I'm thinking of starting a retro video game magazine.
By Joseph Walter
Mischief Makers happens to be one of the strangest games to ever hit the Nintendo 64 (right up there with Mystical Ninja and its musical numbers.)
It's also one of the best, despite its underrated sleeper-status.
Players work with Marina, the Ultra-Intergalactic Cybot-G. What this means is that they will soar through a surreal, 2D-pre-rendered world with a lot of grabbing, shaking, frog-fighting, tricycle-riding and Megazord battling.
I've enjoyed the game ever since renting it from Blockbuster ages ago, and I'm happy to have it in my collection. That said, it was only recently that I fully delved into the soundtrack and truly appreciated it.
Like many other Treasure games, such as Gunstar Heroes or Dynamite Headdy, Mischief Makers has a somewhat odd and unique musical sensibility, but one that remains catchy and even iconic.
During this deep dive, I was thrilled to discover a clever use of a leitmotif in a few of the tracks, and it inspired me to show it off to the world! (the really small world that reads this blog/cares about Mischief Makers.)
First, here is the motif, which is heard most prominently after defeating a world Boss.
It's a brilliantly triumphant fanfare, and it shows off Treasure's cool, musical sensibilities, and this game's unique soundfont, with the awesome timpani, strong synth hits, and the other-worldly faux-choir in the background.
But things get much more interesting when they apply that motif into the action-packed level music below:
I must have heard this song hundreds of times throughout my life, but only during this most recent play through did my ears hear the sacred truths within, and did everything finally -click!-. My eyes widened, my heart pounded, and I was practically trembling. Yes, this is how excited I get when I discover a new piece of connective tissue within a musical realm.
Right at the start of this piece we hear a awesome rendition of the world boss victory theme, though this time with a more adventurous edge. At :12, a deep horn synth teases us before the theme makes a modified appearance once again at :19. Starting at :21 the theme is easily identifiable despite its modified rhythm, as it becomes the back bone of the song. Also keep your ears open for the godly harmonies that are added as the motif continues to be developed.
After numerous renditions and variations, we get an incredible climax with the most straightforward performance of the motif at 1:14 before the song takes an unnervingly dark turn, and then loops back to the exciting start.
I find it remarkable that they were able to adapt that short motif into something that could be the entire core of a full piece, and I absolutely love it.
It's able to stir so much excitement and nostalgia from me and I can't really put my finger on the reason why, but it doesn't matter since it's such a catchy and triumphant theme that I'm happy to have stuck in my head.
The MASTER OF THE CASTLE
Joseph Walter is a 2013 graduate of Drexel University, with a degree in Film & Video and a minor in Film Studies.