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A 'game' of sorts released for the Super NES.

Mario Paint was a bit unique for a console game. (Hell, it still is now) Instead of a 'game', per se, it was more of a simple drawing program. In it were drawing tools (All accented with odd sound effects), a music tool (With a rather odd set of instruments... think MIDI with Mario characters if it helps), and a simple 4- to 9-frame animation tool. For its time, it was a rather interesting program; you could play around with a drawing program without shelling out thousands of dollars for a professional PC-based program. By today's standards, of course, it wouldn't hold a candle to much of anything, but it was interesting in its day.

What made this one REALLY shine, though, was the Nintendo Mouse that came with it. An infinitely useful but sadly underutilized device, the SNES Mouse acted exactly like a simple two-button mouse. Anyone who's played games on a computer can tell you that a mouse can mean the difference between life and death, but consoles lacked this essential tool. Too bad nobody really picked up on it in the console world.

Mario Paint also had the infamous Gnat Attack game, a game in which you swatted flies with a flyswatter using the mouse. Plus, probably the longest save/load times I've ever seen on a console game. Except maybe for SimAnt.

"Mario Paint" is also the title of a fairly rare album by a collective of Japanese musicians known as The Electric Family, released in 1995 by the UK based Irdial record label. The album, as its name suggests, is composed entirely with the sequencer in the Mario Paint game for the Super Famicom.

The majority of the eight untitled tracks are really playful and lighthearted which I think clearly reflects the medium in which the songs were created -- when you're composing a song using mushrooms, invincibility stars, and fire flowers as notes, I imagine it's difficult to create music that takes itself seriously.

I bought the album for the sheer novelty of it, not expecting much, but I found it really delightful to listen to; it never fails to put a smile on my face. If you can find it, I highly recommend it.

Some info about the recording gear from the liner notes:

The sole machine used on these recordings was a Nintendo Super Famicom, running the Mario Paint music sequencer. Each track was recorded in 4 days, at Kley Sound. The Super Famicom was running through an RCA NTSC VHS recorder, Konami Game Selector and a Sony F319R Spontaneous Twin Drive Super Legato Linear amplifier. The NTSC TV was a Toshiba Blackstripe. The mastering recorder was a Struder B16 in console. The tape was Ampex 456.

A "game" for the Super Nintendo that came bundled with the SNES mouse. It could be used to play a fly swatting game, draw pictures OR, and this is the fun part, compose music!

Yes! Inside Mario Paint there was a crude midi-editorish program that let the user compose scores with such instruments as pigs grunting, Game Boys bleeping and stars tinkling. Naturally most of the kids playing this game lacked sufficient understanding of harmony to do much with it, but it was fun anyway.

** WANT TO LOOK AWAY                  **

There is apparently a subculture of people on YouTube who compose reenactments of well known tunes in Mario Paint and post videos them (with icons of dogs, mushrooms, super mario heads, etc.) You can listen many genres such as rap, rock, tv show themes, but the most popular by far seems to be tunes from Nintendo games. If the idea of listening to the Air Man theme from Mega Man II as interpreted by Mario Paint appeals to you then, please, fire up YouTube and do a search.

I never thought I'd find people this much nerdier than I am. It's such a happy moment it makes me want to cry.

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