Every year or so, WWE rolls into Australia for a blockbuster, multi-city tour. Xavier Woods, who also goes by Austin Creed when he's not on tour or in the ring, was in town this year, but instead of talking about WWE 2K20 I caught up with him on all the ways gaming has changed over the last few years, and why he really wants Mischief Makers to make a comeback.
One thing I was personally really excited to hear about was Woods' passion for classic Nintendo 64 platformer, Mischief Makers. In the past, Woods has been quite vocal about his love for the game, even dressing up as protagonist Marina for DragonCon last year.
— Austin Creed (@XavierWoodsPhD) September 1, 2018
I loved Mischief Makers growing up, with its bright, weird aesthetic and unusual controls that had players throwing enemies and shaking every object in sight. It was the perfect game for a certified Weird Kid, and a unique platformer that used every button on the N64's D-Pad instead of the analog stick.
Between it and Diddy Kong Racing, young me was quickly forming a love for all things weird and gaming, so when Xavier mentioned that he was pushing hard for a Mischief Makers sequel, I was delighted to hear it.
"I love Mischief Makers," Woods said. "It's an incredible game, amazing concept, strong female lead ... there's so many things that are so good about it." Mischief Makers was one of the few games he'd played that had a strong female lead since Metroid, further cementing the game's originality at the time.
"It just a super fun game. I like sidescrollers, and the fact that it was really long. And I just love the story, it's just like a weird concept." The love Woods has for Mischief Makers extends to his own home — he has Marina painted on his wall alongside Steven Universe. Both great choices, in my books.
Woods has actively advocated for a sequel, starting by commissioning remixes of Mischief Makers' soundtrack. "I have a bunch of friends in the States who make incredible video game music remixes," Woods said.
"I'm also friends with people who work at a company that get a lot of IPs that are gone and dead, and they do remakes of the game ... so in order to try to get certain people out of hiding to talk about their game, because they wouldn't talk about it before, I may have commissioned a bunch of artists to remix five of the Mischief Maker tracks. Y'know, trying to start a little buzz in the States."
"It was so people would start coming out of the woodwork," Woods said. "Like, oh yeah, we love Mischief Makers, so that the guy [who works for the remake company], when he goes to Japan next, he can say 'hey look, there's a buzz over here about your game, sell us this IP and then we're gonna remix the game'. We're still working on that, but hopefully at some point in time, I'll be able to show you [what a sequel would look like."
Mischief Makers was a product of a simpler time, and the way people play games and connect through them has changed completely over the last two decades. Woods said community was an essential part of his gaming, particularly through his UpUpDownDown YouTube channel. His career means Woods is travelling often, and gaming helps connect Woods with his friends who don't follow wrestling.
"I like that kind of energy," he explained. "Because then you know you're making friends with people that line up with your same interests, and that's what gaming's been since I was little."
Woods' gaming passion, which started when he first played River City Ransom, Megaman 5, Mischief Makers and Nights into Dreams, has only gotten stronger with age. Gaming may have changed, but its capacity to influence and connect people hasn't.