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Mario and Movement- The Evolution of a 3D Platformer

Mario has been jumping around in 3D for 20 years now. Let’s take a look at how all of that has built up to Super Mario Odyssey.



Movement in a platformer is probably something you don’t think about too much. Not necessarily things like how to make a jump, but rather how fun that jump is to make, or how that jump affects the design of the game world. Mario is one of the quintessential platformer franchises in both 2D and 3D, and Odyssey is one of the smoothest experiences I’ve had playing this genre, Mario or not. This is because Super Mario Odyssey builds itself on a 20 year legacy of experimentation, success, and failure in terms of design choices for 3D Mario titles. Each of the main 3D games brought something new or tried to experiment with things that previous iterations had not done yet. So, let’s take a quick look at how design and movement were used in the main 3D Mario games.

  1. Super Mario 64

super mario 64Super Mario 64 is like the Wild West for 3D platformers. It came out after many companies (including Nintendo) had already been experimenting with moving into the 3rd dimension. Classic franchises like Castlevania and Mega Man struggled to find their footing, but Mario made the leap into 3D with flying colors. 64 is one of the best games when it comes to control and fluid movement, which is funny since it was the first 3D Mario.

The biggest changes for the Mario formula are that our little Italian man can now dive, long jump, and wall jump. All of these add a lot to how you get around. Super Mario 64’s levels are not designed with linearity in mind, you’re meant to explore them, and sometimes you can find things off the path the game outlines for you. Mastering how to wall jump can get you into certain places early, or even let the adventurous push what boundaries the game tries to set. The long jump serves a similar purpose, and its most common application is to clear large gaps you normally couldn’t or to simply keep your momentum going.

Momentum is the keyword when thinking about movement in Mario games. Not stopping is pretty important, and you can beat a lot of older Mario games without halting your progression even the slightest. One of the worst feelings in a platformer is waiting, and Mario 64 tries to circumvent this by giving you ways to quickly travel across levels, and make you feel like you’re always going forward… unless it’s Rainbow Ride. Rainbow Ride feels horrible.

  1. Super Mario Sunshine

super mario sunshineSuper Mario Sunshine is the black sheep for the 3D Mario games. It did a lot at the time to try and push new ideas for Mario but at the cost of becoming a repetitive mess. The game’s starting gimmick is cleaning up messes with F.L.U.D.D, but I wouldn’t really call walking around and spritzing paint with water “platforming.” F.L.U.D.D does add a lot of new movement options to the game though, some of which are probably my favorite.

For starters, Mario can increase his ground speed by spraying water in front of him and diving onto it, giving him a short, frictionless, slide to get around faster. The rocket and boost nozzles for the F.L.U.D.D are also pretty cool and unique. Both give Mario a very crazy boost either vertically or horizontally. Stages are a lot bigger in Sunshine, mostly due to the amount of distance you can travel with F.L.U.D.D. It sounds great at first, but really this ends up slowing a lot of the game down. 64 is mostly compact levels that you can traverse in a few minutes, but you can spend 5-10 just scaling walls in Sunshine, and that’s if you don’t fall off.

If Mario 64 gives the player options to avoid awkward pausing, then Sunshine is built around it. The hover nozzle is by far one of the biggest offenders of this. It practically pauses you in mid-air if you don’t already have a decent amount of speed going. It’s primary platforming purpose is to serve as the early-game rocket nozzle and help you with jump height. It can also help you clear large gaps, but the more savvy Mario player will just make use of wall jumps or long jumps, which are still present in the game even though the F.L.U.D.D gives similar (but slower) options.

Sunshine offers a lot less independence to explore despite it being a much larger game. The shine sprites in Sunshine are tied to individual missions like the starts in 64. But 64 would often host multiple stars in a level, and you could accidentally find one early just exploring a stage. Sunshine will intentionally bar the player from areas until other requirements are met, and this is true at pretty much every stage in the game. There are a few outliers, but Sunshine corals the player to stick to its rules rather than give them the freedom they had before.

  1. Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2

super mario galaxyThe Galaxy games feel like a reboot in terms of movement. Sunshine slowed the series down, but Galaxy is meant to bring it back to where it started. Galaxy does a lot to separate itself from 64 and Sunshine mechanically. The game isn’t as “open-world,” as its predecessors, it’s a lot of going from point A to point B. It works out well here though. Levels are built to be linear and there’s there’s less to explore, but the challenges in each stage feel more fleshed out and less generic. There was a definitive pattern to the shine sprite missions in Sunshine, and neither Galaxy game feels that way.

Galaxy is also the first 3D game to feature traditional Mario power-ups like those in the NES games. A lot of the most memorable power-ups have to do with verticality. Most notable is the bee suit, which gives you the ability to quickly climb and also fly around. Yoshi also makes a comeback here as an interesting platform tool (He was in Sunshine as well, but his potential is squandered and he adds nothing). The tiny dino-companion can eat different kinds of fruit in Galaxy 2 to give him super speed or hovering capabilities.  Galaxy is a showy game, and it likes to make everything seem as big and grand as possible. That’s the main reason you’ll see Mario triumphantly fly from one plant to another when using a launch star.

  1. Super Mario Odyssey

super mario odysseySo, how does Super Mario Odyssey combine all of these things? Well, Mario’s basic jump skills from 64 are all still here, and they feel really tight and responsive. Cappy also adds a new way to jump in the game by giving Mario a free extra jump by using him as a platform. Being able to successfully scale a wall by using Cappy jumps is up there with diving in Super Mario 64 in how good it feels to do properly. You can sequence break a lot of things once you get this technique down, and Odyssey has the same open-world level design that 64 does. Power moons in Odyssey are hidden everywhere, and you’re not kicked back out to a hub after getting one. It’s obvious the design team wanted to make exploration and experimentation the most important parts of each level because they never want to break your flow while playing.

A lot of the experimental F.L.U.D.D stuff and Galaxy power-ups are level-exclusive now. This is a really good approach to this kind of stuff since it let the design team build whole levels around using a certain power-up rather than worrying about the player being able to use whatever they want. In particular, the Seaside Kingdom is the best example of this. The little squid enemies you can possess there have abilities very similar to F.L.U.D.D, and if you could use those powers everywhere it would make the game a lot less fun to interact with and slow it down. On the other hand, the Seaside Kingdom is built to make use of the power-up’s hovering abilities and even its boss battle is super fun to play (which was a thing that wasn’t always true in Sunshine).

Odyssey is without a doubt one of my favorite Mario games. I still think the polished and simple feel of 64 holds up the best, but Odyssey comes in a very close second. It’s a creative game, with lots of room to let the player just mess around in the world and have fun moving about. It’s hard to think of a game quite like Odyssey. It combines the simple freedom of Super Mario 64, the large sprawling levels of Super Mario Sunshine, and the odd and satisfying power-ups of the Galaxy games.

Taylor is a writer from Atlanta, GA. His passion for games extends across genres and generations. When not playing or writing about games, he's probably reading science fiction.


Fantastic Fest 2019: Second Wave Adds ‘Knives Out’, ‘Parasite’ and More




This year’s Fantastic Fest is shaping up with one of the strongest lineups in recent years and if the first wave announcement didn’t impress you, the second wave of films announced today will have you running to buy tickets.

Wave two brings a ton of exciting new titles including Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out, Bong Joon-ho‘s Palme d’Or winner Parasite, as well as Richard Stanley‘s The Color Out of Space and the latest from filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, Synchronic.

This year, Fantastic Fest will also be spotlighting Mexican genre films such as The Black Pit of Dr. M and The Ship of Monsters—and, the festival will also include a sidebar dedicated to LGBTQ+ representation in genre cinema.

Check out the full second wave film lineup below. Fantastic Fest runs September 19-26. Be sure to check back as we will be covering the event once again this year.

Abou Leila
Algeria, France, Qatar, 2019
North American Premiere, 139 min
Director – Amin Sidi-Boumédiène
In the midst of the Algerian Civil War, Lotfi ventures into the desert with his lifelong friend S., who hopes to find and kill the elusive, dangerous terrorist Abou Leila.

The Antenna
Turkey, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Orçun Behram
Somewhere within an unnamed city in Turkey, the residents of an apartment block await the installation of their new antenna as ordered by the central government. No one can prepare them for the evil that will be unleashed.

The Black Pit Of Dr. M
Mexico, 1959
Repertory Screening, 82 min
Director – Fernando Méndez
Two doctors make a pact on behalf of science: Whichever one dies first will return to share the secrets of the afterlife. This pact will not end well.

USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 80 min
Director – Joe Begos
While trying to complete her latest painting, a starving artist facing a lack of inspiration spirals out of control in a blaze of blood-soaked, drug-fueled glory.

Blood Machines
France, USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 50 min
Director – Seth Ickerman
The wild sequel to the Carpenter Brut music video, Turbo Killer, shoots you into a turbulent psychedelic adventure of galactic hunters tracking down the soul of a spaceship set to a killer synthwave soundtrack.

Butt Boy
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 100 min
Director – Tyler Cornack
Writer/director/comedian Tyler Cornack’s Butt Boy introduces us to Chip, a middle-aged man whose first prostate exam stirs feelings deep inside leading to an addiction that can only be shown to Fantastic Fest audiences.

Climate Of The Hunter
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Mickey Reece
The “Soderbergh of the Sticks,” Mickey Reece, returns to Fantastic Fest with his 27th feature. Two beautiful sisters vie for the affections of a man who may or may not be a vampire.

Color Out Of Space
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 111 min
Director – Richard Stanley
Unimaginable terrors befall the Gardner family after a meteorite lands on their front lawn in Richard Stanley’s entrancing, horrific adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story.

Iron Fists And Kung Fu Kicks
Australia, 2019
North American Premiere, 107 min
Director – Serge Ou
From the Shaw Brothers to The Matrix, this wild documentary tells the story of how kung fu films conquered the world from the 1960s to now.

Knives Out
USA, 2019
Special Presentation, 130 min
Director – Rian Johnson
In attendance – Director Rian Johnson
From acclaimed writer, director Rian Johnson comes Knives Out, a fresh and modern take on the classic “whodunnit” mystery genre.

The Lodge
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 108 min
Directors – Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala
Five years after Goodnight Mommy stunned Fantastic Fest audiences, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala are back with another disturbing psychological twister about a brother and sister spending Christmas with their shadowy soon-to-be stepmother.

The Long Walk
Laos, Spain, Singapore, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Mattie Do
In attendance – Director Mattie Do
An old Laotian hermit discovers that the ghost of a road accident victim can transport him back in time fifty years to the moment of his mother’s painful death..

2014, USA
Repertory Screening, 65 min
Director – Stewart Thorndike
In attendance – Director Stewart Thorndike
After the loss of her child, a young woman begins to suspect that her neighbors might be part of a satanic cult and that she might be their next target.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
USA, 1985
Repertory Screening, 87 min
Director – Jack Sholder
In attendance – Actors Mark Patton and Kim Myers
Jesse (Mark Patton) is the new kid on Elm Street and Freddy Krueger might not be the only monster in the closet in this much discussed but under-appreciated queer horror classic.

Austria, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Karl Markovics
In a retirement allotment in Vienna, a crabby 91-year-old finds both himself and his humanity when he hires an Afghani refugee to help him in Karl Markovics’ remarkable and poignant third feature.

South Korea, 2019
Texas Premiere, 131 min
Director – Bong Joon-ho
Bong Joon-ho’s seventh feature — about an unemployed Korean family conning their way out of their basement apartment — is a roller coaster ride of laughs, gasps, horror, tears, and perfection.

Belgium, 2019
North American Premiere, 97 min
Director – Tim Mielants
Patrick is not having an easy time. First his domineering father passed away and now his favorite hammer is missing. Before the day is out, Patrick’s search will lead him to discover answers to the questions he didn’t even know existed.

Phil Tippett – Mad Dreams And Monsters
France, 2019
International Premiere, 80 min
Directors – Gilles Penso & Alexandre Poncet
After their documentary Creature Designers – The Frankenstein Complex, French journalist Alexandre Poncet and filmmaker Gilles Penso deliver an in-depth, sad, and beautiful documentary about the stop motion and VFX artist Phil Tippett, a man who changed the landscape of visual effects in film.

The Platform
Spain, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
In attendance – Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Somewhere in the future exists The Platform, a vertically tiered prison where the upper levels have access to exquisite food and the lower levels fight for survival. Level assignments are random, but how long can a prisoner’s luck hold? One man is about to find out.

1977, United Kingdom
Repertory Screening, 78 min
Director – Norman J. Warren
Jessica and Josephine find more than their relationship at stake when they’re chosen by a shape-shifting alien as his target for an observational study.

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 100 min
Directors – Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen
In attendance – Directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen
More than thirty years after its release and his departure from Hollywood, Mark Patton (star of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), sets the record straight on the famously queer horror sequel in this fabulous, surprising, and eye-opening documentary.

The Ship Of Monsters
Mexico, 1960
Repertory Screening, 81 min
Director – Rogelio A. González
Two Venusian women and their robot servant are on a mission to find suitable candidates to repopulate their planet. Soon their ship is filled with bizarre specimens from across the universe, leading to an adventure like no other!

USA, 2019
US Premiere, 96 min
Directors – Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
In attendance – Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Two paramedics find their world ripped apart when they start encountering deaths linked to the otherworldly effects of a new designer drug called Synchronic.

Trampa Infernal
Mexico, 1989
Repertory Screening, 77 min
Director – Pedro Galindo III
In Mexico’s most notorious unseen video-era masterblast, a crew of toxically masculine bear murderers runs afoul of a forest-dwelling war veteran wearing a mannequin mask and Freddy Krueger glove. Entertainment ensues!!

The True Adventures Of Wolfboy
USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 88 min
Director – Martin Krej?í
Suffering from hypertrichosis — which covers him with animal-like fur — Paul knows he’s not like other kids. But a seemingly random package from his estranged mother will send him on a journey of self-discovery alongside extraordinary characters.

The Vast Of Night
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 90 min
Director – Andrew Patterson
A rural 1950s radio DJ and a telephone operator uncover a strange signal that could change everything in this stunning science fiction debut feature.

USA, 2019
World Premiere, 92 min
Director – Joe Begos
In attendance – Director Joe Begos
In the near future, a new drug called Hype has turned America into a war zone. The addicted are more mutant than human, and they’ve set their sights on assaulting a VFW post in Joe Begos’ star-studded latest.

USA, 2019
World Premiere, 71 min
Director – Jack Henry Robbins
In attendance – Director Jack Henry Robbins
This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, takes us back to when 12-year-old Ralph, over one formative week, mistakenly records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.

Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, 2019
US Premiere, 98 min
Director – Lorcan Finnegan
When young couple Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) drive out to a maze of temptingly affordable houses in the suburbs, they find themselves unable to leave.

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Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Antlers’ Gets a Mysterious Trailer




Fox Searchlight has released the first trailer and poster for Antlers, a rural horror film about a small-town Oregon teacher (Keri Russell) and her brother (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff, who discover that a young student (Jeremy T. Thomas) is harboring a dangerous secret that places the entire town in danger.

Director Scott Cooper and producer Guillermo del Toro have teamed to adapt a short story from Nick Antosca, the creator of the criminally underrated horror anthology series Channel Zero. Not much is yet known about Antlers other than Fox Searchlight, now owned by Disney, has scheduled the film for a 2020 release. Rounding up the main cast is Graham Green, Amy Madigan, Scott Haze and Rory Cochrane. Watch the trailer below.

Antlers Movie
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Be Excellent to Each Other with these Awesome ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ Figures

“History is about to be rewritten by two guys who can’t spell.”




Since its release in 1989, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure inspired a sequel (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), a Saturday morning cartoon, a comic book series, and launched actor Keanu Reeves into movie stardom. And now, three-plus decades later, Bill and Ted are getting their own scale collectible set courtesy Sideshow and Blitzway.

This is your chance to own the friendly duo in one go! The work put into creating these high-end figures is truly astounding as the figures capture the look of a young Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves just as we remember them. If you have $399 to spend, they can be all yours.

Check out the photos below along with the official press release.

Bill and Ted are two high school buddies who dream of becoming international rock stars. Their hilarious time travel adventure is depicted in the amazingly audacious comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

It’s like having them pop up right in front of you, with their iconic fashion and elaborate accessories. Besides, the iconic props are designed to let you reproduce a variety of wonderful scenes from the movie.

Be excellent to each other and travel to the past through the exciting story of Bill and Ted!

The Bill & Ted Sixth Scale Collectible Set specially features:

Highly detailed likeness of Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston Esq.
Highly detailed likeness of Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan
Newly designed and developed male body with over 30 points of articulations and flexible soft arms
Two (2) Newly designed and developed figure stands
Twelve (12) interchangeable hands (total for both) including:
Two (2) pairs of guitar hands
Two (2) right blow fist hands
Two (2) pairs of open hands
Two (2) right good fortune hands

Costume for Bill:

One (1) purple pattern shirt
One (1) graphic t-shirts
One (1) pair of blue jeans
One (1) pair of pattern underpants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

Costume for Ted:

One (1) blue jacket
One (1) black vest
One (1) graphic t-shirt
One (1) pair of graphic shorts
One (1) pair of inner training pants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

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Watch the Creepy Trailer for ‘Little Nightmares 2’: Six is Back and She has Help.




One of the biggest surprises to come out of Gamescom 2019 so far is the announcement of Little Nightmares 2, the sequel to the puzzle-platformer hit horror game developed by Tarsier Studios.

While the first Little Nightmares has you take control a character named Six while avoiding instant death as she traverses alone amongst the depths of a dungeon, the sequel will give her a companion named Mono, who must accompany Six throughout her terrifying new journey.  

Little Nightmares was one of our favorite games of 2017 and so we can’t wait to get our hands on the sequel. In our review, James Baker wrote, “Tarsier Studios have created a wholly original concept to a horror genre that has leaned more towards thriller before anything else, bringing its roots back without relying on jump-scares and needlessly-gory shocks. Just like hide-and-seek, Little Nightmares captures the fear of being caught, albeit in a creepy, macabre style.”

Little Nightmares 2 will be released sometime in 2020 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

Watch the trailer below and if you are a fan of the first game, we recommend reading this article that dives deep into the meaning behind Little Nightmares.

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NBA 2K20’s Story Mode Gets a Stunning Trailer




NBA 2K19 features to date, its strongest MyCareer mode with the aptly titled, “The Way Back”, a fascinating look at the culture behind college basketball recruiting. The story mode was well received by critics and fans everywhere and in our review, we called it, “an incredible achievement that conveys the fabric of modern American life, aspirations and incidentally, sports, in close-up and at length”.

NBA 2K20 which will be released in less than a month, promises to include an even better story mode, and while we haven’t played the game yet, we have plenty of reasons to think it might be. Not only does it feature an all-star cast with top-tier talents such as Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson, but the story mode – entitled “When the Lights Are Brightest” – is being produced by LeBron James’ Springhill Productions, the same company behind the upcoming Space Jam 2.

NBA 2K20’s latest trailer, which debuted Monday during Microsoft’s Inside Xbox show live from Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, give us a good idea of what to expect. We get a glimpse at Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson in action as well as the rest of the supporting cast which includes Thomas Middleditch, Mark Cuban, Ernie Hudson, Lamorne Morris, Scottie Pippen, and Jaleel White!

The NBA 2K20 demo will go live on Wednesday, Aug. 21 and will allow players to create a character and get a head start on MyCareer. Any progress made will carry over to the full game, which will be released Sept. 6 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

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