Posted by Jaqen_HGhar (1138 posts) -

Most of the games I grew up with are games everyone knows about. Or at least almost everyone. Super Mario was one of the first, but I also played a lot of Startropics and some jet-plane-fighter game I haven't managed to find (I don't remember the name either, so maybe someone can help me? You had to take of and land on air-carriers, watch your map or radar for bases and such to bomb). The next console I got was the N64, and that is where it got really magical for me. Mario 64, Lylat Wars and Pilotwings was the big ones (then Ocarina of Time and Majoras Mask, that last one is one of the best games ever made), but I also borrowed a game from a friend that I actually thought was a fever dream a few years ago. No one seemed to know it, and I couldn't find it again. Mostly because I had forgotten the name, and searching for "robot shaking kids" didn't really work when I tried. Now I can actually find it by searching "robot shaking kids nintendo 64" though, so that's good.

Anyway, the game I wanted to write a bit about is the best "robotic maid shaking kids" simulator ever made. None other than Mischief Makers. I fell in love with this game right away. The graphics was weird, the music was weird and the mechanics... oh my. It's a 2D platformer, where you pick up things. People, kids, pots, ninja stars, rockets, flowers. Anything really. You can then throw whatever you hold in any direction, or you can shake it. Shake shake! Then throw it. Actually, shaking weapons and bombs can make them act differently. The story is weird, the levels are weird. The controls are weird. It's a weird game. And it is fucking awesome.

I never felt I beat it properly though. To get the final cutscene you need to get a gem on every level. And you need to have a good average rank. The gems was a bitch to get, so I didn't have many when I finally beat it the first time. And the thing is, the final cutscene actually plays, it just stops when you run out of gems. So I got to see a few seconds of it before it just cuts out, teasing me with the rest. I never got enough gems to watch the whole thing, and to this day I don't know what happens. I could probably find it on Youtube, but I don't want to ruin the mystery.

Before this week I thought almost no one knew about this. Someone must have played it, seeing how it is in the database, but still. Then I heard music from the game in some random Game Theory YT video a few days ago. I think it was about the theory that Humans are Pokemon. And I am currently watching the archive of the SGDQ2014 speedrun of it. So people know about it! But why don't more people know about it? Is it actually a bad game? Was it too weird? Did it have a limited release? Beats me. I loved it at least, and really hope it get some kind of re-release someday.

#1 Posted by NorthSarge (275 posts) -

I remember playing Mischief Makers as a youngin'. The game is totally weird & I have very fond memories of it. I have a very specific memory of that damn race level (which was just a button mashing section really) I was at a friends house and he was stuck on the level, we both tried, but couldn't get first place. His mom was walking by and asked if she could have a go (after watching us have small seizures on the controller trying to mash our way to victory) She was able to do it first try. Anyway super weird game. I don't think the game necessarily reached a wide audience though, probably because of the weird story, weird design aesthetic, weird everything on the surface really.

#2 Posted by Jaqen_HGhar (1138 posts) -

@northsarge: I also had trouble with that level. Almost all of the festival games in that stage was so hard to do. Didn't help that I didn't understand all of it (English is not my native language). They actually remarked on that during the Speedrun. You have two ways of doing the boost dash. Either use the C-buttons, which you normally use, but you can also double tap any direction on the d-pad. If you use the d-pad, you have a slower boost with a higher top speed. So in order to beat that you had to either be perfect on your C-button boosts, or just mash the hell out of the d-pad boosts. So damn weird.
That was what I figured. Wonder how it would do today, as a downloadable game on Steam or whatnot. I would buy it in a heartbeat.

#3 Posted by GunstarRed (5907 posts) -

I bought it last year. It's an ok game. it seems to have the strange world from Dynamite Headdy and have the shaking that ended up in Silhouette Mirage. I absolutely love that weird music in all those Treasure games from that era. I don't really like the jumping and I really don't like when you have to kind of fling yourself off of things. It feels a little sloppy in the controls department. Looks wonderful... or it would if everything on the N64 on an HDTV didn't look like absolute shit.

#4 Posted by Gaff (2205 posts) -

@jaqen_hghar: The jet fighter / aircraft carrier game you're thinking of is probably Top Gun for the NES?

#5 Posted by Sarumarine (2499 posts) -

I remember renting Mischief Makers at the video store back when that kind of thing was possible. But this game is a real experience. I mainly loved the boss battles like Migen Jr., Lunar, and Sasquatch Beta. Still, I think it's a pretty weird game overall with a pretty heavy dose of Japanese humor and comedy. The game itself doesn't really take the premise seriously and uses it as an excuse to run through short but sweet levels, sometimes involving Math Fun and 100m Sprints. But I really love this game.

There's really nothing else like Mischief Makers, or at least nothing I've found yet. The soundtrack runs pretty hot and cold, but there's plenty of replay value if you're looking to get S Ranks or Gold Gems for the longest, truest ending. I never managed to pull that off in my time with it. I just really liked riding Clancer Cats, surfing on missiles, and shaking machine guns for super shots.

I totally enjoyed that speedrun though. Peaches__ also did a great one a few years ago. And I was totally one of those kids that couldn't beat the Winter Games because I didn't know the directional pad gave you a better boost.

Overall, it's a weird game with a lot of quirks. I don't think it ever really had the power to gain an audience on par with more successful games. But I'm so glad it exists. So so glad Treasure decided to make it, and completely blown away someone in Nintendo decided to localize it.

#6 Posted by CDUB901 (266 posts) -

I remember seeing this game at my local blockbuster and always wanted to give it a rent. The colorful boxart and cutesy character made my eyes always go straight towards it, but sadly I never got the chance to rent it.

Might have to seek out a copy and give it a go

#7 Posted by Jaqen_HGhar (1138 posts) -

@gunstarred: The jumping and boosting did feel sort of weird. Been ages since I actually played it, so I am sure there is some rose tinting going on, but I remember getting used to the controls fairly fast. Oh, I am sure it would need some kind of HD upgrade to be worth watching on a big screen. Cool to hear that you actually bought it now! Is it rare at all? Seeing how not that many people played it, it could go either way I feel.

@gaff: At first I thought you had found it, but some further watching on Youtube of both Top Gun and the sequel... it doesn't quite fit. I distinctly remember it being even less on the screen. And the airfields and bases are firmly lodged in my mind as symbols, like seeing them from above. I'm gonna do some quick mock-up in or something and edit it in.

@sarumarine: Oh yeah, the bosses was a lot of fun! The whole "catch the hand, then throw it in the enemies face" and everything. Also the music... just listen to this awesomeness:

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So cool seeing more people remembering this fondly!

@cdub901: You totally should. Might not hold up, most certainly won't actually, but I feel it is worth experiencing it. Hell, just for the crazy story really. You are a robotic maid for starters...

#8 Posted by hunterob (174 posts) -

I bought the game months ago after reading that it was a spiritual successor to Gunstar Heroes, developed by largely the same staff. I've yet to play a 2D game with a better sense of action than Gunstar Heroes. So much goddamn variety. I still have dreams about that game.

I was planning on playing through all these N64 games I bought one after the other, but Megaman 64 got way too boring and I was more compelled to play actual new games. Maybe I ought to jump right into this game though, soon. Seems really overlooked.

#9 Posted by Superkenon (1569 posts) -

God, somehow or another I got all the gold gems back in the day. For boss stages, I remember you had to beat them without getting hit. Which was kinda crazy, and I can't believe I actually pulled that off, looking back. I probably wouldn't have the patience to do all that today.

But yeah, it's an outstanding, charmingly weird, badly-translated, incredibly fun jewel from the N64 era. It's still cool that they managed to make a whole game where all your character can do is grab and throw shit. It was a simple yet open-ended mechanic that they kept finding inventive, fun new things to do with as the game went on.

#10 Posted by Jaqen_HGhar (1138 posts) -

@hunterob: I never played Gunstar Heroes, but playing it more recently... I can see the resemblance. MM is a lot weirder, and more forgiving I think. While some levels are hard as fuck, I don't feel you are as punished when you mess up.

@superkenon: Wow. I remember figuring out that you got the gems that way, which also made me realize I would never get them all.

The shaking and throwing was so fun as well! Especially when you did it to kill normal enemies. Always thought it felt satisfying when you shook an enemy then threw him at another, seeing both of them go down in smoke while their ghosts floated upwards...

@gaff: So, this is probably not exactly right, might even be wildly wrong, but I remember having to bomb these things. Yeah. For some reason, that is the most iconic thing I can remember. I feel the screen was mostly empty, even black. You saw these things on the radar quite well, might even have seen them on screen. But hell, you might have been right with Top Gun, and my memory is just faulty.

#11 Posted by Superkenon (1569 posts) -

@jaqen_hghar: I played the game again not too long ago, and I had trouble just not dying to some bosses, so I don't know how I ever managed any flawless runs. The power of youth...??

The bosses are definitely my favorite part of the game, though. Without beating you over the head with it, all of them intuitively taught you new ways to use the grabbing and throwing in ways you hadn't before then. In some cases, even making up new rules for the mechanic on the spot, which is usually a sucky thing for a video game to do to you, but they implement them with enough context that they make sense to do, and feels good when you do it.

I think it's safe to say the game is just damn satisfying.

#12 Posted by ajamafalous (12541 posts) -

My neighbor had Mischief Makers and we used to play it all the time. She was initially stuck on that math olympics part, but luckily I was a math wiz and beat it for her.

Then we totally got stuck on the race part like everyone else. What a weird game.

#13 Posted by kcin (306 posts) -

Escaping a tsunami on a tricycle.

#14 Posted by wemibelec90 (2156 posts) -

I remember being enamored with the boxart for this game as a kid and rented it more than once. It was, however, one of those games I could never figure out how to play.

#15 Edited by redelectric (166 posts) -

@jaqen_hghar: Is Captain Skyhawk the game?

No prolly not. Perhaps Blue Max? Now i'm just guessing...

#16 Edited by Elwoodan (951 posts) -

Here is more evidence for the existence of this game, I remember loving it but I never made it very far, I bought it used so I piggybacked off the save file that was already on it....

Also, wasn't there a boss fight where you turned into a giant tank or something?

#17 Posted by Jaqen_HGhar (1138 posts) -

@superkenon: I agree! The design of the bosses was pretty cool as well, making every boss feel unique. While watching the speedrun I realized I actually remembered most of the game, the bosses in particular. That is pretty well done, seeing how long it is since I last played it.

@ajamafalous: Seems that is the one part where it all ends for people. It's also such a strange thing to put in there, but then again, most of the game is strange.

@kcin: That was such a cool level! I remember replaying that over and over. When I think about it, that might have been the start of my love of games like Trials...

@wemibelec90: The controls themselves was enough to make it difficult. Took me a while to figure out just moving. So I can see how a lot of kids might never have gotten past some of the first stages. But when you got the controls down.. so much fun. Grabbing on to floating faces, then hitting them to fly further up than you could by jumping was the moment I knew it would be cool as hell.

@redelectric: No, sadly. Been watching even more footage from both Top Gun, and I am starting to wonder if the game I am thinking of had no cockpit view. It might have been top down, with only a map. I do remember having to line up icons of bases and such in order to hit them though. Hell, maybe this is the game that didn't actually exist?

@elwoodan: Ah, save files on carts. That is the reason I have never actually played Blast Corps. Rented it because it looked awesome, but it had a nearly 100% beaten save on it. Only had one save slot from what I remember, and my poor English prevented me from learning how to erase the save.

Don't remember turning into a tank yourself, but you do fight a big tank. Which transforms into a... well, humanoid thing. So it's like a transformers. You also fight a moving motorcycle-thing which can transform into a four-legged running boss. While you ride a small white cat yourself.