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Impossible Mission (Wii) artwork

Impossible Mission (Wii) review

"There's not a lot to Impossible Mission, but the Wii update is still worth experiencing if you can find it for the right price."

Impossible Mission is an old Commodore 64 game that originally released in 1985. Developed by Epyx, the company perhaps best known in North America for California Games, the title puts players in the virtual shoes of an intelligence agent trapped in an island complex. Your goal as that agent is to stop an evil scientist from arming and firing nukes. At the time, the blend of puzzles and action must have been something special. I canít really say. I was too busy playing with LEGOs.

On Wii, more than 20 years later, Impossible Mission isnít quite so special but could still appeal to a certain crowd. The development team at Broadsword Interactive kept close to the script for the 2007 update, which itself has now become rather long in the teeth (hence my ease in acquiring a new copy for under $10). The faithfulness to the original edition is admirable in most respects, but the result is a package thatís not a whole lot more aesthetically pleasing or refined than the ancient Commodore 64 release. By todayís standards, itís mostly engaging only if youíre in a decidedly retro mood or perhaps feeling nostalgic for a forgotten classic of yesteryear. Even then, thereís probably not enough to the package to keep a person properly entertained for more than a couple of hours. A digital release would have made more sense.

But whatever. System 3, the gameís publisher in Europe, apparently planned to revive a number of beloved Epyx properties. Impossible Mission was intended as merely the first of several adaptations. California Games would have been the follow-up and is even promised in the instruction manual, but it was eventually canceled and System 3 has mostly limited its subsequent output to racing and pinball titles. Perhaps the world just wasnít prepared for something soÖ Epyx?

Impossible Mission asset

Letís assume for a second, though, that youíre not ready to give up on Impossible Mission as quickly as most consumers apparently were. What does your potential investment get you? As I alluded previously, not much. You are granted access to three versions of the same rather brief game by way of the New, Classic and Merged modes. As far as I can tell, they share the same exact play control--which makes sense, given the original designís fixation on precise platform placement--but the New mode adjusts the timer and leaves useful marks on your mini-map once you have searched a roomís contents. Youíre also able to choose between one of three protagonists, though any differences appear to be cosmetic only. Again, that makes sense because of the core design.

The general flow of the game is quite basic, as you would expect of a title originally coded before many of todayís avid young gamers were out of diapers (or in them, for that matter). You appear in an elevator shaft and the aforementioned mad scientist taunts you over an intercom. Then you have 6 or 8 in-game hours to check for intel, which you can find in desk drawers, secreted underneath furniture, or hidden in any other pieces of the architecture that catch your eye. The whole facility is capably guarded by robots and sentries. To get out of the nightmare scenario alive, youíll need to avoid their detection, or temporarily put them to sleep by typing commands at the various terminals. That particular approach is only possible if you have the necessary passwords, though, which you can acquire in certain rooms by playing a tone-based memory game that requires you to arrange a number of tiles according to the musical pitch they produce.

The hero moves quite stiffly throughout the whole affair, not unlike the prince character from Prince of Persia. He can actually leap quite far, even from a stationary position, but any jumps need to be timed carefully so that they donít send him plummeting into a pit or (more commonly) into the face of a robot that is firing an electrical charge. Dropping into a gap along the bottom of the screen chops precious seconds off the timer, as do any brushes with the patrolling sentries. There is a lot of ground to cover and not much time to do it, even under perfect conditions, so youíll need to grow familiar with any control quirks if you want to get far. Patience always serves you better than haste does, since a number of the more difficult chambers demand precise leaps and timing. Youíre often required to get close to a robot and then jump over him or dash by him during a very limited window of opportunity.

Impossible Mission asset

For the most part, even though they donít look especially great, the visuals get the job done regardless of the mode you choose. The Classic version of the game featured a lot of primary colors and still looks rather nice today, provided you harbor a minimum level of affection for minimalism. The New version adds textures that do a better job of painting the picture of an underground laboratory, though sometimes the searchable areas stand out a bit less. Neither option looks great on a decent sized LED monitor. Itís a shame System 3 didnít commission the remake a few years later. I can imagine it all looking quite nice with HD textures, but instead things are rather blurry in general.

A more pressing concern, however, is the lack of replay value once you figure out how to solve the various rooms. Their arrangement may be shuffled around each time you play, but ultimately youíre still wandering a complex comprised of the same chambers and your suggested actions within those chambers remain constant. Your only motivation to keep playing after that is the pursuit of the high score, or you can select a higher difficulty level. Itís possible to play through a few times over the course of a single hour, though, and I honestly canít imagine most people caring to clear the game all that many times when thereís no convenient way to boast about any accomplishments online.

In spite of my various complaints, though, Iím glad that System 3 revived this particular title and Iím glad it found its way to my collection. It offers a limited experience but I still had a bit of fun and believe my investment was justified. If youíve ever wondered what Impossible Mission is like to play, this may be your last chance to satisfy that curiosity without resorting to emulation. If only California Games could have happened tooÖ

Rating: 5/10

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (January 15, 2014)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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pickhut posted January 15, 2014:

I totally forgot about this, I remember noticing it while browsing Amazon about a year ago for some obscure Wii games. I figured it might have been a third-person style remake (didn't read the user reviews), so reading your review and seeing these images is a bit of a shock to me.

I think Broadsword's biggest oversight is that they expected the game to sell well alone in an era where gamers have no idea about its origins. I'd hate think they were banking purely on nostalgia value. Or maybe they were betting on people thinking it was based on Mission: Impossible.

Maybe if Broadsword did a collection style release with Impossible Mission, California Games, and other Epyx titles, it might have sold better. Maybe. I'm just theorizing.

Nice review. I'm not gonna lie, I feel like buying this now (for cheap) after reading this, mainly because it seems like an unusual thing to be released as a retail game on the Wii. xD
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honestgamer posted January 15, 2014:

Yes, as part of a compilation of reworked Epyx games, it would have been quite lovely. I wish that's the approach they had taken, as well. I'm not sure why they went this route, but at least now the game is available so cheaply that perhaps it's still worth a look... long after a purchase would inspire anyone to produce more stuff of a similar nature.

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