What would the name Szenttornyai Laszlo conjure up for you? The memory of a particularly wet and virulent sneeze? Or perhaps a recollection from your childhood of the noise your not-quite house-trained puppy made when you booted it off the damp sofa? Maybe. But for me this unpronouncable alphabetical avalanche means the name of the programmer who masterminded Impossible Mission II, the latest winner from U.S. Gold.
As before, that "entendre-stimulating, evil, nasty, baddy, insane scientist with a large forehead" type person, Elvin Atombender, is up to his old tricks again. He's out to destroy the world for the umpteenth time. And since you were so successful in thwarting his demonic plans last time, you are deployed to infiltrate Elvin's secret tower complex and generally stop the world from not being the world.
So off you go as Agent 4125 to duck and dive around the robots, leap over the bottomless pits and jump from platform to platform - all with the aim of putting an end to Elvin's nefarity.
Old agent 4125 hasn't changed much since his last Impossible Mission, except now he's gained some eyes and his hair's grown a pixel or two. Shame? Rip off? No-way! You might be complaining loudly, but wait. 4125's animation is top-notch and absolutely brilliant. He lopes along, taking wide smooth strides and will perform exquisite somersaults when commanded. The robots he has to avoid are a bit of a let down though: bulky, stark vacuum cleaners is the closest description I can think of. But luckily their appearance doesn't detract from their position in the game. Those nasties get progressively varied as you attain different levels, including droids that lay mines, move lifts, shove you off platforms and, of course, your normal, everyday killer machines.
Screens (of which there are many) are accessed by a network of inter-connecting lifts and corridors. And it's these screens which provide the high-point of the game. It's time for the old Manic Miner reference again I'm afraid. 'Cos, each screen has a specific puzzle and route which you must discover and master before you can proceed to the next. Although most screens have just one exit, the Idea is not always to pass through them but to search every object in them.
These objects stand poised in awkward corners and across bottomless pits, and are often guarded. They range from domestic things like cupboards, cabinets, and flower-pots to weird things like coat-hangers, barbells, and sewing machines (Elvin's fetishes perhaps?).
To search you have to stand against an object and press the up key, and wait while the computer frisks it for you. And nothing can be ignored. Each object may or may not contain an essential code. Codes are fed into the screen's computer and can do such things as provide extra-time, halt robots, plant bombs and move floors necessary if you want to reach other screens or painfully placed objects. Most of these options are finite and therefore painful. You could be at the end of a complicated manoeuvre which you had spent hours planning when bingo! the robot restarts and vaporises you.
The screens themselves are a tasteful combination of pink and blue platforms, joined by lifts and gaps. Puzzles come in the way you manipulate the lifts and computer options in order to get to that elusive last object. Later screens also contain bombs, light bulbs and mines. Some screens are real brain-blenders - more difficult than in the original - but it all adds to the addictiveness.
More brain-blending comes in collecting the three access codes from each tower, using them to open the safe, and then getting the music sequence data which you must string together to open the door to the next level. For this you use your "hi-tec, stuff your Rolex down the loo" wrist watch. With this weighty timepiece you can scan other areas of the complex, prime bombs, have a crack at the code - and even tell the time.
All in all, the attraction comes in trying to reach other screens and solve the individual puzzles. The random screen effect adds a tang of mystery to a game that would otherwise be repetitive. If you haven't played the original then buy it; and if you have played the original then still buy it, but don't expect quite so much from it.
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