Many games focus on fast-paced action, blood-filled beatings or high-tension shootouts. And that can be great fun. But there are also some great spots in games where you are inspired to just put the controller down for a little while and drink in the ambience. Sometimes entire games are built around the concept. This top 10 list is about all those little cozy spots in gaming that give you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

This city is straight out of a child’s dream. Towards the end of his adventure, Mario climbs high into the sky to reach the cloud kingdom of Nimbus Land. Everything in the city, including its buildings and even the strange creatures that inhabit it, is made of white, fluffy clouds. The dream-like city houses a majestic palace, a set of hot-springs and even a pillow that brings your dreams to life. If there was ever a city straight out of a good dream, Nimbus Land would be it.

Probably one of the earliest “cozy stages” in a video game, the Starlight Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog is a peaceful spot in an otherwise frantic game. Sonic’s high-speed antics take him high into the air in this zone. As he runs across a star-studded sky, the neon lights of an unnamed city can be seen out in the background and a melody plays that can only be described as very peaceful. Neat little atmospheric place that’s probably the closest to “serene” the Sonic series got before it went 3D.

Twilight Princess took the Zelda saga into a new direction that was mostly well-received. However, some felt that TP lost the Zelda “charm” that has been present in previous entries in the saga. Personally, I quite enjoyed the new game and felt that the mood it set was well carried throughout the game. Regrettably, the game didn’t have as many quiet, cozy spots that almost every other Zelda game since the series inception had, but it did have one really cool spot that made up for it: Princess Agitha’s Castle. Agitha collects glowing bugs... in fact, she’s a little bit obsessed with them. A strange girl, but her “castle” more than makes up for her one-track personality. The two-level house is softly lit, but filled with a variety of bright furniture and, once you collect them, glowing bugs that light up the room like a Christmas tree. The whole house is also accompanied by a soft, lullaby-like melody that perfectly fits the gentle and very beautiful castle Agitha has created for herself. Without a doubt this is my favourite spot in Twilight Princess and definitely a very cozy place to hang out.

Dark Cloud 2 is a wonderful game and easily one of my favourites for the PS2. Interestingly, it’s not because of the game’s gameplay or story. Indeed, I’d actually rate both as a bit on the average side, aside from the masterfully done customization system. Instead, I absolutely love the game because of its wonderful artistic style, vivid characters and the very “cozy” feel that the entire game manages to capture so well. Oh, and the soundtrack is to die for. Easily one of the best this generation... But I digress. The game is filled with a whole bunch of really cozy places, ranging from the peaceful forest of Sindain to the sunny coastline of Vennicio Beach to the futuristic neon lights of Luna Labs to the serene Balance Valley. However, I think my favourite cozy spot in this game is right outside the game’s first dungeon. Once you clear your way through the sewers, you are treated to a wonderful view of the city of Palm Brinks and the surrounding environment. The game seems almost like a page out of a Dr. Seuss book at this point, with strange pipes carrying water outside of the city and making artificial waterfalls with it. A set of train-tracks on a bridge reaches across a deep gorge into the wild beyond where your adventure takes you. However, I have speant many a quiet moment just sitting next to that bridge gazing off into the canyon and letting the sweet guitar notes of “Peace of the World” melt my stress away.

I was tempted to pick Twinkle Park for this game’s entry on this list, but I eventually went with the Mystic Ruins instead. For a game based mostly on breakneck speed, Sonic Adventure actually has a few nice spots to just relax. Probably the best of them is the Mystic Ruins during one of the game’s night-time sequences just because of the sheer number of cozy spots in it. You can go look at Tails’s house all lit up and sitting all by its lonesome on top of the mystic ruins hill, you can run through the thick jungle and go exploring the actual “ruins” part of the mystic ruins, you can go hang out with your Chao in the Chao garden, or you can just relax next to the Master Emerald on Angel Island and stargaze for a while. Very nice cozy spot.

Majora’s Mask had a number of cool little cozy spots in it that could have been on this list, like the Zora theatre, the observatory or the milk bar, but I could only pick one, so I chose my favourite. The Clock Tower serves as the centre of your quest in Majora’s Mask, acting as both beginning and ending. Inside the clock tower, soft, almost mystical music plays in the background, while the rather strange Happy Mask Salesman makes himself comfortable. The room is filled with the creaking and groaning of wood and gears as the clock dutifully counts down the three days to your impending destruction. Interestingly and somewhat ironically, inside the clock tower is one of the few places in the game that time does not flow, making it one of the most peaceful and cozy spots in all of Termina.

Kingdom Hearts was a fun little nostalgia trip for kids of the late 80’s and early 90’s. It mixed Disney characters with Final Fantasy characters in a real-time RPG mish-mash that turned into one of the most popular franchises this generation. However, one of the things I liked best about the game was its central hub town, the aptly titled “Traverse Town.” Set under a twinkling, starry sky, Traverse Town is a city straight out of a child’s imagination. With bright pastel colours and a soft, wistful tune playing in the background, the first impression is of a very peaceful town. Of course, parts of it are filled with Heartless, but let’s ignore that for now. Sora, the main character, rubs shoulders with all sorts of Disney and Square characters from yesteryear, including Cid (the FF7 one), Pinocchio, various Moogles, Donald’s Nephews and countless others. It’s like taking a trip 10 years back in time and remembering everything that was cool about Final Fantasy and Disney from back then. Cozy AND cool. I like it.

Animal Crossing is a game made of cozy and it would be a sin not to include it on this list. Whether it’s in the depth of winter and the snow is falling gently, or it’s the heat of summer and your village is alive with the sounds of various bugs, your town in Animal Crossing is a very cozy place. As you spend your days chatting with the neighbours, running errands, collecting furniture, paying off your house, catching fish, designing T-shirts, selling fruit and just generally living a quiet, cozy life, you may just find yourself wishing very strongly that your real life was more like this. Very relaxing and, especially during the winter months and during some of the events that feature fireworks or other cool celebrations, very cozy. That and you arrive and depart by train. It may be just me, but I think trains are about the coziest damn method of transportation around.

a.k.a. “The village that will make you drool all over your controller.” Parnasse is located on the floating island of Mira, an island close to a rift between dimensions. As such, things that would ordinarily be impossible become possible. One such impossibility is the village of Parnasse: A village made entirely of candy. You heard right, the entire village is made out of sweets of all shapes and sizes. In your tour of the village, you’ll see alleyways lined with creamy frosting, houses with thick, delicious looking chocolate running in them, a vat filled with boiling, red candy sauce, and rows upon rows of cookies, cakes and every other sweet treat. And everything is topped off by a sugary sparkle and with Baiten Kaitos’s impressive graphics, you’ll swear the whole thing was real. The first time you find the place, you’ll gain two pounds just by looking at the village. Now I ask you: Could you think of anything cosier than an entire village made out of edible sweets? It’s like a childhood dream brought to life.

If there is a better definition of a cozy spot in a game, I’d like to hear it. You arrive at Flanoir about midway through Tales of Symphonia and it’s really an incredible experience. Snow falls gently in the foreground of a low-lit city just after dusk. Outside, people are dressed up in big, fury coats with mittens, earmuffs, hats and other winter accessories to keep out the cold that the game does a wonderful job of portraying. Inside every log cabin building, the lighting suggests a warm fire roaring in the fireplace. All through your journey through the town, soft flute, piano and string music plays a quiet, almost lullaby-like melody. It just makes you want to grab a blanket, get a fire going in the fireplace and just snuggle for a few hours.

There’s many more games that could have made this list, but didn’t. Honourable mentions go to Burg from Lunar: Silver Star Story, Zora’s Domain from Ocarina of Time, Prome from Fantasy Zone and the Northern Area from Oblivion. So next time you feel like taking a break from your blood-soaked rampages through whatever group of fools decided to try and take over the world this time, find one of these spots and hang out there for a while. It’s strangely therapeutic...

List by darkknight109 (03/14/2007)

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