Underrated Games: Mischief Makers

Ultra-Intergalactic-Cybot G Marina Liteyears, what a name, what a lass... and what a game she stars in too.

Mischief Makers is a 2D platform puzzler that was released in the UK in 1998 and was developed by Treasure, a Japanese developer who have developed many other cult classics, like Bangai-O, Astro Boy: Omega Factor, Gunstar Heroes and erm... McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure... Anyway, Mischief Makers was a game developed exclusively for the Nintendo 64, despite Treasure usually favouring Sega's consoles beforehand. Thank god they did though, because if it was on the Saturn it would probably be pretty annoying to get hold of a PAL copy these days. I got my little cartridge for around 3 pounds on Amazon. That's why the Nintendo 64 is a brilliant retro console to collect for. Because the games are dirt cheap! Of course that means trading them in gains you no money, sorry Sam.

This is not my cartridge. I'll have you know that I keep my cartridges clean.

I never played this game on its release, but as they say, it's never too late to do the right thing, and I can happily say that I love this game. It is one of those games that requires you to be into the right things to understand it. Luckily I am into quirky, bizarre, over-exaggerated stuff from the land of 'Pan, so me and Mischief Makers came together with nothing more than a nod to one another. There's just something about this game that draws you in. The graphics are bright and colourful, while at the same time may be regarded as creepy by some. The characters are incredibly likeable, yet absolutely insane. And then you have the plot which manages to be fairly simple yet absolutely ridiculous at the same time. To put the plot as simply as possible, Professor Theo, a fellow who makes robots, is kidnapped and to rescue him you play as Marina Liteyears, the professor's robotic maid who is lovingly considered to be an absolute nut case by many fans.

Now when I find out about a good game that was released on the Nintendo 64, the first thing I scream (always scream first) is "dear god, what are the controls like?!?", because let's face it, the Nintendo 64 controller is definitely no spring onion. I am not going to go off on a rant on how much I disfavour the N64 controller, but let's just say I believe it was a great idea executed poorly. Anyroad, Mischief Makers has good controls and the reason is because the developers chose to employ the D-Pad in the control scheme over that awkward analog stick. A is used to jump, B is used to grab things (we'll get to that later) while the C-Pad is used to dash, which can be done on the D-Pad as well, but the C-Pad provides some handy precision over movement. At first the controls may seem a tad awkward, but after playing the game for a while and really trying them out (the first few levels really train you well in this area) you will very much come to appreciate the controls. 
But don't think that the game is saved by good controls, because this game is hard as nails. I'm talking about Bane from The Dark Knight Rises hard. Ever wondered why the Angry Video Game Nerd glares at a Mischief Makers cartridge in the introduction sequence of his Intellivision and ColecoVision retrospective? That is why.

I wholeheartedly believe that I really suck at video games. My friends always thrash me in multiplayer at games they have never played before and I still haven't beaten several games, despite having owned them for many years. So why the hell do I like a game like Mischief Makers which is notorious for being unforgiving in regards to its difficulty? Well let's just say that games these days are way to easy, and Mischief Makers provides you with a challenge that actually requires practice and even skill to tackle. If you want to collect all of the gold gems then you will have to replay the levels through again to find the ones you may have missed when playing through earlier. I must admit, the difficulty can sometimes really get to you, but if you persevere and finally beat something you've been stuck on for ages, you feel pretty boss!

The novelty of the game in general is another thing that draws me in. The fact that the heroine is just plain awesome is definitely a selling point for me, not to forget those anime-style graphics. But what draws me in the most is that the game is absolutely wacky. This is something I have mentioned it above, but now I will explain why it is so. For starters, as soon as you are thrown into the world of Mischief Makers, you are met with some weird looking creatures called Clancers, who, if I'm honest, all seem to look like Ghostface from Scream, as well as floating balls, blocks and platforms that also share appearance with the masked killer who wants to know what your favourite scary movie is. Then there is the fact that a lot of the game is based around grabbing and 'shaking' things. How is this done? You press B to grab something when you're up close, then you press down on the D-Pad and Marina will shake it. She even let's you know with her classic catchphrase 'shake! shake!'. Doing this can unveil secrets (usually to help you get those sneaky Gold gems!), doing particular things (such as controlling blockman) or just simply give you some extra gems so that you can get health or extra continues if you die. Each levels is something new and usually introduces a new gameplay mechanic to add more interesting ideas to the mix and sometimes even make the game harder.

I mean, if you are not convinced enough about how awesome this game is, just look at the picture above. In this scene you grab and throw missiles back at some guy on a motorbike who is chasing you while you're riding a cat who is riding a missile. What else is there to say, really? Sheer brilliance.

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