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Mischief Makers

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Released: 1997

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: Nintendo 64

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Treasure

Submitted by: Craig Hawkins

Mischief Makers was proudly retro the day it was released. Super Mario 64 had just wowed the world with its revolutionary 3D playgrounds and analogue controls. Treasure's response was to release a 2D platformer that completely bypassed the N64 controller's analogue stick and subscribed to 16-bit digital values. But in its own way Mischief Makers was ahead of the game.

Though 3D still rules the gaming roost, 2D has forced a comeback, no longer the victim of the dismissive frowns levelled at it by certain corners of the industry in the mid-90s. Then we come to Marina Liteyears, the game's protagonist, and her famous yell of “shake, shake”. A call which today evokes mental images of many a Wii game.

Add to that a level which turns into a mini-game Olympics and you're looking at the greatest Wii title that arrived a decade too early to actually be released on Wii. In the aforementioned level, there's also a pre-Dr Kawashima maths test. Speaking in 2008, I can quite honestly say that this 1997 game is soooo last year.

Relatively uninspired background graphics by Treasure's illustrious standards are tempered with Planet Clancer's inhabitants, various species of Clancers all with faces best (or perhaps worst) described as Munchian horrified emoticons. They're an emotional lot and offer up lines like: “Shut up! I want to be alone! Leave me alone! This is my life!”. Some are of a brighter disposition: “Let's water the flowers!! Let's cover the desert with beautiful flowers!!” They like their exclamation marks!

Marina is the robotic maid of Professor Theo. The prof has been kidnapped while visiting the planet Clancer, and now it's up to Marina to… etc. For a developer often heralded for its imagination, Treasure won no awards for this storyline. The gameplay is a different matter. The levels are never shy of promoting new concepts at every given opportunity; Marina grabs, shake-shakes and throws her way through some of Treasure's greatest platforming and bosses.

Yes, there is a mischievousness at play here. Treasure once again neglected the fashions of the day with an extravagant, multifarious undertaking of single-mindedness to come up with another timeless classic.