Mischief Makers

Not long ago, there was an extremely weird Japanese game entitled Go! Go! Troublemakers. A fun, slightly off-the-wall platform game, Troublemakers caused many headaches in the office due to the fact that many of its puzzles relied on the player being able to decipher thousands of lines of Japanese text. "Why, oh why," frustrated players beseeched the heavens, "couldn't this game be in English?" And before you can say "Three number forty-two's twice and a bag of prawn crackers", here it is, the newly converted, newly translated, newly named Mischief Makers.

So what's changed? The original was a massive, predominantly 2-D platform adventure - 'predominantly' because it used a few pseudo-3D tricks to add a bit of depth to the otherwise fairly flat play areas - that revolved around the efforts of a cyber-chick named Marina and her quest to rescue her lecherous old master from the clutches of some scary ghost-faced creatures on a planet of ghost-faced creatures, aided by other ghost-faced creatures. (Does that make any sense?)

Haven't We Been Here Before?

The new version, unsurprisingly, isn't a lot different. In fact the only thing that has really changed is the language, and to some degree the soundtrack. No amazing graphical improvements, no huge extra levels. So is this enough to justify converting the game? Yes actually.

As mentioned already, one of the big problems with Troublemakers was that whilst some of the puzzles were obvious, many of them relied on getting clues from the various characters, and the only alternative was trial and error experimentation - that or kidnapping Japanese nationals and keeping them locked in your wardrobe for translation purposes.

And it's not just the puzzles that benefit from the English text. Whereas before, the text sequences (of which there are many) were just so many annoying delays between gaming action, now the dialogue slowly builds up a story, and provides intentional (and, at times, what must be unintentional) laughs.

The whole game now seems so much more relevant. You now know why you are working your way across this weird planet, and why you are being aided and impeded by the various weird inhabitants. The inhabitants are (we are told) known as dancers, from the planet... er, Clancer. And they are in fact all incredibly nice people, so nice in fact (apparently) that they can be turned evil by manipulative people. Which of course makes perfect sense!

In general though, Mischief Makers does benefit hugely from the simple fact that you know what the hell it is you are supposed to be doing (even if you don't understand quite why you are supposed to be doing it).

Take the hint balls for example (or 'Miss Hint', as the balls themselves apparently prefer to be known). They were about as much use in the Japanese game as shoes would be to a man with no legs. Actually, probably less use than that, because a man with no legs probably wouldn't be adversely affected by shoes (unless someone threw them at him or something). The hint balls however, take away ten red gems every time when you use them, which is the equivalent of one continue, making them worse than useless in Troublemakers. A certain person in the office - who shall remain nameless... oh all right, it was Andy - was under the impression for a long time that the hint balls actually gave you red gems, and couldn't work out why at the end of each level after grabbing several hint balls, he had fewer gems than he'd started with. Now though, the hint balls are a useful tool, and are essential when you're going out of your mind with frustration wondering what to do next (of course, you won't need them if you've bought this mag, as there just happens to be a complete Mischief Makers solution in this issue, but I digress).

But What's The Game Like?

Of course, there are probably those of you out there that have never played Go! Go! Troublemakers, and perhaps even those of you who missed our review of it in issue four (shame on you!). Just for those few, here's the general plot.

Basically, Mischief Makers is a horizontally and vertically scrolling platform game, with a multitude of puzzles and more quirks than a minibus full of mental patients.

Far from being run-of-the-mill, Mischief Makers throws anything and everything into the mix to produce gameplay that, while fairly easy to learn, is constantly changing, with the result that the next level is never quite what you expected it to be. Just when you're getting used to running sideways, you'll be climbing upwards, or falling downwards, or taking on huge monsters by hitting them in the face with their own fists, or catching fireballs, or beating up an incredibly cute kitten-like creature and then riding it into battle against a boss on a rocket-powered motorbike that transforms into an animal... and that's without even mentioning the cowboys, the kings, the flowers, the stars, the bombs, the ghosts, the Olympic challenge, the drill that turns into a bird, the volcanic eruptions and the robot made from Lego blocks!

The great thing about Mischief Makers is that it keeps you guessing. There's no fixed pattern to the levels, for example; bosses pop up all over the place and one minute you could be running for your life from a volcanic eruption, the next be free-falling down a seemingly-bottomless pit. And even when you've finished the game, the chances are you won't have found all the special yellow gems you need to see the entire ending, so it's back you go to search for them.

In summary, this game isn't hugely different from its Japanese counterpart. If you've bought and finished the Japanese version, for instance, it's probably not worth you buying this one unless you're really desperate to find out what they say in the end-sequence (and you're not keen on the Japanese kidnapping idea). If you don't have Troublemakers though, and you're in the market for an impressive, pretty innovative platform scroller, then look no further than Mischief Makers. That's if you've got an NTSC machine of course, otherwise you'll just have to wait for it to be converted a third time, won't you?

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Mischief Makers Downloads

Nintendo 64 Mischief Makers download

Old-style 2-D platformer that makes up for being a dated genre with inventiveness and strange Japanese charm. Maybe a bit easy.

reggie posted a review

It's retro but it's totally rewarding and expertly constructed. Along with Yoshi's Story, a perfect example of how to do 2D on the N64.

reggie posted a review

Strangeness ahoy in this 2-D platformer, which crams in more variety and imaginative tricks than any of its ะท-D contemporaries. You control Marina the green-haired robot maid in her constant efforts to rescue her lecherous and imbecilic master from the clutches of an evil empire of mournful aliens. Weird, yes, but compulsive, if maybe a little easy.

reggie posted a review

It's time to start side-scrolling again! Just when you thought all N64 adventure games were 3D Doom clones, along comes a wild and highly imaginative platform game called Mischief Makers.

Gameplay

In this one-player game you play Marina Liteyears, Ultra-InterGalactic-Cybot G, a powerful female robot, housemaid, and assistant to Professor Theo. While visiting the planet Clancer, the Professor is kidnapped by a band of natives (Clancers) and it's your job as Marina to rescue him. With few weapons at your disposal, you need your wits and your hands to grab, throw and "shake, shake" various objects and enemies.

When you shake things, stuff happens (i.e., grab onto and shake a Clanball and it may give you several Blue Gems for health). I recommend shaking everything you can grab or pick up, since there are hidden treasures everywhere, and you usually need to find them to finish the stage.

Marina has several cool moves besides walking and grabbing -- she can hover, slide, and roll. With so many buttons, though, you may need time before you get the hang of all of them.

Overall the sounds were perfectly suited to the environment, but Marina's constant repetition of "shake, shake" (the only words she seems to say) was cute the first forty times I heard it, but soon became annoying.

The best feature of this game is the bosses. They look and act perfectly -- I usually wasted time studying them rather than trying to defeat them right away. Watch out for those unexpected surprise moves.

Mischief Makers is a great game for people who like to solve challenging puzzles rather than simply run around and shoot at whatever moves. Originally released several months ago in Japan under the name Yuke Yuke Troublemakers (the translation of the game text appears to be the only change), it's easy to see a strong Japanese animation style and influence. Its comic book look and feel makes for a uniquely interesting universe, but the levels are often very frustrating, either too easy or too hard, and rarely in between. I spent four hours in one stage, trying unsuccessfully to grab a high Clanball only to miss and fall all the way to the bottom again. It reminded me of the secret stage in Mario 64, where you fly around high above the castle in a wide spiral to try and get all eight red coins and pick up the star in the middle. If you miss just one coin, you might as well start the stage over again. It took me over 100 tries to finally get it right, and I'll never be able to get that day back for the rest of my life. One star? That's all I get?

Just when you get used to using the Nintendo 64's analog control stick, they take it away from you. Okay, they don't literally take it away, but you don't get to use it here, and I immediately felt a loss of freedom and fluid movement going back to the control pad. It's like driving a Ferrari with a restrictor plate on the engine so you can't go faster than 35 mph. It's fun and looks great, but you feel like you're missing out on something greater.

This game feels like it should have been delayed, like so many other Nintendo titles have been, to enhance the original storyline with a better game engine. I'm looking forward to a sequel, as long as they can figure out how to truly maximize Mischief Makers' potential.

Graphics

I have to admit Mischief Makers is very visually stunning. The Animation segments are solid and quite interesting, and the bosses alone make this game worth trying. Pick any one of the bosses (Merco, Tarus, Lunar, etc.) and give him his own game, and it would be an instant hit.

In every stage you play, almost everything you see has that trademark Clancer-style face on it, looking like little Mr. Potatoheads without any features attached (just empty eye and mouth holes). More like Jack-O-Lanterns everywhere you go, which is nice that they're consistent but it's visually overwhelming.

Mischief Makers is the smoothest side-scrolling game I've ever played, with no noticeable delays or blotchy graphics, due mostly to the 64-bit platform. Still it feels like this is a Super Nintendo 16-bit game in disguise ... a not-too-convincing disguise.

Bottom Line

Buy this game if you: 1) are fascinated with Japanese style animation, 2) have the urge to own every N64 game that is released, 3) find it on sale for $45 or less, or 4) lost a bet. Otherwise just rent it for the weekend or borrow it from your eccentric friend.

Sorry, but I've been spoiled by awesome adventure games like Mario 64 and Goldeneye. I've seen the future, and I don't want to go back. Side-scrolling is fun, but it's getting old -- I like 180 degree freedom of movement, 3D graphics, 4-player action, the analog stick, the RumblePak, 64DD, and so on. Mischief Makers feels like a step backward, with too many limitations. Still it's pretty good for a nice change of pace, but my pace is running for the goal, baby! No rest stops needed.

reggie posted a review
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