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Originally published on 7/21/14
Summer and video games sound like a perfect match, but this doesn’t always come across when you look at the release schedule. Yes, not a lot of new games come out during the hottest time of the year, but that’s no excuse for the lack of recent content here on the site. While there’s not a lot of new gaming content to discuss at the moment, there’s never been a better time to take a look back at some great gaming memories of summer. Yes, as we’ve proven on numerous episodes of the podcast, we here at the Joy of Geek are a nostalgic bunch.
Again, though the new releases are few and far between, I’ve still got plenty of strong memories of gaming in the summertime. It’s a great time to catch up on titles you may have missed the first time around or to get lost in huge titles that you can’t fully commit to while school’s going. That’s exactly what I used to do – and, admittedly, still do, when the opportunity presents itself – and this list will show some of my personal highlights, the best memories of avoiding the sun and getting my game on.
Honorable Mention: Picross 3D
Picross 3D is a game that’s very easy to lose yourself in. It perfectly embodies the idea of “just one more level” game design, a structure that’s very easy to fall prey to during the summer season. When you add the game’s portability to the mix, it becomes hard not to sneak a level in at every possible opportunity.
Passenger in a long car ride? Play some levels. Watching a TV show that doesn’t require too much focus? Play some levels. I was absolutely obsessed with this game the summer it came out, to the point that it remains my favorite puzzle game. Now if Nintendo would only stop torturing me and announce that they’re going to localize the sequel…
5. Ape Escape: Pumped & Primed
Well, this is a closet call, isn’t it? Yes, though the circumstances escape me, there was one summer where the only game I really remember playing is Pumped & Primed, the odd little Ape Escape mini-game collection in the vein of Mario Party and Sonic Shuffle. Despite it being a fairly mediocre title, though, all I have are fond memories of playing this game over the course of several weeks.
I have no doubt that if I played Pumped & Primed now, I would likely hate its cute and furry guts. The story mode, while interesting, was full of repetition, and the late-game computer opponents play with such supernatural precision and skill as to drive you into a fury. Still, it stands in my mind as a great gaming experience, and goes to show how nostalgia really can rewrite your memories.
4. The Saboteur
The Saboteur has some sort of mystical hold over me, to the point that it remains in my game collection to this day, even though I’m someone who sells pretty much every game I get back to GameStop. Honestly, there’s nothing outright remarkable about it; it’s a solid sandbox action title set in WWII-era France where you work to undermine and overthrow the Nazi occupation.
And yet I was absolutely fascinated with this game, from its first Game Informer preview to the hours I spent roaming the countryside destroying Nazi outposts, spotlights and vehicles. Though I’ve still never beaten the campaign – a mishap led to me deleting my save game – but I remain convinced that I’ll return one day to finish the job. As unlikely as that is, I’ll forever remember the long summer nights I spent racing through the streets of Paris, returning color to the game’s faded, endlessly engaging world.
3. Lost: Via Domus/ Spider-Man: Web of Shadows/ King Kong
What would a Top List be without a bit of cheat on it? Yes, though I’ve got three games listed, this is more a memory about the entire summer of 2009, a summer where numerous factors came together to make it one of my biggest gaming seasons of my life. This was the summer right after I graduated high school, and I just wanted to spend the time before college tearing through some video games.
There was also a bit of a motive to this gaming marathon; that fall, I’d be moving in with my friend Adam, and his Xbox GamerScore was about 10,000 points higher than mine. This was a slight that I simply could not let stand, so I took advantage of a Blockbuster deal – remember Blockbuster? – that allowed me to pay a single price and rent as many games as I wanted, one at time, for a week.
So, I took full advantage of the deal, blitzing my way through a game a day. This included 100% completing titles like King Kong and Lost: Via Domus to 1,000 GS, while enjoying titles like Spider-Man: Web of Shadows and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I took advantage of that deal for several weeks, and when the dust had cleared, I had taken a significant lead over Adam’s score, a lead I hold to this day. Hooray for pointless scorekeeping!
2. Golden Sun: The Lost Age
As a rather long RPG, I know that I played this game a good bit before the summer started, but I definitely remember finishing it during the season. That summer, I always got dropped off at my dad’s when my mom went to work, but because of his schedule, he often wouldn’t wake up until the afternoon.
As a result, a lot of the mornings I spent there, it was just me and the game. When I reached the final boss, I spent hours taking on the Doom Dragon atop the Mars Lighthouse. I even remember having a calculator out to keep track of how much damage I had done in each attempt. When I finally delivered the killing blow and saw the ending to the Golden Sun duology, it was one of the most rewarding moments in my gaming history, as well as one of my best summer gaming memories.
1. Deadly Premonition
Longtime listeners of the podcast know how much I love this game, so it’s probably no surprise to see it pop up yet again. That said, this truly is one of the best games I’ve ever spent my summertime with. Deadly Premonition is one of the greatest murder mystery stories in gaming, with its episodic structure making it feel a lot like one of the limited series that pop up on TV during the summer season.
It also stands in representation of one of the best summers of gaming I ever had, playing through game after game with co-host Kelsey during our break between semesters. Batman: Arkham Asylum, Catherine, and Eternal Darkness were some of the other highlights of those months, but Deadly Premonition was the best, a game we still reference and remember to this day. If I haven’t made it clear by now, this is a game that everyone should give a try, regardless of what time of year it may be.
So what about you guys out there in internet land? What are some of your favorite summer gaming memories? Leave a comment below and let us know!