Earth Day, and games with great grass

When I think of Earth Day, I think of grass. No, not the kind often celebrated in that counterculture holiday from two days ago. But the green stuff that proved such trouble in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and yet feels simply wonderful to walk through barefoot. Don’t deny it. Grass is great, and not just because it’s green.

Not surprisingly, grass shows up in a bajillion videogames, too. First-person shooters, epic fantasy RPGs, farm sims, you name it. It’s there. Graphically, herbaceous plants have come a long way, and here’s a couple of games  I believe do grass well.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link could use his sword to swipe at bushes and find hidden rupees (as well as really ticked off enemies). It was great fun and always hard to resist doing so, especially since the bushes themselves respawned after entering/exiting a building. Phantom Hourglass, however, made it feel even more rewarding to slice up the earth. Now you could swipe at tall grass, and thanks to the touchscreen controls, it was quick, breezy, and rewarding. Hearts and rupees galore! My favorite tactic was to stand in the middle of a bunch of grass and do the spin attack. Seriously, if Link ever got tired of saving Zelda, he could totally make it as a lawnmower.

Eternal Sonata

Now, I’m not here to argue whether this is a good game or not. It’s most likely not. I’ve mentioned before that I got stuck on a pirate ship and would have to grind for many hours just to be strong enough to beat the current boss and move on. -5 to fun factor. However, both via cutscenes and in-game graphics, Eternal Sonata rocks the grass and meadows and vibrant scenery. It’s just so pretty and colorful, and you totally get the impression that the earth here is healthy and well-cared for.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

You could seriously get lost in this kind of grass. In fact, I most certainly have. Going up a hill, your perspective slanted, all you’ll see is grass, a hundred thousand blades swaying with the wind. Considering the size of the world and its forests, it’s mighty impressive…except when you are trying to find a dead body to loot. Then it’s just maddening.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

After two games of sneaking around inside buildings, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater threw a wrench at us. Remember, if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball. In this one, a majority of the game is played outside in the open wild. Here, tall grass and camouflage are your BFFs. Such a change of pace, but so awesome, too. I really loved the tall, thin blades, and popping from them to take a sneak shot on a soldier sure beat stuffing them into a locker any day.

Every Pokemon game ever

Grass is where it’s at in Pokemon. Actually, grass is where Pokemon are at in Pokemon. That’s where they hide, and you’ll spend a lot of time traipsing through it to find the right ones or just get to your next destination. Grass is so important to this series that it is even a type of Pokemon class. Huzzah!

Fallout 3

I’m sure this will be a spoiler to some folks, but there’s a location in Fallout 3 unlike every other location you’ll come across. This one is alive with…life. Plant life, more specifically. I’m talking about Oasis, a small settlement tucked away into some boulders that is not affected by radiation and has actual grass and healthy trees sprouting up from the ground. Your first visit there is a total headturn, and you really begin to see the importance of your quest to purify the water of the Capital Wasteland. Oh sure, on occassion you’ll find a single flower somewhere and be amazed at its stubborness, but here is proof that life goes on through it all.

Everybody’s Golf series

While this series may feature cartoony golfer avatars, the grass is always serious. Seriously good, that is. Look at that divet mark above. As one who divets it up like crazy, I can say that it’s pretty authentic-looking. Actually, most golf games nail grass. They kind of have to. It’s 90% of the screen. The summery discoloring is perfect above, too.

Got a favorite grassy game yourself? Tell me about it in the comments below.

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