I remember riding on my bike to Microplay the weekend this game came out. I took an hour to get there – and to my disappointment, someone had already rented it out! The 2D gameplay with 3D graphics brought two things I loved together in one awesome game! The next weekend, I road my bike again but was there a few minutes before Microplay opened, and was finally able to play this awesome 2D/3D platformer for the Nintendo 64!
In terms of story, it’s simply but sets up for a fun platform game! The game takes place in the world of Clancer! Marina – the the robotic machine that the players control – is on a mission to save her creator Dr. Theo from the evil Emperor and his Imperial Army. For the intro of the game, take a look at the introducing screens below!
In terms of gameplay, Mischief Makers is kind of like Mega Man without the shooting and with a bit more puzzles! Like most 2D platformers, Marina can run and jump her way through levels – but she does not have the innate ability to shoot projectiles! Instead, Marina utalizes grabbing, shaking, and blasting!
Grabbing allows Marina to literally grab just about anything in the game world – from enemies, to allies, to awesome weapons like machine guns and missiles! Once grabbed, Marina can shake that which has been grabbed to either send it flying as a protective or to discover hidden loot hidden within it like extra health or gems. Shaking can also be used to discover hidden utilities of items such as different firing options of a gun. Marina also has the boost function, which while not exactly an attack, can help her quickly rocket through areas, to jump extra far, or to hover in place!
In terms of levels, there are 5 worlds in all with a 10 levels in each! While each world has its own look and feel, what really surprised me is how unique each individual level felt. Some levels are more action oriented (e.g., blowing stuff up) while others are more puzzle oriented (e.g., save a friend from harm, participate in athletic contest, run from a rolling boulder) but even within each type of level, there is just so much variety!
For instance, one action level had me guiding Marina on a rocket where I had to control the direction of the rocket so that it did not bump into anything and blow up, while another one had me running, jumping, and teleporting through lava-filled caverns, while another level had me invading a Military base with crazy powerful weapons! The game also has a few bosses thrown in for good measure! While they are initially quite easy with learnable patterns, the later bosses (such as the final boss) has multiple forms and is a really challenge to defeat!
My overall take-home message about the gameplay and level design? The developers took Marina and all the abilities that she had and created levels that allowed those abilities to be used to their absolute fullest – and this made for a very satisfying and dynamic game to play!
In terms of graphics, this game utilizes 3D backgrounds with 2D characters sprites. Personally, I think it looks awesome. The worlds are very colourful and range from forest/meadow areas, to deep caverns, to military bases, and beyond! The Clancers (i.e., the entities with the white masks that populate most of the world) are both cute and disturbing at the same time, and the main cast (both heroes and enemies) have beautifully designed portraits for when they speak!
In terms of music, the game doesn’t really have any standout tracks for me, but overall did a good job setting the tone for a light-hearted adventure. The game also utilizes many voices (unlike most N64 games) which really helped bring Marina and the rest of the cast to life in a way most games of that time didn’t.
Overall, this is an awesome 2D platform game for the N64 that’s fun, challenging, and extremely unique in its level design! I would also consider it a bit of a hidden gem as well as there are so few 2D games on the system. Highly recommended for 2D platform fans! Overall, I give this game an 8/10.
Final Score: 8/10