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The Top 7... Coolest video game islands

5. Angel Island

Sonic The Hedgehog 3: 1994

Sonic 3's first level is a paradise for a speedy hedgehog. It's got ramps that flip you through the air, spiky logs to traverse over deep water, lush vegetation with multiple layers of parallax scrolling – it's a vibrant, high-quality playground and a great introduction to the game.

But your first playthrough showed you so little of what the island had to offer. In fact, it kept its secrets so far up its sleeves, it took the release of a separate cartridge to bring them out again.

You see, Angel Island was designed to be played with Sonic, Tails AND Knuckles. With time pressing, Sega released the Sonic and Tails-only Sonic 3, before adding in Knuckles as a playable character with the bolt-on Sonic and Knuckles cartridge.

Knuckles' trademark digging ability opened up entire routes that were previously inaccessible, plus a new boss. Add in specific cubby holes that only Tails can reach with his flying ability and you've got one of the most well-developed and explorable levels in any platformer.

Other coolness of note:
It's also got one of the most impressive beaches in all of gaming – as Super Sonic dashes across the water at the start of the level, you get a brief glimpse of the sand, moving across the screen at different speeds to give the illusion of 3D. What an entrance.


Above: How many side-scrollers give you a glimpse of the world beyond?

Anything wrong?
It only takes one robot army and the whole place goes up in flames. It's all still playable, but it's never quite the same once Robotnik orders his minions to torch the place. After him, Sonic!


Above: (Clockwise from left) Act 1, its destruction and resulting inferno

 

 

4. Monkey Island

The Secret of Monkey Island - 1990

Why's it so great? Because it's the settings for one of the finest adventure games ever made, that's all. It was beautifully drawn and animated for its time, allowing the story and characers to come to life like nothing else. And, being entirely fictitious, it could also house everything the story needed.


Above: Monkey head temple entrances, ghostly pirate ships... awesome

The original game's version would be good enough for this list, but there's been a current-gen remake, currently available on PSN and Xbox Live, bringing the game world to life like never before.

Unlike other islands on this list, you've got a very good chance of visiting a real Monkey Island. If this list on Wikipedia is anything to go by, there are some 14 real-life Monkey Islands. Feel free to set up a rubber chicken zipline on any that you come across.

 
Above: There are 14 different Monkey Islands worldwide

Other coolness of note:
You can't get stuck! Previous LucasArts games contained game-breaking event sequences that left you unable to proceed. Monkey Island never puts you in that position.

Anything wrong?
The island itself isn't the shape of a monkey. Or even a monkey skull. Fail.


Above: Guybrush takes in the wonders of Monkey Island

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78 comments

  • wiigamer024 - August 9, 2010 5:34 p.m.

    Angel Island, FTW! :D
  • erenelliekush - July 28, 2010 11:55 a.m.

    aw no koholint :( for shame, technically yoshi's island was the starting "world" on Super Mario World, you know, the one that has a bridge connecting it to the rest of dinosuar land although seeing how Yoshi's Island is a prequel, it is the first chronological appearance
  • DarkWeavel - July 20, 2010 4:38 p.m.

    first island i thought of was Crysis...
  • TheWebSwinger - July 19, 2010 5:08 p.m.

    You just KNOW that volcano on Zack Island is a metaphor for ejaculation
  • santaclouse37 - July 16, 2010 9:48 p.m.

    Shadow Moses is sadly missing. But great Top 7 regardless.
  • 4fromK - July 16, 2010 1:08 p.m.

    "Nintendo reportedly asked Miyamoto to make the game look like Donkey Kong Country. But he wasn't a massive fan of that game" didn't miyamato dispell this myth, when he actually directly adressed this question and said he didn't know where that rumour came from?
  • HonestGuy - July 15, 2010 1:33 p.m.

    thank heavens for JC2 and Panau, 'nuff said! :)
  • SausageLozenge - July 15, 2010 11:25 a.m.

    I really liked Sunshine. The music in Delfino Square was great.
  • t3rry747 - July 15, 2010 1:13 a.m.

    r u kidding me not even a whisper of wind waker (shame
  • OneWithWaves - July 14, 2010 9:16 p.m.

    I can't believe no one ever mentioned LEGO Island! Not any of the revisions in Island 2 or 3, no; the ORIGINAL LEGO Island. Nothing looked better on a PC in 98 and you really felt it was alive. There was always something going on and so many secrets to find! Not to mention you could customize the whole place to your liking.
  • ThePrivateer - July 14, 2010 6:03 p.m.

    WHERE IS PRECURSOR ISLAND!?!?!!?
  • JosefMotley - July 14, 2010 5:41 p.m.

    how you can say isle "delphino" (it's delfino) is in any way good or celebrate anything about mario sunshine at all is beyond me
  • CARDYKEV - July 14, 2010 12:01 p.m.

    Ooops forget what i said
  • CARDYKEV - July 14, 2010 noon

    Lol whats wrong with an island in the shape of a monkey or a skull being called monkey island? Surely thats an obvious choice? A rock in Devon in the shape of a poodle is called Poodles rock, fail or just unimaginative locals?!
  • Bravo315 - July 13, 2010 6:25 p.m.

    I'm guessing you didn't count city-only islands like Liberty City, Empire City and Pacific City :D Thought San Andreas should've been there though. Purely because of the way you can reach Macros Bistro/Saint Mark's in LC if you fly too far East.
  • gatornation1254 - July 13, 2010 3:11 p.m.

    I always wondered why Monkey Island wasn't shaped like a monkey.
  • philipshaw - July 13, 2010 9:41 a.m.

    Akrham Ayslum is on a Island so if you can count that, it should be on the list
  • Gnome - July 13, 2010 7:15 a.m.

    I for one actually quite enjoyed Yoshi's Story I liked the storybook twist on it.
  • Nanook - July 13, 2010 6:40 a.m.

    Koholint!!!! And as long as we're Zelda representing, while all the island hoping and boat travelling got quite tedious by the time one finished Wind Waker, Dragon Roost Island is an Island triumph. Awesome, welcome-to-the-quest theme music that made you feel like you were truly adventuring swelled as the impossibly, incredibly tall island rose up over the horizon. Plus there's an awesome dungeon inside and a dragon on top! Also, you should be doing a worst islands list as well. Start with Bikanel Island from FFX and go from there.
  • redrum253 - July 13, 2010 6:04 a.m.

    wheres my vvardenfell?

Showing 1-20 of 78 comments

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