Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Post: Beach Levels in Gaming

Summer. The sun shining down, the cool breeze offering a moment of relief from the heat, and the sounds of the waves crashing gently against the shore, retreating to the ocean to repeat the cycle anew. Who could guess that such a relaxing, pristine setting in real life could also be one of the best locales a video game could offer. In no particular order, here are a few games that gave some memorable beach excursions.

Koopa Troopa Beach
Mario Kart (1997)

Whenever the word beach is uttered with the word gaming, Koopa Troopa Beach from Mario Kart 64 is always the first to come to mind. Waves continually washed in and out of the track, sometimes covering the smaller paths. Crabs posed a threat as they moved side to side, threatening to drop you from 1st to 4th. The overall ambiance of the track was boosted with the catchy island tune in the background. It was a fast, fun, and memorable race destination.

Treasure Trove Cove
Banjo Kazooie (1998)

Banjo Kazooie had a host of worlds to explore, each more unique than the last. One of the best was introduced early on; Treasure Trove Cove. This open-world beach played host to some unique platforming and battles, including collecting treasure for Captain Blubber to defeating Nipper, the giant hermit crab.

Gelato Beach
Super Mario Sunshine (2002)

It is just not a beach blog without mentioning the game centered around an island paradise. Super Mario Sunshine sported many island locations, but Gelato Beach was one to behold. Being able to see the pristine beach and crystal clear water was incentive enough to help clean the beach of any pollutants with F.L.U.D.D. Collecting red coins in a coral reef, pushing a giant watermelon along a boardwalk, and even fighting a giant Wiggler on the beach made this one memorable beach world.

Silent Cartographer
Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)

Halo took beaches and introduced them to Michael Bay. The second you touch down on the beach you are bombarded by Covenant fire with the classic Halo theme backing your regime. The level consists of you driving around the island, infiltrating various facilities as you blast your way through a Covenant armada. It was a strangely satisfying feeling as you splashed through shallow waters in your Warthog to your next destination, gunning down Elites along the way.

Chapter 8: Sandtraps
Half Life 2 (2004)

After driving along the coast line for a time, you soon must trudge along a beach to face the Combine head on at Nova Prospekt. Disembarking from your vehicle landed you in a mad dash past Antlion infested sands. It was the latter half of this chapter with the beach confontration at night that stuck with me the most. With control of Antlions via Bugbait, you marched past the rocky shore to soldier outposts, leaving devastation in your wake. It was a nice contrast from fearing to welcoming the Antlion presence, and such a distration that you almost forgot that you were on a beach.

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