Talent Studio is easily the most enjoyable software package of the four Mario Artist disks. To explain why, is a nightmare of gargantuan proportions. How can I explain the sheer fun of playing around with a character editor? It sounds dull at first, to read about it sounds even duller.
So I hooked my VCR up to the N64 through the 64DD's Capture Cartridge, which comes in the Talent Studio package along with a N64 Microphone. Well, that obviously didn't work, because it's meant to capture images from a digital camera for you to use in game. So I put the VCR in between the 64DD and TV, I recorded about 2 hours of me goofing around with the software without breaks. All the while laughing myself and a pal off our chairs. I figured you'd have to see this to believe how much fun it can be to capture your own, your friends and other faces to put on a character of your design in Talent Studio. Edit them to whatever weirdness you like, suit them up funny and laugh hysterically at what you've created. Then save it to disk for use in a 3D gallery, hilarious clips, and funny movies! (Unfortunately my VCR is PAL format and the 64DD from an NTSC region, so all I recorded was a heavily distorted black & white movie with a faint hint of soundtracks. So words will have to do.)
I'll try to sum of the huge amount of options in the main modes below. But seeing as the game's manual alone needs a hundred pages to explain every option included, it's pretty much futile for me to attempt to mention them all without forgetting many others. Everyone should be able to spend a midday with this game, I can guarantee you there isn't a gamer in the world who doesn't get a kick, smirk, grin, cheer, or all out big laugher out of this title, and that includes you!
For the game itself you can use your controller rather simply, all the buttons are explained in one of the four menus from the stylised main screen. But since most of us can't read Japanese you'll find it's easy to figure out onscreen anyway, the other three main options you can choose in the game are:
Make your own talent character - You can build a (polygonal) character from the ground up. Decide its gender, size, build, and even hairdo. And you can add many accessories like glasses, huge hats, shoes, underwear, other different clothes like customized t-shirts or dresses, and of course very logically big angel wings. Change the clothes (and everything else) to any colour you like, preferably very ugly for humour effect, I mean you don't usually walk around in a Koopa Troopa, Alien, Chicken, Godzilla suit or one of the many other outfits & options you can choose from!
To personalize a talent further, you may add voices (aka slogans) with the microphone and a biography, but that's nothing compared to the most important part of your character, and the game. Adding a face! What I understand from the manual is that you can import any face you photograph with a digital camera. But I don't have one, so I used the simplest and next best thing: I hooked up my Japanese GameBoy Pocket Camera to the N64 controller via a Transfer Pak. Which enables you to take black & yellow pictures of any face or object for use in-game. Then you insert your face in a 3D program where you cut it out to fit your characters face outlines. Add a little colour to make it look better, or worse by overusing the colour tools for make-up purposes. Don't like your own eyes or mouth? Change them into pre-made ones. You really can change just about anything, make pointy ears or a long Pinocchio nose, add a pirate eye-patch & scar, earrings, and so on and so on.
But this isn't just a creator mode, once your wacky character is finished, you can put them in one of the dozens of hilarious clips! In these animations your character takes the lead in a host of crazy actions. Remember that we had to set the facial alignment with the borders of the face after capturing it? Well, now that editing will pay-off as you'll see your character pull the weirdest and most disturbing faces you can imagine. The select menus here are as easy as they come. So it's a bliss having your character pretend to be Godzilla in a rainy city where (like in all other clips there's something) you can trigger an independent action like lightning, by pressing the Z button. Having the person do the limbo, be a witch, dance like buffoon in a disco, blowing kisses at the screen while walking sexy, or throw a volleyball around that just happens to land in your face time after time, is freakishly funny for sure.
Make a movie with your talent character - With this cool tool you can put yourself and two friends in one of the three pre-made movies, there's a funny car crash accident, and a classic good versus evil battle. These you can edit a bit. Change all the landscapes, extras, text, camera corners, sounds, effects (read: explosions), set the time per scene and play it off for good, weird and/or disturbingly hilarious movie scenes depending on how "talented" your characters are. This movie editing is probably the hardest thing to do in-game and it took me a while to get to the Japanese and figure out how to get my own "scary" persons in the movies, but I don't regret one minute I spend on this package. For just over a year you could even upload your own movies to Randnet DD to have others enjoy your talent online.
Walk a show with your talent character or play your created movies in this here cinema menu. There's even a speech from Nintendo's former President Yamauchi that you can play and watch!
Visually everything looks good, it isn't super smooth. They could've done this at the N64's launch in 1996, which shows how long this software must have been in development after the many Nintendo 64DD delays. But it doesn't need to be more than it is to be sufficient. The same goes for the background soundtracks and effects, they won't blow you away, but they are as crazy and catchy as you'd expect them to be in an intentional funny game like this, a perfect fit overall.
Don't play this alone; the game's fun is in sharing the hilarious moments with others. It can be addicting to boot. I think any gaming company that dares to do something this innovative, fresh and crazy deserves a good score. But the final score isn't based on bias; it's based purely on laugher.