Games you play in the summer

We just passed the summer equinox, which means it’s time to talk about games you play in the summer! Between being a teacher for 13 years and having summers off as a kid, I’ve done A LOT of summer gaming in my life. My birthday is also the first week of August, so growing up I’d usually be able to get a new and highly coveted game during the season, just before school started. Let’s talk about the games I have the most nostalgia for around summer!

Collage of games I play during the summer-Splatoon, Sonic 3, Advance Wars Dual Strike, Octopath Traveler, Super Metroid, Mario Golf, EVO Search for Eden, with summer items around (lemons, oranges, sunscreen, flowers)

I’ve already written about several of these game elsewhere on The Chozo Project. What I want to focus on in this post are the specific summer memories associated with them! I plan on doing similar lists for the other seasons in the coming year. These are roughly arranged in chronological order in terms of my life, but no one is more important than another. Time to bust out the sunscreen and reminisce amount summer game nostalgia!

Super Metroid (SNES)

One of my best childhood friends and I spent several summers trying to beat this game. We were young and didn’t have a guide, but we did have plenty of free time! The amount of hours we spent exploring the labyrinths beneath Zebes on hot summer afternoons was astounding. And the sheer joy we felt each time we *finally* learned how to progress was unrivaled. Super Metroid remains one of my top 3 games of all time to this day. It’s also one that brings a lot of nostalgia (especially the Lower Brinstar theme, which reminds me of summer heat).

Super Metroid box, cart, Nintendo Power Player's Guide, SNES controller, and two Metroid figures
The story and lore of Super Metroid really kept us captivated during childhood summers.

E.V.O. The Search for Eden (SNES)

An underrated diamond in the rough! I recently talked about it my retro games that need a sequel post, largely because I loved my time with it during summers as a kid. My best friend and I would literally act out stages of the game in our neighborhood pool-we’d pretend we were fish, then get EVO points and evolve into amphibians by the pool chairs (obviously we were the cool kids in elementary school).

I spent a lot of time at pools and swimming holes growing up in Texas. The “life before land” stage music in E.V.O. really reminds me of swimming in all that refreshing water during summer:

Don’t you just want to swim around in a primordial ocean after listening to this? Nope, just me?

Sonic 3 (Sega Genesis)

This was my favorite Sonic game as a kid! I got it for my birthday back in 1994 and was obsessed. There was so much to love about this entry. The introduction of Knuckles, new shields, a manageable special stage game to get Super Sonic, seamless act to act transitions, and a rockin’ soundtrack! Gorgeous and infinitely replayable to this day, Sonic 3 is fully representative of gaming during the summer as a Sega kid.

Star Fox 64 (N64)

Back in 1997, I somehow convinced my parents to get me a Nintendo 64 early as a birthday present (it was the last console they bought me, making it extra nostalgic). I was pretty ecstatic, but did get a little sad when my actual birthday rolled around in August. My Mom was kind enough to take pity on me and buy Star Fox 64 from Toys R Us as surprise gift, and boy was it a revelation. I ran through that game an insane amount of times the rest of that summer and had every course nearly memorized! Star Fox 64 is the still the pinnacle of the Star Fox series to this day, and I always think of it during summertime.

Starfox 64 box, cart, and Rumble Pak
The Rumble Pak was a revelation back in summer ’97.

Mario Golf (N64)

I recently wrote a feature for the excellent Switch Player Magazine about my memories of this game, called “Mario Golf and the Last Hurrah of Childhood”. This was one of the final titles my friends and I enjoyed the summer before we all got driver’s licenses and jobs, and I have very fond memories of it for that. It was so fun to 100% every aspect of the game-something I rarely have time for these days.

Mario Golf N64 box and cart, and Switch Player Issue 53 (Mario Golf)
You can check out the full article if you subscribe to the mag!

My wife and I still pop in Mario Golf for a quick round of mini-golf every now and then, largely for this fun and relaxing music:

Star Wars Episode I: Racer (N64)

I know Episode I is by no means the “fan favorite” Star Wars film, but it was pretty dang exciting when it released back in summer 1999! You have to admit Duel of Fates and Darth Maul alone were pretty awesome. I got pretty sucked in-I bought the Episode I novel, some action figures, and of course, Episode I Racer on my Nintendo 64! This was a birthday present I got in August, so it always makes me think of the tail end of the “Star Wars is back” summer. The game has its flaws, but as I said in my N64 Star Wars games ranking post, it holds up pretty well!

Star Wars Episode I Racer N64 box, cart, and Limited Run classic edition
That Limited Run release packs in so much nostalgia for me. The earlier Star Wars films always released around May, so at least one title has to make a list of games you play during the summer?

Final Fantasy VII (PS1)

This is the game that got me into Final Fantasy. Into JRPGs. And into Playstation! I actually bought a console just to play it, after spending a ludicrous number of hours playing with a friend. I got a PS1 the summer before FFVIII released and was able to catch up and near 100% the game. Sweet mother, the summer hours I spent leveling and chocobo breeding just to beat Emerald and Ruby weapon! I still remember the feeling of jubilation sitting in my room when I finally took those jerks down. A game that still holds up well today, in original form or its stellar remake!

Final Fantasy VII PS1 Greatest Hits case, disc 1, and manual
I kind of miss the days of having to change out discs for long RPGs!

Advance Wars: Dual Strike (DS)

I soaked up this game right before my first year of teaching started. To me it represents the final bit of college summers before true “adulthood” took over. I dove into the gameplay for hours and hours (many just on Crystal Calamity…I have some choice words for that level) in a way I’d rarely be able to do once I had a permanent job. Dual Strike is also an insanely good, addictive strategy game that made great use of both screens on the DS. Worth checking out, especially with the announcement of recent Re-Boots of Advance Wars 1 and 2 from WayForward (the stellar developers of Shantae). Add this one to games you play in the summer too!

Advance Wars Dual Strike for DS + DS Lite system
So many hours spent playing Advance Wars!

Donkey Kong Country Returns/Tropical Freeze (Wii/Wii U)

My wife convinced me to pick up DKC Returns for the Wii after being off and on from gaming for a few years. And it didn’t take long for me to get completely addicted-Donkey Kong Country has always been one of my favorite series, and the gameplay really recaptured the magic from the SNES era.

Donkey Kong Country Returns Wii box, disc, manual, Wii remote, and 3DS version of game

A few years later I got Tropical Freeze for my birthday just after picking up a Wii U and ABSOLUTELY LOVED it. I 100% completed Tropical Freeze in less than a week before teaching started that year-I just couldn’t stop.

Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze on Switch and Wii U, in snow
Playing the snowy levels during summertime does make me feel a *bit* cooler!

Both the Retro DKC games are amazing platformers and both very reminiscent of the season. Plus, “Windmill Hills” from Tropical Freeze always reminds me of the carefree days of summertime. I could listen to it for hours on end!

Splatoon (Wii U)

I played embarrassing amounts of Splatoon on my Wii U the summer of 2016. The game was so easy to pick up and play but had a deceptive amount of strategy involved when you really dug in. The quick matches were very addictive and cultivated a “just one more” mindset. And it’s just fun, colorful, and ridiculous. What style! The summer I played it was both twilight of the Wii U era and our then “no kids” lifestyle since my wife was pregnant with our first daughter! Splatoon 3 will no doubt be excellent, but I’m always have summer nostalgia for the first game.

Splatoon Wii U with three amiibo
So glad to see the Splatoon IP getting lots of love in the Switch era!

Octopath Traveler (Switch)

The most recent game on the list! I played this one a few months after my second daughter was born. Between having two kids 15 months apart, and several stressful and costly run-ins with the health care system, this game was the relaxing, nostalgic escape I needed that summer. Plus, it’s so reminiscent of FFVI (my favorite in the FF series, which I also played in the summer for the first time), in terms of graphics and mechanics. I spent many a summer night grinding levels in the game, both because the combat was so fun, and for the simple nostalgia of addictive games I played as a kid.

Octopath Traveler case for Switch with Final Fantasy VI Advance and Nintendo Switch system with orange and pink joy cons
Those are my “summer joy con” colors on my Switch. I’m fully aware I’m a crazy person.

What are the games YOU play in the summer? This is 100% subjective, so I’m really excited to hear what games you associate with the season, and why. Let me know in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “Games you play in the summer”

  1. Respect for holding onto your DS Lite! What a great little machine that was. Having both DS and GBA compatibility in the one sleek little package was just tremendous.

  2. Starfox 64 is 100% a summer game. It came out in the summer and had the pinnings of a “summer blockbuster”

    I’m always drawn to Resident Evil in the summer. Many wonderful memories dispatching zombies throughout the series history (1, 4 mostly) during the summer months.

    1. Zach Lindemann

      The Resident Evil REmake on GameCube was definitely a summer game for me too! Early summer right after we graduated high school :). RE4 is a winter game for me-I played through the entire game when I was “on-call” for a full weekend as an RA. I left my door open and my residents keep coming by to see what I was doing-by the end I had a nice crowd!

      Now let’s just hope we get a StarFox 64-2 as a summer release at some point in our lifetimes. The potential glory!

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