Jacobson recalls that Mission Escape "was inspired by a game on (I believe) a Commodore PET," a platform on which Jacobson had previous experience building software. He writes:
The only way I made it work was that a compiler for Applesoft BASIC came out in the early 80's. it converted the interpreted BASIC into machine code that ran much faster. It was a very fun game and I thought I added many fun variations (I especially liked the robots that purposely got close to you so they could get shot and explode.). I also had the final exit (if the player could get there) be the number for the starship Enterprise (we actually had a player get there, and awarded a prize.)
Jacobson's game required a 48K Apple II, Applesoft, and a disk drive, and sold for $24.95.
Imagine chess with a knight carrying a laser blaster and a dozen missiles. It's Mission Escape from CE Software. An adrenaline-pumping, hi-res action game by Jim Jacobson. At first, it appears to be another shoot 'em up arcade game. Thinking that way can get you blown to ashes. Simply mowing your captors down with missiles or blaster fire is not the answer. Instead, it will take a combination of quick wits, a quick trigger finger and some clever strategy to make it through the various levels of your Imperial Security Station Prison.
A separate ad from CE Software described the game with slightly different detail:
You are the leader of the rebellion, trapped inside the Emperor's Prison. You have the information that will mean victory for your side, if only you can get out. You've escaped from your cell, but now must shoot, run and dodge your way through ten rooms filled with dull soldiers, exploding drones, and damn-near unstoppable robots. The gauntlet has been run successfully — once — but the odds are against you. You won't let that stop you, will you?
Game designer Steve Jackson, writing in the October 1981 issue of The Space Gamer magazine, gave Mission Escape a generally positive review and described it as "an entertaining little game" that he'd spent hours playing. He compared it to the earlier Commodore PET game Escape From the Death Planet and said that while Mission Escape is harder to beat and has lower quality graphics, the sound effects are entertaining and the suspend function is a blessing. Jackson's summary: "On the whole, it's a great way to kill an evening. Recommended for Apple owners who like reflex-testing games."
The game was also reviewed favorably by Graham Masters Jr. in Computer Gaming World: "Mission Escape is one of a handful of games to combine arcade features with what is in reality a strategy game."
- In the Mission Escape rulebook, CE Software offers a prize to the first player to complete all ten levels of the game. According to a report in Computer Gaming World in Spring 1982, Iowa resident Steven Allen won the prize. Donald Brown announced that another prize of five CE Software products would be awarded to the first player outside of Iowa to win the game.
- A similarly-named Apple II game — Mission: Escape! by Thomas Schumann — was published by MicroSparc in 1982.
The game's cover
Sprites from a printed ad for the game