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Paintings are objects that appear in several of the Mario games, serving various purposes. They first appear in Super Mario 64.
Super Mario series
Super Mario 64 / Super Mario 64 DS
Paintings in Super Mario 64 are used to travel from Peach's Castle to the game's many levels, such as Bob-omb Battlefield. Certain paintings are located in special themed rooms (for example Jolly Roger Bay's painting is in what appears to be an aquarium). Most painting frames are yellow, but some of the paintings also have different colors, such as Wet-Dry World's being blue. Several paintings on the 2nd floor are copies of ones on other floors and cannot be entered. The painting for Jolly Roger Bay is changed in western localizations, with the original Japanese version depicting large bubbles and the western versions depicting the sunken ship.
Paintings return in the remake, Super Mario 64 DS, where they serve the same purpose. All of the paintings have been retouched, with some also being redone due to some designs changing in the eight years between releases. Also, all releases of this game have the Jolly Roger Bay painting depicting bubbles.
Super Mario Odyssey
Paintings return in Super Mario Odyssey. Also referred to as warp holes in this game, they serve the same purpose of acting as gateways to certain kingdoms, but they are not the primary means of traveling to each kingdom. Instead, they are scattered across each location, often in hidden areas. When used, they send Mario into enclosed areas in each kingdom, to collect Power Moons that are inaccessible through regular means. The paintings are typically not activated until the entrance location's story missions have been completed, though some, such as the one to the Sand Kingdom, are usable earlier than that, while the ones to the Seaside Kingdom, Snow Kingdom, and Bowser's Kingdom are inaccessible until the game is completed.
Paintings also appear in towers and other hidden areas outside Peach's Castle. They transport Mario to tougher versions of the battles against Knucklotec, Torkdrift, Mechawiggler, Mollusque-Lanceur, Cookatiel and the Ruined Dragon. When these paintings are used, the level select jingle from Super Mario 64 plays before the rematches begin.
There is also a painting in the Wedding Hall in the Moon Kingdom which allows for Bowser to be fought again. Another painting can be unlocked in the Wedding Hall by collecting all 880 Power Moons in the game (not counting extra ones obtainable by shopping) which leads to a harder version of the Bowser fight.
In the Darker Side, during the final portion of the Kingdom, Mario must jump into a painting of Bowser to capture him again, as he is required to complete this final section.
List of paintings
* NOTE: The painting destination depends on which kingdom is selected first at the Lake-Wooded Kingdom fork and at the Snow-Seaside Kingdom fork.
Luigi's Mansion series
Multiple paintings appear in Luigi's Mansion. Most are simple background objects which occasionally hold treasure and can be commented on by Luigi through the Game Boy Horror; some of these appear to depict living versions of the Portrait Ghosts, and the ones in the Parlor speak to Luigi after he blows out six candles early on. Some, however, are more important to the plot, namely, the ones of the defeated Portrait Ghosts, the quality of which depends on how many Pearls Luigi collects. Another is the one Mario is trapped in, which serves as Luigi's primary goal. Before the battle with King Boo, it is replaced with a painting of Bowser, which sucks the two inside of it. After Luigi defeats King Boo, the Mario painting reappears, and Luigi takes it back E. Gadd's lab. Mario is then sent through the Ghost Portrificationizer in reverse to return him to normal. Unlike the static images of the Portrait Ghosts, Mario's picture is of him banging on the panel trying to escape.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Mario gets trapped in a painting again in the game's sequel Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. Once again, several paintings are found throughout the game, many of which contain items. In this game, however, obtaining the items necessitates the usage of the Dark-Light Device. Mario's painting is alluded to throughout the game, but is fully revealed during the Secret Mine. After defeating King Boo, Luigi has to use the Dark-Light Device on Mario to get him out of the painting.