Bros. is one of the most
famous video games of all times, and an icon of the video game culture.
More than 20 years after its creation, it is still marketed by Nintendo
itself, licensed to other companies and subverted or re-used by
A good example of a legal recuperation is the Super Mario Bros.
series of the so-called Soundrops
are small drop-shaped colored plastic key
holders containing an IC, a power supply and a speaker. They feature a
single large round-shaped push button and each Soundrop emits a
sound sample when pressed. In the case of the Super Mario Bros.
series, the sound samples are taken from the video game.
per Mario aims at pushing further the use of
detournement (an anglicization of the French word "détournement" that
could be translated as subversion) and recuperation through DIY and
lo-tech hacking techniques.
In Sonata per Mario,
both the game Super
Mario Bros. (by Nintendo)
series (by Bandai)
are re-used to create a new game
that in turn can be seen as a detournement of the game Taiko Drum
Master (by Namco).
The players use the eight Soundrops
of the Super
Mario Bros. series as an eight-buttons controller for a
based on pre-recorded plays of Super Mario Bros..
plays have been stripped of the sound and the goal of the game is to
reconstruct it through the use of the Soundrops, in
synchronization with the actions of the character Mario. Players earn
points by pressing the correct Soundrop button at
the right instant
in a way that is similar to the game Taiko Drum Master.
Sonata per Mario
features a list of the highest scores and the possibility for the
player to enter his/her name when a high score is achieved. Moreover,
it has two levels of difficulty. At the normal level of difficulty,
visual indications are provided to help the player to be perfectly
synchronized with the action of Mario. At the hard level of difficulty, such indications are not provided and the player must rely only on the actions of Mario.
are similar to a musical instrument and the pre-recorded video to the
addition to the sheer entertainment value of the project when
considered as a game, Sonata
per Mario is a reflexion on the
practice of recuperation by companies and the similar practice of
detournement through hacking and DIY techniques by hobbyists and
can be classified as merchandising and as
such, products of recuperation. At the same time, the object itself is
an original and creative product that yet cannot be dissociated of the
original product to which it is related. Without its reference, the
pertinence of the object is lost.
hacks, "détourne") an already recuperated merchandising product
to become an original game that is itself a detournement
of video games. In addition, it can be seen as a
reflexion on copyright issues with an ironic and parodic twist.
was developed using an Arduino
connect the Soundrops
to a computer running an application (initially built with the free software Processing
and then ported to OpenFrameworks
players interact with the game through the Soundrops
and are presented with a display showing the game/score.
The setup of Sonata per
Mario as an installation is very simple. Only the Soundrops, a
display and speakers are needed. The computer as well as the Arduino board are
necessary to the functionning but are hidden to the audience. Wireless
communication between the Arduino
board and the computer allows for an easy placement of the Soundrops.
should be placed (suspended) such as it recalls a musical instrument. In a dark
environment, lights could be added to lighten the Soundrops only,
leaving the surroundings in the dark.
by A. Cassinelli
of the Super
Mario Bros. series (click on a Soundrop to hear
the sample [mp3])
Many thanks to Alvaro Cassinelli and Monica Bressaglia
their help, valuable comments and inspiration, and to Thomas for
showing me my first Soundrop.