Pretty soon it will be 60 degrees again and everyone’s going to want to go outside. Then it will get even warmer and you’ll love it. Then it’ll get unbearably hot and you’re going to go right back inside. That’s okay! You can go to the beach on the hottest day of the year without getting sand in your pants or having to touch seaweed. All you have to do is turn on your favorite retro console. Today we present, as a companion to my tough-to-argue article on the Best Snow Levels in Games, some of the best beach levels in video games.
N. Sanity Beach – Crash Bandicoot (PlayStation)
Last year’s release of Crash: The N. Sane Trilogy reminded us that the original Crash Bandicoot had a sharp spike in difficulty after the first few levels and that it is an unforgiving, overrated game far inferior to its sequels. And if I sound bitter it’s because I am! But I recognize that Crash Bandicoot would have never become a superstar if not for his original, self-titled adventure. The very first level finds Crash, in all his 3D glory with the camera behind him, stomping up the beach, murdering giant crabs and breaking inexplicably placed boxes. It was the smashing success Sony needed to compete with its platforming rivals, Mario and Sonic. Is that foreshadowing? You bet it is!
Emerald Coast – Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)
Considered by many to be the first (and last) good 3D Sonic game, Sonic Adventure dropped players into the Emerald Coast right at the start of the game to show them just how impressive the graphics on the Dreamcast were! Although Sonic’s motto is “gotta go fast,” players took their time with this level just to take in the sights and… did a whale just jump over me? Awesome!
Isle Delfino – Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube)
As this list will show, Nintendo had an odd obsession with tropical settings during the GameCube era. The first of these was Super Mario Sunshine. The game is not on the top of most people’s Favorite Mario Games list. This is possibly because FLUDD – the water cannon on Mario’s back – was an odd gimmick. However, the game was well-received by critics and had plenty of shine sprites to collect and keep you busy until Kingdom Hearts came out a month later. Speaking of…
Destiny Islands – Kingdom Hearts (PS2)
“The Beach” – Animal Crossing (GameCube)
You can call the beach in Animal Crossing whatever you want to call it because it’s your town! The game generated its custom layout just for you. Like the real beach, the one in Animal Crossing isn’t always interesting. However, you made so many memories there. When Gulliver washed up on the shore, you were there to…not really help, but take some furniture from him. You nearly jumped out of your seat when you saw that gigantic fish shadow in the water and caught your first coelacanth. And if you shelled out the money for a link cable, you could connect your Game Boy Advance to your console and visit your very own, personalized island.
Zack Beach – Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball (Xbox)
Xtreme Beach Volleyball is not a particularly good game, but it sold well. If you didn’t buy a copy, you at least rented it. Maybe you didn’t make that fact public, but at the time these were the most realistic boobs ever seen in a video game. And it’s not like Tomonobu Itagaki developed the “jiggle effect” because he thought it enhanced the fighting mechanics in the Dead or Alive series.
Outset Island – The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GameCube)
Venice Beach – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (Playstation, N64, Dreamcast)