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I Heard Joy Division Played on 'Mario Paint' and Lost Control Again

Chris O'Coin

Mario Paint has an enduring legacy among gamers, game developers, and critics, but might be remembered most for the music composer feature.

The year is 1992. Nirvana's Nevermind has just displaced Michael Jackson's Dangerous at the top of the Billboard Album charts, and another critical moment in music history is about to occur. I'm referring, of course, to the release of Mario Paint for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

The game, which came packaged with a mouse and mousepad, was a basic drawing utility that also allowed users to create looping animations similar to GIFs. It also featured a music composer that was driven by classic Nintendo sound effects.

Though Mario Paint has an enduring legacy among gamers, game developers, and critics, it might be remembered most for the music composer feature. That's thanks largely in part to YouTube.

Now, more than twenty years later, Mario Paint has experienced a sort of resurrection through the magic of emulators and mods. A crew of intrepid amateur chiptune musicians like ​Adam ​Haacke have taken to YouTube to show off their uncanny ability to cover the hits of yesterday and today using Nintendo's iconic sound bank. There you can find everything from insanely accurate versions of Dragonforce's "Through The Fire and Flames" to Toto's "Africa" to Nirvana classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

A bit of caution: Once you go down this rabbit hole it may consume you. My fate was sealed when I heard the sound effect one god damn genius used to vocalize Ian Curtis' voice for the Mario Paint version of the Joy Division classic "Transmission."

But wait, there's more:

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