Throwback Thursday: Mario Paint

Platform: Super Nintendo
Release Date: 1992

Platform: Super Nintendo| Release Date: 1992

Nintendo is well known from their quirky gimmicks. We all remember the tragic release of the Nintendo Glove, the Wii motion controls, and the annoying Friend Code system. Perhaps one of the very first Nintendo gimmicks came with the game Mario Paint. At that time in the early 90s, basic home computers were starting to gain momentum in technology culture. Mario Paint saw to profit off of this strange, magical box known as a “computer” by the use of a computer mouse as a controller. As silly as it sounds, this was actually (in my opinion) one of Nintendo’s best gimmicky addons as it contributed a great deal to the style and cuteness of Mario Paint.

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titleMario Paint is set up like a series of computer programs, all playable with the use of a mouse. Players are immediately thrown into an immersive environment free of tutorials or instructions, so you can freely play around with the various tools and games at your disposal. As the title implies, you can “paint” various Mario scenes using dozens of colors and textures of your choosing. You can even create your very own scene using Mario textures and character stamps of classic 8 and 16 bit characters.

Probably the most memorable feature is the music game. Here, players can create their
very own song using silly in game sound effects like dog barks and cat meows. You can be as simple or complex as you’d like, as people have gone so far as to compose famous modern songs using the in-game sound effects.

What made Mario Paint truly amazing was the fact that amateur animators can use the games’ animation programs to paint simple looping animations, add music to them using the in-game music generator, and even record animations on a VHS tape. Gamers were essentially creating movies in the early 90s using their Super Nintendo, which is pretty goddamn amazing.

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After nearly 25 years, some claim that Mario Paint is the most innovative thing Nintendo has yet to develop. Especially given the time of release, immersive and experimental games simply didn’t exist in the gaming culture. Mario Paint and the Nintendo Mouse both create a simple, fun game that you can easily sink hours without even realizing it. Go deeper into the music recording and animation programs and you’ve got a whole new beast on your hands.

Throwback Thursday: Animal Crossing

Platform: Nintendo 64 / GameCube | Release Date: 2001 / 2002

Nintendo’s quirky village simulation game Animal Crossing would be one of the GameCube’s best selling titles, but it was actually released in Japan for the Nintendo 64 first. The graphics weren’t impressive, but the dynamic relationships you could build with animals that settled in your town were and the multitude of activities that could be partaken for fun or for profit was enough to keep gamers hooked for hours, days and years. There was fishing, clothing design, bug catching, fossil collecting and more plus games-within-a-game with a naively generous selection of fifteen NES games which could be played in full.

Tomorrow is the release of Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer so it’s a good time to take a look at the game that started it all and why it was a standout hit on the GameCube!

Why it was great

As mentioned before, Animal crossing had a lot of stuff to do. Personally, one of the most exciting things to do was go out and hunt some rare insect specimens for the Museum. Unlike the static fossil displays or art exhibits, bugs that were collected were free to roam around their area of the building and the more that were added the more interesting the room got. The variety of fish was also exciting (especially the more unique-looking catches like eels), but confined to their tanks made them a little less visually appealing than the wilds of the insect room.

Decorating was, of course, another high point of the game. Each day was a new opportunity to check Nook’s shop for furniture, wallpaper or more to complete a collection or just add some pizzazz to a tired layout. My rooms always took on a distinctly jungle-esque theme and were overflowing with whatever plants I could find, borrow or steal (I admit, I didn’t really lose that cute polka dot shirt Officer Booker). Clothing was another way to uniquely represent yourself with almost limitless fashionable (and unfashionable) outfit combinations.

ac-stellaAnimal Crossing was also one of the only games I was willing to watch someone else play as a fidgety 13 year old. My sister and I would take turns talking to the villagers and each had our favorites who we’d send gifts to and stop for extra conversations if we saw them. I still remember who we liked; I was very connected with Stella the Sheep and she developed a friendship with one of the gorillas. Back then it was hard to imagine anyone wanting to spend their free time observing someone else gaming, but this is the age of Twitch and now I’m more than happy to watch pros get some nice ganks in League of Legends or watch a master Pokémon trainer battle up the ranks online.

All in all, it was a great early simulation game that didn’t simply focus on building a town or kingdom, but challenged players to be themselves inside a fantastical setting and impact the world around them.

What do you think? Any favorite memories? There are some great Animal Crossing stickers that just came out for LINE messenger as well!

Throwback Thursday: Pokémon Crystal

Platform: Game Boy Color | Release Date: 2001 (English)

All new Pokémon games are exciting and Pokémon Crystal was no exception. The series was much younger at the time, but Crystal offered some promising improvements over its predecessors Pokémon Gold & Silver and even had some features that never made it out of Japan!

Why it was great

pokemon-krisFemale Pokémon Trainers around the world jumped for joy when details about the game were released. They no longer had to put up with the male protagonist of the series and could adventure as the girl Kris in Pokémon Crystal. It was a great touch and the feature became a staple of every Pokémon in the main series since.

Pokémon Crystal also introduced a number of new features which appealed to competitive players. Previously Pokémon were limited to moves that they could learn either by leveling up or through the use of a Technical or Hidden Machine (TM or HM). In Crystal, however, fans could now access Move Tutors which offered new combinations of Pokémon and attacks to use during battles. Many of the “third” games of the main series have also held this idea over and usually introduce brand new strategy combinations at the end of a generation. Crystal also debuted the punishing Battle Tower which offered challenging matches to seasoned veterans.

cr-Chikorita cr-Cyndaquil cr-Totodile

The game also brought new life to the 251 Pokémon that existed at the time (a far cry from our current 720 monsters). It was the first to use animated sprites, although they only briefly moved when being faced in a battle. A trainer’s own Pokémon retained their static back sprites and it wouldn’t be for a few more years that they got the same animation treatment.

Western gamers didn’t even get all the features Crystal introduced, however. A number of them were scrapped when the game was translated to English, including a Global Trade Station-like feature which let you deposit a Pokémon and request one in exchange! Japanese Crystal players also got the chance to capture Celebi by using the mysterious GS Ball.

Final thoughts

pokemon-crystal-startPokémon Crystal was the first Pokémon game I owned (after jealously watching my friends play since Red & Blue) and it remains one of my all time favorite titles from the series. The sprites in particular have excellent animations and hold up to the test of time, unlike Emerald’s ill-fated bouncing and stretching.

The game also introduced many series staples, such as gender, Move Tutors, the Battle Tower, and more, which make it an important game in Pokémon’s history. Also, it has to be said that the cartridge color is also the coolest to be released so far. A great shame that modern Pokémon games don’t have such fanciful colored plastic anymore.

Satoru Iwata, Please Understand, You Will Be Missed

Nintendo has just announced that President & CEO Satoru Iwata, 55, has died from bile duct growth yesterday, July 11.

Above is the official announcement from Nintendo, regarding Mr. Iwata's sudden death.
Above is the official announcement from Nintendo, regarding Mr. Iwata’s sudden death.

Before succeeding Hiroshi Yamauchi as Nintendo’s president and eventually also becoming the CEO, Iwata worked as a programmer for HAL Laboratory Inc. which created the beloved Kirby, the Mother (EarthBound) series and, of course, Super Smash Bros. Iwata was the programming mastermind behind all those projects, as well as the reason Pokémon Gold & Silver included the Kanto region. With Nintendo, Iwata also lended his skill to help develop The Legend of Zelda games and Animal Crossing series. Nintendo Japan Directs were led by Iwata, who initially made the decision to halt large press conferences, like at E3, and instead divide Nintendo’s showcase into smaller events by demographic.

No further information is known on who will be replacing Mr. Iwata as President & CEO, nor how Nintendo Directs will change from now on. All that is known is that he is no longer with us, he will be dearly missed and not forgotten.

“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.”

Hyrule Warriors coming to 3DS and bringing two familiar faces

As seen in this newly discovered trailer:

The original Hyrule Warriors on Wii U is being ported and produced by companies Team Ninja and Omega Force for a Nintendo 3DS adaptation. It is unofficially announced as of now but as you can see it appears the game will be contain all the characters from the Wii U version…plus two more!

It has also been discovered that purchasing the 3DS version while already owning the original Wii U version will allow the owner to unlock King of Hyrule and Tetra on their Wii U as well.



What do you think of this big news!? This will be the newest Zelda game on the 3DS following the enormous Majora’s Mask 3DS release, and now Zelda fans who own a 3DS but not a Wii U will get the chance to finally play the renowned Hyrule Warriors.