Playing Mission Monday (C64)

Ashley Routledge and David Saunders’ public domain release Mission Monday is a small action game starring Willy Warmstart who previously appeared in a previous free Ash and Dave game called Snowball Sunday, a cute little Christmas card of a program with a festive message in the upper half of the screen and three little men having a snowball fight in the lower. There were no win or lose conditions, but lobbing snowballs at the other sprites to knock them on their bums was entertaining.

Willy’s next outing was far less whimsical however, he was given a jeep and tasked with driving through the scrolling enemy territory, either leaping over or in some cases destroying obstacles coming towards him whilst listening to the music from Battle Valley on the in-jeep cassette player. The action resembles the Irem coin-op classic Moon Patrol, but there aren’t any airborne nasties or holes in the ground to worry about and willy’s vehicle appears to have been kitted out with a mortar so, rather than merely firing ahead and upwards, bombs arc through the air and timing shots to detonate in front of enemies takes some getting used to.

Despite that twist the gameplay is simple, no-nonsense dodging and blasting which, apart from a few spikes in the difficulty curve, isn’t too hard to complete. The intro says that “this is a demo and not a game, so don’t take it as a bad game” but I feel that they were underselling Mission Monday quite a bit there. It might be simple stuff but it has an addictive quality and, after first challenge of completing the mission, it becomes more about playing for score and figuring out how to utilise the “feature” in the way the bombs work. And then there’s being able to run over enemy soldiers or indeed drop the jeep on their heads, that always proves endlessly amusing and quite cathartic too…

There’s even a “clone” out there in the form of Konrad Wieclawski’s Jungle Patrol (again for the C64) but the poor handling and addition of airborne nasties make it a chore to play. Ash and Dave’s effort is far more entertaining and probably wouldn’t have required much expansion to make it into a solid Mastertronic release.