Thursday, January 22, 2004

Mario Paint (SNES)

Rating: 4 out of 5
Pros: Paint, make music and animations, go Mario!
Cons: Needs longer musical measures, and more painting tools

Mario Paint was the first game I ever played on my Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). I bought my SNES used, and Mario Paint came with it, along with the little-used SNES mouse. The mouse didn't really go over well, as not many games supported it anyway, but Mario Paint was one of the better ones.

This is not, as one would tend to think, a Microsoft Paint look-a-like ported to the SNES. It is in fact, much more than that. Of course, it does contain the normal painting tools, such as a pencil and a flood fill, and other goodies.. but where Mario Paint steps away from the rest is in extras. It contains a handful of pre-drawn pictures, ready to be colored. Wow. That's all? Why, of course not!

Mario Paint also includes, of all things, a music authoring program! You can take different symbols, which each make a different sound, and place them along the measures to create your own music, and play it back. It is completely configurable, including repeat and tempo adjustment, and adjust between 3/4 and 4/4 time.

You can have just shy of about 30 measures, which isn't a lot, but plenty for some simple little tunes. Also note that you cannot have flat notes or sharp notes, so you usually end up with funny sounding songs. I'm certain you aren't going to play Mario Paint to make music, but still, that was utterly amazing that was to discover.

One of my most favorites has got to be the fly swatter mini game. You control a hand, which is holding a fly swatter, and you must swat the little flies.. then you get bigger flies, which explode if you don't swat them after a minute or so. Then yellow flies, who instead throw a swarm of little baby flies at you if they are not killed promptly.

At the end, is a great big robot fly, who requires quite a lot of swatting to defeat! He sometimes shoots round waves across the screen to hit you, or throws a swarm of baby flies at you, sometimes both at once. Sometimes he even goes rampant, and jumps around the screen like a fool trying to squash you. If you manage to beat him, you get a little star and start over at level 1. Go through it again, and get a little mushroom head, and start over at level 1. In any case, it's a quaint little game, but fun none-the-less.

The painting and music do, however, get tied together when you explore the game further. Mario Paint is actually a full fledged animation studio. You can draw some characters, draw a background, use the path finding tool to make your picture walk along the background, and then add your own custom music to the mix.

The graphics are on par with Super Mario World, which means they are pretty good for a SNES game. The music is also decent, but if it starts to get to you, you can select from two other background music choices, or turn it off entirely in the options. The gameplay.. well, it's more of a painting, music, animation studio program than a game, but it still earns high marks. It is an extremely creative program, and kudos for originality. Replay value is obviously high as well.

It is so simple to use as well. A three year old child can figure out how to play with it. In my opinion, this was one of the better pieces to ever come out for the Super Nintendo. I was really glad to have gotten it when I bought my SNES, otherwise I probably never would have known how great it was.

There was some kind of spin off version available for the Nintendo 64 as well, called Paint Studio. It was one of four Mario Artist titles, along with Communication Kit, Polygon Studio, and Talent Studio. These titles, unfortunately, are only available in Japan, and require the Nintendo 64's Disk Drive.

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