The Best of Covers of Mario Paint, Unlikely Video Game Composition Forefather

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Mario did more than just stomp on turtles or race in go-karts. He also indirectly revolutionized video game composing.
Mario is a versatile video game character. In his long career in the digital world, Mario raced go-karts, fought adversaries in hand-to-hand combat and even got kidnapped to teach kids about geography.

Yet Nintendo's plumber extraordinaire may have inadvertently been a trailblazer in the realm of video game music-making.

When Nintendo released Mario Paint back in the early 1990s, it was effectively a way for kids to draw Nintendo characters. It was also a way for the company to disseminate a mouse created for the Super Nintendo system. Mario Paint also included what seemed to be a rudimentary composing mechanism, which swapped musical notes for images of Nintendo characters. At the time the game was released, the composer was aimed at providing a soundtrack to animated shorts.

Like a lot of old video games, some ingenious people created a downloadable version of the Mario Paint composer. And over the last few years, immensely talented folks have used the program to compose covers of very popular songs.

True, Mario Paint's composer isn't as powerful as, say, the tools Harmonix provides to people who utilize its Rock Band Network. Heck, it's not even in the same ballpark as the create-your-own-song feature embedded in recent Guitar Hero games.

But Mario Paint compositions have become something of a cottage industry on YouTube. For instance, an ingenious composer created this version of "Over and Over" by Nelly and Tim McGraw:

And this rendition of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" has over 172,000 views on YouTube:

Somebody even managed to create a delightful version of "Still Alive," the Jonathan Coulton song that plays when somebody beats Portal:




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