Hello you! At the time of writing here in the grey and miserable British Isles, the sun appears to have not only put his hat on, but also come out to play.
As I type this, however, we are still in the middle of a global pandemic and as such “going out” doesn’t exactly hold the allure it once did for many people. What better time, then, to throw open your living room windows, put the fan on and enjoy some gloriously summery games with a case of cold ones at your side?
Here’s seven of our favourite summery virtual pastimes that should keep you nicely occupied for the bank holiday, then.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 2
Yes, I’m going to be mildly controversial here and recommend the second Dead or Alive Xtreme game on Xbox 360 over and above the more recent one for PlayStation 4, Vita (RIP) and Nintendo Switch.
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, so if a PS4, Vita or Switch is all you have access to, then it’s a good choice if you fancy a summery game. It’s just that Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 offers a bit more interest in the “game” department.
Most notably, Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 features a thoroughly enjoyable Wave Race-style jetski racing segment that is conspicuously absent from its successor. If you’re not good at the volleyball game that forms the core of both the first and third games, the jetski racing offers a practical alternative to earn money and purchase your favourite girls all those saucy swimsuits.
This game also features the very worst (best) of early 2000s pop music, which only adds to the delightfully summery flavour. Bring on the B*Witched.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 is no longer available as a digital download and is not backwards compatible on post-360 systems, so you’ll need a real 360 and a physical copy if you want to play today.
Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash
Dismissed by some as yet another spinoff in Kenichiro Takaki’s busty ninja series, Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash is not only a mainline installment in terms of its narrative, it’s also a damn fine summery game in its own right.
Offering third-person shooter action themed around water guns of various descriptions, Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash presents you with a variety of challenges ranging from simple team battles to more complex horde battles and boss fights. As with the rest of the series, this is all combined with a charming story that features excellent characterisation and a wonderful blend of comedy, action, touching slice-of-life and pathos.
Fans of classic Sega games will be right at home with this one, because the audio-visual presentation and speedy mechanics of the game feel very Sega. If you’re old enough to remember the Dreamcast third-person shooter Outtrigger, you’ll very much dig this — particularly as the advent of dual analogue sticks since the Dreamcast days means that it’s actually possible to control this without a qualification in contortionism.
The game is primarily themed around single-player action, but there are some solid multiplayer modes on offer, too. You’ll likely need to pre-arrange a group to get together for it as it’s unlikely you’ll find many random matches today — but if you get the opportunity to enjoy it with some friends, you’ll have a blast.
Kandagawa Jet Girls
Do you like the jet-ski action of Dead or Alive Xtreme 2? Do you wish you could combine it with the cheerful vibe of Senran Kagura? While Kandagawa Jet Girls doesn’t quite provide that exact thing, it’s as near as dammit — it’s even by Senran Kagura creator Kenichiro Takaki.
In true Takaki tradition, Kandagawa Jet Girls offers both fun and enjoyable arcade-style action with an involving plot filled with entertaining characters. And the two-person “racing combat” gameplay makes many people think of the underappreciated Mario Kart: Double Dash for Gamecube, which is no bad thing at all!
While we continue to wait for Senran Kagura 7even, Kandagawa Jet Girls is a great way to fill that fanservicey void — and a fun summery game in its own right.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill
As an indie game developed by a German studio and published by a Swedish company, Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a little outside of Rice Digital’s normal remit — but it’s so enjoyable and such a perfect summery game that it just had to be included on this list.
In Lonely Mountains: Downhill, your job is to ride your bike from the top of a mountain down to the bottom, preferably without doing yourself a painful and/or fatal injury in the process. Things start pleasantly calm and serene, but the trails become increasingly challenging and complex as you progress; later stages sometimes feel almost like platforming puzzles as much as a racing game.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill has beautiful presentation, featuring a visual aesthetic that blends elements of a high-resolution, low-poly look with a touch of papercraft to create something very distinctive and appealing. The sound is especially worthy of note; placing a focus on highly immersive, atmospheric ambient sounds, you can practically feel the wind in your face as you play this. A delightful experience.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill is available for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch. Super Rare Games have a physical release of the Switch version that includes all the DLC on the cartridge. At the time of writing, this is still available but stock is low, so get in fast if you want it!
Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories
If you fancy a summery game that just happens to be set in the blazing sunshine, but which also offers a somewhat more thought-provoking experience than “yay summer”, Granzella’s emotional adventure is well worth a look.
In Disaster Report 4, you’re heading into a Japanese city for a job interview when a terrible earthquake strikes, causing widespread chaos across the region. What follows is a fascinating, very human adventure that explores the many different ways that people can respond to a crisis — including what the darker side of humanity gets up to in order to take advantage of vulnerable people in difficult times.
By turns dark, disturbing, heartfelt and uplifting, Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is a game that will stay with you long after you’ve beaten it — and with several different endings and post-game stories to explore, there’s plenty to keep you coming back, too.
It is worth noting, however, that Disaster Report 4 runs like ass on pretty much every platform, so if you’re a framerate snob consider yourself pre-warned. We’re all better than that around here, though, right?
Root Letter/Root Film
Since the concept of “going on holiday” is naught but a distant memory at the time of writing, games such as Root Letter and its recent follow-up Root Film have really come into their own. Not only do they provide compelling mysteries to solve, but they also show great respect for the real-life locales in which they are set — in both cases highlighting a number of interesting locations in Shimane Prefecture, Japan. This makes them both ideal summery games.
Shimane Prefecture is an area of mainland Japan that is known for both lovely weather and its strong connections to Japanese history, religion, myth and legend. There’s a wide variety of interesting places to visit across the region, and between Root Letter and Root Film you stop by quite a few of them as you attempt to get to the bottom of the games’ various cases.
Whether it’s the spiritual hotspot that is Yomotsu Hirasaka — supposed entrance to the underworld as depicted in Japanese mythology — or the beautifully traditional town of Tsuwano, your time with Root Letter and Root Film will feel as much like a virtual tourist trip as it will an investigation.
Root Film is available for PlayStation 4 physically and digitally, and Nintendo Switch physically and digitally. Root Letter: Last Answer, an expanded and enhanced version of Root Letter, is available for PlayStation 4 physically and digitally, Nintendo Switch physically and digitally, and PC via Steam.
Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl Gold
We love overlooked and underappreciated games here at Rice Digital, and they don’t come more overlooked and underappreciated than Level-5’s delightful action RPG. The bright colours, cheerful soundtrack, wonderful sense of humour and wilful silliness make this a wonderful summery game to enjoy while it’s nice out.
In Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl Gold, you take on the role of a custom avatar and work your way through a series of self-contained quests either alone or with friends online. Combat has a deliberate, weighty feel to it rather than relying on button-mashing, and fans of Final Fantasy XIV will be pleased to see the game adopts a very similar “telegraph” system for enemy attacks.
A highly creative take on equipment, which focuses as much on being fashionable as it does getting items with good stats, means that there’s plenty of interest and variety in this game — and the sheer number of quests, challenges and boss fights on offer mean that this can potentially keep you (and some friends) going for a very long time indeed.
Don’t let its mediocre critical reception from its original release put you off; this is a wonderfully cheerful, summery game you’ll be delighted to have in your collection, and one which you’ll find yourself pulling off your shelf time and time again as the years go by any time you need a nice pick-me-up.
What are your favourite summery games? Let us know in the comments or via the usual social media channels!
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