When I first saw Impossible Mission, it was running on disc on a C64, and I assumed that it was one of those games that would never be converted for the Spectrum. It just seemed too complex to run on any non disc-based system. It seems though, that I was wrong, because here it is on the Spectrum and very nice it is too (honestly, it's amazing what they can cram into a Speccy these days).
There are one or two features that didn't quite make the cross-over from the C64, the most obvious being the excellent speech synthesis - the mad doctor's fiendish "Destroy him, my robots", and your own long, lingering shriek as you fall into one of the many traps lying in wait for you.
This preproduction copy of the game didn't have the completed documentation that should go with it, so I'll just give a description of the game's plot as it was on the C64 version.
Somewhere in the rooms of a somewhat loony scientist's lair are the fragments of a map that you have to recover and piece together. The rooms themselves look like standard platform game stuff, albeit with better graphics, but leaping around the platforms is not the main task facing you. Located in these rooms are various items of furniture and computer hardware which may conceal a piece of the map, an item that you can use in your search, or which may allow you to affect the room's defences in some way.
Said defences consist of some mean robot patrols that pack a pretty mean punch if you collide with them, and can also zap you from some distance away if you're not careful.
Getting past the robots is fiendishly difficult, and even when you manage it, the chances are that one will turn around and come back at you or just casually zap you from behind without even bothering to turn around. Even so, the robot's patterns of movement are sufficiently logical that it does encourage you to keep trying to outmanoeuvre them. This is one of those games where the "I'll-just-have-one-more-go" syndrome takes hold very quickly.
The rooms in the complex are connected by a series of lift shafts and interconnecting passages, and in the lower section of the screen is a map that displays your progress through the rooms.
Pressing fire while stationary switches the arcade action of the robot rooms to a sequence in which you have to manipulate the pieces of a map and take on a computer as it presents you wth a fairly tricky puzzle sequence. This gives a nice balance to the game, and the change of pace prevents the arcade action from getting repetitive, as you will have to return to this stage quite a few times.
The graphics throughout are very good, and all the features in the rooms are large and well detailed. I particularly like the way your character somersaults from level to level, which is smoothly animated and quite realistic. Considering how simple much of the game is (in principle, if not practice) Impossible Mission is surprisingly addictive, and much of this is due to the care that seems to have gone into the design of the graphics and the gameplay itself.
Admittedly the Spectrum version lacks some of the finer touches of the original C64 version, but if you compare it with other Spectrum games rather than with other Commodore games then it comes up looking pretty good.
Impossible Mission is definitely one worth asking Santa for this Christmas.
Use Of Machine
Value For Money