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Aggregate score
Review scores
3.5/5 stars[8]
Game Informer 7/10[18]
Nintendo Life 8/10 stars[3]
Nintendo Power 6.9/10[4]
Mischief Makers received "mixed or average reviews", according to video game rev
iew score aggregator Metacritic,[14] and a "Gold Hall of Fame" score of 32/40 fr
om Japanese magazine Famitsu.[16] Critics praised the game's inventiveness, pers
onality, "variety", and boss fights,[3][8][10][15] and criticized its brevity, l
ow difficulty, low replay value,[8][10][18] sound,[2][4][10][19] and harsh intro
ductory learning curve.[3][8][15] Retrospective reviewers disagreed with the gam
e's originally poor reception,[7][20] and multiple reviewers noted Marina's sign
ature "Shake, shake!" sound bite as a highlight.[6][8][15] Electronic Gaming Mon
thly awarded the game their silver award.[15]
IGN's Matt Casamassina said that the game compensated for its average graphics w
ith excellent level design and gameplay challenges. He added that the game's puz
zles require thought, unlike those in other action/platform games, and that the
game's objectives were not clear until after the first few levels. Casamassina p
raised the game's transparency effects, anti-aliasing, mipmapping, and scaling r
otations.[2] IGN described anticipation for the game as "tremendous",[12] partic
ularly among the game's market of "younger gamers and 2D fans".[5] Nintendo Powe
r thought that the game was the best side-scroller since Super Mario World.[4] N
ext Generation wrote that "only diehard 2D platform fans" would be interested an
d did not feel that the game lived up to standards set by Mario 64.[19] In contr
ast, GameFan said that Mischief Makers did for 2D what Mario 64 did for 3D, and
suggested that Sega should be influenced by the game.[21] GamesRadar retrospecti
vely called Mischief Makers "pure, unadulterated awesome" and "2D brilliance". T
he website summarized the game to be about "grabbing sad-faced aliens, shaking t
hem until gems come out, and then hurling them at other sad-faced aliens."[20] Z
achary Miller of Nintendo World Report asserted the game may be the console's mo
st bizarre and surreal,[6] but Gamasutra's John Harris said that the game's prem
ise is "only strange to people who have never heard of anime".[7] GameFan descri
bed the game as "obviously deeply Japanese",[21] where "old school gameplay and
64-bit visuals finally meet".[17]
Hirokazu Hamamura of Famitsu commended Mischief Makers's gameplay, which balance
d its poor character design. Other Famitsu reviewers admired Treasure's signatur
e robot designs and were puzzled by the company's choice to use buttons instead
of the 3D analog stick.[16] Nintendo Life's Jamie O'Neill praised the game's cha
racters and disliked the controls. He compared the Calina character to the role
of Shadow Mario in Super Mario Sunshine.[3] O'Neill wrote that the intricate con
trols were "the antithesis of a friendly, approachable, and intuitive platformer
" because the game used every button on the controller (including the directiona
l pad), though he felt that players who persevered through the difficult control
s would find them "inventive and unique".[3] He added that the complex controls
allowed for experimentation that led to new and fun gameplay, and though the thr
owing enemies mechanic seemed to follow from Gunstar Heroes, the Clanball platfo

rming was unintuitive.[3] John Harris of Gamasutra wrote that the game borrowed
other elements from Gunstar Heroes, as the games were similar in protagonists, c
ollectible gems,[f] and bosses.[7][g] As the game took time to learn and underst
and, O'Neill left the reader to decide whether the game was "ultimately convolut
ed or bordering on sophistication and genius".[3]
Nintendo Life's O'Neill thought the five world bosses were among Treasure's best
(in particular, the transforming "Cerberus Alpha" boss), but found the mid-leve
l bosses uninteresting.[3] Peter Bartholow of GameSpot[10] and Electronic Gaming
Monthly's reviewers felt similarly. Sushi-X of Electronic Gaming Monthly added
that the technique of looking for a boss's weak spot was similar to Metroid.[15]
Famitsu reviewers praised how the game encouraged players to experiment with th
e basic "grab, throw, and shake" gameplay. They also appreciated the cadence of
Mischief Makers's short levels.[16] O'Neill (Nintendo Life) thought the game had
great variety in gameplay mechanics (from maze puzzles to outrunning lava), gra
phics (from bosses that scale back the screen to levels with screen rotation), a
nd audio (from upbeat quirk to scary), and added that he was surprised to hear c
ritics speak against the "unique, varied, and dramatic" sound.[3] Scott McCall o
f AllGame too appreciated the sound, from the voice to the "almost indescribable
" music.[8] Gamasutra's John Harris noted its "tremendous variety" in gameplay fro
m a Track & Field remake to outrunning a missile barrage as rare for 2D platformer
s, and commented that "it is obvious that Treasure poured their hearts into this
Peter Bartholow of GameSpot summarized Mischief Makers as "a good game that will
leave players wanting more".[10] He liked the bosses, which made the player use
all available skills, but felt they were short-lived and easily solved in the c
ontext of a short game with tutorials as one fifth of its levels.[10] He did not
consider the ending extension a suitable reward for returning to the levels, an
d predicted that most players would not finish the game more than once.[10] Game
Informer echoed Bartholow's comments about the game's brevity, and named the ga
me's seven-event olympics as a highlight.[18] Sushi-X of Electronic Gaming Month
ly wrote that the game felt incomplete and lamented that "a decent player can fi
nish the game in under three hours",[15] though Next Generation said the game wa
s "certainly long enough".[19] The game's frequent reuse of a small selection of
tiles, objects, sound effects, soundtracks, and bland backgrounds (compared to
the "impressive" boss battle animations and effects) led GameSpot's Bartholow to
suggest that Mischief Makers was limited by its cartridge space. He concluded t
hat the "decent" game would be "truly excellent ... on another medium".[10] Zach
ary Miller of Nintendo World Report reported that the graphics did not age well
into 2010.[6] Electronic Gaming Monthly wrote that the game is "definitely a sle
eper hit".[15] As Hardcore Gamer's Ryan Cartmel put it, the game went "largely u