What with one thing and another, it’s fair to say that 2020’s been a challenging year, and many of us have been retreating into digital spaces for comfort and escape in our off-hours. Whether you find comfort in an old familiar favourite, or prefer to lose yourself in something unknown, the ability to occupy your mind and body (well, fingers) makes video games an ideal way to take your mind off the real world when things get a bit too much.
We’ve taken a look at various feel-good Switch games, and Switch games to help you relax, but today we thought we’d ask around Team Nintendo Life for the games they turn to when they need something warm, satisfying and, above all, comforting. Going around the (virtual) office, several of the same names cropped up — it seems that when it comes to comfort food games, we’ve got similar tastes. Perhaps you do, too?
Let’s take a look…
Much as real life, sports (ball, motor, and any other variety) were a popular genre when we asked the team for their go-to ‘comfort food’ games. NES Open Tournament Golf and Mario Golf on the N64 both cropped up, with NHL Hitz Pro on GameCube also getting a mention.
On the racier side of things, Xbox One’s Forza Horizon 4 has provided a relaxing drive in (and over and through) the British countryside over the last year or so. One stalwart contributor has been known to use their performance in F-Zero GX to judge their mental fortitude — we assume the better they do, the more zen the headspace they’re in. The level of concentration F-Zero demands can have that effect, although the less skilled among us can just as easily be driven into a rage.
Back to ball sports, ISS 64 is an office favourite, and GameCube’s Virtua Striker 2002 delivered another shoutout for the beautiful game. In fact, the latter highlighted a trend when it came to Team NL’s comfort food games…
Perhaps it’s all those sprawling, optimistically blue skies and constant stream of positivity in audio-visual form that emits from many classic SEGA games, but whatever the reason, they’re a favourite with many of the team.
Blasting through Sonic Adventure, accelerating towards the rolling horizon in Out Run, cleaning the beat-filled Streets of Rage, or marching through a musical forest on your way to the Castle of Illusion — Nintendo’s one-time rival infused its vintage games with a special something that makes them an utter pleasure to revisit, even when the design or visuals might be showing their age.
Perhaps it’s simply the muscle memory which makes a quick run through Emerald Hill Zone enticing. Maybe it’s the arcade pick-up-and-playability of a Virtua Something that keeps us coming back for more. Whatever it is, SEGA brings the special sauce when it comes to comfort food gaming.
Of course, sometimes you just don’t feel like Mr Blue Sky; sometimes only a spot of the infamous video game ultraviolence will scratch the particular itch you’ve got. You might hit a roguelike for a frantic run or two, and there’s no end of online shooters and first-person shooters you could turn to. However, unloading a meaty shotgun into the zombie horde is a particularly cathartic experience, and Resident Evil 4 seems to be the way several NL regulars enjoy doing just that.
Some of us hit Mercenaries mode hard, while others plough through the story like we’re re-reading an old book; chunky and frayed at the edges, but enormously entertaining every time. This writer has seen the opening chapters of RE4 possibly more than any other video game. Ah, it takes us back to a simpler time…
Of course, the vast majority of games mentioned above are retro titles, often childhood favourites that we return to in the same way we might throw a season of Friends or The Simpsons or Star Trek on Netflix — they’re reliably entertaining fodder that’s free of disappointment. You already know what’s coming at every turn; you’re just there to savour the delivery, to anticipate the cues and sample that wonderful flavour once again. Mmm… familiar.
Consequently, the entire Super NES catalogue is a constant go-to (many of which are available on Switch, thankfully) and the recent Super Mario 3D All-Stars has been a tasty little meal to pick at over the last few weeks. Then of course there’s Banjo-Kazooie, but we’ll be here all day if we start waxing lyrical over that one.
With new consoles very nearly with us, there’s no shortage of brand new delights to enjoy across all platforms, but sometimes you don’t want something fancy and new. Sometimes, for the sake of your own sanity, there’s nothing quite like throwing on some sweatpants and chowing down with something you just know is going to hit the spot.
We’ve shared some of our go-to ‘comfort food’ games, but what about yours? Let us know below the games you return to again and again.