This Forgotten Nintendo 64 Game Is One Part Photoshop, One Part 'Mario Paint'

An obsolete memory card from the 90s made Mario’s foray into photoshopping inaccessible until now.
October 5, 2017, 1:00pm
Image: Nintendo

Best described as Photoshop meets Mario and sidekicks, Mario no Photopi is one of the more obscure Mario titles, perhaps for obvious reasons. This failed attempt to expand on the Super Nintendo's Mario Paint, a game that came with a mouse and allowed players to make images and music, never saw daylight outside of Japan, becoming something of a holy grail among collectors.

But thanks to a tireless Nintendo 64 ROM hacker by the name of Skelux, all those long, somber years of Mario-less photoshopping are a thing of the past. Released last week, the "Cardless Hack" circumvents the game's funky setup, which prevented it from being played in emulators until now.

Mario no Photopi is unique in that it was the only title for Nintendo 64 to come on a special cartridge with two memory card slots. Back in 1998, people could snap some photos with their brand new digital camera, pop the camera's memory card into the game cart, pepper their digital photos with some Mario-themed clip art, then take the card to a kiosk at the mall to have the photos printed out.

The downside to this very 90s way of doing things is that a now obsolete memory card is required for the game to work. These were large, flexible, dog-eared SmartMedia cards that held 2 megabytes of data. For the game's launch, special ones were branded with gaming characters like Bomberman and Yoshi.

Before Skelux's hack came out, playing Mario no Photopi meant tracking down not only a physical copy of the game, but also a working SmartMedia card, which wasn't easy, given that these cards haven't been made in over a decade and have a tendency to crap out.

While the hack currently lacks the option for importing your own photos, it does open up the game completely, letting you fiddle around with everything else in the creative suite. That includes doing Photoshoppy activities like using the Boo icon to create transparent layers. And sliding the color sliders with Yoshi's tongue.

It's probably not going to dethrone your go-to photo editing software. But as a piece of Nintendo lore, Mario no Photopi is a nice game to have on a hard drive somewhere.