I never had a chance to play the original Mario Paint on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. But after playing Mario Artist, the Nintendo 64DD sequel, I get the feeling I wasn't the target audience for this title. I get the feeling that this application is meant for kids who want to, well, paint ... and frankly, it feel like an expanded Windows Paint to me.
Sure Paint Studio is novelty, but calling it a simple Paint program would be a false statement. Being one of the four Mario Artist titles released, it does practically stands on its own. There are only 2 programs it can export files to: When the Randnet online provider was still up and running for little over a year and 2 months, you could upload your home-made pictures to the DD internet for other users to see; and you cand draw one simple two-frame animated character to see walk around in Sim City 64.
As for the game itself, you can use your controller (up to four in a special 2D paint mode actually) or you can use the included grey Nintendo 64 Mouse, it only has two buttons, but a simple program needs a basic mouse, and it does move around the program a lot smoother than a Nintendo 64 controller.
There are a number of ways to play the game, as we have listed below, with a short synopsis. For example, there is a basic 2D painting, which is divided into either one player painting or multi-player (amusing!) painting modes. A low resolution screen provides access to a host of simple depicted option: Draw in different lines & sizes. Copy Nintendo images of characters & items from the Mario, Link or Pokémon universes from a large catalogue of hundreds, and paste them onto your drawing after you set them to the right size and shift them about.
Change the background from an optional catalogue of both cartoon-y and realistic images. Undo what you last did, erase, start over, colour some more, change the borders of the entire picture, add Japanese or English text to your creation, stamp photos onto your creations, and with filters you can adjust about anything from the images darkness to it's contrast.
Oh, I shouldn't forget to mention the simple, but oh-so-handy cut and paste option. Which is a must, much like zooming in and out, so you can spot where your drawing needs to be filled in with a certain colour. If you prefer to colour in images, choose one of a whole bunch of black & white drawings to give colour to. This all while you're listening to a catchy background tune, which is also changeable in menus like changing the colour palette you draw in itself or the mouse speed onscreen. And then when you're done, save it on the game's disk for later use or viewing pleasure in a gallery.
More of the same painting antics can be found in the simple 2D flipbook mode. Here you can draw 35 frames, which when each drawn differently (copy the previous to the next), combined make for a short animation in which you decide the playback speed and make as vivid as you wish.
In the paint a 3D world mode, you can choose between 3 different scenarios. Change each worlds environments & characters plain/texture colours to ones already loaded for you to insert or change them altogether via a simple 2D editor. Then play that world's movie. A nifty addition here is that you can take snapshots of your changed environments in action. Maybe this was the unreleased game Nintendo referred to as Creator Studio, but with only an underwater sea world, outer space Mars environment, and prehistoric dinosaurian set-up, it isn't much of an extra, let alone much fun as an editor.
Everything is very simple to figure out event though it's completely in Japanese, it just points itself out at every step. So it's easy for everyone to browse the simple icon menus to the right and left side of the screen, and play around painting with it for a while. Even the sound effects, if you can call them that, are simple. The only things I saw in the manual, but didn't manage to do myself. Were to import images from Mario Artist: Talent Studio, through the capture cartridge, or to capture images (headshots) via the GameBoy Pocket Camera.
Is the complete package fun? For a while it is enjoyable to be creative. But if you don't own it, it's not something you will ever miss. Like I said at the beginning, as a stand-alone game this is fun for (Japanese) kids to fool around with, not for gamers. It could have been a great tool if only other 64DD games really used it's image export capabilities, now it's just an ok paint studio. Luckily you need this package to design patterns, logos & stamps to load into Mario Artist: Talent Studio. That's what saves this editor from being obsolete.