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Does Mario Feel Pain? It’s Complicated

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A screenshot from the video game Super Mario 64.
Image: Nintendo

The world of Super Mario is a dangerous place. In the games, the plumber falls off cliffs, gets jabbed with spikes, and has everything from wrenches to fireballs hurled at him. But he always gets back up and goes again, which raises an important question: does Nintendo’s hero actually feel pain? According to Takashi Tezuka, who has worked on the series since the original Super Mario Bros. (including serving as producer on last year’s Wonder), there isn’t really a clear answer. “It may be that Mario does feel pain,” he tells me.

But that ambiguity may be because I was asking the wrong question. The important part, he explains, is the emotions players experience when Mario plummets to his death or is fried by Bowser’s breath. “If the…

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Science and Tech

You Can Buy A Refurbished Steam Deck For Almost Half Off

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A Steam Deck on a white and orange background.
Valve says each unit has received over 100 tests and meets the same performance standards as new Steam Decks. | Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

It’s not often we see an excellent portable gaming PC like the Steam Deck on sale for nearly half off, but today’s your lucky day. So long as you don’t mind buying it in certified refurbished condition, you can save hundreds when you purchase it directly (with a one-year warranty included) from Valve right now.

The refurbished Steam Deck starts at $279 for the base model with 64GB of storage, which is about $120 cheaper than buying it in new condition. And if you need more storage, the 256GB and 512GB models are both on sale, too, for $319 and $359, respectively. Given they both start at $529 and $649 in new condition, that’s almost like getting them for up to half off. What’s great, too, is that Value says it’s thoroughly tested each…

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Applying The Mathematical Principles Of Pareto To Mario Kart 8

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An image of Mario, Yoshi, and other Mario Kart characters driving on a course that resembles a pinball machine.
Image: Nintendo

If you’re the kind of Mario Kart 8 player who cares about winning and not just playing their favorite characters (Daisy and Peach supremacy), choosing the best combination of driver, vehicle, and wheels gets tricky.

Luckily, thanks to data science and 19th-century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, there’s a way to figure that out. Data scientist Antoine Mayerowitz applies one of Pareto’s principles, the Pareto front, to plot the best combination among the 703,560 possible decisions players must make in Mario Kart. Eurogamer helpfully explains that a Pareto front finds the best possible solution to a problem with different objectives.

In a cool piece of data visualization you should definitely check out, Mayerowitz narrows down the…

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Kia’s More Affordable EV2 Is Getting Ready To Undercut Tesla

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five electric kia vehicles fanned out in a modern architecture area with stone brick flooring
Kia’s lineup of electric vehicles are growing. | Image: Kia

The Kia EV2, the automaker’s small, affordable electric crossover, has been spotted on the street in camouflage. It’s the first time the model has been seen in the wild, although the EV2 is not currently confirmed for the US.

The timing of the sighting is particularly significant given recent news that Tesla may have canned its plans for a $25,000 mass-market “Model 2” vehicle. Elon Musk reportedly mothballed the affordable EV in favor of going all in on the company’s plans for a fully autonomous robotaxi.

No official price has been set for the Kia EV2, but Electrek says it could be 20 million won, or about $15,000. Other reports have it under $30,000 — which would be considerably more affordable than the current average retail price…

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