Commodore User

Impossible Mission 2

Author: Gary Penn
Publisher: Epyx
Machine: Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #56

Impossible Mission 2

Another visitor. Stay a while. Staaay forevah! Elvin Atombender's ominous greeting first chilled and thrilled the hearts of gamesplayers almost five years ago in Dennis Caswell's Impossible Mission. It was unanimously acclaimed as one of the best computer games ever written, and its graphics and sound alone put virtually every other computer game to shame. Even now it leaves a lot of software in the shade. Producing a sequel for something that was so ahead of its time is a tall order, which probably explains why it's taken so long for a follow-up to arrive.

Once again the mad professor is hell-bent on destroying the world, and once again it's up to you to stop him. This time however you've got eight hours, real time, to prevent a global disaster. The gameplay is much the same as before. Taking control of agent 4126, whose appearance doesn't seem to have changed a great deal since we last met (in fact, it's the same sprite), you have to run and somersault around Elvin's lair, negotiating devious platform arrangements, avoiding robots and searching items of furniture.

The ultimate aim is to enter Elvin's control room and shut down his computer. But to get to this room you've got to collect six different variations of a tune. The tunes are kept in safes, one in each of the eight towers surrounding Elvin's control room. To access each tower you need to collect numbers, found in objects in the rooms in the towers, and assemble a three-digit passcode.

Impossible Mission II

The tunes and PINs are stored in your pocket computer - basically a modified version of the one used in the previous mission. This handy device, displayed at the bottom of the screen when in the corridors, also shows your position in the complex by means of a mini-map.

Terminals are dotted throughout the complex, and logging on to one allows you to use any commands accumulated during your search. The robots can be temporarily shut down as before, and any moving platforms moved back to their original positions. There are also a few new commands, such as the facility to move certain areas of floor, and light bulbs to illuminate any dark rooms in the tower, plus two types of explosive: time bombs and mines. Time bombs are the most useful of the two as they can be used to blow holes in the floor to reach previously inaccessible areas, and, more importantly, they blow open safes, allowing you to get the tunes. Mines simply destroy anything that makes contact - and that includes you.

The robots behave much the same as before, although there are five new types to contend with. Pestbots are harmless enough, but present their (un)fair share of problems by moving lifts, and Minebots do as their name suggests. Squatbots simply sit on the floor, moving up and down, and can be used as stepping stones, while Bashbots given the chance push you off platforms and Suicidebots usually end up falling off with you.

Impossible Mission II

Other problems encountered include rooms which can only be tackled from one side, and rooms which you can only escape from by dying. Worse still, you can blow up searchable objects, and with them your chances of completing the game. The disk version supports a save game option, but it can only be used in the corridors. Something the instructions neglect to tell you is that pressing the Commodore key (used in conjunction with 5 to save) in a room, kills you. Most unhelpful, really.

Cassette owners will be at a disadvantage as it's unlikely that they will be able to save the game. To make matters worse, there's a lot of disk accessing, which means (ugh) a multiload cassette version. Why it's not a single load like the original I don't know.

You can only play one tower at a time, which is usually only six rooms - and this is one of Impossible Mission II's biggest flaws. At least in the original you could explore the rest of the complex if you got pissed off with a particular room. To make matters worse, if you run out of time before choosing the correct computer in the control room, you have to start from scratch and that's hours of play wasted.

The puzzle aspect isn't as strong either. The PINs are easily solved once you've got all the numbers, and there's no brainwork involved in piecing together the tunes. Sad, as this is one element which made Impossible Mission a cut above the rest.

It makes me wonder what's happened to Epyx. When they produced a sequel to Summer Games it was significantly different in virtually all aspects. They didn't re-use the same sprites and sounds - they improved on them. So why make Impossible Mission II so similar to its predecessor? Admittedly it's too good a formula to put to waste, but I was expecting something more than this.

Gary Penn

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