Albert Wesker (left), Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield have escaped into the mansion, where they thought it was safe.
If someone ask…
Albert Wesker (left), Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield have escaped into the mansion, where they thought it was safe.
If someone ask…
343 Industries Head of Creative, Joseph Staten has confirmed that Halo Infinite’s multiplayer will add more weapons over time.
During a recent quick-fire interview with Game Informer, Staten recently spoke about the number of weapons in Halo Infinite’s…
The prologue for Jurassic World Dominion shows a glimpse of dinosaurs living in their natural habitat 65 million years ago, but is it an accurate representation based on science or silver screen fantasy? We asked Joe Bonsor, a dinosaur expert and Palaeontolgist for the Natural History Museum in London and University of Bath, to give us his thoughts.
“This looks like a very large type of Pterosaur called Azhdarchid, and this one is probably a quetzalcoatlus, which is the largest of the Azhdarchid that we know of. Its behaviour looks good – it’s gliding rather than flapping. The others in the background are walking on all four limbs, despite having these membranes, and we know that quetzalcoatlus probably spent more time on land than it did at sea.
“Some of the other Pterosaurs we know fed from the sea whilst in flight, but these larger ones were terrestrial and probably ate other small dinosaurs, lizards, and tiny mammals. It looks like these pterosaurs have been given some kind of fibre coating – the pterosaurs didn’t have feathers like birds have today, but they’re a sort of sister relative. They would have had some sort of coating on their body, not fur, not feathers, but an early relative of those two things.
“[Its tail] seems little bit long for me. In reconstructions based on fossil evidence they kind of have a little stub. They would have a tail in as much as a turkey does, if you take all the feathers off. It would be a little nub, I doubt they’d have a big, dog-like tail. I don’t see what purpose that would serve. If they’ve evolved that far to have complex flight and big membranes, that would probably have gone.”
“This is the oviraptor, which is an egg thief. This is a classic misconception about the oviraptor. It got a lot of bad press when it was first discovered. It’s name literally means ‘egg thief’ and it was discovered next to a clutch of broken eggs, so paleontologists assumed it would steal and eat eggs to survive. It wouldn’t be unheard of – a lot of lizards and reptiles do eat eggs. Subsequent finds have discovered that the oviraptor was actually sitting on its own clutch of eggs – it wasn’t eating other dinosaur eggs, it was caring for its own.
“I like the way they’ve given it a full coating of feathers and a full bushy tail feather, that is accurate from what I know.
“You can forge this narrative that there are goodies and baddies, and in nature in general different groups of animals can be perceived as good or bad. To us they’re just animals, they’re not evil or good, they’re just doing animal things. They’re just trying to survive. Some dinosaurs probably would have fed from eggs – it doesn’t mean they’re nasty, it’s just the thing they’ve evolved to eat.”
“You can tell it’s a Nasuoceratops from the styling of the frill around its head and the direction its horns are pointing in. One of them has a broken horn – we know they would have used them in mating displays or for fighting, kind of like rutting stags would. It also shows them migrating, much like buffalo and other herds of animals do today, which is a cool touch.”
“This looks like Moros Intrepidus, which is one of the newest dinosaurs we’ve named. It’s a really small theropod meat-eating dinosaur. It’s good to see they’ve given it a full coating of feathers, which these dinosaurs would have. It’s cleaning the teeth of this other animal – sure, why not, a lot of smaller animals do that. We see that with crocodiles today – some species of bird will pick the meat out of the teeth of the crocodile, so that’s perfectly reasonable as far as I’m concerned.”
“This is one of my favourite dinosaurs. It’s a large herbivorous dinosaur from the cretaceous. It had these large thumb spikes, which it would use for defence and maybe for digging around in the ground.”
“This looks like a Giganotosaursus, which is one of the largest predator theropod dinosaurs that we know about. It’s about to have a fight with a T-Rex, which is a bit odd because Giganotosaurus was about 30 million years before T Rex, so they would never have met in real life and they lived on different continents.”
“Interestingly, they’ve given the T Rex some sort of fluffy, feathery coating, which is brilliant to see because that’s exactly how we think it would’ve looked. It probably would’ve had a bit more than that to be honest – I guess they don’t want to deviate too much from what we would expect the T-Rex to look like.
“It also looks like they’ve improved the positioning of its arms slightly. One of the main things they got wrong in the earlier films was the positioning of dinosaur arms and hands – they would have been more to the side than held out in front of them, and it looks like they’ve addressed that a little bit here.
“I’m guessing that is the mosquito that bites the T-Rex that then leads to the Jurassic Park T-Rex. In reality these mosquitoes are going to go from one animal to the next and have a little drink from each one, so if we did find one that had blood in, it would be a mix anyway. Without knowing the genetic code of the animal we wouldn’t be able to know which one it was from, so it would be like this super blood and wouldn’t be very helpful. The blood inside a mosquito isn’t going to survive 65 million years sadly. It’s a cool concept, but…”
“It looks like all the dinosaurs from the prologue are from the cretaceous period. The cretaceous period was a really long period of time, about 18 million years. Some of these dinosaurs are from the beginning of the cretaceous period and some are from the very end. Iguanodon is from about 125 million years ago, and that was next to a Giganotosaurus, which is from about 90 million years ago, which was fighting a T Rex which was from 65 million years ago. They were all separated by tens of millions of years, so would never have met in real life. But I think they’re trying to show a generalised impression of what the cretaceous period was like. Where they would have lived looks perfectly reasonable to me.”
“I presume this is the T-Rex that was let loose at the end of the second Jurassic World. It’s a scared animal that doesn’t know where it is or what’s going on. This version of the T-Rex doesn’t have a coating of feathery fluff over its body, so either it’s something they might explain in the film, but is probably something they didn’t know back when they made the original Jurassic Park films but they know now.
“Some dinosaurs had cheeks and some didn’t, and there’s also a debate as to whether they had lips as well. Unfortunately, we’ll never know about a lot of those soft body parts. We’ve based a lot of what we know on animals today, so crocodiles have this bit of flesh between the upper and lower jaw that joins them together. But they don’t have cheeks, their teeth are exposed. Crocodiles and alligators also don’t have lips, so this is probably based on what we know today, and sometimes we have to make those jumps.”
“This prologue feels a little bit different from the previous films. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they translate this footage, which has a bit more realism and some more recent discoveries, into those more modern dinosaurs from the film. It’ll be interesting to see how they strike a balance between the actual science and their creations.
“For me, the biggest thing is the feathers on the theropods, the two-legged meat-eating dinosaurs. The raptors are generally just naked, just skin. Perhaps it’s because they don’t look as scary covered in feathers, but I think it would be quite scary – a six-foot tall chicken with razor claws chasing you! You’d still run away.”
Warning: Full spoilers follow for Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. If you’re wondering whether or not the film has a mid or post-credits scene, we’ll tell you right here. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City has a mid-credits scene.
Ars Technica Editor-in-Chief Ken Fisher has a rule: If you have a dumb, fun conversation in the Ars Slack that lasts for more than 10 minutes, it’s probably worth turning that conversation into some kind of article. And that’s how a weekday water-cooler-style discussion about Platonic idealism and Mario became what you’re reading now!
For people of a certain age—which, dear readers, most of us are—”video games” and “Nintendo” meant practically the same thing. (There are even a few of us who are older than a certain age, who came from the Great Long Long Ago time when “video games” meant “Atari,” and even those few acknowledge Nintendo’s culture-changing dominance in the mid-to-late 1980s.) So all of us have played at least a few different games featuring the world’s most famous plumber, Mario Mario. (Yeah, his last name is also Mario. Which means his brother’s name is Luigi Mario. Which means that calling Luigi “Green Mario” is actually correct! Vindication!)
A few Ars staffers volunteered to brave the inevitable slings and arrows of the comments section to put down their thoughts on a simple question: out of every video game in which Mario made an appearance, which one is your absolute top-shelf favorite, and why?
Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.
Only one Mario game has jumped onto—or occasionally over—the flagpole of my heart. That game, of course, is Super Mario Bros. for NES. Minus worlds, water worlds, warp zones, magic mushrooms, bullets with eyes, bonus rooms, that hidden 1-UP in World 1-1, glorious 8-bit music, the egg-throwing sky-turtle (!) Lakitu, mysterious green pipes—SMB has it all.
Yes, it helped that this was the first great game of my NES-era childhood, and that to get it, I had to cajole my parents into renting the cartridge from the local video store for the weekend. But SMB is no mere nostalgia play. Unlike many games of its era, it’s still great fun today, and its iconic levels should absolutely be a part of today’s Common Core school standards. —Nate Anderson, Deputy Editor
When Nintendo puts Mario in a sandbox, the results can be… uneven. Super Mario 64, for instance, is sheer genius, while Super Mario Sunshine lacks polish and revolves around an irritating gaming mechanic.
Luckily, Super Mario Odyssey, the flagship title for the Nintendo Switch, falls into the genius category.
Odyssey can be anything you want it to be. If you want to collect just enough Power Moons to beat the game, do so. I’m not a completionist, but I loved roaming around Odyssey, collecting as many Power Moons as I could find, and discovering the odd portal between worlds.
Odyssey is also easy on the eyes. The Switch may lack the pure computing horsepower of Sony’s and Microsoft’s consoles, but Nintendo developers are capable of maximizing what they have to work with. I love the lushly detailed worlds throughout Odyssey, each of which has its own gameplay quirks.
If I had to boil Odyssey down to a single adjective, it would be “clever.” In the hands of a lesser development studio, Mario’s sentient hat partner Cappy could have been a cheap gimmick. Instead, it’s an integral (and fun) part of gameplay. I was able to get through the game without mastering the ability to toss Cappy and then use the airborne Bonneter to cross chasms, but I enjoyed watching my teenager take advantage of that mechanic. Young brains, young reflexes. Sigh.
Maybe the best part about Super Mario Odyssey is beating it—the first time. After an adrenaline-fueled run through the magma chambers under the surface of the Moon, I beat Bowser, rescued Peach, and found out that there was a multitude of new Power Moons scattered across every planet in the Odyssey cosmos. After spending many more hours hunting them down, I took a stab—actually many stabs—at the Darker Side of the Moon but could never defeat the fourth Broodal. Trying to run that gauntlet was out of the question.
Even though I stopped playing before I did All the Things, I came away satisfied. Nintendo knows what its fans want, and Odyssey delivers on every level.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to make sure my Switch is fully charged… —Eric Bangeman, Managing Editor
Nintendo’s 2D classics are easy to play, in the sense that they are easy to find and acquire. NES and SNES games are always the first to be repackaged and redistributed on new Nintendo consoles, and emulating these systems requires so little computing power that you can fire up Super Mario Bros. 3 on nearly any device that will connect to a screen.
Preservation for Nintendo’s later 3D classics has been spottier, partly because they need more powerful hardware to run well and because it can be difficult to truly replicate things like the Wii’s motion controls, the Wii U’s tablet, or the DS and 3DS’s touchscreen or stereoscopic 3D effects. These games do sometimes get repackaged and re-released for newer consoles, but they come with new-game price tags to match.
All of this is to say that there’s definitely an element of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” to my insistence that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is my favorite Mario game, because I haven’t actually played it in the better part of a decade. But clearly someone needs to stick up for it—its absence from Super Mario 3D All-Stars was a travesty nearly on par with the presence of Super Mario Sunshine. (This is a joke.)
Galaxy 2 began life as a bundle of ideas that didn’t make it into the original game, and the result is a brilliant collection of rapid-fire challenges that riff on the original Galaxy‘s mechanics in more varied and adventurous ways. (It’s a clear precursor to the Power-Moon-stuffed Super Mario Odyssey favored by Eric up above.) And once Galaxy 2‘s 120 stars have been collected, the game hits you with another 120 stars that will challenge any player’s precision platforming skills.
While games like the New Super Mario Bros. series or Super Mario 3D World have more fleshed-out multiplayer modes, Galaxy 2 also deserves recognition for its excellent two-player co-op mode, where another person can point their Wii Remote at the screen to stun enemies and collect items. Nintendo also played with this idea in the original Galaxy and Odyssey, but the iteration in Galaxy 2 is great for younger gamers or non-gamers who want to get in on the fun. The Wii Remote controls are intuitive, and the second player can do a whole bunch of genuinely useful things that don’t get in the way of the first player.
Mario Galaxy 2 is a high watermark between the technical achievements of Mario 64 and the unadulterated joy of Mario Odyssey, and I would (and, sigh, probably will) pay good money to play a 1080p version on a modern console. —Andrew Cunningham, Senior Technology Reporter
The best Mario game is Super Mario Bros. 3, but any cultured and physically attractive person already knows that, so let’s take this opportunity to spotlight something more interesting instead: Donkey Kong Jr.
I won’t pretend the game is some secret masterpiece. It’s not. It didn’t effectively create an entire genre of gaming (or arguably modern gaming itself) like its predecessor. Its controls aren’t as precise, and its four levels aren’t as distinct. A single loop takes less than 10 minutes to complete.
It is different, though. Think about where Nintendo was around the time that Donkey Kong became a pop-culture phenomenon. Now think about how easy it would have been to simply return with a “Donkey Kong 2” that was a little bit harder and had a couple of new items. Instead, we got Donkey Kong Jr., the rare video game sequel that is more transformative than additive.
Here, Mario is the villain, having imprisoned Donkey Kong in an apparent act of revenge for Donkey Kong kidnapping Mario’s girlfriend (Pauline, not Peach!) in the original game. This remains the only instance of Mario being cast as the bad guy in a Nintendo game, and it’s one of the few true perspective shifts in the Mario canon. (Though I am sure there’s an anti-vaxxer revisionist take out there about how Dr. Mario is a villainous representation of Big Pharma.)
You play as Donkey Kong’s son, Donkey Kong Jr. Fittingly, Junior moves like a bulky baby gorilla, not a nimble little man. He’s wider and slower, so determining exactly where and when to jump over Mario’s attacking birds or electric jolts is fuzzier. This helped the arcade cabinet hoover up quarters—the Fun-O-Rama in York, Maine, thanks me—but as a sequel, Donkey Kong Jr. forces you to change your understanding of its landmark predecessor’s rhythm and timing.
In fact, much of Donkey Kong Jr.’s four stages drop the original platforming altogether and emphasize a whole new set of climbing mechanics. In the original, Mario (or “Jumpman”) primarily jumps and runs in horizontal spaces. In the sequel, Junior spends most of the game maneuvering vertically, avoiding obstacles by going up and down sets of vines and chains at just the right moment. There’s a different risk-reward system to this, too; Junior can climb up vines faster by grabbing two at a time, but his sprite gets wider and thus easier to hit. Using just one vine, meanwhile, lets you slide down quicker. All of this comes to a head in the last stage, where Junior has to move several keys up a group of chains to free his papa while tracking and avoiding a barrage of Mario’s projectiles.
Donkey Kong Jr. was followed a year later by Donkey Kong 3, a game in which an exterminator named Stanley the Bugman repeatedly shoots Donkey Kong in the butt with bug spray. While it feels dated today, Donkey Kong Jr. remains a model video game sequel: rather than simply providing more, it explores a familiar structure, then warps and rearranges the pieces within. —Jeff Dunn, Senior Commerce Editor
Sometimes our favorite games aren’t just our favorites because of how great they look or how well they play, but because of the things happening in our lives when we played them. That’s why Super Mario World is at the top of my Mario game list.
Oh, sure, it’s an incredible game—and as the pack-in title for the SNES’s North American launch, you’d expect it to be. Nintendo designed a game that would show off the new system’s speed and gorgeous graphical effects, and it absolutely succeeded. If you’re a ’90s kid, you probably have distinct memories of picking your jaw up off the floor the first time you saw SMW, be it at a friend’s house or at the Babbage’s demo kiosk. And unlike so many titles today, it didn’t just look great; it played great.
But Super Mario World will forever remind me of a long weekend in the early 2000s, around the time Ars Line Editor Peter Opaskar was getting married. Our whole friend group banded together our meager funds and bought Peter and his bride a brand new couch for their living room. As high-slacking members of Gen X, our furniture situations at the time were generally a mix of hand-me-downs and found-on-side-of-road kitsch, and we wanted to get him something super nice.
Peter and his wife were out of town the day the couch was set to be delivered, so my other buddy Steve and I drove over to Peter’s place, let ourselves in with the spare key, and set up shop to wait. Peter had come into possession of a used SNES, and one of the games that he acquired with it was Super Mario World. To kill the hours until the delivery van was set to arrive—and to give Peter’s old couch one last chance to shine—we plopped ourselves down in front of his TV and fired up the game.
I’d played SMW before, of course—who hasn’t?—but it had been years since I’d had an entire Saturday afternoon spreading out before me with nothing to do except marathon a two-player game. Alternating as Mario and Green Mario Luigi, we methodically took the game apart. We ferreted out alternate exits, opened secret paths, activated Switch Palaces, braved the Star Road, and dominated the Special World. We emerged utterly victorious (with a lot of help from the Top Secret Area), fully completing the game with all 96 exits found. The only time we stopped was when the delivery guys showed up—we let them in to do their thing, then plopped ourselves down on the new couch and resumed Koopa-stomping.
All in all, it was pretty close to a perfect day, and SMW is pretty close to a perfect game. —Lee Hutchinson, Senior Technology Editor
Back when every video game review in the world had a sub-score dedicated to “graphics,” the impending 3D gaming revolution had people losing their minds—and dumping their “dated” systems at resale shops like Funcoland. More polygons meant better graphics, the world seemed to think. But not me; I was still giddily clutching my SNES, thanks largely to Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario World 2.
This 1995 gem arrived at the end of the 16-bit era, when mainstream access to 3D-capable hardware began spiking. Nintendo’s response to these trends came in the form of Star Fox‘s bare-minimum polygons and Donkey Kong Country‘s pre-rendered trickery. Decades later, we now know that Yoshi’s Island had already been in development for years when DKC‘s 3D-rendered style emerged internally—and that this led to the Yoshi team “fighting back.” They moved even more boldly into a “hand-drawn” art approach, one that had never been done to such an extent by Nintendo. (Kirby’s Dream Land 3 would follow on SNES two years later with a similar aesthetic.)
As smitten as I was with the impending launch of Super Mario 64 (a very, very close second on my personal Mario list), Yoshi’s Island unlocked something inside of me: the whimsy that my teenage self was otherwise pushing away. Part of me had grown obsessed with aggressive teenager-y music, comics, and films, but Yoshi’s Island combined a unique and wonderfully executed aesthetic with exploration-friendly mechanics—and it helped me retain a certain wide-eyed wonder.
The game’s squiggly animation world, drawn in apparent marker and crayon strokes, exploded with fantastic rotation and distortion effects thanks to the SuperFX2 chip, a co-processor embedded in the game’s cartridge that got the SNES close to Sega Saturn levels of rendering prowess. Its soundtrack shimmered with MIDI interpretations of instruments like the organ and the banjo, all used to bring some of Koji Kondo’s all-time best melodies to life.
And it established a mild yet engrossing “collect-a-thon” system of flowers, red coins, and health points spread across its levels, which organically nudged players into checking every cranny of the game world by offering greater jump heights, increased egg-throwing reach, and a lack of countdown timers. I remain fond of the level design’s tight relationship with Yoshi’s expanded control suite, especially in the wake of so many overly padded find-all-the-shinies games on the N64 and beyond.
And, hey, you could occasionally turn Yoshi into a helicopter, a train, or a submarine—or give Baby Mario a star and turn him into a wall-running underpants superhero. Transformations are fun. Really, most of Yoshi’s Island remains “fun” when I return to it for adult replays, even if it means putting up with Baby Mario’s occasional screams of panic. —Sam Machkovech, Tech Culture Editor
My contribution is whichever and however many of these you feel like sharing. —Peter Opaskar, Line Editor
(Peter sent along a number of videos of himself covering various Mario themes on tuba, including some SMB3 level music, the SMB3 map theme, the SMB overworld theme, the SMB underwater theme, and the classic super star invincibility theme. But the one I’m going to embed is, of course, Dr. Mario. Just watch out for Big Pharma.)
The recent release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars on the Switch has rekindled a debate about Super Mario 64’s legacy. Some see the game as a masterpiece of 3D game design that holds up to this day. Others see it as an embarrassing throwback that has aged poorly in light of advances in the genre.
Put me in the masterpiece camp. Super Mario 64 wasn’t the first game to do third-person action-platforming in 3D, but I’d argue it was the first game to make the concept feel as natural and effortlessly fun as the 2D games that came before it.
A lot of that has to do with the analog stick, which Nintendo introduced to its consoles with Super Mario 64‘s release. Younger readers who have grown up with dual analog sticks as standard on pretty much every console controller won’t really understand the feeling of mastering the possibilities of this new control scheme. While digital joysticks and d-pads were okay for 2D navigation, the finer gradations of an analog stick were necessary to make the 3D worlds of Super Mario 64 a joy to explore.
Super Mario 64 was also the first game in the series to center on goals beyond simply getting to the level’s endpoint. Sure, previous Mario games had hidden exits and Easter eggs for those who wanted to explore and experiment. But Super Mario 64 made that exploration and experimentation the key to finding power stars hidden behind obscure hints. It was a trick that let designers take full advantage of the expansive space offered by the new third dimension, and its influence on the Mario series (and gaming in general) can’t be overstated.
Yes, there are some elements of Super Mario 64 that seem dated these days. There are more exploitable glitches than you’d expect from a flagship Nintendo title (likely owing to the developers’ new struggles with 3D hardware). The camera controls can be imprecise at times (though the angle the game selects automatically usually requires little fiddling). And starting a level over after getting a star is just plain annoying (especially during the ride-a-magic-carpet slog of Rainbow Ride).
But those small flaws are easy to forgive when you consider just what a leap Super Mario 64 was in gaming history. Future games may have smoothed out some of the rough edges, but like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Super Mario 64 gets extra credit because it was the first to show everyone else in the space how to do important things and do them well. —Kyle Orland, Senior Gaming Editor
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