The Mario franchise has offered players games like Super Mario Maker along with inspiring tons of fan creations, be it in the form of art, fan games, accessories, mods, etc. to express themselves creatively and while some of these may get taken down by Nintendo, more will get created, even if take-downs could happen to them as well. To me, this shows a community full of creative, passionate individuals who grew up enjoying and continue to enjoy Nintendo’s games, be it Mario related or not. Games in this section focus on various programs that let players create. While Mario Paint and the aforementioned Mario Maker have been successful, quite a few of these creative type games have been left behind, usually due to advancing technology.
- I Am a Teacher: Super Mario Sweater– 1986: Famicom Disk System (Japan only)
Super Mario Sweater was one of the first spin-off Mario games and as this title suggests, this is a sweater design program that was created by Royal Kougyou, an appliance and sewing company, in the realization that they could make a profit from this kind of game. Players could design sweaters and add images of Mario characters to them along with learning how to make them. Nintendo of America at one point was considering releasing a knitting machine that worked with the NES. Development of said machine got along far enough that there were even ads for the accessory in game magazines; perhaps this game or a similar game was going to be released for this device?
Would this game be worth playing? It’s a neat idea, but no, this is one of the rarest games on the Famicom Disk System.
- Super Mario Bros. Print World– 1991: MS-DOS, Commodore 64, IBM, Tandy, and Apple II (USA only)
Hi-Tech Expressions developed and published this printing program (the same company who made those lovely Mega Man games on DOS) and was one of several variants of the company’s Power Print program. Mario Print World allowed the player to make greeting cards, signs, posters, banners, and calendars with Mario characters. The “game” features 100 high-res (for the time) images of various Mario characters, 20 boarders, and 7 fonts that came in three sizes with the option to italicize, boldface, or outline. Perhaps because it wasn’t made by Nintendo, many of the character names are incorrect. For example, Roy Koopa is called “Ray Koopa” and an image with Peach, Toad, and Luigi is called “Mario & Daisy.” Oddly with Roy’s incorrect name, the other image of him is correctly named.
Would this game be worth playing? If this was the early 90’s, then sure, but with more advanced programs for these types of things, no.
- Mario Paint BS Ban and Mario Paint Yuushou Naizou Ban– 1997: Satellaview (Japan only)
Mario Paint was released twice during the Satelaview’s lifespan. The first being BS Ban which had a contest held where players could submit their best Mario Paint creations. The game also supported a standard controller unlike the original 1992 version. The second release was called Mario Paint Yuushou Naizou Ban which was the same as the BS Ban release except for containing the artwork of the BS Ban contest winner, Mizota Hiroko called “Dreaming of the Moon” (middle image).
Would either of these games be worth playing? No. The contest has been over for almost twenty years and Satellaview is no longer running.
- Mario no Photopi– 1998: Nintendo 64 (Japan only)
This photoshop program for the N64 had two slots on the cartridge for Smart Media cards that allowed the player to import digital photos or transfer images between cards. Pictures could be edited and decorated with fonts and artwork from the Mario series, and other things. Special Smart Media cards were created for this game that had artwork of Bomberman, Yoshi, and Sylvanian Families.
Would this game be worth playing? No. It’d be easier to do this kind of stuff on a modern computer.
- Mario Artist series- 1999-2000: Nintendo 64 Disk Drive (Japan only)
Poor N64DD, you had so much creative potential but thanks to numerous delays, you were basically flushed down the tech toilet. Their exist four Mario Artist games released exclusively for this add-on: Paint Studio, Polygon Studio, Talent Studio, and the Communication Kit. These games were basically development tools that allowed players to create characters and environments, and then allow them to share their creations with other players via Randnet, the N64DD’s online service. Think of it like a much more advanced version of the Wii U’s Super Mario Maker. Unfortunately, due to the short life of the 64DD, only about half of the Mario Artist games got released. The games that ended up getting canned were: Game Maker, Graphical Message Maker, Sound Maker, and Video Jockey Maker. The player could import media through the N64 capture cartridge so they could be the star of their own game for example.
Outside of the creative tools, Mario Artist had mini-games to let players take a break like how Mario Paint had the fly swatter game. These various mini-games used the player’s creations they made in some way or another and these games would later appear in Wario Ware: MegaMicrogame$ for the GBA. If you’d like to see all of these games in action, I recommend checking out Hard4Games look at not only the Mario Artist games, but the other N64DD games like the F-Zero X Expansion Kit.
Would these games be worth playing? They look fun to me, but getting these games along with a Nintendo 64DD can get costly since the add-on was only released in Japan and only around 15,000-20,000 64DDs exist. The Randnet internet service and Mario Artist: Communication Kid have been defunct for over a decade now, so a portion of the game is no longer playable. However, an English translation for Mario Artist: Paint Studio now exists.
- Jaguar Mishin Sashi Senyou Softi Mario Family– 2001: Game Boy Color (Japan only)
The idea of Mario and clothing software makes an unexpected return. This sewing game was developed by Natsume, the same company behind Harvest Moon, and allows players to choose one of 32 patterns to send to either a JN-100 or JN-2000 model sewing machine via a special link cable that came with the sewing machines. The color of a pattern could be changed before it got copied into fabric. A version of this game was going to be made with Kirby characters but was cancelled due I assume either poor sales of Mario Family or cost.
Would this game be worth playing? Like with the Mario sweater game for the Famicom Disk System, it’s a cool idea, but getting a copy of the game and one of two models of sewing machines from fifteen years ago, would probably be more trouble than it’s worth. If the game got a North American release, I’d be more interested in checking it out.
- AAA Super Mario games- 2010: iOS
Finding information on these non-licensed Mario games was unsurprisingly difficult. These three Mario games are basically art tool programs with a Mario theme. The first of the three is a paint program; nothing special there. The second tool is a sound creator that allows the player to change the tempo of Mario themed sounds. Lastly, the third tool is similar to the sound tool; the player has over thirty sound clips from classic Mario games and seven animated backgrounds to play around with.
Would any of these games be worth playing? No. I’d be surprised if these apps are even around considering how protective Nintendo is of its IPs. However, the world of mobile gaming is chock-full of knock-offs, so who knows. If you’re looking for a Mario game on mobile, I’d recommend trying Super Mario Run.
- Photos with Mario– 2014: Nintendo 3DS
This is a free app for the 3DS family of systems that allows the player to take pictures with Mario characters using special AR (augmented reality) cards from certain $10 eShop fund cards. The app allows players to grab characters and place them wherever you want, then take a picture that can be posted on a social media site. You’re also given options to delay the picture for three, five, and ten seconds; or if you like living on the edge, for a random amount (any of the previous three) of seconds. Effects can also be added to the screen like bubbles or snow to make the picture from the system’s 0.3 megapixel camera look rad. If more than one AR card is placed in front of the camera, the characters that appear will interact with one another and the player can “interact” with them by talking into the 3DS microphone.
Six compatible AR cards were made for Photos with Mario: Goomba, Mario, Peach, Luigi, Koopa Troopa, and Bowser. As mentioned, these cards are from certain $10 eShop fund cards that’ll also have a QR code to take you to the Photos with Mario app page in the eShop. Their exist other versions of this app on the 3DS that work with Animal Crossing and Pikmin character AR cards, but have more or less only been released in Japan.
Would this game be worth playing? It’s free and you can just look up the character specific AR cards online if you don’t want to purchase a fund card. As a reminder, the camera on the 3DS systems are pretty poor, so don’t expect to get super clear images; they will however be in 3D if that’s something you care about. Other than that, you can probably pass on this one.
Did any of these games get you in a creative mood? Maybe not to the point where you’ll be dusting off your old DOS computer or going onto eBay and purchasing a N64DD to play these games, but hopefully you are in a creative mood now. If not, that’s okay too. Next week’s part will be covering sports and party games.