There are some video games that just scream “summer.”
As the warmest months of the year envelop the northern hemisphere in brighter sunshine, higher temperatures, and plenty of sweat, there’s something about playing a summery video game that makes the season feel whole.
Sometimes it’s a game from your past played in some break between school years that you can picture in your head when the trees begin to turn green again. For me, that would be Paper Mario. Or maybe it’s a game that just has a perfect summer aesthetic.
There are so many to choose from, from the cool jet-ski racing of Wave Race 64 for the Nintendo 64 to the sandiness of Journey.
We’ve compiled a list of the summeriest summer games that will help you get into the season of heat, whether you’re looking to max out that summer vibe or to experience a bit of the action you might be missing out on due to the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine could easily be called Super Mario: Summer. It’s full of tropical getaways surrounded by green grass, palm trees, beaches, and bright blue water. You’ll feel like you’re on summer vacation as you collect coins and shines around its various levels, all while jamming out to some great .
Do you live in a big city? Maybe you’re craving the ability to just walk around and see people without masks on. I get it. In Spider-Man, you can swing through the city as if the coronavirus never existed, chasing down criminals and supervillains around the (truncated) streets of Manhattan, just like the old days.
3. A Short Hike
A Short Hike’s title sums up its premise beautifully and succinctly. This game is easily finished in one sitting, but it still feels very fulfilling. You start at the bottom of a mountain by a beach and hike your way up to the summit, chatting with characters along the way as the green, gradually steepening environment fills you with pleasant, summer vibes.
4. Lonely Mountains: Downhill
Summer can be a time for peaceful solitude. Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a biking game where the only objective is to make it down various mountain trails while keeping up your speed and trying not to crash. It’s actually fairly difficult at times, but that challenge is couched in some wonderful nature sounds that make you feel like you’re really biking outside.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
There’s something about the sprawling expanses of Breath of the Wild that feels so summery. Looking out over the Great Plateau onto the endless possibilities of Hyrule is like getting to the end of a school year as a student and looking forward to the wide, open months of summer. That feeling of possibility and freedom touches every corner of Breath of the Wild.
If summer is synonymous with the ocean and scuba diving to you, Abzû is the place to be. This game is all about swimming around underwater and exploring beautiful subaquatic scenes full of the fantastic colors of the sea and all kinds of ocean life.
7. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Odyssey is set amid Greece and the surrounding islands in the Mediterranean Sea, making the whole game feel like a historically dubious getaway as you take on missions and fight in battles amid the picturesque mountains and water. If you’ve always wanted to set sail in the summer, this is the game to make those dreams come true.
8. Grand Theft Auto V
Like Spider-Man, Grand Theft Auto V will bring a bit of normalcy to your summer, although in this one, instead of spider-based superpowers, you’ll rely on guns and vehicles to elevate the experience of messing around the L.A.-like sprawl of Los Santos. Sometimes a car, a long stretch of highway, and some tunes are all you really need to get in that summer headspace. It’s also a nice danger-free way to let off some steam on virtual cops.
The majority of this classic RPG takes place during a summery season in the fictional country of Eagleland and stars a group of kids who are fighting back against an alien presence. It really nails that essence of being a kid with a free summer, but sets it against this absurd backdrop of telekinetic powers, violence, and a massive threat to humanity.
10. Sunset Overdrive
Sunset Overdrive is full of bright colors and high-speed action. The grinding along rails and use of zip lines really makes the game feel open and fun, kind of like a playground, a classic summery destination — but with a more adult spin on everything.