finish the other part.

Exhibit A.

Just like a cupcake, Impossible Mission is pretty small. Each game is 8 minutes long (6 if you play on classic mode). If you beat the game before 8 minutes is up, good. If not, you start over. However, each game is different from the last. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Luckily, Impossible Mission’s icing is its core. (I guess that makes it more like a twinkie?) There is a massive base to explore, and you’ll have to navigate it using elevators and adjoining rooms. Your mission of dubious possibility is to search each and every room, looking for keys to a secret code.

You’ll use elevators like these to get around the base.

When you enter a room, you’ll find a 2D obstacle course. There will be elevators to take you to different floors in each room, but more importantly, there will be a decent variety of robots out to get you. Some robots shoot you, some robots move around, some just stay still. Luckily, they’re color-coded.

Here’s one of the many rooms you’ll come across in your search for pieces of the code.

You have no guns, no punches, no kicks—your only option is to evade the robots. As simple as they are, avoiding them can be tough given your jump. In the world of Impossible Mission, there’s no such thing as jumping in place; you’re forced to jump forward. You can’t adjust the length of your jump, either. It’s a pretty long jump, too, so getting used to it will take some practice.

The experience feels like a puzzle. Rather than dodging robots using your reflexes, you’ll have to study their patterns and find safe places to jump. Because the length of your jump is always fixed, you’ll need to plan ahead. It’s easy to overshoot or undershoot your jump.

Of course, you only want to deal with malicious machines if you get something out of it. In each and every room of the game, your job is to search each background object for pieces of the aforementioned code. This means standing in front of an object, pressing up, and waiting as a “searching” bar ticks down. If need be, you can stop searching in order to dodge a robot, then come back and resume the search from where you left off.

Not only can you uncover pieces of the code, but you can find one-use codes to disable all of the robots in the room or reset the elevators of a room. Disabling the robots in a room, as you can imagine, is particularly useful, but almost never required. Almost.

And if a robot catches you? 10 seconds is taken off your remaining time, and you’re sent back to the beginning of the room. You have infinite lives, but not infinite time.

In all modes, background objects will disappear when you’ve searched them. And when you’ve got the game on easy mode, rooms appear in yellow on the map once you’ve searched them completely.

Speaking of the map, it’s randomly generated each playthrough. However, there’s a limited set of rooms in the game. You’ll encounter the same rooms on each playthrough, just not in the same places on the map. Said map hangs out on the lower screen of your DS for easy reference.

So, on each subsequent playthrough, you’ll get better and better at searching each room, clearing the map in less time. This will leave you more time for the cake part of Impossible Mission’s cupcake.

Once you’re done with the game’s icing, you can get to work on its cake: putting together the secret code.

Finding the pieces isn’t enough. Each piece is a part of a punch card, and you’ll have to rotate pieces to get them to fit together. Even when you play the game enough to learn how each card fits together, this part can be very time consuming, and worse, boring. Fortunately, the DS’ touch screen interface works wonderfully with this part of the game, but that only makes it a smidgen more appealing. If you have fun putting shapes together, go ahead, but I think I’ll pass.

Tap the jigsaw puzzle piece icon on the lower screen to enter punch card mode.

If you don’t put the pieces together, Dr. Atombender fires a missile that presumably does something very bad. On the other hand, there are no responsible adults around to tell you to finish the game.

Pros:

  • Simple. You won’t need much finesse to get caught up in this game’s mechanics, and it’s always gratifying to successfully dodge a patrolling robot.
  • If you need a game that demands concentration in doses shorter than 10 minutes, give this a go.
  • Quicksave feature. Even if you can’t finish a game in one sitting, you can save and come back to it later.
  • The DS touch screen works great with the punch card puzzles.
  • It’s got that voice clip with the guy saying, “Another visitor… Stay a while. Stay forever!”

Cons:

  • If you want action, this is not your title.
  • Teeny tiny game. If you give this game some real time, you’ll see everything it has to offer very quickly.

Verdict: 50%

Value:

  • Purchased new in 2012 at $4.99.
  • I’d say that’s about right.