Secret Mission (1979)   2 comments

Scott Adams has previously been featured here with Adventureland and Pirate Adventure. Both games feature the virtue of feeling compact (by necessity for packing into a TRS-80) and hence the next in the series makes a good counterpoint to the gigantic sprawl of Warp.

Scott Adams allegedly tried to get a license from shamelessly rips off the TV series Mission: Impossible for this game, with an opening reference to “Mr. Phelps” (the main character for most seasons of the series) and a introductory recording which self-destructs. [ADD: Jimmy Maher makes an interesting comment about this.]

Picture via Ebay.

Picture via Ebay. The “IMF” on the cover stands for “Impossible Missions Force”, another reference to the TV show.

Unlike some “what is the objective, even?” games I’ve played lately, this one starts with energy:

Someone came in the room, he saw me and ran out!
WHAT SHALL I DO? play recorder
Good morning Mr. Phelps. Your Mission (should you decide to accept it) is to prevent this automated nuclear reactor from being destroyed by a saboteur’s TIME BOMB! The saboteur (who also rewired the security system) is a heart patient. He plans to SUICIDE with the reactor! He is still loosein the building. You’ll find Security keys & a map in the manila envelope lying next to the tape player.
WHAT SHALL I DO? inventory
I’m carrying: Surgically implanted bomb detector glows green (bomb’s -safe-)

In what might be the first “narrative twist” of interactive fiction, there is no envelope. I like how this uses the world and player participation to convey the twist rather than highlighting the fact in text as a traditional narrative would need to.

Unfortunately, I’m stuck pretty early. There’s someone who keeps running in the room, seeing me, and running out. There’s also three doors with cameras where

Metallic voice says: ‘Show authorization please’

and all I’ve got is an empty pail. I tried covering the camera with the pail but no dice. Perhaps I’m supposed to set up a trap for the running person but I can’t even think of how I’d do that with a pail in real life, let alone a two word parser.

I went old-school this time with the map.

I went old-school this time with the map.

Posted January 12, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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2 responses to “Secret Mission (1979)

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  1. I don’t believe Adams ever tried to get a license. He simply called the game Impossible Mission without ever giving much thought to it. The very early computer-games industry was almost unbelievably clueless about the concept of intellectual property. See also all of the old Star Trek games, Level 9’s Middle Earth trilogy, and Edu-Ware’s Prisoner game. Even the companies that would go on to long-term success did it. Broderbund’s first big hit was Apple Galaxian, an unauthorized arcade knockoff, and SSI’s was Computer Bismark, a close facsimile of an Avalon Hill game of the same name (minus the “Computer,” of course.) And Bill Budge made his name doing clones of just about every game that hit the arcades. Later, when the industry’s profile reached a point that such casual appropriation became dangerous, everyone had to adjust one way or another. In Adams’s case, he just renamed his game to Secret Mission.

    • Hah! Yes, totally right on that.

      I find it interesting the “IMF” reference on the cover got put _after_ it got changed to Secret Mission.

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