Mario Paint – Super Nintendo (SNES)
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Release Date (NA): August 1, 1992
Genre: Art Application
Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed by Nerdberry
Note to reader: I don’t know how old you are, but if you’re either too young or too old to have experienced Mario Paint, please forgive me. This review is riddled with 1990s culture, lifestyle, and experiences, something that folks much younger than myself never experienced (nothing wrong with that). However, if you were born between 1977 and 1990, you may have even more appreciation for this review as certain aspects will be more relatable. Enjoy.
Background and Impact
In today’s modern technological world, Mario Paint is often viewed as an archaic and overly simplistic drawing utility. But in the early 1990s, it was anything but “simplistic.” There is a general legacy attributed to the colorful art game with all of the credit going to Nintendo and their team of bold innovators. Mario Paint may not have been the first of its kind, but it did show the world what “playing on a computer” could be like at a much more working-class price. A Super Nintendo game system and Mario Paint (plus mouse and pad) cost nickels on the dollar compared to owning a capable home computer in the early 1990s. You’ll have to remember that this was 1992, and computers were nowhere near as inexpensive as they are now. We’ll never know what sort of educational, entertainment, simulator, or art games and software would be available today if it hadn’t been for Nintendo and their highly regarded Mario Paint. Honestly, it might not be all that different. But I, for one, like to think that Mario Paint‘s success helped pave the way for the future of educational entertainment (edutainment) video games and related art software.
I was always a big fan of arts and crafts, architecture, building, drafting, science, etc. But I was also very interested in modern technology, often mesmerized by the science behind mechanical and digital technologies. I spent much of my youth with boxes of Popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue, beginner’s science laboratory chemical kits, Lincoln Logs, Lego’s, and such. To put it simply, my parents didn’t always have the money, or see the need, in fancy electronics. We had a record player, a cassette player, and a UHF/VHF-dial Zenith wood-cased television. That was the extent of our electronic proficiency… Until 1995 when we got our first ever home computer! Before I knew it, our desk drawer was stacked with educational floppy disks such as Math Blaster, some sort of educational trivia game, and an art tool game. As fun as those game’s were, none of them provided the same sort of creative outlet that Mario Paint offered.
Unfortunately for most, Mario Paint was not the kind of game that you played when your friends were around. It was the kind of game you’d play between getting home from school and dinner. And maybe even after dinner for a couple hours if you’re lucky. Oh, and you’d also do a lot of angry drawing if you were grounded from leaving the house. Anyway… Moving on… One of Mario Paint‘s few downsides is the low appeal for group play, unless you and your friends sit around and draw inappropriate pictures of girls boobs or steaming piles of poop. In fact, I created a somewhat inappropriate Mario Paint video myself:
You see? Mario Paint is not just for kids! I digress.
Mouse and Pad make me feel Rad
Mario Paint‘s biggest asset was the fact that gamers could sit and draw for hours, relentlessly releasing artistic creations with the click of a mouse. Trying to play an art game with a standard gaming controller would have been a disaster, much like trying to play Time Crisis or Duck Hunt without a gun. Nintendo recognized this fact and implemented a pack-in mouse and pad, instantly making the Super Nintendo feel more like a computer (which was REALLY cool at the time). The pad is not your traditional soft rubber or foam mat, instead it is a big gray plastic square, matching the color and style of Nintendo gaming products. I can’t say for sure why they chose the hard mousepad over a soft one, but I speculate that it has to do with the fact that most kids played their games on the carpet since TVs used to be much lower to the ground (see above image for reference), and maybe a hard mousepad on carpet would be better? I don’t really know, to be honest.
The mouse itself feels exceptionally sturdy and very well-built. With plenty of weight and size, you’ll feel very comfortable cupping your hand around this sucker. I like the way the left and right buttons protrude out of the unit as opposed to being flushed within the unit which is something that the mouse evolved into later in its life. Other than the ergonomic feel, everyone always wonders how the tracking ball works. Well, it works better than expected, but lacks when compared to today’s mice. It rolls smoothly, and although the tracking can be a bit spotty at times, it doesn’t detract too much from the overall experience. All-in-all, the mouse is sufficient and makes for a quality gaming experience.
Gameplay, Music, and More
There’s not much to say about Mario Paint’s gameplay because quite simply put, it’s an art application tool. You can draw with different colors and make cool stuff! That’s about as much as I can think to say. In this day and time, most of the population is familiar with art software, and Mario Paint is of the most rudimentary art software “games” ever created. But that doesn’t mean it lacks in quality. As previously mentioned, the game’s release was perfectly timed as this was the norm for quality art software aimed at youth and novice computer users. And to say that Mario Paint is “of the norm” would be a slight against Nintendo because this game has exceptional quality mechanics and is much more enjoyable with Nintendo’s mascot and their signature music which was truly excellent. And speaking of music, Mario Paint also offers up a small music-making tool, which can then be set to a short animation loop created by you! Neat, huh?
Aside from the basic drawing functions, Mario Paint also includes a mini-game where you swat at flies on the screen with a fly swatter. The mouse was fully utilized in this mini-game, adding to the little accessory’s short list of uses on the SNES. It’s not a deep mini-game by any means, but with nothing better to do in the grande year of 1992, and not owning many games, this little “taking a breather” of a mini-game could easily turn into hours of swatting. It’s surprisingly addicting, although somewhat shortlived.
Oftentimes a game’s legacy can become overshadowed by its primitive core gameplay and antiquated graphics. However, upon its release, Mario Paint was top-notch, ahead of the curve, and purely ingenious. Who would ever think to turn video games into educational tools? But for many of us gamers in the 25 to 40 year range, we were fortunate to have these fun and exciting creative tools at our disposal.
While many might not look at it the same way I do, I often credit Mario Paint for bringing home-computer-style fun to the living room in a way no other company could. Nintendo was at the top of their game, quite possibly at their highest in popularity until the unveiling of the Wii. There was already an established and popular market for computer software “games” like this, but it was widely unaffordable to the masses. The Super Nintendo already offered exceptional quality gaming at moderately affordable prices, but now they were offering a computer art experience without the need of a computer! While this might not be thought of as revolutionary to most, I stand on the outside and say that its impact was massive, even if people did not / do not realize it.
Mario Paint is fun to play as it provides hours of endless drawing, fly-swatting, stamp-making, mouse rolling excitement. And if you thought drawing was fun, wait until you get to erase the entire thing! Sure, a save feature would have been the bee’s knees, but we just weren’t that used to saving games back then… So we didn’t really care all that much. You’d draw for hours, enjoy your masterpiece, erase it, forget about it, turn off the machine, and come back tomorrow to draw some more! It may sound tireless and like a waste of time, but believe me… This is one of the game’s that molded the video game artists who are creating the games you are playing right now! Mario Paint just got a little more interesting, didn’t it?
Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed by Nerdberry
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