The Top 7... Coolest video game islands


3. Isle Delphino

Super Mario Sunshine – 2002

Whatever you feel about Mario's first post-64 platformer, there's no denying the island itself is one of the most brilliantly-realised environments in gaming history. Everything from the feeling of warmth you get from the sunlit plaza to the sparkle of the crystal-clear waters exudes holiday vibes. And, while the inhabitants may be a little out-of-character for a Mario game, the level furniture is as imaginative as anything from the last generation.

Above: That's the best tilting mirror in any game ever. Fact

What's also great is the way you can see other level areas from high points in the game, giving the real feeling that everything is linked and that the whole island is always existing while you play. Looking at it now, you can see it's just an illusion - Gamecube wasn't powerful enough to render all of that at once - but it worked. And in terms of creating a believeable gameworld, it's right up there with the best.

Other coolness of note:
Mario can go under the island, but instead of the camera following him down into cramped caves, it stays above the surface, instead giving you a sillhouette of Mario and his passageways.

Anything wrong?
A lot of the level design is undone by FLUDD and the new moves it affords you. Why bother timing a jump perfectly when you can hover over to it? Oh, and it's no fun being in a sunny paradise when the sun's blotted out for much of the time.

Above: Boo! Shade sucks. Better find some shine sprites, then...


2. Panau

Just Cause 2 - 2010

Panau could be described as a collection of islands, but the land-mass is self-contained and surrounded by water, so we'll give it the benefit of the doubt. We have to - it's simply the most expansive yet densely packed 'fun per square inch' ratio of almost any sandbox game.

Above: Grappling a helicopter above the sublime Panau

The first game gave us a taster of what could be achieved with current-gen tech, but the island here just turns all the knobs up to max and gives you everything. Right from the start too - after just a few introductory missions, the whole island opens up for you to have fun in.

You can skydive down to the streets of a town, before driving around for a bit, then climbing a skyscraper with your grappling line, then catching hold of a passing plane and flying up to snowy mountaintops - all in the space of a few minutes.

Above: Whichever way you look at it, that is amazing

Other coolness of note:
The environment is incredibly lush and is populated with a wide variety of enemies and wildlife. But there are some strange goings-on too - like robot shark fins in the water. Whatever could they mean...?

Above: You can get the robot out of the water. Now it's strange and dry

Anything wrong?
Not so much with the island (which is why it's so high up this list), but we'll admit, it got a bit weird when the ninjas came out. And the less said about the end boss fight the better. Still... neither of those are the island's fault, so we'll forgive it.


Top 7


  • 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.

  • 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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