Saturday, August 20, 2022

10 Best Summer Vibe Games

The Summer season comes and goes, but there are still plenty of games available that will keep that warm feeling throughout the year. While games that feature obvious summer locations like the beach are naturally thought of as summer games, those that feature bright color palettes or are focused on warmer climates have also been considered.

Here’s a list of some of the best games that capture the Summer aesthetic no matter the weather.

10/10 Super Mario Sunshine

I don’t know if there is a more quintessential summer vibe game than Super Mario Sunshine. Regardless of your feelings towards the game’s notoriously rushed development, or even the FLUDD mechanic overall, the summer aesthetic in Isle Delfino have made this a one of the most atmospheric titles in Nintendo’s history. The overall island theme spaced out with typical summer venues such as Pinna Park and Gelato Beach produced a game that perfectly encapsulates the summer season; so much so that no major studio has made a serious attempt at replicating it.


9/10 Animal Crossing New Horizons

There are not many modern AAA releases that have been as dedicated to theming as Animal Crossing New Horizons. From anything as minor as the sound effect of feet walking across different environments, or slightly altered music based on the time of day or weather, New Horizons puts as much effort into the gameplay as everything that surrounds it.

The game’s litany of warm weather environments, clothing options, and decorations allow you to create the island of your dreams.

8/10 Jet Set Radio

The 2000 Dreamcast title (originally Jet Grind Radio in the west) was an eclectic balance between alternative sports titles of the era like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and the fashion and art in Japan around the turn of the millennium. Jet Set Radio’s cel shading art style in conjunction with the unorthodox Hideki Naganuma soundtrack combined to create not just one of the most unique titles of the era, but also one that still feels fresh today. The environments are modeled after major Japanese cities like Shibuya. The game’s warmer color palette and lighting capture that summer feel as well as any game on this list.

7/10 Flower

Flower was one of the most unusual titles on the seventh generation of consoles when it was released digitally for the PlayStation 3 in 2009. The player controls the wind and collects petals around the stage which causes the environment to change. These environmental changes can be anything from adding color to the area or activating a piece of machinery. With a majority of the game centering around the wind and passing through fields, the sound design involving diegetic sounds such as those naturally occurring in the environment make Flower such a memorable title to those that played it 13 years ago.

6/10 Katamari Damacy

There have been few games as unusual and oozing more style than Katamari in the last 20 years. Players control the Prince of the Cosmos as he rolls his environment into a ball in order to create stars in the sky. Many of these environments are everyday areas, such as a living room or the interior of a school. The game’s many bright blue skies and water environments seen in the background help add to the meticulous detail and summer vibe in every environment. 

5/10 Pokemon Emerald

The third generation Pokemon titles story centered around the two major antagonist groups; Team Magma and Team Aqua, disputing over the future of the Hoenn region’s environment. The two factions’ conflicting ideologies over expanding land or sea over the other mirrored Japan’s concerns over industrialization the prior decades.

As cities expanded and modernized, Japan’s natural environment and wildlife diminished. The game’s natural environments centering so heavily around large fields, mountain regions, and expansive bodies of water reflected this. 

4/10 Psychonauts

There’s a reason why fans of the original Psychonauts were so patient awaiting a potential sequel for over 15 years. The original 2005 title’s charm in its characters and environments was a major part of that. The opening hub area of the game centers around a Psychic Summer Camp. The areas held within show the typical Summer Camp facilities, such as a lake and dorms for the students. Psychonauts even has a game-long scavenger hunt (which, also like the real thing, is a colossal pain with a lackluster reward). 

3/10 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Of all the Grand Theft Auto games that have had fans request remakes from the ground up, Vice City is almost always the first one mentioned. This is in large part due to the 80’s Miami aesthetic the game has become well known for. The PlayStation 2 era Grand Theft Auto titles leaned more into an animated art style due to the hardware limitations of the time. This also allowed for a much more vibrant and stylized game like Vice City to exist.

2/10 Uncharted 4

When you think of major areas in Uncharted 4, the large water areas toward the latter half of the game are often the first that come to mind. Developer Naughty Dog succeeded in creating the most beautiful water environments the industry has ever seen. Many of the more carefully crafted areas in the game have still yet to be surpassed despite the game releasing over 6 years ago. 

1/10 The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

When it comes to memorable water environments, the other side of the Uncharted 4 coin is Wind Waker. The size limitations of GameCube discs lead to large water areas becoming a nightmare to navigate. The Wii U remaster fixed this and many other issues, but the low sales of the Wii U and Wind Waker HD being one of the very few Wii U titles that have not been ported to the Switch mean that very few have experienced that version. Despite this, the title still has some beautiful scenic towns with beach areas and island vibes for days.

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