Last Updated on April 9, 2023
Going on holiday. A fraught time for me. Despite assurances from all and sundry that it is a good thing to do, I’m not sure that as a grown man I have ever been sold on the idea. Certainly, camping is out. I am already outside for most of the week, so the idea of going away to be outside, and with less comfort than when I am not particularly comfortable at work, is hilarious. I understand the pull for those that it pulls upon, but let’s draw a line under it and burn the paper it was written on.
Trouble is, I’m not really hotel fodder either. I always feel like I’m going to break something, which I will if I can’t open the bloody windows. I need to rent or otherwise borrow a cottage from someone I know, and move in for a few days. It is a hassle and it has had me thinking, if one could somehow trans-mutate and spend a week (and week is enough anywhere) inside a world or stage of a game, where would I be happy to take myself?
I haven’t settled on anything personally definitive yet, but I have considered a few examples based on the types of holidays that people like to have. We’ll start with tourism and Shenmue, a game which has holiday, or bank holiday weekend attributes already built into the gameplay. What if you could go further though? What if you could not just virtually buy one of those scratty little vending toys, but actually be there in truth and truly look about and wonder what it is that you are going to do until the bar opens?
In short, is Shenmue too real to holiday in?
Probably for all the attention to 80s Yokosuka, Japan detailing, it is. The streets and housing look beautiful and I am always up for hanging with some sailors on my downtime, but I am going to need more entertainment than just going through someone’s drawing cupboard. Luckily though, the locals of Yokosuka know how to pass the hours. Fork lifting. Now we’re having a holiday.
I have genuinely always wanted to have a forklift certificate in real life. When chance has gifted me the opportunity to have a go in one, it was always under the auspices of don’t break that, which can really take the fun and learning out of it. And fork lifters have more fun than anyone at work, zipping about and getting to have rear-wheel drive. Playing with hydraulics and that pervasive sense of importance that goes with having a flashing bulb above your head. They are having a better time on the clock than most of us on holiday. Combine the two and that is my ticket booked.
I do want a certificate at the end though.
Just you and Bamboo
Staying in digital Japan but getting out of town, might I recommend a few days wandering the Bamboo Forest stage of SNK’s Samurai Spirits/Showdown series. SNK knew stage ambience back then and this deadly quiet stage drips a scarlet tone over the lush greens and chirruping birdlife. But it is a fighting game, and one with very armed combatants; if you see a fight going on while you are taking the textures in, just leave them to it and take the dirt path up towards the temple.
The design of this stage would be tinkered with over the years but regardless of which iteration you end up in, there will be some temples and bamboo huts. There’s gonna be bamboo everywhere quite frankly, and a heady, high-summer discolouration to the colours. One for the lone traveller perhaps, the old groves of this stage being more suited to contemplation and quiet wonder than a family reunion or picnic.
But do be careful of the deadly swinging blades.
Super Monkey Ball beach
For a quick, colourful getaway it is possible that you couldn’t do better than Super Monkey Ball. But I am not talking about the principal series here. I mean the Super Monkey Ball stage of Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed.
A beach holiday without a beach, this circuit is one of the many Sega property worlds that make up the game. And this is one race to put your feet up in, because after you are done tearing around you can grab some sort of inflatable and go wafting along the floating water trail. Perhaps help yourself to a cocktail and recline all over the little monkey bandstand. Whatever you choose to do the weather is always just so, and when you have had a few, you can go grab your transformer kart and master a level three drift boost-into-transform stunt.
You might want to visit one of the Mario Karts instead, and that is up to you, but there is only one great hibiscus-scented karting holiday for me and up to three other simultaneous guests. So grab me a double on the rocks and I’ll see you on the hover karts over by the whirlpool.
Go on safari!
I would lastly like to pitch something a little more exotic; a good old-fashioned style safari. Now I don’t mean renting an old Toyota Shogun and heading off to take some photographs. I am talking about a real safari. Of the click-click, bang-bang sort. I am talking about renting a Warthog and going on Halo safari.
When on a local recent car journey with my brother I brought up the idea of a video game holiday and it was Halo that we settled on. The pastoral rolling hills, the pale blue night-ringed skies, the sniper and assault rifles… who that has played Halo hasn’t thought it worthy of a good safari? The developers did because they even threw in some virtuous transport in the shape of the Warthog.
Now the local wildlife population is a bit on the low ebb, probably on account of Halo’s Ring (stop it) being a creature-made item in the first place. Two pieces of news about this and how it will relate to your holiday; first, there’s is a definitive population to take aim at, but regrettably, they do shoot back. And I don’t mean that they have tusks or large mandibles. No, they have guns too and are literally out hunting for you.
It is going to be a lively Safari, to say the least.
I also should perhaps not mention the high chance of encountering The Flood on your stay, but do keep a shotgun at hand for when that does happen. I am not saying that it will, just that you definitely don’t want to go taking them back home with you when you leave.
So there you are. I haven’t really solved the conundrum of taking a holiday but I have considered a very specific context, to some extent. I am sure there are other, better examples for grander or even more specific stages and worlds. I don’t want to hear anything about Resident Evil though. What on earth is wrong with you? Go take some time out. Go spend a week inside Outrun.
John is a writer and gardener. He comes with various 90’s Sega attachments and is the author of The Meifod Claw and other works. His favorite tree is a copper beech and he would like his coffee black without sugar, thank you.