Summer's here, and that can only mean one thing: sand, surf, and beaches galore. Well, for most people it means that. For us, it means the sun is blasting at temperatures that would make Ragnaros the Firelord faint, and our pale nerd skin offers about as much UV protection as a magnifying glass. So take our advice: lock the doors, crank the AC, and comfort yourself with the best virtual beaches videogames have to offer.


8. The Silent Cartographer (Halo: Combat Evolved)



For an artificial ringworld built to house the galaxy's biggest bomb, Halo had some pretty nice scenery. In the game's fourth level, your dropship kindly sets you down on a lovely little island and gives you, joy of joys, a shiny new warthog to tool around in. On a normal map you'd set about feeding aliens the business end of your four-wheeled bullet factory, but on Silent Cartographer you have more important business: immediate, unending joyrides into the ocean, with whatever suicidal space marine has enough viking blood to brave your passenger seat.

Plus, the island has plenty of ancient tunnels and underground facilities to explore, some of them even wide enough to pilot a dropship through. Not to mention the entire goal of the mission is to locate what amounts to Halo's visitor's center, containing your handy-dandy computerized guide to every tourist hotspot on the entire orbital weapon-world.


7. Shell Shock (Cool Spot)



To create their mascot, 7-Up executives built a machine that took all the raddest parts of the 1980's, combined them into a single radical force, threw that away, and then stuck a pair of shades on an anthropomorphic period. It was a move so devoid of creativity that it makes megaman sprite webcomics look like a Montessori School.

But sometimes a game is so radically jammin' that no amount of corporate whoring can spoil it, and Cool Spot delivers plenty of great beach-hopping platform action. If the style looks familiar, it's because programmer David Perry was also part of the team that made the Aladdin game, and later went on to develop Earthworm Jim. In between, he took a platformer about a soda mascot shooting soda bubbles on a quest to drink soda and made it pretty darn tolerable.

Still, the game is such a sell-out that internet writers can't mention it without also hawking 7-Up, or else 7-Up's lawyers are legally allowed to sic attack dogs on our testicles. And let me tell you: the only thing more frightening than that is the frighteningly cool, delicious taste of 7-Upâ?¢, now available in supermarkets everywhere.


6. Toronbo Shores (Link's Awakening)



If Zelda games were TV shows, Link's Awakening would definitely be LOST. The entire game takes place on an island full of mysterious characters and secret chambers, all of which may or may not actually exist. It opens with Link being shipwrecked on Toronbo Shores, the quiet, Octorok-infested beachfront of Koholint Island. Much like LOST, the island seems normal at first, until you notice the banana stand run by a talking alligator and the giant speckled egg sitting on top of the mountain. Fortunately for us, the ending to Link's Awakening is much more satisfying than it's television equivalent, as it contains 100% more cosmic dream whales.


5. Omaha Beach (Medal of Honor: Allied Assault)



Granted, maybe this beach isn't as sunny as the others. Maybe the locals aren't as happy to see you. But the locals here are Nazis, so who cares what they think? Are you going to let a bunch of fascist anti-lifeguards tell you where Lady Liberty can or can't sunbathe? Lock and load, private, and get ready to pitch a beach umbrella for America.

Sure, I wouldn't qualify this so much as a "sunny summer hotspot" as I would a "limb-decorated nightmare mile," but then again, nothing makes you appreciate a vacation quite like being pinned down by machine gun fire, going over your life choices in your head and wondering which one of them brought you here to the exact worst spot on Earth.