Hints for Mission: SPECTRUM

The following are hints for when you are stuck on my game Mission: SPECTRUM. I've tried to make the game as fair as possible so I hope you don't get stuck. But if you do, get a hint below. The hints are hidden until you click the "Gimme a hint" button to ensure it doesn't spoil the game by showing you only the hints you want to see.

List of locations

Parking lot, by day

Is there anything I can do with my car?
You can't drive away with it, but you might want to take a look in the trunk, that's where most people keep their stuff.
Is there anything I can do with the sports car?
It belongs to the CEO of Spectrum Enterprises. As he's the person in charge of the company you're investigating, placing a GPS locator on his car would not be a bad idea.
My car was stolen!
That can happen, if you don't lock it.

Entrance, by day

I get the feeling I've forgotten to do something important?
Did you lock your car?
Can I rescue the worm?
Sure. Although the robin is very persistent, like most birds it will fly away when scared. A human walking up to them usually does the trick.
What's so special about the bird and the worm?
Have you noticed how they are the only thing in this game that doesn't have double-wide pixels? That is meant to be a clue.


The receptionist won't let me pass!
Anybody can claim to be an IRS agent. You've gotta have proof. Show her the IRS badge from your spy kit.
But I don't have proof of identity!
You were issued an IRS badge at the start of your mission. It is in the spy kit, which you probably left in the car if you're reading this.
I want something from the scientists, but I can't get near them!
The receptionist won't let you outside the waiting area, so you have to convince her to let you pass first. Check out the hints above this one.
How do I distract the scientists?
If there's one thing a good scientist can't resist, it's a good puzzle. As luck would have it, there's some tough problems in this month's issue of "Quantum Magazine".
What should I do now that the scientists are distracted?
Why, steal a key card off them, of course!
How do I get "Quantum Magazine"?
First rule of adventure gaming: pick up anything that isn't nailed down (and try picking up the things that are, nonetheless). Just type pick up magazine.
Where do I go from here?
Call the elevator. There's a button just right of the glass elevator tube. Then, move your character to stand inside it and press the button for the 14th floor.
Can the receptionist help me?
She can let you further into the building, which is useful if you want to get on with the game. You may also want to ask about a variety of topics.
The receptionist won't go on a date with me.
You had to try, didn't you? She already has a boyfriend she thinks is absolutely wonderful.
What's the visitor log for?
Why, to keep a log of visitors, of course! Sign it, if you like.
What's on TV? It's not an election year, is it?
It is in my game world.

CEO's office, by day

That mountain looks familiar...
It should. That is El Capitan, known to adventure gamers from around the world as the Sierra logo!
How can I get Mr. Smith to be more helpful?
You can't. He claims to be cooperative, but he's trying his best to obstruct you in any way he can. The only way to get him to reveal something of importance is to resort to subterfuge. Make use of the spy equipment you have.
Can I go through the private entrance in the corner?
At some point, you will be able to, but you don't want to do that while he's in the room. That would be a bit too obvious.
I want to access the CEO's computer!
Good idea. I suggest trying to find out his username and password. Did you check the contents of your spy kit for something that might be of help?
I want to read Smith's books and binders!
The books are boring (sorry to disappoint you, he doesn't keep his porn collection hidden in there -- besides, you really don't want to see 16-colour porn). The binders on the other hand, may prove to be quite enlightening. You cannot get to them at this time, though.
How do I compromise the computer without the CEO noticing?
Observe him for a few seconds. He regularly gets up to look out the window and admire the spectacular view. When he's at the window, you also have a window. A window of opportunity, that is.
That plant looks familiar...
It's Chuck, from Maniac Mansion!
Why did you include a painting by Mondrian?
Because reproducing the Mona Lisa in 207 pixels with 16 colours is beyond my artistic capabilities.

Side of the building, by day

Is there anything I can do here?
Not much, at this time. If you had a keycard, you could swipe it through the slot near the secret entrance. You're also going to need a 6-digit access code though. Good luck trying all combinations... there's only a million of them. There has to be an easier way.

Parking lot, by night

What do I do now?
Notice how the light is on in one of the offices. That's the CEO's office. You will want to take a look inside.
It's too far to see and I can't get in anyway
Binoculars were invented in the 17th century already. You have a spectacularly good set of them on you. Look through them!
Can I do anything else now that the CEO is gone?
No, but you should now know the access code for his private entrance.

Entrance, by night

The bird and worm are gone!
Yes. What's your question?
Can I go back inside the building?
Yes, but not through the main entrance. There's a bunch of heavily armed security guards there who won't take kindly to intruders.

Side of the building, by night

Can I enter that door now?
If you have the code, you can. Swipe the key card and enter the code. If you don't have the code, you'll need to get it somehow. Try going back to the parking lot.
What is the code?
I don't know. It's random for every playthrough. You might be able to see the CEO enter it on the keypad in his office when he leaves for the night.
I don't remember the code!
Your character will have written it down in the notepad from your spy kit. Alternatively, you could just give the command enter code and have the digits entered automatically.

Inside elevator

What can I do now?
You know how elevators work, don't you? You press the button for the floor you want to go to, the elevator takes you there, you leave the elevator. It's not rocket science!
What about that big red button?
That's the alarm button. Pressing it might not be the smartest idea, when you're trying to sneak into a building.

CEO's office, by night

Can I log on to the CEO's computer?
Have you ever noticed how long it takes Windows to update? Don't hold your breath. You should be able to get Mr. Smith's login credentials though.
How can I get Smith's password
Retrieve the key logger you placed on his computer, and plug it into your laptop. The "data retrieval" menu item is the one you want.
Is there anything else I can learn here?
Yes, and you should! There are some binders that may provide you with a big clue to what Spectrum's evil plans are.
My goodness, these people are evil! What can I do to stop them?
There's another floor in this building that the private elevator provides access to. Go to sublevel 5, the special projects division!
All this stuff! Can I pick it up?
No, sorry. It doesn't fit in your pockets.

Sublevel 5

What are these pipes about?
They're not important. The fact that they are red, green, and blue is a subtle reference to the main plot device.
That green pipe... did I hear what I thought I heard?
Yes, you did. But was it Mario? Or was it Luigi?
What are those blocky things on the left?
They are lockers. The key card you stole will actually open one of them.
Can I take the lab coat?
Since you're already trespassing, I don't think borrowing a piece of clothing is going to add much to your crimes.
I have found the flux capacitor, but it's not working. Now what?
There is no flux capacitor in this game. You're just reading through all the hints, aren't you?.


Red, green, and blue again?
They have the same significance as the red, green, and blue pipes in the room you just came from. That is: nothing substantial!
The security guard killed me!
He recognised that you don't belong there. He's doing his job, and he's not afraid to act! Oh, and kudos to you for playing on hard mode.
Oh my! I just killed somebody!
Your score will have suffered quite a bit for that. Next time, try not to become a murderer! A disguise might be useful. If you're up for a familiar piece of comedy, try helping the security guard after you've killed him.
That security guard really isn't very smart, is he?
Don't blame him, he was just scripted that way.
What is the significance of those numbers?
They are in-jokes. The IBM 5150 was the original IBM PC, the IBM 5153 the 4-colour CGA monitor, and the IBM 5154 the 16-colour EGA monitor.

Secret lab

Ow! You're hurting my eyes!
The 4 colour CGA graphics are part of the evil plot to ensure Spectrum's continued dominance over the tech industry. Oh, you meant the 16 colour version of the graphics? Yeah, sorry, the EGA palette wasn't all that much more refined.
What is that... that... thing?
It is the AdvJam2018 device that is reducing the entire world to 16 colour EGA or even 4 colour CGA graphics. It is also an assault on good taste. You will have to destroy it.
What is the circuitry in the background?
If you were to look at the upper left corner of an original IBM CGA card, you would find circuitry that can't really be recreated in low resolution 16-colour graphics, but that didn't stop me from trying!
What do I do now?
The control panel allows you to initiate the emergency shutdown procedure. You'll need a user name and password for that, though. Preferably from somebody who has full access to the system.
Where do I get the password?
The key logger you placed in the CEO's computer will have recorded his login credentials. Use the laptop to extract the data from the USB device. If you've already done so, the password will be listed in your notepad.


It's called a "trunk" not a "boot"!
I speak proper English... the British variety. Don't get upset, though. The game will recognise your revolutionary spelling just as well.
Why do I have car keys?
Because you have a car! Keys are quite useful in cars, not just to start the engine, but also to lock or unlock the doors.
What purpose do the sunglasses serve?
They make you look cool. A proper spy always looks cool. If that means not taking off your sunglasses indoors, so be it!
What can I use the laptop for?
You can read up on your mission briefing, track a GPS locator, or extract information from a USB key logging device.
What can I use the lab coat for?
Wear it! It'll make a good disguise. You'll even get geeky glasses as an added bonus.
What use does the GPS locator have?
It will allow you to track a vehicle, which could be useful when the HCA wants to arrest a certain villain.
No really, what's so special about the bird?
The graphics for all locations in this game have double-width pixels. This is a reference to Sierra's AGI games which famously had this style of graphics. The bird and the worm are the only sprites in the game to have single-width pixels, such as in Sierra's later SCI games. Since Spectrum's plot was to "devolve" the world, the bird and worm not being affected by it (yet) was meant to be a little clue to that.
How do I get the access code for the secret entrance?
You may be able to observe somebody inputting the code.
How do I get the key card for the secret entrance?
Employees may be carrying their key cards around. If you could distract them, maybe you can steal their card. Take a good look around the lobby of the building.
What use is the notepad?
It has a record of important information that you might forget, especially if you don't complete the game in one session. Type read notes to read the notes you've written so far.
Why is there a day-to-night transition in the game?
Because it fit the story, and it was also a relatively convenient way to make the backgrounds I'd drawn do double duty without doubling the effort to create all new locations.
Why can't I enter the lobby at night? No, seriously! You know there aren't really armed guards in there!
The time constraints for the AdvJam2018 contest meant I couldn't make the game as expansive as I would have liked, and the inside of the lobby at night didn't serve a purpose to the plot. I did intend to have a scene where the security guards shot you on sight, but I left it out. If you really want to get shot, you have an opportunity near the end of the game.
What ways are there to die in this game?
If you're playing in hard mode, you can die in the following ways:
  1. Have your car stolen by forgetting to lock it
  2. Lock out the key card by trying a wrong code 3 times
  3. Press the alarm bell in the elevator
  4. Walk into the underground hallway without wearing a disguise
I didn't get all the points. What am I missing?
The screen after the end scene will give you a hint on one thing you missed that kept you from getting the full score. If you play through again, getting the appropriate points, you will get another hint.
I finished the game with the minimum number of points, and I didn't do it on purpose.
I don't believe you.
I already tried the "did you?" actions on the end screen!
Great! That means you've seen most of the jokes and references I put into this game.
Who is Dr. L. Cole and who is her husband?
It's a tongue-in-cheek reference to Sierra designers Lori and Corey Cole, who created, among other things, the Quest for Glory and Dr. Brain series.