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Mission: Impossible - the N64 Game

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Mission: Impossible is a third-person shooter game for the N64 developed by Ocean Software and published by Infogrames Entertainment, and was first released in 1996. The game is loosely based upon the film and TV series of the same name, and follows the exploits of Ethan Hunt as he undertakes various missions with the help of a wide range of gadgets. Though similar in certain ways to the Bond game GoldenEye 007, Mission: Impossible stands out due to the stealth and subterfuge required to complete some of the levels.

Please note that this Entry contains spoilers.


The player must successfully complete the various missions of Ethan Hunt, who works for IMF (Impossible Mission Force), an unofficial agency controlled by the CIA. The plot begins with a trip to the icy Lundkwist base, where arms dealers are about to transport some missiles by submarine. With the help of team mates Clutter and Dowey, Ethan Hunt gains access to the subpen disguised as a soldier and then supplies Clutter with a magnetic bomb to destroy the sub. The mission is relatively simple, and helps players to become acquainted with the game.

NOC List

Next, elements of the first Mission: Impossible film start to creep into the game, as Ethan Hunt must recover the NOC list1 while rescuing an agent and a computer hacker who have been captured by the KGB. Ethan sneaks in via a function at the embassy next to the KGB building by impersonating the ambassador's aide, and then sneaks into the KGB HQ via an old warehouse full of toxic crates and satellite pieces. Still disguised as the ambassador's aide, Hunt finds that the interrogation has killed agent Barnes, but succeeds in blocking the security camera feed and then frees hacker Candice Parker, who has been drugged and can barely walk.

The two then enter the sewage control area via a security hallway and succeed in recovering the NOC list from a supercomputer that was being used by the KGB to crack the list's code. After encountering resistance on the way back through the security hallway, the pair pass back through the KGB HQ, with Ethan disguised as the Russian agent that Barnes had been trying to frame. Ethan then triggers smoke generators he had left in vents at the embassy function, and Ethan and Candice escape through the embassy building dressed as firemen.

CIA Escape

The next part of the story is even less believable. Having survived the previous mission against all odds, Ethan is accused of being a mole and is imprisoned by the CIA. His bosses interrogate him about Max, the arms dealer who plays a major part in the film Mission Impossible, and do not believe him when he denies all knowledge of her existence. However, Candice thinks Ethan is innocent and helps him escape, following which the pair steal the whole NOC list in a mission which parodies one of the action sequences of the film.

Mole Hunt

Having done this, Ethan arranges to meet Max on a train at Waterloo station, but is double crossed by Max's men, who steal the NOC list. Ethan is protected from Max's henchmen by a pair of ex-agents sniping from above as he boards the train, following which Ethan proceeds to fight his way past the remaining henchmen. He then takes out Max and recovers the NOC list, but then catches up with Phelps2 , who turns out to be the mole. Phelps escapes on to the roof while Ethan defuses 'Max's back-up plan', but Ethan manages to shoot down the helicopter before Phelps can escape.

One Last Mission

Ethan's boss reinstates him as an agent and reveals that he was never under suspicion - drugging him and locking him up was simply 'motivation' for him to discover the truth. Ethan is then sent on a mission with Candice, Clutter and Dowey to Lundkwist base, where arms dealers are about to sell detonators to some suspicious-looking men with a helicopter. Destroying the base as they go, the team reach the main bunker where Ethan disguises himself as the accountant responsible for closing the arms deal. The briefcase containing the detonators is rigged to explode once the helicopter takes off, and then Ethan escapes with Clutter on a gunboat, destroying a gas factory on the way out. Candice is waiting for them on top of a submarine just off the coast, and it becomes clear that Ethan and Candice have fallen in love.


The game comes with two difficulty levels, 'Possible' and 'Impossible', with the latter being harder to complete and containing more objectives for the player to complete. Every action the player takes is important, with the characters surrounding Ethan Hunt responding in different ways according to his behaviour. Holding a gun while in a hospital ward produces a scream from the female nurse, and acting suspiciously in front of a guard leads to capture. Also, the noise of shooting someone can attract unwanted attention, leading to the need to use a silenced weapon or dartgun instead of going in all guns blazing. Some enemies will call for help or sound an alarm if not taken out quickly enough, leading the player to have to start the mission all over again. The number of ways in which the player can fail each mission are legion, and so the game can be quite frustrating for those who keep on making silly little mistakes.

The individual levels that make up the game's missions vary greatly depending upon Ethan's surroundings, with some not even requiring a gun. For instance, the first level at the embassy function involves the placing of smoke generators in vents, along with the series of actions required to attract the ambassador's aide into the function. Once the aide arrives, the player can trick him into drinking wine laced with nausea powder and then knock him out inside the toilets. The player also has to watch out for a contract killer attending the function, and must take out the killer with a tranquiliser dart.

Other levels require speed along with either a stealthy approach or a good aim, with the player being liable to either death or capture if they are discovered. The game also contains a handful of all-out shooter levels, but missions can generally be achieved without encountering too much resistance. Several levels have special features to them, such as the sniping level at the railway station and the gunboat level at the end of the game, but by far the most unusual is the level in which the player must steal the NOC list from the CIA computer room. In this level, the player controls the winch being used to lower Ethan down from the ceiling and must avoid letting him touch a series of lasers between the ceiling and the pressure sensitive floor. As in the film, a man arrives to use the computer halfway through the mission, and the player must quickly steal the list before winching out again.


As well as the run-of-the-mill silenced pistols, Uzis and rocket launchers, the game features a range of gadgets. The most well-known of these is the facemaker, which allows Ethan to impersonate others, but the game also includes explosive chewing gum, night vision goggles, spray paint for use on security cameras, and gas injectors which can knock out a room full of soldiers.


The game's music incorporates the well-known Mission: Impossible theme in some places, adding to the game's authenticity a little. At the embassy function, the game's background music fits perfectly with the music of the pianist playing there, with the piano sound growing stronger as the player approaches the main room as well as being audible while standing by one of the doors in the KGB HQ. However, the game's sound is a little less than lifelike, with Ethan replying 'Copy - stay close' to incoming radio messages no matter what the subject was. However, lines like 'Piece of cake!' and 'Got it!' - when the player has just completed an objective that they have been trying to achieve for hours - add to the enjoyment.


Though the game looks quite good for a game from the 1990s when you are playing the indoor levels, it suffers from a lack of proper sky and blurs in the distance when it comes to the outdoors. Meanwhile, enemies react slowly to being hit, making the game slightly comical and the graphics a little unrealistic. However, the game is generally enjoyable enough for it to be excused for these problems.

Bonus Level

After having completed the final level and watched the credits, the player gets to walk through the embassy function and talk to the makers of the game, who have all been rendered as characters attending the function. Each person at the function explains their job and then adds some sort of programmer's in-joke or unusual statement. After having talked to all of the crew, including the pianist, another version of Ethan arrives with Candice and the couple kiss, with the programmers applauding and fireworks appearing from nowhere. Anyone wondering what programmers do with their afternoons off should play this level.

1Consisting of two halves, the NOC list is a computer file saved to a floppy disk, and contains the real names and code names of every non-official cover agent working for the IMF.2Jim Phelps was the leader of the IMF team in the TV series - his being cast as the bad guy in the film outraged both fans and TV cast members.

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