Things are about to get a little toasty
If seasons had personalities, summer would be bombastic and carefree - the Ferris Bueller of seasons. It's the time of year that begs you to go on new adventures, take chances, and meet new friends. We associate a lot of things with different seasons, like music, movies and books. But what about video games? Surely there must be an equivalent to your 'Summer Fun Time Jams 9' playlist within the video game world?
Well good news everyone, there absolutely is. Summer isn't quite here yet, but, if you're like me, you take every opportunity to roll out the welcome mat in anticipation the greatest time of year. So kick up your feet, pour yourself a tall glass of lemonade, and get ready for a list of the best games to get you stoked for summer.
Few games embody everything that is summer better than Animal Crossing. Even when your little village is covered in snow and sadness, there is something so inherently beachy about the relaxed pace that Animal Crossing saunters along at. It's the fact that, despite having breezy tunes and graphics so cuddly you can feel them, Animal Crossing captures summer in its gameplay as much as its aesthetic. Days spent gardening, fishing, or just idling chatting with friends - all of these perfectly represent what we associate with the season.
Animal Crossing finds a way of making work feel like pleasure, and then punctuates that with a sprinkling of social gatherings like fireworks festivals and bug catching contests. If winter is the time of year to shut off all ties and hole up in your house in front of the TV, summer is the season to get out there and make some new friends. And Animal Crossing is just bursting with friends.
Grease's Summer Nights, summer flings, and the 1967 Summer of Love all make one thing perfectly clear: summer is the season for romance. And what game captures all those tingly feelings better than Persona 4? By the time summer rolls around in-game, you're likely exhausted from keeping up with school, relationships, and - oh yeah - solving a murder. But just under half way through your year in Inaba, summer arrives and gives you a well deserved rest.
Everyone has fond memories of their summer vacations, and Persona 4 deftly taps into that nostalgia to remind us all of our younger years. Days spent at the beach, breezy nights hanging out with friends, and that blossoming romance with the cutie you've had a crush on since the semester started; it's all there and waiting to tug at your heartstrings. Just like in real life, you relish the extra free time summer vacation provides. And when the start of a new school year looms only days away, you'll remember the dread we were all filled with as the greatest two months came to a close.
Super Mario Sunshine
This one is a bit obvious, don't you think? While some of the entries on the list have a bit of nuance to how they evoke the feeling of summer, Super Mario Sunshine is as bold as a mojito. A major departure from the more vanilla flavor of Mario games, Isle Delfino is a gorgeous resort community begging to be explored.
Not only that, but Mario's FLUDD is basically a giant Super Soaker - what else do you need? All Super Mario Sunshine is missing at this point is freezie pops so delicious you'll gladly suffer the painful cuts on your mouth just to have one.
If you've never had the opportunity to go to a beach and build a sand castle, stop what you're doing, close this article, and do whatever it takes to make that happen. I don't care how much a plane ticket costs, just do it.
You're back? Amazing, yes? Building sand castles is the official pastime of summer, and Minecraft is basically one big virtual sand castle. There is something so serenely mesmerizing about building something piece by piece. Before you know it, hours have melted away like the ice in your iced tea, and you're left with a sense of accomplishment. Turn off survival mode and let your creativity take you on a journey. Minecraft, like summer, is the the perfect opportunity to pick a direction and strike out on your own path. Who knows where your feet will take you?
Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
The summer without a body of water to spend it with is a tragedy. Millions of people travel every year just to make sure that doesn't happen. For one second, let's pretend that you find yourself in a position in which you are unable to soak up some sun before a great blue sea. What do you do? You play The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, of course!
Nintendo's charmingly cartoony take on Zelda is the perfect game for those desperate to cool off from the blistering summer sun. An endless ocean, a world teeming with vibrant characters, and an absorbing quest as good as any book all make for a perfect way to kill a long weekend.
Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons
Harvest Moon and its spin off, Story of Seasons, could probably be found on the winter, spring, and fall equivalents of this list with how easily they evoke those seasons. But the first summer of a new game is always the most special.
There is a sense of community that begins building around summer, as the game finally begins to let go of the reins and let the player drive. You begin to feel more at ease with your farming routine, become more comfortable chatting with the villagers, and best of all, your love interest. But Harvest Moon also deserves recognition for not only capturing the feel of summer, but the sounds too. Walks through the forest to collect delicious fruit are accompanied by chirping cicadas, singing birds, and some of the catchiest music you've ever heard.
Those of you living in climates that are unsavory for large portions of the year will no doubt appreciate the moment you can drive with the windows down, letting the brisk air cool you off. It's the ultimate sign of summer's approach. Burnout Paradise is that moment captured and programmed into a video game.
It's the kind of game that you can sit down with for an hour and accomplish absolutely nothing yet still have a great time. Driving and crashing around the urban sprawl of Paradise City is a joy in itself, and the game's soundtrack perfectly complements every moment. So roll down those windows, step on the gas, and t-bone that semi truck at 90mph. You can thank me for it later.
Ni No Kuni
Studio Ghibli and Level-5 have proven themselves masters at painting with emotion. With an almost careless ease, the two studios brought the world of Ni No Kuni to life in rich detail. The characters are imaginative and fun, and the world is enchanting. All of this culminates in a game that is as hard to leave behind as a summer vacation.
Ni No Kuni is the video game equivalent of a road trip. You pile in for an adventure, and, from the window of your car, you see a whole world beyond your doorstep pass by. For many, it is that moment that you begin to understand just how small you are, but as Ni No Kuni is quick to teach you: even the smallest of things is capable of greatness.
Summer is coming
If this list didn't inspire you to start working on your 'Summer Fun Time James 10' playlist and dust off your flip-flops, I just don't know what will. Whether you love or hate it, summer is well on its way, and for those of you looking to get an early start the games on this list are a perfect way to help get you in the mood. Of course, I'm sure you probably have your own ideas for what gets you all riled up for barbecues and days spent lounging around in open fields. So what are you waiting for? Slip and slide your way into the comments and let us know what your favorite go-to games are for capturing that summer spirit!