Phil South your mission... should you decide to accept it... is to penetrate US Gold's new blockbuster... discover amazing secrets... complete the Impossible Mission... reveal all... should you fail, you'll never write for YS again... this tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds... 4... 3... 2... 1...
US Gold has done the impossible itself by bringing Impossible Mission to the Spectrum. It's been an all-time smash on the wrong sort of computer for ages. Now, at long last, the perils of special agent 4125 have come home to the Speccy including the same triffic animation, gripping graphics and brain blowing puzzles! Impossible Mission reaches a new level in platform games as well as amazing acrobatics on the platforms and lifts, the skill of outwitting the killer robots, you've got to solve some truly challenging puzzles.
You play the highly-trained agent 4125 on a mission to penetrate the 32 roomed underground fortress of evil Elvin Atombender and prevent him from turning the Earth into a cloud of expanding gas and those little glittery bits you used to get in Star Wars. Elvin is a mad scientist and like all good mad scientists, he's surrounded himself with death-dealing robots and concealed the passwords to the door of his lab in the machinery scattered around the different levels. You must search every nook and cranny, juggle the pieces you find and make up the punchcards that will allow you to make your unwelcome entrance into Elvin's laboratory.
Agent 4125 is a highly-trained agent of the calibre of Bond or Rambo. So confident, fit and generally hunky that he can take on Atombender's robot hoards empty-handed - just using his daring and acrobatic skill to keep out of reach of their probing plasma beams. In fact, the only piece of equipment he actually remembered to bring with him is his trusty wrist-mounted MIA9366B microcomputer. This souped-up digital watch has a radio telephone so that you can call up the mainframe computer back at base and get it to help solve the puzzles for you.
But it's not the story line that's brilliant (although it's better than most and there's nothing I like better than a good story line). It's the way the game looks and plays. A lead I picked up suggests that the special agent's movements (running, somersaulting and landing) were 'rotoscoped' - a real person was filmed doing the actions and the sprites drawn from the frames of the film. I don't care how it was done - the results are incredible. Because the animation is so realistic, the game is simply absorbing. You really do feel for poor ol' 4125 - his fear, his thrills, his daring. Just like a movie!
Impossible Mission is going to be a firm favourite - my Speccy for one is going to get used to loading it up. Your mission, Agent Reader, is to go out and buy yourself a copy. Believe me, it s one of the easiest and most rewarding assignments you'll ever get...
Unlike some recent games, the music room isn't a just red herring to make you lose time. Once you turn to search the device, a pattern of notes is played on the chessboard. Repeat the pattern in order from the lowest note to the highest and you'll win lift and snooze tokens...
OUT OF CONTROL
Here's your handle on the game - the control panel can be called up whenever you're in the central liftshaft. It provides map and puzzle-solving facilities as well as convenience controls like a pause button...These two buttons let you scan the puzzle pieces you've collected so far so that you can choose which ones you want to fiddle with on the workspace. It's tiddly 'cos you can only see two at a time but what do you expect from a wrist-watch?Toggle between the map and workspace by switching the wrist terminal on and off.Fllppin' heck - pushing here will flip pieces top to bottom or side to side so that you can get them to fit together.Push here to bin the current piece - watch it if you've got an autofire joystick as you might accidentally junk puzzles you've completed!Chucked the wrong piece away? Hit here to rescue it!More convenient bits - this freezes the game so you can eat a KitKat in safety.This fickle finger is your means of pressing the buttons on the control panel and shuffling pieces around the workspace.Use these three buttons to change the colour of the current piece - for two pieces to overlap, they must be the same colour.Use the workspace to shuttle, invert and overlap puzzle pieces until they match. The finished punchcards allow you into Atomblender's lab to foil his dastardly plan. When you're not putting the pieces together, this space becomes the map window, showing the relative positions of the rooms you've visited so far.Here's the two pieces you're working on at the moment.4125 phone home - press here to auto-dial the ZX81 back at HQ. It's superior processing power will help you organise the puzzle pieces and tell you if you've got enough to get a punchcard together...
FORT FOR THE DAY
Here's just four of the 32 rooms you'll have to explore before you can construct the punchcards needed to penetrate Atombender's lair. Searching any room properly takes precious time and dying at the hands of a robot will cost you ten minutes.Search Me! In fact, search anything and everything! All you do is stand in front of an object and push forward. A searching window pops up with a moving line that indicates how long the search will take. Keep an eye on the 'bots and be ready to leggit...You can walk on air... if you take a run at it and the gap is no wider than a lift platform. This can be very handy when the floor is full of holes. But be careful, it only works sometimes... arrrgh!Yuk... It's a leechbot! These copy your every move no matter which platform you're on. Avoid a toasting by jumping over them but watch out - they move fast!Energy build-up is a rare but deadly hazard. Sometimes you'll frazzle up for no apparent reason. What happens is that a timer starts when you enter a room. When it hits zero.... bzzzzt! One way to beat this booby-trap is to use a snooze. But hurry - they don't last long!Is this robot asleep? No way - it's playing dead until you reach its platform at which point it'll go for you. The way to beat it is rush straight at it (honest) and at the last moment jump over it and dash for the lift before it's got time to turn around.This type also senses your presence but fires the moment it spots you. This is a bug in the robot's software - it has to standstill to fire so if you keep out of range, you can rifle the furniture in peace.Here's a boring sentry type robot who just trogs up and down a platform - fires a bit, moves a bit, fires a bit... What an awful job! They don't sense you and so are easy to avoid especially if you jump them as they turn at the end of their platform.There are two Security Terminals in most of the rooms. You can log on by pushing forward and then use any lift resets or snoozes you've acquired to reset the lifts or temporarily paralyse the robots in that room...Forget trainspotting - you're gonna need to be an ace robot spotter. There's eight different types and contact with any will frazz you. Unless you learn to judge which kind you're dealing with and act accordingly, you don't stand a chance.Juggling the lifts can be an interesting puzzle in itself.Pressing Fire activates your only weapon - a dazzling somersault taking you high above deadly robots and yawning chasms. The chasms are the only things with any time to yawn in this game!For long jumps like this one, you'll need split-second timing and a long run up. Often you'll only make it by a toe-nail. And sometimes you'll need to tread air a bit before you actually do the jump!One of the best ways to get past a firing robot is to jump over it as it turns at the end of a platform. Then scarper before he can draw a bead on you...Every time the game is reset, the arrangement of the rooms is scrambled. The furniture and platforms stay the same but the types of robot in the rooms are jumbled as are the positions of the puzzle pieces.It gets worse... this type follows your every move and fires at the end of their travel. They never give up so your only hope is to snooze them...There's all sorts of furniture in Atombender's palace, from computer gear to a candy dispenser. There's even a toilet and - yes - you've got to search that too! Willy where are you when we need you?