With my new skills, Mario Paint eventually became more than just a fun way to create digital doodles. As an aspiring pixel-pusher who dabbled in home videos, prosumer-caliber editing and animation tools like a Video Toaster (released the same year the SNES was) were far outside my production budget which was usually zero dollars. One day I realized the Super Nintendo could be connected to our VCR just as easily as it was connected to our TV, and suddenly our family’s video game system became a tool I could use to create simple title sequences and animations that I could splice into my crude video productions.


When the touchscreen Nintendo DS arrived years later, I always hoped that Nintendo would revive the game on the tiny system (other animation tools for the DS eventually filled the void) and I would still happily shell out a small fortune to be able to play the original Mario Paint on the Switch with full support for the console’s touchscreen—but that’s probably wishful thinking. Despite being one of the best selling titles for the Super Nintendo—with an impressive 2.3 million copies sold—Mario Paint was born and died on the SNES. In 1999, what has been described as the spiritual successor to Mario Paint was released in Japan called Mario Artist featuring a more modern looking mouse and real 3D graphics. However, it was only playable on the obscure N64 64DD accessory: a floppy disk drive peripheral that was such a flop it was never released in North America.

Mario Paint was Nintendo doing what Nintendo does best. It was about as outside the box as a console video game could be, and it paired an easy to use kid-friendly interface with surprisingly deep and capable creative toolset. Had the modern internet been around in 1992, I can only imagine the wealth of Mario Paint YouTube tutorials I would have had access to as a teen, and what kind of artistic creations I would have been able to produce.