This unusual 2D platformer was released in 1997 on the N64 and, by Jove, it’s an interesting one. Japanese developer Treasure was behind it and it involves you playing as Marina, this robot woman, and in the game you generally grab and shake stuff whilst traversing the levels. It’s structure is quite an odd one – it’s one of those really warped Japanese titles publishers think Westerners would just find too weird, but we’re happy to say it did get a release in Europe.
It arrived in Europe (where we’re from – England, to be precise, Manchester a bit more precise… don’t go hunting us down, now, you hear?) in January 1998 and met with strong reviews. Up against titles like Goldeneye 007, though, it was completely overshadowed and was generally regarded as that quirky and chaotic entity from Nippon. But, 20 years after its release, we’re remembering the SOB fondly today.
A lot of classic N64 titles have been hitting the big 20 over the last year, with the likes of Ocarina of Time and Banjo-Kazooie rapidly approaching their respective birthdays. We’ll cover those another time, but for now we have Mischief Makers, which remains one of the lesser known games from the N64’s back catalogue.
There were 388 games released on the console, which is quite a small amount by modern standards. It was, weirdly enough, the first 2D side-scroller to appear on the console, primarily as developers were busy arsing about trying out 3D games at that time. With the shift away from the SNES era, it was surprising to find a 2D platformer on the console.
After the groovy animated intro above, you’re launched into the game with minimal plot. What soon becomes apparent is Marina’s equally groovy “Shake! Shake!” soundbite which doesn’t get annoying, you just want to shake stuff! The mental nature of the game, organised in its chaos, then emerges… as does the fun factor.
As you can see in the below (sorry… above!) clip, it gets hectic and what ultimately transpires is a mixture of action, puzzle, and platformer levels which you traverse. Marina’s mission is to save her creator, who has been kidnapped; you jump about, get a boost from a jetpack, shake stuff, and take on some impressive looking bosses.
With five worlds and a big heap of levels, it’s an action-packed game which is unusual, not perfect, but a great dose of fun. Its status now appears to be of a hidden gem from the N64’s library of games, but thanks to its 2D setting the graphics have aged nicely and this would be a welcome addition on Steam (or the N64 Mini, if that happens later in the year). So, got an N64? Give this one a whirl. It’s totally worth it.
Developer Treasure is still around, but it doesn’t seem likely we’ll be getting another Mischief Makers game anytime soon. As you can see from the highly annoying, terrible commercial above, marketers didn’t really know how to sell the game back in early 1998. Does that pile of rubbish above make you want to play it, or do you just want to punch the actor playing the taxi driver?
These days, we’re in the middle of an indie game golden age where a relentless stream of brilliant platformers surging out into the gaming world month after month. Mischief Makers isn’t as good as modern gems such as Ori and the Blind Forest, but it represents an interesting coda in the N64’s history, a title that harked back to the SNES era and it appeared archaic as a result. However, its look and quirk factor now ensure it stands out amongst many other N64 games. It was a bold effort to try something a bit different, so a hearty pat on the back for Treasure’s efforts.