A love letter to Impossible Mission

Posted by buzz_clik (6933 posts) -

To my dearest Impossible Mission,

We've been together for nearly thirty years now, but you're as perfect as the day we met. We've been through so much, and you still make me want to do somersaults through the air. You've watched me die a thousand deaths for you, and I've still come back for more.

I can still remember the day we met so clearly. It was in the front room at my cousin Stewart's house, the heat of an Adelaide summer sizzling outside. Stewart had told me a little about you, and I thought you sounded pretty cool. He put a tape into his Commodore 64 Datasette and started loading. It was going to be a while before you arrived, so we braved the intensity of the sun-baked suburbs to fetch a cheese and onion hot dog from the shops.

But when Stewart and I returned, you still weren't there. We sat and waited in front of the pale blue television screen, chatting and finishing our lunch. Then, a sudden pop from the (mono) speaker. The screen turned black for an instant, only to be replaced by you.

And then you spoke.

The wait was worth it. The sound of your voice, gravelly and synthetic, was like nothing I'd ever heard before. Your first cooing invitation was intoxicating and fascinating. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was instantly smitten and had to find out more. We played that little game where you sang something and I rearranged the notes. Even your little joke about paws was so cute.

As the years went by, I spent more and more time with you. Of course, there was that rough patch at the start where you were difficult and my clumsy attempts to understand you only ended in frustration. I would take time out in a silent hallway to clear my head, the echo of my feet on the metallic floor reminding me how alone I felt.

But then, one miraculous day, I completed you. Apparently the years of trying and falling short were not in vain. Each time I'd plunged down a hole with my anguished, gurgling scream filling the room, I'd taken a small but vital step towards fathoming how you work. Every time I saw myself fading away, losing precious time, I had actually learned something. I'd been searching for the solution for so long, and now things had just finally clicked for us.

Of course, these days I understand you so well that I know exactly how to handle you, no matter what you throw at me. I don't even have to call anyone to help me solve your riddles. I've seen you show up in other places, and while you may have a different style in those situations, it doesn't take long before I deduce your new quirks and have you figured out all over again.

Kids today look at you and don't get how amazing you are. They look at you and all they see is an ugly, tired, jagged old face. But that's not what I see. To me, yours is a deep and timeless beauty. I know how wonderfully animated you are, an amazing sprite at your core. When I enter a room, you hum to yourself with such a distinct, unique burble that I adore. And the way you make a robot pivot is still beguiling to me.

You and I will spend so many more hours together, beyond even this. While everything we do is just the same pieces of a puzzle arranged in a different order, the end result is always the same. No matter what version of you I am faced with, I know I will ultimately see things through to the end.

This predictability is not a shortcoming; it's a comfort to know that I can always turn to you, and what we've got going will never change. And so, nearly thirty years on, it turns out the first thing you ever said to me is still so relevant.

You asked me to stay forever, and I will.

Love,

Cal.

P.S. Please don't show this letter to my fiancé. I really don't think she'd understand.

P.P.S. Your sequel sucked.

Moderator
#1 Posted by buzz_clik (6933 posts) -

To my dearest Impossible Mission,

We've been together for nearly thirty years now, but you're as perfect as the day we met. We've been through so much, and you still make me want to do somersaults through the air. You've watched me die a thousand deaths for you, and I've still come back for more.

I can still remember the day we met so clearly. It was in the front room at my cousin Stewart's house, the heat of an Adelaide summer sizzling outside. Stewart had told me a little about you, and I thought you sounded pretty cool. He put a tape into his Commodore 64 Datasette and started loading. It was going to be a while before you arrived, so we braved the intensity of the sun-baked suburbs to fetch a cheese and onion hot dog from the shops.

But when Stewart and I returned, you still weren't there. We sat and waited in front of the pale blue television screen, chatting and finishing our lunch. Then, a sudden pop from the (mono) speaker. The screen turned black for an instant, only to be replaced by you.

And then you spoke.

The wait was worth it. The sound of your voice, gravelly and synthetic, was like nothing I'd ever heard before. Your first cooing invitation was intoxicating and fascinating. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was instantly smitten and had to find out more. We played that little game where you sang something and I rearranged the notes. Even your little joke about paws was so cute.

As the years went by, I spent more and more time with you. Of course, there was that rough patch at the start where you were difficult and my clumsy attempts to understand you only ended in frustration. I would take time out in a silent hallway to clear my head, the echo of my feet on the metallic floor reminding me how alone I felt.

But then, one miraculous day, I completed you. Apparently the years of trying and falling short were not in vain. Each time I'd plunged down a hole with my anguished, gurgling scream filling the room, I'd taken a small but vital step towards fathoming how you work. Every time I saw myself fading away, losing precious time, I had actually learned something. I'd been searching for the solution for so long, and now things had just finally clicked for us.

Of course, these days I understand you so well that I know exactly how to handle you, no matter what you throw at me. I don't even have to call anyone to help me solve your riddles. I've seen you show up in other places, and while you may have a different style in those situations, it doesn't take long before I deduce your new quirks and have you figured out all over again.

Kids today look at you and don't get how amazing you are. They look at you and all they see is an ugly, tired, jagged old face. But that's not what I see. To me, yours is a deep and timeless beauty. I know how wonderfully animated you are, an amazing sprite at your core. When I enter a room, you hum to yourself with such a distinct, unique burble that I adore. And the way you make a robot pivot is still beguiling to me.

You and I will spend so many more hours together, beyond even this. While everything we do is just the same pieces of a puzzle arranged in a different order, the end result is always the same. No matter what version of you I am faced with, I know I will ultimately see things through to the end.

This predictability is not a shortcoming; it's a comfort to know that I can always turn to you, and what we've got going will never change. And so, nearly thirty years on, it turns out the first thing you ever said to me is still so relevant.

You asked me to stay forever, and I will.

Love,

Cal.

P.S. Please don't show this letter to my fiancé. I really don't think she'd understand.

P.P.S. Your sequel sucked.

Moderator
#2 Posted by Tim_the_Corsair (3065 posts) -

Holy shitballs, this wonderfully written letter just took me back to hanging out at my next door neighbour's as a kid, waiting for that tape to load up.

Nice post mate :)

Stay awhile...

#3 Posted by mandude (2669 posts) -

That jump animation...such a casual somersault. Wish I still had this lying around to dig up.

#4 Posted by Nadafinga (957 posts) -

I remember playing this as a kid, and never even coming close to beating it. I wonder if I booted it up if I could crack it now....

#5 Edited by kalmis (1558 posts) -

Nice letter dude. Never managed to beat this myself. Tried again not too long on the DS version. The classic mode on it is pretty decent.

... stay forever!!!

#6 Edited by Brackynews (4050 posts) -

During my "elementary" years, the private school I did go to had 3 Commodores and lots of games. I played this and Jumpman a lot there. There was also a haunted castle alphabet game, or something. I'm pretty sure we borrowed a C64 from a friend too. Hard to imagine all the game time I remember was actually in a classroom.

If I have not already played Epyx's entire catalogue in my lifetime, that's something I should wrap up.

P.S. When I wrote to Brad about doing this as a Breaking Brad he did post it to his wall. You should give him a nudge. ;)

#7 Edited by buzz_clik (6933 posts) -

@mandude said:

That jump animation...such a casual somersault. Wish I still had this lying around to dig up.

While I always prefer to play it on the original hardware, there's always emulation...

@kalmis said:

Never managed to beat this myself. Tried again not too long on the DS version. The classic mode on it is pretty decent.

It's okayyy. It's not really a spot on conversion of the Commodore 64 original as I'd hoped - instead it's the DS revamped version, odd quirks and tweaks and all, with a C64 visual veneer plastered over the top. So as such, it's not as satisfying as I hoped it would be. But manipulating the puzzle pieces with a stylus very much lived up to what I wanted!

@Brackynews said:

During my "elementary" years, the private school I did go to had 3 Commodores and lots of games. I played this and Jumpman a lot there.

Shit yeah, Jumpman! Jumpman Jr is no slouch either. Oh, and as has mentioned on occasion, Wizard was a great Jumpman-like title - it's actually a weirder, crazier game than either of the Jumpmen (Jumpmans?) with its skittish controls. Wizard also has a level editor, too!

@Brackynews said:

There was also a haunted castle alphabet game, or something.

It wasn't this game, was it?

@Brackynews said:

P.S. When I wrote to Brad about doing this as a Breaking Brad he did post it to his wall. You should give him a nudge. ;)

Maybe...? If nothing else, all this talk has made me want to create a tutorial video that shares the decades of knowledge I've accrued. Impossible Mission endings for everyone, I say!

Moderator
#8 Posted by Brackynews (4050 posts) -

@buzz_clik: Yes it has to be that. Haunted clown castle... who thought that was child appropriate?! O___O Was the ghost a clown once? Are they friends? Are they defeated users?

I recall seeing Wizard in magazines or a Radio Shack or something. They should've called it Wizardmans.

There's more than one IM ending? I just watched a youtube longplay that did a good job showing the puzzle solutions and speeding up the punch card assembly to show how nuts it could get. No wonder I never understood it. I bet reading the manual helped...

I guess I need to find the remake to add it to my obscure Wii collection. But playing on DS sounds fun.

#9 Posted by buzz_clik (6933 posts) -

@Brackynews said:

There's more than one IM ending?

Nah, there's only one - I just meant everyone should have it!

@Brackynews said:

I just watched a youtube longplay that did a good job showing the puzzle solutions and speeding up the punch card assembly to show how nuts it could get. No wonder I never understood it. I bet reading the manual helped...

Yeah, once you know the fundamental positive and negative shapes that the game uses to formulate its puzzle pieces – concentric rings, cross symbols and other geometric configurations – it's a doddle, albeit an endlessly fun one for me. And that's something I learned without a manual, too - I bought my official copy second hand, so all I had was the case and the tape. The day I figured out my first puzzle piece without having to rely on the EPYX phone, I was fucking stoked.

@Brackynews said:

...playing on DS sounds fun.

*lil shrug* It's okay. Nothing beats the C64 original, though!

Moderator
#10 Posted by Brackynews (4050 posts) -

Lol, in the "bad ending" Elvin says "Yes.. yes... yes! YES!!!" O_o; (The safe word is: albatross)

EPYX would have a phone hint line, wouldn't they? ("How do I win the Decathalon?" "That's not our game, sir.") Or was it just a very frustrated receptionist? I know some companies would get random calls before investing in counsellors. Was it Tim Schafer that got called by Spielburg, about hints for his son?

No question the C64 still holds up as best. It's just novel to see decent ports on Nintendo platforms after the madness of IM2, which I literally could not play because our TV cropped off so much of the screen edge and corners. Those rooms were designed for a monitor! And the pukey CGA colour scheme. Xp

#11 Posted by Yurmahm (2 posts) -

This is one of the most awesome things I have EVER read. I didn't think anyone else knew of this game.....

This game caused my first "crappy ending tantrum." After spending all that time and effort....restarting multiple times.....you walk in that last door and all you get is....."No.....no......no" and that's it....THAT'S IT!!!!

Oh man.....I still feel rage over that...

#12 Posted by buzz_clik (6933 posts) -

@Yurmahm: Well, that's not entirely true. You also get to hear the soothing tones of a computer woman giving you big ups: "Mission accomplished. Congratulations!" ;)

Moderator

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