Maybe You Missed It: Mission: Impossible (NES)

I’ve mentioned this game to a few people, but none of them seem to remember it. As a child, I HAD this game. I don’t recall how I obtained it, but I do remember excitedly describing the box to my dad and proclaiming: *gruff voice* “You gotta pick the right man for the mission!” This game whooped my ass for years as a kid. Now I’m grown and I’m ready to take on this beast again.
I fire it up, the first level begins, and I immediately lay a bomb by accident. The bomb detonates. Though it may not hurt my character, I take it as a sort of foreshadowing of how this gaming experience is going to play out.
I dip into the first house I see and I find a dude. It looks like I’ve gotta rub up on him to initiate dialogue. I get a little excited by this action, which causes my hand to spasm, my finger hits the button, and the dialogue closes before I get to read what he said. No problem, I’ll just do the ole “walk outside and walk back in” trick to try again, but when I return, the guy is gone. Give him a rub and he bolts. Typical, right?
I start poking around for secret doors. See, THIS is why I should never stream. I’m the most boring gamer ever. Let’s say I stream Dark Souls, you would be able to use it as a sleep aid as you would undoubtedly doze off after hours of watching me rub against walls repeatedly mashing the action button in hopes I’ll find a secret door. Sometimes there IS a secret door, though, so shut up!
I take to the streets. People are walking around, some of them normal civilians, some of them enemies in disguise! Even the little grannies are sometimes enemies. It makes me wonder if these are actual grannies or just guys dressed up as grannies. We ARE in Moscow, where even grandma is tough, so who knows.
I’m getting all caught up in the music, cause it’s jammin’ as fuck. If you’re DTH and not so much DTP, you can listen to the music here:

There are 3 guys on your team with their own strengths/weaknesses/abilities. You’re gonna need all 3 to get through most levels, so be careful. If one of your guys croaks, he’s a done turkey til the end. Let’s break ‘em down:
Max: He’s got a machine gun and bombs, but the trade-off is that all that heavy gear makes him move as slow as grandma. I’m talking about an Aunt B type, not these roided up grannies in Moscow. Unless your grandma is dead. He ain’t THAT slow.
Grant: He walks fast as hell, which is useful for dodging traps and enemies. His attack has no range, he just punches. It’s not an ideal choice for many of the combat situations you will face, but I gotta say, it’s very satisfying when an enemy is trying to blast you and you punch him into oblivion. Grant’s special move is sleeping gas, and this DOES have range. I’m not so sure it’s really sleeping gas, though. There is no slouching to the floor animation when you hit someone with it. They simply freeze for a brief period of time. Maybe this is an experimental weapon that actually stops time for the victim, but it only works for a few moments. What more can you expect? Do you know how hard it is to make time stopping shit? Finally, Grant is the only character that can get through doors with a 4 digit code, so don’t let him die.
Nick: This guy moves at medium (usually sufficient) speed. His main attack is a boomerang, which you can toss in a way that it hooks around corners and takes out unsuspecting enemies. Pretty croosh if you’re looking to not get hit much in this game (wut?). His special move is the ability to disguise himself and move freely among enemies. The disguise is achieved by simply turning his purple suit brown. This doesn’t say much for the intelligence of the enemy, and this isn’t the only indicator that we’re battling morons. Some enemies actually shoot at you, while others fire in a straight line no matter what. You can walk up next to them and stick your tongue in their ear and they’ll just keep firing away. I don’t know about you, but a tongue in the ear gets my attention. Maybe they are actually robots of varying degrees of advancement. It would ease my mind to know that I haven’t been killing humans this whole time, especially considering their use of grannies.
My early… mid…..OK to late 20’s partying must have really taken a toll on my memory. Here I am thinking I never even got past the first level of this game as a child, now I’m at the second level and I totally recognize it. It’s a Spy Hunter style boat level that doesn’t require much brain thinking, so I get through it pretty quickly. I get to level 3 and……I totally recognize this level as well. Drink responsibly, kids!
I knooow I’ve never beaten this level. This game is from the school of hard knocks upside your dumb head. It does NOT hold your hand as games often do these days. This game holds you down and spits at your face, but sucks it back up before the spit makes contact. You keep coming back cause you never actually got spit on.
Repressed memories of this game keep coming back and I start to worry that some other stuff from my childhood is gonna start to surface. I mean, I know he was around a good bit, but I just can’t seem to remember much about my Uncle Tickles….
This is pretty complex for an NES game. There are all sorts of switches and pass cards and secret codes and stuff. One would even consider using an FAQ to speed things along, considering the lowered attention span of the modern gamer. Not that *I* would ever use an FAQ. I am totally cool with legit beating an incredibly hard NES game for the sake of journalism.
It looks like the same characters from the first level are walking around in the third level… even the grannies. They’re ALL hostile and there’s no reason for any disguises in this bad guy lair, so I guess that confirms that we are dealing with ACTUAL GRANNIES. I find a power box in a side room and destroy it, causing a bell to ring. When I return to the main room, everyone is gone. I guess I rang the dinner bell. Noms>American Pig Spy.
The final boss of the level disappears and reappears at will. How can this be? This is SO unrealistic. I kick this guy’s ass and hey, it’s Dr. O! I didn’t pay much attention to the story elements early on, so I kinda thought Dr. O was the bad guy. Nope, he’s good, and he has rather complicated instructions concerning the end of the game that you’re absolutely not going to remember. I’m treated to some awesome graphics that remind me of that magical feeling I got at the end of Super Mario 2 with the big cartoon Mario. I still get fuzzy thinking about it.
Let’s fast forward a bit:
A boss in a later level is holding a hostage. You can’t shoot him, ‘cause you’ll hit the hostage and fuck yourself, but you CAN punch right through the hostage. I guess the shockwaves only damage the boss, but not the hostage, or maybe the hostage likes to get worked over a bit as long as it’s not lethal. I don’t know. Game physics are even more mysterious than quantum physics.
Skiing level: You’re plowing down a mountain on a pair of skis while other skiers and various vehicles are trying to take you out. You don’t have a gun like the boat level, your only defense is slightly moving your ski to the left or right. When you reach the end, you immediately hang-glide off the mountain to a waiting submarine. Now THAT is the sort of activity I think about when I think about Mission: Impossible.
The last level is balls out, pushing your skills and senses to the EXTREME. I rule ass for even making it this far. You, the reader, would have eaten shit long ago. Tony is number 1 game duder! I work my way to the “final boss”, a guy sitting in a chair that simply fires straight ahead. A quick step to the right and a well placed shot and I’ve taken him out. That seemed too easy….’cause it was. I try to enter the next room, fall through the floor, and now I have to replay almost half of this super difficult level. This is LAME. I am so against this sort of cheap, game lengthening trickery. The game is long enough without resorting to this weak tactic. Despite my grief, I keep going, because the show must go on.
I make it to the REAL final boss….a computer. The view changes to behind my guy, giving you an unflattering look at his ass:
There is no actual fight here: you challenge the computer to a game of…uh…Madelinette….I don’t know what that is. It’s a sort of weird Tic-Tac-Toe game. After reaching a stalemate a few times, the computer determines that the game can’t be won, therefore World War III can’t be won, and it terminates the World War III program that you got there just in time to interfere with. Whatever works, man.
I did it! No World War III! The game “treats” me to a scene of a helicopter flying over New York City. After travelling for a bit, the helicopter makes a sharp turn and flies right at the twin towers! Too soon! Seriously, too soon, this game was made in 1990.

Author: Tony Lambert

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