I try to play games as little as possible in the summer. I live in a place where it’s cold eight months of the year, so once the sunshine rolls around, I make it my duty to get outside as much as possible. Granted, sometimes I end up just lounging around outside as much as I do inside, but there’s still something about the beautiful summer weather that makes me feel really guilty if I’m locked up inside playing video games. On the whole, I still end up gaming more during the summer than I do during the rest of the year, mostly because I’m far too busy and stressed out during school to sit down and allow myself to unabashedly enjoy an hour of video game time. So I’ve worked out a system: during the summer, I do outsidey things during the day, and late at night, I fire up my game consoles. Guilt-free!
The beautiful weather actually does have an influence on the types of games I want to play during the summer, though. Around June every year, I always get the urge to play a few certain games because of their ties to the season. I don’t know, man, it’s just a mood. These seasonal urges aren’t entirely uncommon for me; for example, I always want to play Final Fantasy Tactics Advance in the winter because of the snowball fight tutorial, and I always want to play Knights of the Old Republic II in the fall because…okay, well, I haven’t figured that one out yet.
Every summer, I can feel Super Mario Sunshine calling to me. Practically everyone I know considers the game a huge misstep, but it came out when I was at a very impressionable and optimistic age, and I loved the hell out of it. Mind you, I had never played Super Mario 64 at this point, so I had no comparison (today, I would admit that Mario 64 remains the better game, but I still don’t consider Sunshine a misstep). The setting of Isle Delfino is probably the biggest thing that draws me in; picturing it right now in my mind’s eye, I can see the neatly European architecture of Delfino Plaza, the idyllic greenery of Bianco Hills, the gentle pastel colours of Noki Bay, and even the dusky calmness of Sirena Beach (even though the hotel was haunted, I still found it to be pretty cozy). When I first played the game as a youngster, I would sometimes make Mario go for long swims in the ocean to “cool him off,” because I genuinely thought the water looked immensely refreshing. Basically, the entire setting looked like a beautiful resort island that I desperately wanted to visit and just relax on its sandy beaches, play in its theme parks, and chill in its villages. Isle Delfino remains one of my favourite settings in any video game, and its summer vacationy design is undoubtedly the reason why I get a hankering for it every summer.
Animal Crossing is the other game that I always want to play in the summer. Hell, thanks to its real-time seasonal system, every season reminds me of Animal Crossing. It was bright and sunny the other day and I remarked how it was “perfect Animal Crossing weather”; a few minutes later, it started raining, and I noted how nice it was to watch the rain because it “felt like Animal Crossing rain.” As I’ve written before, the game is my current obsession and I may have a problem. Releasing New Leaf in the middle of summer should’ve been a death sentence for a niche game like this one, but it was the best way to ensure that I picked it up. Apparently lots of other people felt the same way, because at half a million sales in a month, Animal Crossing’s days as a niche series may be quickly coming to an end.
The summer is always the best time to play Animal Crossing. There are a lot of town events, the rarest fish come out, the bugs come out (period; try finding a good crop of bugs in the winter), and the whole town generally looks and sounds lush and pleasant. I think nothing of taking my 3DS outside with me and playing some New Leaf on the back porch because, strangely enough, I often feel Animal Crossing is meant to be played while surrounded by actual nature. It’s a game of chores, and somehow, being out in the grandeur of nature or whatever makes the most tedious Animal Crossing tasks go by a little faster.
I know gamers get urges to play certain games all the time. It’s how digital distribution services make a killing; by having a selection of impulse titles (usually repackaged nostalgia) priced to move and ready to snap up any customer who wanders in and says, “Oh man, you know what I really have a craving for right now?” It would imagine that I’m not alone in having certain seasons trigger these impulses as well. Are there any summer games you have a hankering for right now?