Five Summer Games
Summertime is nice and all, but if you want to experience it without peeling skin and stinging insects, here are five games that capture the spirit.
While some people are outside joyously frolicking and roasting themselves beneath the great all-seeing daystar, others prefer to spend their summer days cloistered indoors where there is air conditioning and (one hopes) a decided lack of stinging insects and peeling skin. But hey, just because you’re not outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t play some summery games, and that’s almost like participating in the seasons like a normal person, right? Right! So whether summer is just kicking off or finally winding down, here are five games to get you into the spirit of things without, y’know… that whole “outside, human interaction and activity” thing.
If there’s a summer treat more satisfying than a scoop of cool, sugary ice cream, I can’t think of it. Why, it’s so wonderful, even robots want it! Specifically, Hamumu’s Robot Wants Ice Cream, a sweet Metroidvania-style game where a robot and its intrepid pup explore a dangerous planet in search of a scoop of that sweet, frozen gold. See, turns out the Happy Ice Cream Planet ain’t so happy, and is in fact crawling with angry critters, constantly beset by falling bombs, and filled with danger.
Fortunately, the planet is also riddled with secrets, and a variety of useful power-ups robot can acquire to gain new abilities. While some of them are fairly straight-forward and easily nabbed, like the starting laser that allows you to pew-pew-pew your way to victory, others are only obtainable once you’ve found the proper ability. Something that might allow you to reach high places, for instance, or bust your way through metal blocks. Which, honestly, is probably a lot more effort than most of us are willing to expend for sweets these days, but hey, respect the effort. We salute you, tiny sugar fiend robot. Go forth and devour.
Of course, some of us aren’t so lucky as to get to laze around eating ice cream and dodging hostile aliens all day… some of us have to work. Whether it’s because you have to do the whole (ugh) adult responsibility thing, or you’re just trying to earn a bit of extra cash for concerts or Furbies or baggy jeans or whatever the youths are into these days, summertime can wind up being more work than you’d like. In Flipline Studio’s time-management simulation game Papa’s Hot Doggeria, a plan to get a free show of all the baseball games at a local stadium winds up being a lot more work than you thought when you take a job slinging hotdogs.
Like all of the Papa’s series of games, Papa’s Hot Doggeria is all about managing impatient customers while making sure you fill their orders as quickly and accurately as possible. Each person who comes in will give you a different order… cook their hot dog without burning it, apply their toppings in the proper order (and evenly distributed, without spilling!), before getting any sides they want. It may sound easy, but juggling multiple orders from different customers all at once turns hectic in a hurry, though you can use the tips you earn to buy things that make your life a little easier. Not included: the coworker who calls in at the last minute with some garbage excuse like, “I don’t feel well” or “My butt is itchy”, which means it’s not a completely authentic summer job experience.
Maybe you feel like summer is going by too quickly. Maybe you feel like the days are slipping through your fingers, fleeting, time passing, leaving you behind, in the past, with all your regrets and mistakes, the ghosts of everything you’ve done, could have done, but never did, and now you never will… uh… what were we talking about? (And where did that sad violin music come from?) Oh yeah. So, if you’re feeling like you want to slow down and appreciate things a little, you may want to zen out with scriptwelder’s unique puzzle adventure game 400 Years. In it, you control an ancient stone creature who senses a calamity on the way, four centuries in the future. It may sound like a lot of time to prevent something from happening, but when all you can do is wait for the world to change around you, every season counts.
The gist is that being a slow stone creature who can’t jump, you have to literally hunker down in places and wait for the passing of the seasons and time itself to manipulate the world around you to find a way forward. In the winter, for instance, water will freeze solid for you to walk across it, while some trees will grow taller for you to climb over time. It’s a very slow, thoughtful sort of game, and exactly the sort of thing to make you appreciate the passage of time. I mean, if you’re an immortal stone monolith who doesn’t have any sort of summer homework or social obligations to accomplish. You? TIME TO PANIC.
Road trips never go as smoothly as anyone things they will. Either you forget something, or you get lost, or something gets cancelled. Sometimes John Candy is involved and you learn a lesson about the things that really matter through a series of madcap adventures. Aardman Digital’s puzzle platformer Home Sheep Home 2 is about a trip gone awry when a trio of woolly sheep sneakily tag along with their farmer on his trip into the city. Their names are Shirley, Shaun, and Timmy, and you’ll need to use all of them together to get to the objective in each level, along with collecting all the optional socks and underpants, of course.
Each sheep’s size works for and against it in different ways. Timmy, for instance, is tiny, and so he can fit into small spaces and jump higher, but he isn’t heavy enough to push or weigh things down. Meanwhile, Shirley is too big to jump very far or fit into places, but she can shove anything out of the way and provide a stepping stone to reach high places. Every level represents a unique environment and challenge for them to overcome, which would probably be a great John Candy-esque touching lesson to take away from everything if most of us weren’t incapable of going long stretches of time under stress with our families without walking away with at least one murder charge. Who’s not touching who now, Billy?!
What summer would be complete without playing sports outside? Even if you’re not that great at catching balls, running on sand, or making your limbs move in any sort of coordinated fashion whatsoever, there’s always that trusty standby… mini-golf! Damp Gnat’s physics-based puzzle game Wonderputt is a decidedly more fanciful spin on the old classic pastime, with a fantastical golf course with each hole layered atop one another in an eye-catching construction. Grassy fields, sandy wastes, futuristic cities… it has it all, minus the judgemental stare of the teenagers quietly watching you pile up sixty strokes on the first hole. It’s harder than it looks okay?!
At its core, Wonderputt is fairly straightforward. Each hole has a base number of shots you should be able to complete it in, and all you do is aim your ball and click to shoot it, with the farther back your cursor is representing the force of your swing. It can get surprisingly tricky for how small most of the locations are, but what makes it great is the wonderful animation that brings each area to life as you transition from one spot to the next. I mean, when I was a kid, we made do with peeling paint, leaning plywood, and badly bent clubs, but I guess this sense of wonder and discovery is okay… I mean, if you like that sort of thing.
Writer: Dora Breckinridge / Dora has been writing about games for the better part of a decade, and playing them for even longer, using the glow of the monitor to keep her warm in the frozen wilds of her native Canada.