I can’t speak for everybody, but my brain is fried lately. You know what I need? You know what we all need? A beach episode. We need rest and relaxation and hijinx. This month, we’re talking about which games are really just beach episodes, which games need a beach episode, and more!
Which game has the best beach episode vibes?
Melissa Brinks: This is the worst possible answer, please don’t hold it against me, but my immediate response was Paradise Killer??? Like, don’t get me wrong, that world is very much NOT the vibe, but before the events of the game I bet they all were living in an eternal beach episode, just, you know, built on exploitation and various horrors!
Sara Davis: When the Wii first came out, my friend got a game called Endless Ocean: you’re a deep sea diver, you’re swimming around looking for treasure, and you’re surrounded by different species of marine animals that you can interact with and identify. It was like a living screen saver, with a bit of collection for the completionists among us. Peaceful as all get out—playing it was like being on your very own beach episode.
Zainabb Hull: Okay, full disclosure, I’m not entirely sure what a beach episode is but the first game that springs to mind is the most obvious (and literal): Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. The second game that comes to mind is Final Fantasy XII, I think because I really loved the beach sections of that game. It was just so pretty! I also really appreciated that cast of characters and would love to see them just hanging out, having fun in the sun.
Cress: The Tales of franchise usually has a system where you get to change their outfits, and you better believe, in Tales of the Abyss, I was rushing to get Jade’s! You go to Keterburg Spa and get outfits for the entire party! Jade gets the title “Resort King” because this is clearly not his first spa day. I like fun little moments like that when it doesn’t involve ogling any of the women in a party!
Final Fantasy X and Chrono Cross have very long beginning beach vibes before, you know, before the sad story beats start hitting you…
Maddi Butler: I haven’t played much of XII, but I feel like just about every Final Fantasy game I have played has some immaculate beach vibes. Final Fantasy X is probably the most obvious pick given the various island settings, but a beach sets the scene for a pivotal moment in XIII, too. And Final Fantasy XV‘s Eos offers plenty of beaches for camping, cooking, and fishing with your friends. Cape Caem was a favorite.
If you could give the characters of a game a beach episode, which game would it be? Why? Is this a beach episode because they deserve it or because you think it would be hilarious?
Melissa: I have Portal on the brain at the moment, and I’m choosing it because a) Chell deserves it and b) I want to see all those ridiculous little robots stranded in the sand. GLaDOS can get pecked by a seagull this time. Wheatley gets sand in his gears or Chell spikes him out to sea like the shitty little volleyball he is. Ahh, perfect.
Sara: I tried to think of something cute and clever but I kept coming back to Dragon Age: Inquisition. In my many playthroughs of Mass Effect 3, I always played as if the object of the game was to have the most epic, satisfying party at the end of the Citadel DLC: every character that can be recruited is recruited, every relationship ready to blossom, every bit of fan service unlocked. Now imagine that all the characters of Inquisition get to go to, I don’t know, the Storm Coast, and once they’ve cleared out the dragon they can set up any of the tents they managed to salvage from Haven (sorry! sorry!), beg Leliana to trot out some of her old bard tunes, get the Chargers to set up some cornhole… everybody’s swim costume is made from that terrible yellow plaid!
Zainabb: Sara, I would love a Sunny Storm Coast DLC for Inquisition. SPF 50 for Solas.
I would be very happy with a beach episode for the Metal Gear Solid 2 cast. The mental image brings me joy: Raiden would be playing volleyball, Vamp would be scowling under a parasol, Otacon would be whining somewhere. I still have no idea what that game is actually about, but I do have fond, nostalgic memories of many of its characters.
Cress: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, purely for fun. You tend to end up in strange areas by hitting walls or sitting in a chair. So why shouldn’t Alucard have some fun in the sun for an extremely short amount of time? Maybe he could get a parasol that doubles as a weapon?
Maddi: I think the Nier characters should get a beach day because they deserve it and it would be genuinely hilarious. Emil would be the only one actually having fun; Papa Nier would probably spend 90% of his day staring pensively at the ocean, Grimoire Weiss would complain about sun damaging his pages, and Kaine would be pretending to have the worst day of her life but secretly having fun.
Pick one video game beach to vacation on. Why that one?
Melissa: I got so mad the first time I played Kingdom Hearts and had to leave Destiny Islands! It’s so peaceful and cute! Just listen to this, how could you not want to vacation somewhere with these vibes?!
Sara: Okay, sure, the planet Hillys is under siege by hostile aliens for most of Beyond Good and Evil. But at the beginning of the game? When you’re just a photojournalist living in a lighthouse with a bunch of talking animals, taking pictures of wildlife for money? Those are good vibes.
Zainabb: I like a nice sunny beach with gorgeous blue waters, but I also like weird shit and the unique terror of nighttime sea, so I would go to Oxenfree‘s Edwards Island. What better way to spend my vacation than by mixing sand and sea with mysterious caves and radio waves? It’s not a real holiday unless you’re running for your life at least once.
Cress: I know I joked about how sad Chrono Cross gets but, it would be a dream to vacation in the El Nido archipelago of that world! A lot of the coastal villages feel slower paced and relaxing. You could lie down on any one of the sandy shores and fall asleep to the waves. The waters are dazzling deep blues or sea foam green, filled to the brim with kaleidoscopes of coral and reef life. I’ve never been a fan of hot places, but I would brave it for this one. Better yet, it’s based on the real life El Nido in the Philippines!
Maddi: Before the war between Lucis and Niflheim ramps up, Final Fantasy XV‘s Eos seems like a decent place to be. Noctis and company’s hideout on Cape Caem seems like an ideal getaway. The little house on the cape overlooks a beautiful shoreline, and though it’s rather unassuming on the outside, the accommodations inside look really comfortable. (It also seems way safer than camping.) For a more luxurious trip, I’d absolutely want to stay at Galdin Quay. The resort sits over a crystal-clear blue ocean, and its restaurant is renowned for its seafood. Noctis can even get a massage when the player stays there.
Sara Davis is a recovering academic and marketing writer who lives in Philadelphia. Her PhD in American literature is from Temple University. She blogs about books, games, climate change, and other obsessions at literarysara.net.