Mischief Makers

Mischief Makers might not be graphically groundbreaking,
but it makes up for this with solid level design

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Treasure
Genre: Adventure/ Platform

Now the quirky Japanese developer has brought its platform game expertise to the N64 Mischief Makers, the first 2D side-scrolling game to appear on Nintendo1s king of 3D game machines. While the game might not be graphically groundbreaking, it makes up for this shortcoming with solid level design (though odd at times) and loads of challenging gameplay.

Mischief Makers stars a robotic cleaning maid named Marina on a mission to rescue her kidnapped creator from the clutches of an evil emperor. As with most evil folk, the emperor isn't about to just hand over the aging scientist, and has amassed an army to stop Marina at all costs. To reach the emperor and rescue her creator, Marina must make her way through five different worlds with 12 stages each.

Gameplay is where Mischief Makers really shines. Unlike many other action/platform titles, the game challenges players to use their heads to overcome the stages1 various obstacles. While some stages focus on straightforward action, others present the player with puzzle elements that must be overcome in order to make it to each stages goal.

Marina, your everyday robotic maid, must make her way through a number of unique (and very 2D) levels on her mission. Levels differ in size and variety. The first level is very reminiscent of a 16-bit 2D side-scroller, as Marina walks through the level picking up enemies and shaking them into dizzy spells, talking to characters and progressing. Actually, it took us quite some time to figure out the point behind the game, which really doesn't develop until you've completed the first few levels.

The object of the game, basically, is to capture the star at the end of each level. In doing so, Marina must shake enemies into dizzy spells, break path-obstructing blocks, utilize weapons (such as a ball-spouting shotgun) and ride whatever happens to be in her path (i.e. bikes, wire mazes, etc.). It's all rather refreshing and can be fun as well as frustrating.

Graphically, the game isn't going to break any new grounds or amaze many people. It looks very similar to a 16-bit side-scroller in appearance (and plays like a good one). The 2D sprites fill the worlds that make up Marina's quest. Scrolling clouds and backgrounds are nice, but really, the game isn't nearly as pleasing visually as it is in the gameplay department. Still, it does sport some nice effects like transparencies (found in much of the foreground) and anti-alaising, along with mip-mapping and scaling rotation.

Mischief Makers definitely could of used some work in terms of sound. Seemingly uninspired, the music is especially bad and often we turned the volume down altogether just to get away from it.

Treasure's latest addition serves as both the first 2D platformer experience on the Nintendo 64 and a solid, well-rounded little game. Mischief Makers does not test the graphic prowess of the 64-bit system and probably won't break any new grounds in terms of 2D adventure platforms, but all the same, it is a welcomed addition for fans of the genre, and certainly Treasure fanatics worldwide will love it.