Settings in video games are very important in terms of atmosphere, design, and storytelling. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Gold Saucer, Final Fantasy VII
Basically, a minigame town. The minigames include Mog House, which is like a brief virtual pet game, basketball, and arm wrestling. Though your first visit is probably the most impressive due to the minigames being their most fresh, subsequent visits will allow you to fight in a battle arena and race your own chocobos. The music is fun and peppy, too.
It will be worth seeing how Gold Saucer will be presented in the FFVII remake… sometime in the next three years. :I
2. The Sunleth Waterscape, Final Fantasy XIII
The Sunleth Waterscape is a fun and beautiful place to explore with great music.
3. Fortune City, Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
The sun may have set on Capcom’s open-world zombie-slaying series, but I’ll always have fond memories of the first few games (I’ve yet to play 3 and 4). Fortune City, an honage/parody of Las Vegas, allows DR2 to expand on the foundation of the first game. There are several secrets, weapons, slot machines, survivors, and psychopaths to find. The Off the Record rerelease adds a new area to Fortune City: Uranus Zone, a theme park.
4. Silent Hill
Silent Hill arguably had its strongest appeal with the first four games made by Team Silent. They created a town that was dark but atmospheric and compelling. It was also fun to explore parts of a city that you would never get to in real life. If Silent Hill is ever rebooted, whoever is in charge needs to portray the town as a character unto itself, and put real craft into designing it.
5. Raccoon City, various Resident Evil/Biohazard titles
Like Silent Hill, Raccoon City was once a nice, quiet little town with some dark secrets. Silent Hill still lingers somewhere out there, but Raccoon City met its apocalyptic end when the US government decided to nuke the town to contain the bio hazard outbreak plaguing it.
Though RE/BH is more physical than metaphysical, exploring Raccoon City in such games as RE2, 3, and Outbreak has a similar appeal to Silent Hill in that we’re exploring places we’re not supposed to. Tee-hee!
6. Dracula’s Castle, Castlevania/Vampire Killer
Dracula must have one hell of an interior design team, because every time a hero invades it, it has changed considerably. One consistent installation is the Clock Tower, featured in most CV games.
My first CV game was Symphony of the Night, so I’m partial to it. It’s one of my top five favorite games, and has my favorite vision of Dracula’s castle due to the atmosphere, enemies, and gorgeous music. Highlights include a creepy cavern; an underground water vein; a colosseum; a library; and the Royal Chapel. I ❤ the irony of Dracula having a chapel in his castle.
7. Melody Town, Kirby’s Epic Yarn
It has not come up much yet, but I loooove Kirby and his games. Melody Land is a very fun level in a very fun game. Imagine a stage in a platformer where every platform is a musical instrument that makes a sound when you interact with it. That’s Melody Land.
8. New York, Parasite Eve
PE offered a recreated version of New York with some landmarks to explore, which was pretty cool for a PS1 game.9. Rapture, BioShock
I really loved BioShock. Rapture was a gorgeous place to visit. The extremely well-done fire, ice, and water effects helped.
Perhaps one day, I will do a different version of this article for fighting game stages.
What are your favorite locations in games?