The Most Underrated N64 Game: Mischief Makers
Have you ever played a video game that was really addicting and fun, but never got the love and attention that it deserved? Enter Mischief Makers, a hidden Nintendo 64 gem that may have just scored average by the critics, but developed a cult following for its unique style!
Developed by Treasure and published by Enix (the former company that merged to become Square Enix) in Japan, Mischief Makers was a 2D, side-scrolling platform/puzzle game starring robotic maid Marina Liteyears, known as the Ultra-Intergalactic-Cybot G, and her search for her kidnapped Professor Theo on the planet Clancer. While the game lacked detail with its sprite graphics and MIDI music, it still provided an overall fun experience with its interesting gameplay mechanics, anime-esque personalities and quirky storyline.
In order to find Professor Theo, you (as Marina) had to make your way though sidescrolling levels that were contained within larger overworlds. Each level had different objectives, but the main gameplay involved solving puzzles and fighting enemies to make your way to the end which was completed by finding the warp star.
The game's combat system was the most interesting aspect of Mischief Makers! By playing as a state-of-the-art robot equipped with jetpacks and huge, metal fists, you'd think beating up enemies would be a breeze! But, there was no "punch" or "kick" in Mischief Makers: only "shaking" (and throwing)! Also, the game oddly only utilized the N64's D-pad as the main controls for the game (the control stick could not be used to move).
Each overworld had its own mini boss (with a funny pun name) and a final boss that pit you against one member of the Beastector trio, the justice fighters who had mistaken Marina for being a criminal (due to an earlier incident in the game's humorous plot). Lunar, Merco, and Taurus added fun personalities to the game and were challenging opponents, but they were antagonists that you grew to love by the very end! I always enjoyed their introductions and shouting their transformations, especially "Cerberus Alphaaaaa!"
Mischief Makers contained the most eccentric world I've ever played in, but the experience would have been completely different without it! For starters, everything on the planet Clancer had the same iconic eyes: the Clancers (or inhabitants), buildings, obstacles, and machines! It was odd, but an equally hilarious sight!
And how could we ever forget the catchy soundtrack! Despite the criticism it received, the MIDI-style music was always intriguing to listen to, and had me humming along since the very introduction! There weren't many sound effects or voice-overs in the game, but the limited sounds never failed to entertain! I always remember the heroic, "Stooooooooooop!"
One of the great challenges in the game included the ability to find all the hidden Gold Gems within each level. Some were easy and others were downright frustrating (especially that 100 meter dash in "The Day Of" level). Finding the Gold Gems rewarded players with the special ending, and only those who found all 53 could reveal the surprise at the very end!
Mischief Makers was truly a "hidden gem" that very few got to experience back in its day! Although the chances are very slim, I'd love to see the game be redesigned in HD! It would be great to get to experience the fun all over again, and to allow players (who missed the opportunity to play it) a second chance to immerse themselves in some underrated mischief!