Welcome to Part 2 of our Top 20 RPG Summer Towns feature! This time we visit some hot springs, great Zelda home towns, and even some real life British locations.
Lonalulu – Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
by Wes Iliff
If you enjoy summers at the beach, you’ll have a hard time finding a more picturesque locale than Lonalulu. After all, it’s basically Hawaii. Beaches, boats, luaus, drinks, and deeply superstitious stories about evil mermaids make Lonalulu the perfect summer vacay. Well, maybe not that last one, but don’t worry too much. Even the worst stories (eventually) prove the town slogan true: Lonalulu is for lovers.
Okay, so I just made up that slogan and hope it will catch on. Still, one visit and you’ll be charmed by a tropical paradise where the water is cool, the food is hot, and the canon is fired irregularly throughout the day and night. Hey, no paradise is perfect, right?
Outset Island – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
by Mario Garcia
Outset Island screams RPG hometown in all the best ways. It has a peaceful and idyllic vibe, charming music, welcoming characters, gets invaded by monsters, etc. The tropical island setting, however, is what makes this hometown stand out amidst the largely Hyrule-focused Legend of Zelda series. The tranquil Outset Island is just the beginning of a grand adventure where the old Hyrule has disappeared into legend and Link has a whole new ocean to explore. That sense of exploration and nautical travel inspires much of the gameplay, leading Outset Island and the rest of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker to occupy my summer travel thoughts.
Besaid Island – Final Fantasy X
by Mario Garcia
Besaid Island’s music is a vibe. That alone should warrant its inclusion on this list. Still, the place Besaid Island occupies in Final Fantasy X’s story makes it even more memorable. This tranquil tropical beach is one of the first locations that Tidus visits in the unfamiliar world of Spira, and it stands in stark contrast to the brutal monster attacks and religious corruption seen later on. Besaid Island’s chill villagers are far removed from the Yevon faith’s corrupt leadership, and set a peaceful tone when sharing Spira’s religious practices with Tidus. Final Fantasy X’s more subversive themes of death, loss, and religion hit that much harder thanks to Besaid Island’s relaxed introduction to Spira.
Fisherman’s Horizon – Final Fantasy VIII
by Sam-James Gordon
Fisherman’s Horizon is an important location in Final Fantasy VIII that’s oozing with charm. This is quite apparent the moment Squall and company first disembark at its unconventional docks. Built on pillars rising out of the ocean, Fisherman’s Horizon isn’t an ideal vacation spot for those afraid of heights, but that’s a non-issue for our party members who live in a floating Garden.
Apart from its abundance of sea views, its peace loving community, and nostalgic soundtrack, the story segments that take place in Fisherman’s Horizon give it a uniquely summery vibe. The Garden Festival Committee ends up holding a concert there, leading to Squall and Rinoa sharing some tender dialogue together. It’s all a bit Grease if you ask me, but maybe that was intentional. After all, what says “young love” better than a summer romance? The playlists make themselves.
Yukumo Village – Monster Hunter Generations
by Michael Sollosi
A visit to a mountain town surrounded by bamboo groves and babbling brooks is a beautiful (and more temperate) alternative to a summer holiday in a sweltering seaside city. Yukumo is a picturesque Japanese-style village dotted with charming wooden buildings. A fabulous natural hot spring rejuvenates patrons to peak condition and its keepers provide a refreshing bathside beverage service. The nearby Misty Peaks trailhead is perfect for hiking, bug-catching, running from wild boars called Bullfango, or grilling Well-Done Steaks over an open fire. Yukumo’s denizens, including many anthropomorphic cats, are friendly and welcoming, with the most common local jobs being agriculture, carpentry, and exterminating hostile wyverns and fanged beasts.
Sure, Yukumo might give off the vibe of an autumn village rather than a summer one, but if you want to go to the mountains rather than the beach for a summer vacation, Yukumo is a perfect spot… if it isn’t besieged by an agitated Zinogre or Mizutsune.
Verona Beach – Boyfriend Dungeon
by Audra Bowling
When the main character from Boyfriend Dungeon tries to find themselves, and possibly romance, over the summer, they go to the newly built Verona Beach: a beachside community designed for pedestrian convenience. Verona Beach has all the amenities that a town appealing to those seeking rest and relaxation require: apartments, cafes, malls, theaters, parks, gyms, and a thriving nightlife. There are even dunjs to explore and do battle in for those wanting some adventure over the course of their vacation! The town has a colorful, vibrant look and a warmly atmospheric soundtrack in the background, providing a summery feel. The residents are wonderful too! I loved my time at Verona Beach, and a visit is guaranteed to provide you with pleasant memories during a Boyfriend Dungeon playthrough!
Mishelam – Legend of Heroes: Trails Series
by Audra Bowling
Having not yet played the Crossbell Duology, my main exposure to the Mishelam resort stems from The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV. Once a fancy vacation spot for the wealthy, Mishelam is now a prime tourist attraction for many following the construction of an amusement park along with a classy hotel and arcade. This is a spot where Rean, the rest of Class VII, and their allies get to spend their last precious moments of free time on the eve of the game’s final battles. I have fond memories of bonding with several characters over various theme park rides and attractions, and the whole “drinking game” fiasco was priceless! The short time at Mishelam crammed both boisterous and quieter moments, making for a memorable diversion. Mishelam is easily a highlight of the fourth Trails of Cold Steel game and very fitting for a summer vacation-type experience.
Pacifidlog Town – Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald
by Matt Warner
Surrounded on all sides by water, huts floating in said water, traversable only via floating logs. No, I’m not describing a resort in Bora Bora (though that would be a wonderful summer location). I’m talking about Pacifidlog town! Typically accessible late in Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, I could think of no other place to vacation after winning the region’s championship if I was a trainer. This location is severely underutilized in the Hoenn region, however, as it’s mostly a footnote compared to other cities. It is a wonderful place to launch hunts into Rayquaza, the Regi line of Pokemon, and Mirage Island (later removed in ORAS), but it otherwise is a sleepy village floating on Corsola. I suppose when you’re on island time, though, you don’t need a lot. So bring the sunscreen, turn your phone off, and get to floating in this summertime spot at the edge of the world.
Gumbo Village – Grandia
by Sam-James Gordon
A seaside resort village with its own geothermal hot springs sounds rather marvellous, if you ask me. The novelty is somewhat soured when the local deity is a bit grumpy, cooling the *ahem* nearby volcano and lowering the region’s temperature. There’s no rule that states a summer town must be hot in the real world, especially depending on which hemisphere you live in, but in RPGs our heroes must save the day if it’s a little chilly.
The protagonists of Grandia, Justin and Feena, are treated with a suspicious reverence upon entering Gumbo Village. To cut a long story short, it is whispered in Gumbo’s folklore that a loving, romantic couple must be sacrificed to appease their Dragon God and get the heat pumping once more. As you might imagine, this does not happen, and Justin and Feena kill the dragon instead. Because of course they do. Summer is saved!
Southampton – Shadow Hearts: Covenant
by Sam-James Gordon
While not the only real-world location on this list, it is definitely the only one in… England. We have bizarre summers here. One day you’ll be sat with your crumpets and tea wearing a scarf, and then we’ll have a heatwave for two weeks. Then rain, then some more rain, and then snow. It keeps us on our toes. And there’ll always be that man queueing out the chippy door wearing shorts. Can I fit more British stereotypes in? We shall see.
Onto the real point of this section: Shadow Hearts! It doesn’t take much for me to talk about this unique and beloved series, and lo and behold, Southampton is a seaside town. And you visit it in Shadow Hearts: Covenant! The whole section is quite a charming nod to Britain’s past, with the Port of Southampton being one of our major trading hubs, and we even get to visit some mines. I’m neither a historian nor a geologist, so I have no idea if it’s accurate, but nothing says “summer in Britain” quite like a trip to Southampton and a dip in the mines. Everybody does it! Actually, Yuri and his party travel through the Rhondda Mines to reach Wales, which I’m almost certain would be impossible from a geographical standpoint, but stranger things have happened both in video games and real life.