Click here to play: THE IMPOSSIBLE GAME
The story behind The Impossible Game
In 1982, after Activision successfully began producing games for the Atari 2600, dozens of small companies began popping up doing the same thing. One of them was Telesys, of Fremont California. Telesys released three games for the Atari 2600 in 1982: Coconuts, Cosmic Creeps, and Fast Food. In January 1983, they appeared at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and unveiled 4 new games: Ram-It, Stargunner, Demolition Herby, and The Impossible Game.
I attended CES because I was gathering information for my book ABC To The VCS: A Directory of Software For The Atari 2600. This book would contain summaries of the hundreds of games that would be available for the 2600. The folks at Telesys gave me advance copies of Stargunner and Ram-It. I asked them for a copy of The Impossible Game but they said they didn't have any copies to give out, although they had a playable copy at the show. They also told me that The Impossible Game would not be available in the United States; it was intended for the Far East. Because I couldn't get a copy of the game, I noted the gameplay and included it in my book.
Stargunner, Ram-It, and Demolition Herby were all released in 1983. The Impossible Game wasn't. Today, as unreleased prototypes of many Atari 2600 keep surfacing, a copy of The Impossible Game has never been found. It is possible, that of the hundred of people who collect classic videogames, I am the only one who has ever played the game.
The version that I offer here was reproduced from my memory and from the game's entry in ABC To The VCS. There are two notable differences in this version. In ABC To The VCS I noted that every time you correctly pick a square, or series of squares, a box at the bottom of the screen would fill up. I don't remember how many squares you actually needed to find before you went on to the next level so in this version I arbitrarily picked six. Instead of a box, they are represented as a line.
The other difference is that I mentioned in the book that The Impossible Game could be won with a logic if you study the patterns of the earlier mazes. Since I have no idea what those patterns were, it is not possible to win this version that way. All the mazes are totally random.
Finally, I don't know what the original game did if you happened to make it through the six levels. In this version, it merely says that you won.
The object of The Impossible Game (Telesys) is to successfully navigate through six levels of 36 squares that are randomly chosen by the computer.
In the first level you only have to trace your path one square at a time. From your starting square, you must move to one of the squares surrounding the one you are in. You move by clicking your mouse on a surrounding square If the square that you chose was incorrect the game is over and you can start a new game or try again with the current game. Each time you correctly choose a square, a box below the maze will fill. When you fill all six boxes you go on the second level.
In the second level, you must find two squares before a box at the bottom will fill. If you miss and try again, you will start at the first level.
In the third level, you must find three squares before a box at the bottom will fill.
In the fourth level, you must find four squares before a box at the bottom will fill.
In the fifth level, you must find five squares before a box at the bottom will fill.
Finally, in the six level, you must find six squares before a box at the bottom will. When you fill all six boxes, you won the game!
FROM ABC TO THE VCS
On first glance, the appropriately titled The Impossible Game (Telesys) may seem like a simple maze game. The object is to trace your way through an invisible maze. The maze is contained in a 6x6 grid of thirty-six squares. In all there are six boards that you have to make your way through.
The first board is the easiest as you only have to trace your path one square at a time. From your starting square, you must move to one of the squares surrounding the one you are in. By moving your joystick, a cursor will appear in one of the surrounding squares. To move to the new square, press the red firing button. If the square that you chose was incorrect, the computer will buzz and you must pick a new square. You have to be fast, however. The object is to complete the maze in the fastest time possible.
If the box that you chose was correct, you will move to it and a little box at the bottom of the screen will fill in with one square. From this new spot you must then choose another square. Every time you choose correctly, the box at the bottom will fill up with another square. When the box is completely filled, you have completed the maze and move on to the next board.
The second board is a little more difficult. Here you must choose two squares at a time to move through the maze. In the third board three squares must be chosen at a time and so on until you reach the sixth board, which is an impossible six squares at a time! Hence the title: unless you have the time and patience to try every possible move (and there are billions) it will be impossible to get through all six boards of the game.
If you don't have the patience and you want to complete the game there is a way you could do it and this is the aspect of the game which requires logic. As you move through the easier levels of the game, jot down the directions that you are moving. A pattern will emerge from which you will be able to deduce what moves to make in the later boards. Unfortunately the pattern is not obvious and you'll really have to think about it to get through it.