Two dolphins are on a quest to save the planet after catastrophic sea-level rise due to climate change. Guided by a unique ‘echo-location’ game mechanic based on the sonar abilities of dolphins, players navigate sunken landmarks and vast oceans rendered in a visual style reminiscent of Disney’s Tron.
Created by former journalists James Mielke and Sam Kennedy, Jupiter and Mars was inspired by Alan Weisman’s book The World Without Us (2007) and imagines a planet where nature has reclaimed the land. While that might require some imagination, the team consulted with environmental scientists to ensure the game world and the rise of sea levels in it was scientifically accurate.
The thing that attracted me to Jupiter and Mars, which is a story about two dolphins in post-apocalyptic earth that has been completely overcome by rising sea levels, was the way that mechanics and graphics make a player feel like they're a dolphin, and how a dolphin traverses its landscape – and that’s through the echo-location mechanic. When you swim through this game, you see a big empty sea until you click a button and suddenly there is an echo-location ping that reveals the world and an amazing visual representation for a dolphin responding to those things. You're not apart from the game, you're in those characters' shoes – or fins.
It’s fun but it questions what happens to the world we live in if we continue on the path we are. It’s a dire message, but it’s not a bleak game. We’ve been distracted by the pandemic, but all those problems are still there, and we need to make change.
– Assistant Curator and Programmer Arieh Offman
Works in this group
Jupiter and Mars Story trailer via YouTube.
Not in ACMI's collection
Previously on display
11 February 2022
ACMI: Gallery 1
The Story of the Moving Image → Games Lab → GL-03. Cluster 3 → GL-03-C03