There's a certain appeal to the retro charms of 640 x 480 pixel resolutions and 256 colors. Something that goes even further back than blocky textures and reaches something so retro it's almost unrecognizable in this 3D and GPU-generated world of ours. Whatever the case may be, it's nice to take two steps back and experience a game in all of the glory that classic graphics and uncomplicated gameplay provides.
Mission Extreme is a retro-inspired 2D freeware platformer for the PC. Developed by Deadheat, this game emulates the feel of older games.
Although more to the point of old, this game is absolutely childish. The introduction of the game has the generic action hero on a helicopter for the title sequence, with the in-game description that reaches beyond James Bond plots and global destruction and has a more boyish charm to it. It reads:
A secret terrorist organisation has created a secret super weapon and are threatning to blow up america! We dont know exactly what it is but we are not taking any risks. They have kidnapped 20 hostages and that is why we are sending you in. Your the best we have! Good Luck!!
Beyond that, there isn't a terrible lot of this game to discuss. There are twenty hostages, several stages, platforming, guns, and enemies. Go shoot things, save people, and win battles. The simplicity is charming, and feels like it belongs without becoming too unengaging.
The graphics aren't just old, they're almost lovingly painful. Considering much of this game is rebuilt from a title meant to emulate the old green-and-gray Gameboy, the resolution and graphical power of the game is practically laughable. Aside from the graphical update of color, there isn't a lot of flair to the game, graphically. In a way, though, it makes the game cute in its own way.
A cuteness that's furthered by the hilariously bad writing. With such enemies named such things as "Sniper" and "Jetpack Man," the game isn't afraid of its own ridiculousness. When you factor in that enemies that run in small circles, bungee in from the treetops on ropes, explode into large pixel chunks on exploding, and hostages that just standing around and watching after they've been untied, it's just downright cute. Even the music is lovingly rendered in all the bleeps and bloops of retro soundtracks and MIDI-quality audio.
The problem is that the game lacks a pretty hefty amount of polish. Part of what makes it so charming is that it seems so very old. Games phased out of the 2D platformer with generic action and living room action figure storylines because they grew up and moved onto bigger and better things. Full, surround sound MP3 soundtracks, deep gameplay, and an increase of buttons on the controller have made gaming evolve for the better. By doing so, it's left charming little games like Mission Extreme out in the cold.
It means that the stiff controls and lack of diversity means that this game can never really be anything great. In being retro, it's limiting itself to an older game that just can't compete with modern games, much less modern gaming.
Bottom Line: Mission Extreme is a fun little experiment in retro, that while charming, isn't terribly fun to play.
Recommendation: Good for memories, bad for gameplay, but since it's free and barely 3 MBs, it's not like it's hard to try it anyway.