Showcase Reel - Mikie (1984)

Updated: Nov 23, 2021



BACKGROUND


Mikie (or Shinnyū Shain Tōru-kun in Japan) is an arcade game developed by Konami and released by the same in 1984. You play as the titular character, Mikie, a prototypical Ferris Bueller before Ferris Bueller was a thing (the film came out two years after the game), decides he's had enough poring over boring lessons for one day. He decides to ditch school and spend time with his girlfriend, Mandy, who's already waiting for him outside the gates. There's only one problem. The adults aren't just going to let Mikie walk out the door; this high school kid's going to need to get creative if he wants to escape the confines of the school building. That's where we come in.


Mikie is an interesting entry in Konami's vast and varied oeuvre; I don't think there's anything quite like it in its canon. It has been described as both an action adventure title and a maze game. The objective is to successfully escape the school grounds without being caught. To do that, the player has to navigate five screens, each representing a room in the school. Each room is connected by a series of corridors and stairwells. Each room has its own traps and pitfalls and obstacles to overcome. Each room also contains a certain number of hearts as well; each heart represents as letter of a secret note that Mandy has written to Mikie. The object is to collect all the hearts; only then is the full secret message revealed, and only then is Mikie able to leave the room. However, within each room as well are one or more adults who are hell bent on making sure that Mikie stays right where he is.


The first room is the classroom. The teacher, a middle-aged, balding man with glasses, is giving a lesson. He has his back to the class. Mikie decides he's had enough of what he considers to be a boring lesson. He stands up. The objective in this first room is to bump the other students out of their seats so he can collect the heart hidden in each. The teacher doesn't take too kindly to this, so he'll start to chase Mikie down. Occasionally he'll chuck a book (arcade version) or a set of false teeth (home conversions) in order to stop Mikie from completing his goal. If Mikie sits down at any point at any desk, the teacher will stop chasing him (he's apparently not too picky). No time to dilly dally though. Mikie needs to collect all the hearts so he can leave the room and move on.


The second room is the sports locker room. Inside the room is a cook and a janitor (or in the case of the C64 version, a sports coach); neither are happy to see Mikie. I can understand the janitor/sports coach being there, but the cook? Anyway, the idea is again to collect all the hearts; these are now stowed away inside specific lockers. Headbutt (arcade) or shout at (home versions) the lockers to get the hearts inside. The janitor/sports coach and cook won't be best pleased, and will start to give chase. They are presently joined by the teacher. To momentarily stun or distract the adults, Mikie can throw basketballs at them; in the arcade version, he can also headbutt them.., Anyway, grab all the hearts and escape down the corridor to the next room.


The next room is the canteen. Here Mikie will be chased by three cooks (more understandable in this setting) and the relentless teacher. Collecting hearts is once again the order of the day. To momentarily stun the pesky adults, Mikie can throw roast chickens at them (no really). He can (again in the arcade version) headbutt them.


The fourth room is the dance studio, filled to the brim with dancing girls, who like nothing better than to stun Mikie when he gets too close to them. No cooks or janitors this time, but the teacher is still hot on Mikie's heels. Also present (in the arcade version) is the dance instructor, who will also make a bee line for our intrepid skiver. Avoid everyone as best as possible and grab all of the hearts. Onto the final area...


The final area is the school playground or yard. No adults this time. Instead, the yard is full of football jocks that would like nothing better than to take Mikie down; occasionally (in the arcade version) they will throw footballs in an effort to stun Mikie. But our high school hero senses victory is near; there are a few remaining hearts to collect, and Mandy is waiting for him. Mikie finishes collecting the hearts, is reunited with his one true love and they both literally drive off into the sunset (again, shades of Ferris Bueller). Mikie has finally triumphed. but I wonder at what cost. Surely he won't be allowed to get away with it, and he's in for at least a suspension the next day back at school...


Anyway, this is Mikie in a nutshell. Once a player completes all five screens and is reunited with Mandy, the game cycles through the same rooms; however, the difficulty is increased, with more hearts to collect and more elaborate notes to uncover, and even more determined adults to outwit. In terms of graphics, the action is presented in a not quite top down view, in a sort of tilted angle, so there is some sense of 3D. The corridors are presented in a more 2D fashion, although Mikie can move up and down the hallways and stairwells to a limited degree. With regards to music, the developers were able to license two of the Beatles' songs, A Hard Day's Night and Twist and Shout (again, I'm reminded of Ferris Bueller - was John Hughes a fan of this game or something?). The songs play in the classroom (stage 1) and dance studio (stage 4) respectively, at least in the arcade and C64 versions.


Couple of points of interest as well. Apparently, Konami nixed the high school setting in Japan, replacing it instead with an office building; however, only some of the graphics were actually changed (stage 5 jocks changed to security guards and so on). I've read conflicting reports about why this change was done. According to Wikipedia, there were incidents of school violence around the time of release in Japan, and so Konami were worried about releasing a game and deals with similar themes of violence on at least some level. I've also read, though, that Konami believed that Japanese gamers wouldn't understand the American high school setting (and I mean, it is a strange setting for a Japanese game developer to choose, but it does add to the game's uniqueness and charm). Also, Konami released a less violent version of the arcade subtitled "High School Graffiti". Mikie's offensive headbutt was replaced by a crippling shout. The home versions omitted the headbutting in favour of the shout as well.


Lastly, and before we get into the different versions, a word on the difficulty. Like most arcade games, Mikie is an extremely difficult game (the aim is to get people to pump their hard earned quarters in after all). The home versions differ in their difficulty - I found some easier than others for different reasons, as I'll elaborate below. And just to clarify, the versions I'll be comparing and contrasting are:


  • ZX Spectrum

  • Amstrad CPC

  • Commodore 64

  • Arcade

Now, without further ado, let's get on with our in-depth analysis...


ZX SPECTRUM



Developers

Johnathan Smith (Coder), Martin Galway (Music), F. David Thorpe (Load Screen), Bob Wakelin (Inlay/Poster Art)

Publisher

Imagine Software

Copyright

Konami

Release Date

1986

Let's start with the version I'm most familiar with, the ZX Spectrum one. Boot the game up and you get a rather nice and colourful loading screen based on the inlay cover. Upon loading the game, you are greeted with a bunch of red hearts swirling around a black background, obviously an allusion to the hearts you need to pick up in-game. To get rid of this screen (which contains no music) you need to press the joystick button. This takes you to the title screen (complete with neon coloured "Mikie" logo in the centre top), in which you can choose your preferred control method. If you have a joystick plugged into the computer, then I recommend selecting the INTERFACE II option. Otherwise keyboard controls it will have to be. While all this is happening you're treated to an actually very good rendition of The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night. Select your preferred control method and you're taken directly into the game. Upon loading into the first area, the classroom, what I think is meant to represent a drum roll plays as you're given control of Mikie. I say meant to, because to me it sounds a badly sampled automatic card or cash counter sound effect. Anyway, you're given control of Mikie and the quest to escape the school grounds starts.


In terms of graphics, one of the first things you'll notice is that, as in a lot of Spectrum games, the sprites are all monochrome, so no yellow tuft of hair for Mikie in this iteration for example. That does not meant they are badly drawn, quite the opposite. Despite the lack of detail and colour, the developers did a good job of approximating the sprites in the original arcade version. On top of that, the actual rooms and corridors are bright and colourful, even if those colours don't match the arcade version. The floor of the classroom, for example, is bright red, while the desks are yellow and chairs green. There are some other minor differences apart from palette changes as well. In Stage 1 of the arcade version, the board reads E=MC2, whereas in the Speccy version it reads FAILURE TEACHES SUCCESS. Stage 5 in the arcade version seems to be an actual garden, so the area in which the low walls with planted flowers are placed is coloured a light green; in the Speccy version, the floor area is coloured grey, making it seem like the floor has been concreted over. the low walls have no planted flowers and the length of these are different to the arcade. Nor are there trees or white fences or arch in the location where Mandy is standing, waiting for Mikie.


Secondly, let's focus on music and sound effects. Unfortunately, there's very little use of in-game music in the ZX Spectrum version. In fact, the only room that has some sort of music is stage 4, the gym. I think unfortunately the developers were hampered by the limitations of the Speccy's hardware in this regard. Same with the sound effects. We've already mentioned the drum roll at the start of each room or corridor, but the game includes several others. Every time you push someone out of their seat in stage 1, a squeaky type of trilling sound plays; same when you collect a heart. Once you've collected all the hearts and the exit is opened, an urgent ringing sound, like an alarm bell, plays until you leave the room. There are also sound effects for chucking basketballs (stage 2) and roast chickens (stage 3) and amassing points when exiting a room and entering a new one. The sound effects then are a mixed bag, but understandable given the Speccy's limited hardware.


Let's talk about gameplay next, because that is where the Speccy version of Mikie shines. At the start of each game you get 5 lives, which is more generous than the arcade's 3 lives. The way the game plays is slightly different as well. Take stage 1 for example, where you need to stand on either side of a student's desk in order to oust them from it. In the arcade original, you push the joystick three times in direction of the desk in quick succession. Here you press the action button to perform the same function. Similarly, in the arcade version you need to headbutt the sports lockers in stage 2 three times in rapid succession in order to grab the hearts. In the Speccy version you need to press the action button on the joystick to grab said hearts. Overall, the controls are smooth and responsive and I don't really notice any slowdown while playing. I'm also not sure if it's because I have more experience with the Speccy version, but I find the difficulty more balanced than the arcade's.


Finally, let's talk about some of the other differences between this and the other versions. For one, the adults here seem to be less aggressive. Allied to this, the pathfinding is different. Let me see if I can illustrate this point. In stage 1 of the arcade original, as long as you're sat down at a desk, the teacher will continue along his patrol, whether that's up, down, left or right. As soon as you stand up, the teacher will stop his routine patrol and come straight down to where you are. That doesn't happen in the Speccy version; the teacher instead finishes whatever route he was patrolling (whether that's up. down, left or right). Only then will move towards your position. There are a few other changes as well. In the arcade version, the teacher throws his textbook at you. In the Speccy version, he chucks his false teeth at you (yuck!). In stage 3 of the Speccy version, the stationary cook at the top of the canteen is missing. Similarly missing is the dance instructor in stage 4.


Despite the omissions and shortcuts due to the Speccy's limited hardware, Mikie is still a technically impressive game that should satisfy fans of the arcade original. I highly recommend picking the Speccy version up if you can.


GALLERY


AMSTRAD CPC



Developers

Bob Wakelin (Inlay/Poster Art)

Publisher

Imagine Software

Copyright

Konami

Release Date

1986

Let's talk about the Amstrad CPC version next. Boot up the game and you get another colourful loading screen based on the game's inlay cover. In contrast to the Speccy's, the background is coloured a bright blue, which matches the inlay better. However, I have a personal preference for the Speccy's loading screen; the black background makes the artwork pop in a more satisfying way, or maybe I'm just used to it more. Upon loading the game, you are greeted with the high score table, basically rows of black text and numbers framed in a red box against a white background; a surprisingly good rendition of A Hard Day's Night plays in the background and goes a long way of redeeming the lacklustre presentation here. I say surprising because the rest of the music and sound effects are very poor when contrasted with the other versions (more on this later). Press any key and you're taken to the control configuration screen. This is just more of the same as the high score table. The game's title is printed in black text above the controls menu, which is again black text framed in a red box. Pressing J toggles joystick and keyboard controls. Pressing S starts the game.


In terms of graphics, one of the first things you'll notice is that, contrary to the Speccy version, the characters are now rendered in full blown colour sprites and so possess greater detail. You can see that Mikie's tuft of yellow hair and the fact that his jacket's colours match those of the inlay. For some reason though, they decided to change the look of the teacher. In the arcade version, the teacher is bald and wears glasses. In the Amstrad version, he has tufts of grey hair, moustache and no glasses; even the outfit is different. Similarly. there's no jock character wearing the number 1 outfit in the classroom. The janitor character in stage 2 wears clothes of a different colour to his arcade counterpart; in the Amstrad version he likes wearing grey as opposed to white and blue. There are a few other character changes. The dancing girls in the gym wear scantily clad red bikinis, whereas in the arcade version they seem to wear green cheerleading outfits. The jocks in stage 5 are wearing red and white sports gear instead of yellow and white. In fact, of all the characters in the Amstrad version, the cook seems the most unaffected. There's an odd little animation that I noticed whenever Mikie moves up and down, he comes bandy legged, with the knees sticking out an an odd angle. It's also in the Speccy version, but it's more pronounced in the Amstrad version for some reason, probably due to how the sprites are coloured.


Let's change tack slightly and talk about the areas themselves. These are pared down versions of both the arcade's and even the Speccy's. For example, in stage 1, the teacher's desk is missing the book and the chair. One could argue that in the Amstrad version, since he carries the book on his person, it makes sense not to be on the desk. The message on the board reads FAILURE TEACHES SUCCESS. In stage 2, all the benches apart from the bottom-most one are missing. In stage 4, there are only 5 dancing girls. In stage 5, there is only one bench and again the low walls don't have planted flowers; nor are there trees or white fences. There is again no arch over Mandy's position, and Mandy herself looks different (she looks in fact like one of the scantily clad dancing girls from stage 4). On the other hand, the colour scheme of green on green suggests an actual garden, which is more in line with the arcade original, which is what the stage is in fact called in that version. Speaking of stage names, these appear in the top-right of the screen in both the Speccy and arcade versions, but they are omitted here for some reason. All in all, the graphics are bright and colourful (if a little blocky), even as in the case of the Speccy version, they don't quite match either the arcade in terms of colour scheme or even layout. I would put this down to the limitations of the hardware.


Music and sound effects then. This is an area in which the Amstrad CPC fails in comparison to the Speccy (not to mention the arcade), and in fact, there are very few sound effects in the game. In stage 1, you are treated to the occasional prolonged burr and beep sound when you oust someone from their seat or collect a heart. In stage 2, a sound like one made by an automatic cash counter plays every time when you collect a heart: I assume it's meant to be the same drum roll sound heard in the Speccy version. Collect a heart in stage 3 and a beep sound triggers. Same in stages 4 and 5. Also, the automatic cash counter sound plays in every stage once every heart is collected and when you need to exit the room. Like the Speccy version, there is hardly any in-game music, and again this is no doubt the result of the limited hardware of the CPC; the most music I've heard is a little tune that plays when you lose all your lives.


Gameplay next, and this is where the Amstrad CPC version of Mikie falls apart. In terms of actual controls, the Amstrad CPC version plays like the Speccy one; in stage 1, instead of pushing the joystick three times in direction of the desk in quick succession in order to bump someone off it, here you press the action button to do so. Unlike the Speccy version, however, the CPC one is a chore to play. The first issue is the fact that controlling Mikie is painfully slow, especially moving up and down (going left and right is thankfully quicker and less painful). Thankfully again, this applies to the adult characters as well. There is an odd issue in stage 1 where the desks are too long for some reason and you can't sit Mikie down right down in the centre; instead you're forced to sit him more towards the right hand side. You have little wiggle room when doing this, and I was caught more more than once; this annoyance also makes the first level trickier to finish than it should be. Also, lining Mikie up with the desk edge in order to sit him down is a bit finnicky too. Fortunately you get five lives to start off with (which matches the Speccy version). Even then, I must confess to using save states in order to see the later screens, more due to the various gameplay issues rather than the difficulty of the game itself.


Few other things before we move on. In the Amstrad version, the teacher chucks his false teeth at you, just like the Spectrum version. Like the Speccy version as well, the stationary cook in stage 3 and dancing instructor in stage 4 are omitted. There's some weirdness going on with the pathfinding as well, In stage 1, if you don't get up from your seat, the teacher will walk around in a sort of loop near his desk. He'll also start chucking his false teeth at random every now and again. And even when you get up from your seat he doesn't have the best pathfinding route to your desk.


Unfortunately, I cannot recommend the Amstrad CPC version of Mikie. It's bright and colourful, yes, but the experience is brought down by poor playability and annoying issues that make an already hard game, more difficult than it needs to be.


GALLERY


COMMODORE 64



Developers

Tony Pomfret (Coder), Steve Wahid (Graphics), Martin Galway (Music)

Publisher

Imagine Software

Copyright

Konami

Release Date

1986

The Commodore 64 version is probably the closest home version to the arcade original in terms of gameplay and graphics, with some exceptions and caveats. Boot up the game and you get another colourful loading screen based on the game's inlay cover. This one copies the bright white light emanating from behind Mikie (at least I think it's meant to be light judging from the inlay). In any case, on the C64 loading screen, it looks like a bag of white flour has exploded behind Mikie. Out of the three loading screens we've seen, this one is probably the one I like the least; it's just a bit too messy for my tastes. Upon loading the game, you're taken to the title screen, a title screen that also acts as a sort of credits screen. Surprisingly, there's no A Hard Day's Night playing in the background this time. From the three home versions we've seen, this one is right bang in the middle in terms of presentation, behind the Speccy but before the Amstrad CPC.


In terms of graphics, one of the first things you'll notice is that the characters are rendered in full blown colour sprites, more in line with the Amstrad version than the Speccy (although the C64's rendition looks better to my eyes). Being the C64, you'd think the characters would look more like their arcade counterparts than ever, but Mikie is wearing a yellow jacket and green trousers in this version; similarly. in stage 1 there's no jock character wearing the number 1 jacket. At least the teacher looks more like his arcade counterpart. The message on the board again reads FAILURE TEACHES SUCCESS. In stage 2, the janitor has been replaced by a sports coach wearing blue and white (at least they got the colours right). In stage 3, one of the cooks is similarly replaced with the sports coach. In stage 4, the dancers are wearing different coloured outfits that don't match the arcade. In stage 5, the jocks wear different coloured football outfits too. Again, the cook is the character that's most faithful to the arcade original.


Focusing on the areas themselves we also spot some differences. As with the Speccy and Amstrad versions, these are pared down version of the arcade's. For example, in stage 1, the teacher's desk is again missing the book and the chair, as per the Amstrad CPC version. In stage 2, the little bench in between the two bottom-most lockers is missing; it's there in the Speccy and arcade versions. In stage 4, there are only 6 dancing girls instead of 9. In stage 5, the floor area where the low walls are placed is coloured blue. There are no trees or white fences, and no Mandy, but the arch is present just like the arcade original; unlike the other versions, Mandy only appears once all hearts have been collected.


Music and sounds next, and this is an area where the C64 version truly shines. Rocking renditions of A Hard Day's Night and Twist and Shout play over stages 1 and 4 respectively, just like in the arcade original. In fact, all five stages have music playing over them, which really enhances the atmosphere. A few more similarities between the C64 and arcade versions: the sound that plays when ousting a student from their desk in stage 1; the sound when collecting a heart and sending a letter to the board in stages 4 and 5; the little ditty that plays when exiting a room and entering another. There are some differences as well, and these boil down to the different ways Mikie collects hearts in both versions. In stage 2, of the arcade version, Mikie headbutts the lockers, making a single "boing" sound for each headbutt. In the C64 version, he shouts at the lockers, making a squeaky trilling sound more akin to the Speccy and Amstrad CPC version. A similar thing happens when collecting the hearts on the table in stage 3. On the whole, though, the C64's SID sound chip is able to reproduce the musical cues and various sound effects better than the Speccy or Amstrad CPC could ever hope to match.


Let's talk about the most important aspect, the gameplay. In terms of controls, the C64 version is hybrid between the arcade original and the other 8 bit counterparts. It's most similar to the arcade in the number of lives allocated to you, three instead of the Speccy and Amstrad CPC's five. It's also most similar in stage 1, where unlike the Speccy and Amstrad versions, ousting a student from their desk requires pushing the joystick three times in direction of said desk in quick succession. On the other hand, collecting hearts in the locker room (stage 2) requires pressing the action button to get Mikie to shout at the lockers to obtain the hearts, rather than headbutting them. In all other respects, the act of collecting hearts from the floor (stages 3. 4 and 5) are very similar in all versions. Couple of other things as well. The act of moving Mikie up and down is still slower than moving him left and right, although this is nowhere as egregious as it is in the Amstrad CPC version. Also, the adults in this version are very aggressive, especially the teacher, who'll follow you around and chuck his false teeth at you indiscriminately. In fact, in some of my playthroughs, he chucked his false teeth at me when I was barely through a door. To balance this out, his pathfinding isn't the best either. Instead of catching you physically, he'll walk around and eventually chuck his set of false teeth at you. One thing I noticed as well, is that picking up the hearts in this version requires pixel perfect precision; you have to be right bang in the middle to pick them up, unlike the Speccy and Amstrad CPC versions. Despite these minor gripes, I find the C64 version to be eminently playable on the whole.


Few other quirks and differences I noticed in the C64 version. In stage 4, the dancing girls follow a completely different pattern of movement to the other versions; in fact, they are all over the place. This pattern could have been set to compensate for the reduced number of dancing girls on screen. I also noticed the teacher getting tired and huffing and puffing when chasing Mikie around for too long, which is a nice nod to the arcade original. In terms of difficulty, I would say that it's harder than the Speccy version but easier than the Amstrad CPC version. The reason why the Amstrad CPC version is harder is due to that game's inherent gameplay flaws which compound an already difficult title. And I'm also not saying the Speccy version's not difficult (all versions of Mikie are hard, after all), I just didn't find it as hard, probably because of my familiarity with it.


All in all, I found the C64 version of Mikie to be perfectly playable. I consider the Speccy version to be superior in terms of sheer playability; however, if you don't have access to a Speccy, or you want to experience a slightly more faithful adaptation of the co-op, then check this one out. You won't be disappointed.

GALLERY



ARCADE



Developers

Konami

Publisher

Konami

Copyright

Konami

Release Date

Konami

Now we get to the one that started it all, the original arcade coin-op. No need to load a tape or disk (or tape or disk image) with this one, so no need for a loading screen. Play on an actual arcade cabinet, and the title screen's already there, enticing you to deposit a coin. Play on a MAME emulator, and booting up the game takes you directly to the title screen. Deposit a virtual coin and the game starts. Couple of points on the presentation. The title screen is a simple affair, the logo in the centre top dominates proceedings. Below are a polite request to deposit a coin plus instructions on how to earn bonuses. All this is set again a pure black background. Leave the title screen to run for a couple of seconds and the game cuts to another screen, this one showing players some of the controls in the game. Strangely, there's no music on either screen, like there is on the title screens of the 8 bit conversions. Leave this second screen to run and then you're shown a gameplay sizzle reel. Time to deposit a coin.


I've already spent a lot of time comparing the 8 bit conversions so I won't repeat too much of that here. Let me say something right off the bat. The arcade version of Mikie is a hard game. It makes sense in a way, as I mentioned way back near the start of the article - the idea is to deposit as many coins as possible. But even compared to the 8 bit versions, the coin-op is tough. So much so, that I'm not ashamed to say that I had to use save states to see some of the later screens.


I like the graphics a lot. There's something about mid-80s arcade graphics that really appeals to me. Mikie is finally rendered exactly like his inlay counterpart (although I have to say that the Amstrad CPC version comes close in this respect as well. There are only 5 screens (not counting the various stairwells and corridors) but Konami managed to add quite a bit of variety in the layout of these, if not exactly gameplay. The colour scheme in each of these stages is fairly unique as well. The stationary cook in stage 3 is there, as is the dance instructor in stage 4. And unlike the other versions, you actually get to see Mikie ride off into the sunset with Mandy upon clearing stage 5.


The music in the arcade coin-op is great. You get the best renditions of A Hard Day's Night and Twist and Shout in stages 1 and 4 respectively. The musical tunes in the remaining stages are great too. In terms of sound effects, these are a little rote by today's standards, but are absolutely acceptable by the standards of 1984. And those little bleeps, dings, trills and other sounds have a very nostalgic feel for me.


Let's talk about gameplay. As I said, Mikie is hard. The adults are very aggressive and will chase you around relentlessly, the teacher with a book under his arm. He'll chuck it at you occasionally (no false teeth here, thankfully), but his preferred method of stopping you is hunting you down and grabbing you in person. In stage 3, the stationary cook will throw occasional chicken dinners at you. The dancers in stage 4 will stun you if you get too close; the dance instructor will pummel you. The jocks in stage 5 throw footballs at you if you're not careful. The layout of the areas make evading capture difficult, plus unlike the 8 bit conversions, the pathfinding is almost intuitive. On top of that you only get three lives. There are ways to mitigate this of course. In stage 2 you can throw basketballs found in the three bins dotted around the lockers and benches; these will keep the adults busy for a few precious seconds. In stage 3, you can chuck roast chicken dinners at them; they'll munch away for a few seconds. Roast chicken dinners are found on the plates on three of the tables in the room. Beware that you only have a limited supply of these, three basketballs per bin in stage 2 and three roast chickens per plate in stage 3. This goes for not only the arcade version but all three 8 bit home conversions as well. In fact, the C64 version helpfully tells you how many of each are left in the bins/plates: a number appears above these when you pick either item up. The arcade version has an extra ace up its sleeve as well: the headbutt. Each time you feel a cook or teacher or janitor is getting too close, press the action button to headbutt them. The timing is quite precise. If the adult is too far, the headbutt will miss. Too close, and you're nicked. It will take a bit of practice to get the timing down, but it will be worth it for the brief respite you get.


So is the arcade original worth playing? If you fancy playing something a bit different but that offers a good challenge, I would say it is. The graphics are colourful, the music is great and the gameplay is often addictive. The high school setting is unique too, especially for a Japanese game of the 1980s. If you're hankering for something idiosyncratic to play on the MAME, and you don't fancy picking up the Speccy or C64 versions, give it a go. Just expect to get a few more grey hairs.


GALLERY


CONCLUSION


After all that, which version should you play? The quick answer is, whichever one you fancy playing the most. The long answer is a bit more involved. Firstly, avoid the Amstrad CPC version; the myriad of gameplay issues makes this version not worth playing. So it's a toss up between the remaining versions. I would always recommend to at least try the original version of any game, in this case the arcade coin-op. I do have to (again) caution that it's not an easy game to get through. If you want a less difficult but still challenging (and somewhat faithful) adaptation, go with the C64 version. If you want an "entry level" version of the game (so to speak), then the Speccy adaptation is the one to go for. If and when you've mastered it, you could then progress and try the C64 and arcade versions. So, if you want a sort of order to play these in, I would go:


  1. ZX Spectrum

  2. Commodore 64

  3. Arcade

  4. Amstrad CPC

Please don't take this as a be all end all list. As videogamers we all have different tastes, and the Speccy version of Mikie might not be the one for you. In end, I recommend playing the version you like the most and are most comfortable with.


MISCELLANOUS


And finally, time for some fun/miscellaneous dollops of information...


COMPARISON IMAGES


We're almost done with this comparison, but not quite yet. Below I've compiled a list of images from each area of the game, from loading/title screens to the various in-game stages. Just click on an image to zoom in on all the images in that particular row. Where no image is possible, this has been replaced with an N/A.

Location

Speccy

Amstrad CPC

C64

Arcade

Loading screens







N/A

Title screens









Stage 1









Stage 2









Stage 3









Stage 4









Stage 5









Hi score tables










END OF STAGE MESSAGES


I noticed as well while playing through the different versions of the game that the messages revealed by collecting all the hearts in each stage differs from version to version, so I thought it would be fun to see exactly how the messages change from version to version.

Area

Speccy

Amstrad CPC

C64

Arcade

Stage 1

OPEN!

GET DOWN!

OPEN!

​OPEN!

Stage 2