Mario Artist is a suite of four interoperable Nintendo 64 software titles, all developed explicitly to showcase the features of the 64DD peripheral. Some of them were bundled with the peripheral's launch package in Japan in December 1999, four series titles were released in total, and the rest were canceled.
Development was managed by Nintendo EAD, in conjunction with two other development companies. Polygon Studio was developed by the professional 3D graphics software developer, Nichimen Graphics; and Paint Studio was developed by Software Creations of the UK.
Paint Studio has been described as the "direct follow-up" and "spiritual successor" to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System's Mario Paint, and IGN calls Talent Studio the 64DD's "killer app".
Mario Artist: Paint Studio, released on December 11, 1999, is a Mario-themed paint program. The user has a variety of brush sizes, textures, and stamps, with which to paint, draw, spray, sketch, and animate. The stock Nintendo-themed graphics include Rare's Nintendo 64 characters and all 151 Red- and Blue-era Pokémon. Paint Studio has been described as the "direct follow-up" and "spiritual successor" to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System's Mario Paint, and as akin to an Adobe Photoshop for kids.
Originally titled Creator, then Picture Maker, and then Mario Artist & Camera, the software was commissioned by Nintendo from UK game studio Software Creations. Starting on June 1, 1995, the original ambition of Creator was to design what the studio described as "a sequel to Mario Paint in 3D for the N64", including audio functionality which was later split out into Sound Studio (also known as Sound Maker) and then canceled. The developer described the goals as bearing political turmoil between Nintendo's American and Japanese headquarters, resulting in the shedding and refocusing of much functionality. Ultimately bundled with the Nintendo 64 Mouse, it is one of the two 64DD launch titles on December 11, 1999. Utilizing the Nintendo 64 Capture Cartridge, the user can import images and movies from any NTSC video source such as video tape or a video camera. The Japanese version of the Game Boy Camera can be utilized via the Transfer Pak. The studio features a unique four player drawing mode. Minigames include a fly swatting game reminiscent of that in Mario Paint, and a game reminiscent of Pokémon Snap.
Mario Artist: Talent Studio, released on February 23, 2000, is bundled with the Nintendo 64 Capture Cartridge, and was originally titled Talent Maker. Its name is based upon the Japanese idea of "talent", an English loanword pronounced as "tarento", referring to a television personality icon with a background in J-pop and drama. The game presents the player's character design as being a self-made stage talent. It is a simple animation production studio which lets the user insert captured images such as human faces onto 3D models which had been made with Polygon Studio, dress up the models from an assortment of hundreds of clothes and accessories, and then animate the models with sound, music, and special effects. The player can connect an analog video source such as a VCR or camcorder to the Capture Cartridge and record movies on the Nintendo 64. A photograph of a person's face from a video source via the Capture Cassette or from the Game Boy Camera via the Transfer Pak, may be mapped onto the characters created in Polygon Studio and placed into movies created with Talent Studio.
IGN describes it as the 64DD's "killer app" with a graphical interface that's "so easy to use that anyone can figure it out after a few minutes", letting the user create "fashion shows, karate demonstrations, characters waiting outside a bathroom stall, and more" featuring their own faces. The concept of a personal avatar creator app as is seen in today's Mii, is seen in Talent Studio. Those avatars can be imported into the completely separate 64DD game, SimCity 64. Nintendo designer Yamashita Takayuki attributes his work on Talent Studio as having been foundational to his eventual work on the Mii.:2
According to Shigeru Miyamoto, Talent Studio 's direct descendent is a GameCube prototype called Stage Debut, using the Game Boy Advance camera to map self-portraits of players onto their character models. It was demonstrated with models of Miyamoto and Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. With the title never having been released, its character design features were reportedly reused in other games such as Wii Tennis.
Mario Artist: Communication Kit, released on June 29, 2000, allowed users to connect to the now-defunct Randnet's "Net Studio". There, it was possible to share creations made with Paint Studio, Talent Studio, or Polygon Studio, with other Randnet members. Other features included contests, and printing services available by online mail order for making custom 3D papercraft and postcards. The Randnet network service was launched and discontinued alongside the 64DD, running from December 1999 to February 28, 2001.
The disk has content that may be unlocked and used in Paint Studio.
Mario Artist: Polygon Studio, released on August 29, 2000, is a 3D computer graphics editor that lets the user design and render 3D polygon images with a simple level of detail. It was originally announced as Polygon Maker at Nintendo Space World '96 and renamed to Polygon Studio at Space World '99. The Expansion Pak and the Nintendo 64 Mouse are supported peripherals.
The idea of minigames was popularized generally during the Nintendo 64's fifth generation of video game consoles, and some early minigames appear in Polygon Studio in the style that would later be used in the WarioWare series of games. Certain minigames literally originated in Polygon Studio, as explained by Goro Abe of Nintendo R&D1's so-called Wario Ware All-Star Team:
The premise of 3D printing was roughly implemented as papercraft, by way of modeling the characters in Polygon Studio and then utilizing Communication Kit to upload the data to Randnet's online printing service. The user then cuts, folds, and pastes the resulting colored paper into a fully figured 3D figure.
- Mario Artist: Game Maker
- Mario Artist: Graphical Message Maker
- Mario Artist: Sound Maker
- Mario Artist: Video Jockey Maker
Nintendo World Report described the Mario Artist series as a "spiritual successor to Mario Paint". IGN collectively describes the Mario Artist suite as a layperson's analog to professional quality graphics development software. They state that the combination of the 64DD's mass writability and the Nintendo 64's 3D graphics allows Nintendo to "leave CD systems behind", by offering "something that couldn't be done on any other gaming console on the market" to people "who want to unleash their creative talents and perhaps learn a little bit about graphics design on the side".
Rating it at 8.2 ("Great") out of 10, IGN calls Talent Studio the 64DD's "killer app" with a graphical interface that's "so easy to use that anyone can figure it out after a few minutes", and featuring "breathtaking motion-captured animation".
IGN rates Paint Studio at 7.0 ("Good") out of 10, describing it as being like an Adobe Photoshop for kids.
Polygon Studio contains some mini games, which appear in WarioWare games of future console generations. The premise of 3D printing is seen in Polygon Studio 's papercraft output. The idea of graphical stamps that are seen in various Miiverse-supported games is found in Paint Studio.
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- Mii Prototype Development History [From NES to Wii GCD 2007] on YouTube
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