A screenshot of Mario Artist: Paint Studio

Mario Artist is a partially released series of Mario Paint style games for the Nintendo 64 add-on N64-DD, partially released as 4 games in Japan out of an announced eight, between 1999 and 2000.

The released games are:

  • Mario Artist: Paint Studio 
  • Mario Artist: Talent Studio
  • Mario Artist: Communication Kit
  • Mario Artist: Polygon Studio

The project was originally overseen by Nintendo of America, started development in June 1995 under commission by Software Creations[1] and planned as a single game for the Nintendo 64 (not the 64DD) in the same style as Mario Paint.

The developers did Plok on the Super NES beforehand which impressed Nintendo (Miyamoto in particular said they were bewildered by the sound design) and then Tinstar which was published by Nintendo.

John came up with a concept based on living 3D environments where the user could mess about with the creatures in the world - both editing the textures on the models themselves, and modifying the parameters of entities themselves - the physical size of a dinosaur, say, and its other visual attributes, as well as its AI properties such as aggression, speed etc. The result would be living playground where the player could mess around and play God.

As relationships between Nintendo of Japan and Nintendo of America quickly deteriorated, culminating in Nintendo of Japan licensing their own Mario Paint inspired game, Mario no Photopi, on the N64 in 1998, and Nintendo of America deciding against the release of the 64DD add-on, the Mario Artist project was delayed and caught in political infighting.

Eventually, Nintendo of Japan took over control of the project, and rejected many of the ideas Nintendo of America already approved which meant that a lot of the already done work was scrapped. Furthermore, the game was broken into 8 separate releases and announced as a late 64DD exclusive only in Japan, to showcase the hardware's abilities to save content.

The game bombed, selling less than 7.5k, leading to half of the planned releases to be cancelled. Also, by 2000, Nintendo of Japan decided to cancel most of their N64 development either entirely (Fire Emblem 64, Advance Wars 64), port them to the GameCube (Star Fox Adventures aka Dinosaur Island, Doshin the Giant, Animal Crossing, Cubivore, Panel de Pon) or the Game Boy Advance handheld (Fire Emblem Fuin no Tsurugi, Ao no Tengai, parts of the planned Mother 3, some minigames in Mario Artist that ended up as the concept for the WarioWare microgame series). Even already released content (Animal Crossing N64, Sin and Punishment, Dr. Mario 64) had regional releases cancelled around that time.

That meant releasing the remaining planned Mario Artist games no longer made sense under that new strategy. While Nintendo is confirmed to keep internal copies of unreleased 64DD software for developer reference, it's unknown if they ever plan to include it and N64DD emulation in their Virtual Console releases, though they did release previously unreleased content via that service.

The lost Mario Artist content includes the original concept as a regular N64 game before NCL took over, as well as half of the announced N64DD games:

  • Mario Artist: Game Maker
  • Mario Artist: Graphical Message Maker
  • Mario Artist: Sound Maker
  • Mario Artist: Video Jockey Maker

It's speculated those games could have been linked and shared like the already released Mario Artist games using the Communication Kit.

To this date, no playable demos or screenshots past their initial announcement leaked yet.


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