As you may or may not know, the next episode of the Super Nintendo Exploration Squad podcast is going to be about Mario Paint. In tandem with that, I thought it would be neat to run a Mario Paint Music Jam to get a bunch of tunes composed in Mario Paint OR some of the tools inspired by it!
Depending on how people feel about this, I’d also like to use the music that folks compose as the interstitials in the SNEX episode. I usually use 4 songs from the game, one for each section, and it would be fun to include some songs from this in the episode as well!
The goal of this is to make music inspired by the Mario Paint composer and its…unique sound. That doesn’t mean your songneeds to be beholden to its limitations (see below) but…well, you know what I mean!! It should sound goofy and use sound effects and shit.
I’m going to keep this open until the end of June, which is…almost a month. I bet you can make a kickass song in about a month.
How are you going to make this music? Here are some options for you!
Mario Paint - 100% accurate because it's just Mario Paint
The actual Mario Paint. This is 100% the least flexible and most difficult thing to do, but would also be the most accurate, if that’s what you care about. The limitations of the original Mario Paint composer are:
–No more than 3 notes playing at once
–24 bars per song (32 if composing in 3/4)
–Notes limited to B below middle C to high G
–Only quarter notes
So, you should know that before going in.
Here’s a zip file I put together that has a couple of ROMs AND some other stuff:
This has a few ROMs:
- Mario Paint [JU] [!] is the standard ROM, only works with the mouse
- Mario Paint [JU] [h1] (Joystick) is a ROM hack that works with the SNES controller
- BS Mario Paint - Yuu Shou Naizou Ban (J) is a satellaview version of the game for a contest. I have not fucked with it. Probably don’t use this.
If you want to use the mouse, you’ll need to enable it in your emulator of choice. Make sure to change your controller type in Port 1 to the mouse.
Frankly, the mouse is not very good on a modern PCs because there are no sensitivity settings in any emulator I could find. Your only option in this case is to lower your mouse speed in windows, or your mouse DPI in firmware. You’ll need to go extremely low in both cases.
HOWEVER, I also included a Joy2Key file that will convert your left analog stick on your controller to a very nice, very slow mouse movement. It’s better than the Joystick version IMO because you can do more than 8 directions and you get analog movement. Use L2 and R2 to increase the mouse speed 2x and 4x respectively. Obviously you’ll need to be on windows for this to work.
The Joystick version works as well, of course! I just…like analog.
I use Retroarch but I also tested this in SNEX9x and BSNES and it worked fine. If you’re going for full accuracy, this is the way to go. And I highly recommend not using your actual computer mouse for this if at all possible.
As far as recording this music, I believe Retroarch has the capability of exporting a video, and you could use OBS to do the same. Then you’ll likely want to convert it to a FLAC or MP3 or OGG or your music format of choice. If you’re having any trouble with this, post here and we’ll figure it out.
Mario Sequencer - most accurate without emulation
Mario Sequencer is probably the most accurate thing you’re going to get without booting up an emulator. This seems to be totally accurate to the original except you can place more than 3 notes on top of each other (see GIF above).
For recording, you’ll likely want to use something like OBS or Audacity to record your desktop speakers, and convert to a music file. The “Download” button just gives you a JSON file, which is not useful. I don’t even think you can re-import them?? Seems like you’d need to compose this in one go without closing your browser window, so be prepared for that.
Mario Paint Composer - the easiest to use
Mario Paint Composer is a great browser-based version of Mario Paint with the serial numbers filed off. It’s definitely the most middle-of-the-road of the tools - not super accurate, but also very easy to use. I would honestly recommend this to anyone who doesn’t know where to start. I think it’s friendly and fun!
There’s a User Manual but really the only thing you need to know that Shift+click places a Sharp note, and Ctrl+click places a Flat note. Everything else is pretty elementary.
You can export directly to a WAV or MP3 file from this tool as well, so no need to record.
Super Mario Paint - for pros
Super Mario Paint is the most robust option, but also the most complicated. It comes with lots of extra instruments, and has methods for composing much longer songs by smashing multiple songs together seamlessly. It lets you export sound files directly, so no recording needed, and it has pretty good documentation. there’s also a Discord.
The downside to all of this is that it’s a tool built for a specific kind of person - the person who is composing really complex Mario Paint-esque remixes of existing songs to put on Youtube. For example, the default tempo is 400, otherwise known as “dickspeed.” That’s because Super Mario Paint still limits you to quarternotes (maybe eighth notes?) so you have to raise the tempo to absurd numbers to get anything resembling complex melodies or rhythms. It’s very weird.
It’s a cool tool though! I’m curious what people think of it.
As far as hosting, you could definitely upload these to Soundcloud, or throw them onto a Google Drive. Or put it on Youtube? Whatever works for you!!
Last thing: If you are okay with letting me put this into the podcast, please let me know that in your post and let me know how you want to be credited, i.e. name and homepage or whatever. I’ll make sure to mention it in the 'cast. If you don’t say you’re okay with me using it, I will not use it. If we get more than four submissions, I might make a separate episode where we just…listen to music for a while.
Okay, that’s it! Please post your songs in this thread by the end of June, AND feel free to use this is a discussion point or a place to post WIPs. I’ll be working on a song tomorrow, probably.