SHORT LIST 19 - May 1998
(Nintendo, N64, £50)
Despite the twee name - embarrassingly muddy-funstered from the much zippier Japanese original ("Go! Go! Troublemakers"), this is another hyper-festival of weirdout sugar-rush anarchy from developers Treasure, still the best-kept secret in the games business despite a run of completely fantastic games dating back to Gunstar Heroes on the Mega Drive. Basically a platform shoot-'em-up in the same way that The Usual Suspects is basically a heist movie, Mischief Makers is such a riot of invention and genius that, frankly, it's got no chance whatsoever of being a big hit. Prove us wrong.
(Ubi Soft, PC, £40)
The latest stab at bringing a flicker of originality to the glut of Command And Conquer clones besieging PC owners sees the player - previously given a God-like overview of proceedings from on high - thrown into the middle of the action, with a first-person perspective on all the blood and guts and direct control over some of the monstrous hardware under their command. Otherwise it's pretty much business as usual, but accessible controls and balanced design make this a lot more fun for the casual mercenary, while still engrossing for more hard-bitten generals.
TEST DRIVE 4
(Accolade, Playstation, £40)
You have to wonder what kind of madness seizes developers who try to bring out new Playstation driving games (especially with the hot ticket that is Gran Turismo imminent in the release schedules), but if publishers really must insist on bringing even more titles into history's most overcrowded genre, then it's as well to make them lovely-looking, fast-moving and pleasingly difficult efforts like this. The over-realism of the handling can be pretty annoying at times, but there's enough to see and do to ensure that you'll stick with TD4 a good while longer than most PS racers.
NAGANO WINTER OLYMPICS 98
(Konami, N64, £50)
The start of the year saw a real glut of winter sports titles foisted on the disinterested British public, and after the disappointments of Cool Boarders, Winter Heat and Steep Slope Sliders, it's not saying much to point out that this multi-eventer is the least poor of the lot. Skiing, skating, stunt-snowboarding and (er) curling all feature prominently in what's mostly an over-fussy, under-exciting sequence of samey pursuits set against E-Z-Draw white backgrounds. The emphasis, unusually, is on precision and timing rather than button-hammering, but the fact that it won't smash your joypad is about all NWO98 has going for it.