Impossible Mission II

Can I opt for Mission Difficult, or...?

Source // Atarimania

Spies. Espionage. Impossible Mission II probably involves spies and espionage. I can't go wrong there. I know absolutely nothing of Impossible Mission II. It continues on from Impossible Mission, which I also know nothing about, so I am doubly ignorant of where we are in the story.

You play as Agent 4125, and Elvin Atombender needs to be stopped. Scattered throughout eight massive towers are elements to a code, and a musical something or other, and the game is filled with robots of all kinds who serve mainly to screw you over and drain not your life, but your time, because finding the codes and this musical thingy all takes place against the clock, and you've got to get through eight towers before the final one unlocks or something.

I have no idea what I'm reading, frankly. Time to just get stuck in.


I hopped into the NES port of Impossible Mission II, knowing next to nothing, including how to play it and what it actually was that I was playing. Turns out it is a massively overwhelming platform puzzler with smooth animations and mind-bogglingly off-putting levels of complexity.

It was so off-putting that I didn't even remember to get screenshots. Sorry. The screen is split into three sections, a main playable area, a minimap and a code input kinda thing, but as soon as you enter a room this goes out of the window and you're left with one puzzle room dominating your view.

The first room I went into - the very first - had a bottomless pit a single footstep away from the door. Move left and you're dead. Thankfully there doesn't appear to be a life system at all, and the respawning was near instant, provided you sat and listened to Agent 4125 scream in terror at your mistake.

After a front flip over a bottomless pit, I was met with a robot whose sole job was to push me back into the pit as soon as it could. You can jump over it, of course, but when you're idly searching a computer for something, it's a bit rude to have a defensive sentry bot shove you out of the way...

They're just doing their job and I'm just doing mi-well, no, I'm not, because I have no goddamn idea what I'm supposed to be doing.

Right now, I'm watching this here playthrough of the Commodore 64 version, which is driving me a bit insane with its audio, but I'll survive. I'm watching an athletic agent practically parkour his way around each and every puzzle room, finding pieces of code and bombs and all sorts tucked away, before popping out of a room, playing some music - recording some music? - stabbing some guesses at a code and running off to do it all over again.

I don't know why. Probably just to give you a reason to go through these hellish puzzle rooms. Some will require you to have mastered your movement, others demand you have the right equipment to destroy or otherwise circumvent any problematic robots, and some are done in the dark. Of course they are - Impossible Mission II takes its name seriously, it seems. And what's with these bloody bits of music?

I took to the Internet to do some actual research for once and read the manual. As well as finding the three digit codes for access to the towers, you must find pieces of music scattered about each tower and play them in the correct sequence in order to unlock Elvin's penthouse suite/control room, and once you've access to that, you must find the correct computer in order to disable a missile launch.

I'd have just sent Stuxnet in, this shit is bananas.

Fun Times

I will endeavour to find something good to say about Impossible Mission II though, and it is this: When I briefly played the NES port, it controlled well - almost delightfully so. I picked up the controller, jabbed at the buttons and was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming it all was. I wasn't put off in the slightest. Until seeing a room and the vastness of the task ahead...

From the word go it feels good, which is a damn necessity because from the word go it demands that you are good. No easing you into anything here, as it's a case of hit the ground running or fall through it repeatedly.

I can't really say anything else positive, save for the fact that the final cutscene is beautiful. I don't know if it's the C64 audio specifically, but it's worth viewing.

Final Word

I simply don't have the patience to persist with Impossible Mission II. I'll quite happily watch someone speed through it like some kind of wizard, but I'd have to be one determined fella to have stuck with this title until I got through it myself.

That isn't to say Impossible Mission II is bad. It throws you in at the deep end, but if you aren't an ignorant millennial who doesn't read the instruction manual, nor set an afternoon aside to thoroughly play a game with as clear a head as possible, then you should be able to have at least some fun trying to get through the game.

The plot is... not important... the gameplay is simple, the visuals are fine, so too the audio (depending on whether or not the constant farting of a C64 is 'fine' in your opinion). It's not my cup of tea, especially in the way it's presented to me.

It's kinda like Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. "Like the first game? There, have some of that". At least I assume it is.

I hope it is.

I hope the first Impossible Mission had some sort of difficulty curve, otherwise they really do live up to their namesake, and I'll never have to time nor desire to overcome them. Put a few easy rooms in front of a few trickier ones and this might all have been written differently.

If that's what actually happened and I noped out of easiest room, then there's no hope for me. Ever...

How much of a secret agent are you?

Fun Facts

Every part of Impossible Mission II was written from scratch - no part of the original games code was reused. The original animations (redrawn for Impossible Mission II, naturally) were created before a use for them could even be conceived, such was the desire to just get them in a game.

Impossible Mission II, developed by Novotrade, first released in 1988.
Version played: NES, 1990, via emulation.
Version watched: C64, 1988 (DerSchmu)