there is a film of that name, and the game itself has five different titles (see below), depending on the market it was released in. So, it might be difficult to track down, but it's worth the effort...
Let's flashback to 1989, when a dense game atmosphere could compensate for limited system capabilities. That was the time when Infogrames (the french holding company that today owns the Atari brand) released this interesting two-stage game.
The background story is a bit of a stereotype: a group of terrorists have overrun an embassy and hold the employees hostage. A group of anti-terror specialists, similar to SAS or a SWAT team, are recruited to break the terrorist's stronghold. In the first stage, the player has to place three men of the team - "Delta", "Echo" and "Mike" - on strategic points around the building, acting as snipers during the mission. The challange is to do so without being seen, ducking, hiding and avoiding the searchlight of the terrorists. After the snipers are positioned, another team will be transported to the roof with a Little Bird, marking the next level. Now, your job is to actually enter the building by roping down the facade and breaking into the windows. This part of the game is cleverly linked to the first part, as your snipers can assist the rope-unit by shooting randomly spottable persons inside the building through the windows, thus reducing the number of enemies once a rescue-team member is inside. Once you enter the building as one of the anti-terror-experts, the game again switches its mode, this time resembling an early Doom or Wolfenstein 3D first-person shooter gameplay. Sneaking through the corridors, where a terrorist might discover you every second - this kind of nerve-wracking situations is the foremost quality of Hostages.
The overall look look and feel of the game is impressive. Although the rich scene graphics are mere slides, simple backgrounds acting as a frame for small live-action screen-sections, these graphics by Didier Chanfray, Josiane Girard and Dominique Giro are the strong base of the game, conveying a sustaining notion of urgency and the feel of a spy flick or a cool police thriller, complete with newspaper headlines and crime scene photos. Also, the great action-music by Charles Callet is another highlight of the game, interweaving short short human voice samples to further complement the already dense atmosphere.
If you have the chance to play this gem, under all circumstances do so! My advice for a good pick in terms of version would be to pick the Amiga version. Anyway, all platforms that allow decent graphics will do, as this game strongly relies on the effect of its graphics. A downside might be the overall simple structure and the unproportional more difficult second part of the game, but this game is surely one of those titles you will pick up over and over again and that will surely leave a lasting impression once you got the knack of it. It's definitely on the list of all-time-favourites.
- "Rescue: The Embassy Mission" (NES)
- "Operation Jupiter" (France)
- "Hostages: The Embassy Mission" (Japan)
- "ホステージ" (Japanese Kanji Title)
- "Hostages" (Europe and Israel)