20 Jun Summer Gaming!
Happy First Day of Summer! I’m a Summer person: I love the heat, the sun, and being able to sit outside and soak it all in. The summer is about beach vacations, outdoor rock festivals, and spending a bunch of time inside and playing videogames. At the beginning of every summer I fill up with a childish joy as I reminisce about all the great summers in the past spent adventuring in all different fantasy worlds. To me the Summer was always synonymous with video games. Some in particular stood out more than others, I had started at least 5 summers of my young life by completing my favorite game of all time…Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
I actually have a very hard time playing Super Mario RPG if it’s NOT the summer. I know that’s ridiculous, but it’s true. I always find it very interesting how we can come to associate games with different times of the year. They’re not always about that season though. It’s pretty natural to associate games like : Donkey Kong Country or Super Mario Sunshine with summer. They were built for that. There are other games and genres that will always scream summer to me.
There’s something magical about having that time in a quiet room, with some slight daylight and a low hum of an air conditioner. I’m immediately transported back to my childhood basement or bedroom, hard at work on whatever the summer offered me that year. I go out of my way to schedule a few days like that every summer, where I can spend some time with something that’s deep and transformative, and contains worlds to get lost in. So let’s talk about summer games!
I had a few conversations with friends on what they consider summer games, and the responses were a bit all over the place. I appreciate that, because everyone has their own point of view on what summer means to them as well as what it feels like. To some it’s the setting; games that take place during the summer or have tropical environments or take place in warm climates. Others it’s about the STYLE of game; fast and fun or long and bright. For me it’s a bit of everything, really. I love games that get tropical but also enjoy something that is comfortable and laid back, like a summer day on the beach.
Games that Encapsulate Summer Adventure
Jungles, rainforests, beaches, and deserts, they’re all warm. When you fire up one of these games you can almost feel the sun beating down on your face and there is a little bump in humidity. Hopefully it’s not your PS4 overheating. It’ll be hard to talk about summer adventure without Donkey Kong Country. These games were always about exploring the tropics with DK and friends, running around different jungle locales. There’s a real warmth from these games that isn’t replicated elsewhere. When you get to DKC2: Diddy’s Kong Quest and you spend most of the game running around on pirate ships, wading in the muck of swampland on warm summer evenings, and even venturing into a carnival or two! These games almost exude warmth and good weather.
The Uncharted and new Tomb Raider games also fit this style. Well…maybe not Uncharted 2 and Rise of the Tomb Raider, they’re really cold…like Skyrim cold. If you take a second with Uncharted, Uncharted 3, Uncharted 4 you’ll definitely get a feeling of warmth and fun that screams Summer. I’m actually upset that I played Shadow of the Tomb Raider in the winter for this reason. I guess I’ll have to restart it.
Would any summer game setting be complete without Super Mario Sunshine? It’s only normal that Mario would finally take a vacation, only to have it ruined by Bowser and Bowser Jr. I always feel like Super Mario Sunshine was Nintendo’s way of telling us that they wanted to go on a vacation. This game has plenty of beaches, a resort town, and even a theme park. I try to play a little bit of Mario Sunshine every summer, just to get a taste of Isle Delfino again! Maybe we’ll see more of it someday!
Then you have a game like Bioshock Infinite that feels like a carnival of chaos. It’s like a Fourth of July gone very very wrong. The city of Columbia is like Main Street USA at Disneyworld, but with savage zealots that want to murder you. It’s like you took the shark from Jaws, gave it legs, and let it rampage. All-in-all, that’s about as summery as you can get!
Games With Summer Energy
School ends for most kids in the North Eastern US this week. While I haven’t set foot inside of a classroom in close to a decade, I still get giddy with excitement knowing that School is ending. As someone who normally has a hard time containing their energy I’ve always felt that the June was the most kinetic of months. What kind of games does that make me want to play? FAST! ENERGETIC! FUN! Games!!
Splatoon doesn’t necessarily have a “season” attached to it, but there’s no way this game takes place in a world that gets cold. Combine that with it’s punky and energetic OST and you’ve got some ridiculous fun headed your way. Also, if you’re a kid on Summer Vacation, you can sit online all day chatting with your friends blasting them with ink. Does this feel like a block party or what?
Mario Kart is an evergreen game, but sometimes I think it has a nice taste of July. Whether you’re driving around the beach or a theme park, or you’re using your cheerful energy to push forward. Also, no BBQ is complete without late night post dinner Mario Kart or Smash Bros. Something about Burgers and Kart that go together so well.
Any of us who were true children of the 1990s grew up with a healthy dosage of action sports on TV during our formative teenage years. I remember watching the X-games constantly on ESPN religiously from 1999-2003. It was the energy, the music, and the attitude. So much California. So much August charm. The culmination of this attitude? Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater of all varieties. Skateboarding? Check! Nonstop energy? Check! The attitude, humor, and setting? Check! Check! Check! When you combine all this with the magic of the THPS soundtracks? You’re talking about punk rock energy that can carry you through the entire winter! THPS IS summer for my money.
Long Games That are Relaxing
I always feel a nice lull in the summer. Generally in mid-july my energy dips a bit and I want to sit and play something lengthy and melodic. I sink my teeth into a story that will consume my time be worth every minute. Maybe I’m a bit particular in this regard, but I also like colorful games of this ilk during the summer. This is typically when I turn to bright RPGs that are fun and lengthy. I’d always call these games my “Summer Reading List”. There are so many int this genre for me: Dragon Quest, Tales of, Final Fantasy, Chrono Cross, Skies of Arcadia…the list goes on and on. But There’s something about a brightly colored open field in an RPG that makes me relax.
So many games celebrate good weather! And when you’ve got an entire summer to play it always feels like anything is possible, even a 100+ hour long Zelda Game! Wind Waker and Breath of the Wild are by far the most summer-friendly Zelda games out there. Wind Waker because of its giant ocean and sailing mechanic and BotW because it’s the greatest time sink of the past decade.
I think I always love JRPGs during the summer because I spent so much of my younger years watching Anime all summer and so many JRPGs have wonderful anime style. The Tales games are a perfect translation of this and they can be so wonderfully moody. Tales of Symphonia dominated my summer of 2004 and I’m really happy about that!
I always look forward to gaming in the summer. I wonder what will take over for me this year. Will it be some lengthy JRPG or something like Zelda or Mario? I’m not sure yet, but I better figure out soon! What are you looking forward to playing this summer?