Have you ever spent a few years away from home, only to come back and see everything was exactly the way you left it? If you have, then you know about that warm fuzzy feeling you get in the pit of your stomach, and the waves of nostalgia that wash over you are some of the best/strangest feelings you can hope to feel.
The good thing is, you don't have to leave home for years on end to get that feeling. In fact, you don't even have to leave your house at all! The only requirements are that you stop playing some of your favorite games for a few months. And if you're like me, that's more than an easy task to fulfill. Alright, now that a few months have passed, let's talk about some of the comfiest places in gaming.
The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker: Outset Island
To be completely honest, you could get the feeling of nostalgia and comfort from any one of the many 3D Zelda games currently on the market. You could even feel comfortable in Clocktown (in Majora's Mask), despite the fact that a creepy giant faced moon was hurtling itself towards the town from the very start of the game. But none of these towns compare to Outset Island, the starting area in The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker.
The colors! I can see all of them!
While quite a few people had trouble getting into the game due to it's cartoon-y cell-shaded art style, I feel that it cemented itself in people's memory thanks to just how comfortable everything looked. That first hour or two of the game made everything seem so nice and peaceful that the moment things actually turned bad, it felt like the rug got pulled out from beneath you. But that didn't ruin the relative safety of the island.
And now that it's been remade for the Wii-U in glorious HD, we can all go back to Outset Island once again and feel all comfy and safe, at least until a giant bird totally ruins Link's birthday and forces him to go on a quest that ends with a sword in somebody's head.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: Balmora
When you first stepped off of that ship and into the waiting arms of Fargoth in the city of Seyda Neen, you probably followed the exact same path that I did. First and foremost, steal that platter worth six hundred gold. Secondly, rob Fargoth blind. And then finally travel to the next closest city, Balmora. This is where the game really got exciting for me.
I'm going to rob this place completely blind
Seyda Neen was a backwater town so small that I could see the exit of the city while standing in the entrance. But Balmora was huge, and it was alive. People walking to and from their places of work. Buildings lined the streets, filled with so many things for me to steal. Back alleys lead to houses containing murder mysteries and others with huge rat problems. This was where Morrowind truly started, and I had no idea what to do.
Anyone who played the game can probably describe Balmora to you in deep detail. You have the large river cutting through the town, the line of stores with the back alley slums behind them and then the religious buildings near the top of the city limits. It's hard to understand why, but this city was just home for me and most other people during their travels. No matter what happened, Balmora was always waiting for you.
Animal Crossing: Your Town
I didn't buy a Gamecube until the Wii was released onto the market. I have no idea why that was, but it just turned out that way. The first three games I got with it were Wind Waker, the Zelda promotional disc and Animal Crossing. It cost me $25 total and was a pretty great deal. I originally got Animal Crossing because I thought it would be something fun for the kids to play, but I quickly learned otherwise.
Yeah, looks like I'm buying another 3DS game
What was supposed to be a game for the kids to play ended up being an obsession for me. I would sit up late at night, pounding my shovel into my neighbor's doors. They of course wouldn't answer the door since it was well past three in the morning, but that didn't mean I couldn't send them threatening letters. And I sent plenty of those.
Despite how much of a serial killer I tried to be, I still ended up falling in love with the town and its many animal inhabitants. Something about playing a game where you live in a cartoon town just managed to get to me. I still occasionally load up my original Gamecube save to check up on my town from time to time. I even feel kind of sad when I see someone has moved away. Animal Crossing became my digital home away from home, and all it took was a few late nights of harassing my neighbors.
Everywhere In Ni No Kuni
When I bought Ni No Kuni, I knew exactly what i was getting into. I've been a fan of Miyazaki's work ever since I sat down and watched the movie Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro. If you haven't seen it, then you need to right now. I don't care if you're at work. You need to watch it now. Once you've seen the movie you'll understand the main draw of Miyazaki's movies, and that is their extremely soft and welcoming appearance. And Ni No Kuni matched studio Ghibli's style perfectly.
Everything about this game just makes you feel good
No matter where I was standing or what I was doing, everything just felt simple and happy. I could have been fighting the Devil and I still would have thought, "Well this place is quaint." The game's style is just that rich. Even from the start of the game you're being bombarded with that sweet, sweet small town feel. It was so great that I didn't mind the game clocked in at around 70 hours; I actually didn't want it to end. You watch Castle of Cagliostro and play this game now. You'll regret neither choice.
Catherine: The Stray Sheep Bar
I pre-ordered the game Catherine before it came out. Do you know why I would preorder a $60 Japanese puzzle game over all of the other big titles releasing around that same time? Because I knew it would be good, that's why. You just don't turn down a good puzzle game, and you certainly don't turn down a sci-fi horror love story either. Because of all these factors I simply couldn't turn down, Catherine was as good as bought. And you know what? I loved the game!
They gave me a trophy as a monument to the time I wasted here
But not just for its mind bending puzzles and absolutely crazy story. I mean, they were certainly the main reasons I enjoyed the game so much. But I'd be a foolish fool if I were to ignore the Stray Sheep Bar, an area in the game where you're free to talk with random patrons, order food and drinks, play games and even listen to the jukebox without any worry of something bad happening to you.
For the most part anyways. Later on in the game you'll start dealing with some pretty freaky things no matter where you're located, but during the first week or so of the game, there was no better place than the Stray Sheep. I once spent a solid hour playing the arcade game located at the back of the bar just because, and when I finished I went over to the jukebox and I jammed. What other puzzle game can boast of such a feat? Certainly none that I know of.
These are just five of my favorite areas from some recently released games (and not so recently released). But now I wonder, what are some of your favorite areas of relaxation in the game world? Why not describe them to me in the comments below? As always, thank you for reading.