Being stuck on a desert island is already tough. You've got to hunt and forage for food, build a fire and shelter, and basically not die until someone comes to rescue you. What's even tougher than that? Having to choose only 5 games to play on that island until you're eventually (maybe) saved.
What I look for in a "desert island game" is something that I can sink many, many hours of my day into. When I'm not spearfishing, wrestling a warthog into submission, or emptying my entire body of everything from cholera, I'd want to waste every other minute with these sweet games.
With how much I love my picks for this article, I'd just wave the helicopter off and wait for the next one.
Image source: Steam
Bejeweled 3 is normally something you'd see your chain-smoking aunt playing all day on her Windows XP PC that she got for her birthday. That chain-smoking aunt must be my spirit animal, because I can't get enough of this game!
The Xbox 360 version is backwards compatible on Xbox One and Series X/S and is also on Game Pass, so get on that! Nothing gives me a bigger rush than matching 3 gems and then watching the whole board just fall apart as matches happen to appear again and again. There's loads of different game modes if you ever get tired of matching gems forever and ever, like Ice Storm and Diamond Mine.
I could play this for hours and hours while ignoring how badly I'm starving and decaying. It's so fun.
Killer Instinct (2013)
Image source: Xbox
What started as a free-to-play barren wasteland of a game quickly grew over the next few months to become one of the best fighting games I've ever played!
Fighting games can be very intimidating for newcomers to get into. Having to learn combos and all of the other mechanics of the game can be easily overwhelming. Luckily, Killer Instinct has one of the best tutorial modes in the genre. Not to mention a super slick combo system, counters for nearly everything, and characters that all feel completely unique and play so much differently from each other.
What makes it desert island worthy? Two words: SHADOW LORDS. The crazy developers took an already excellent fighting game and made it even more excellent with a roguelike single player mode!
In Shadow Lords, you defend different parts of Earth from Gargos and his shadow fighters. Eventually you'll need to fight Gargos himself, acting as the final boss and as such, he's going to be overpowered as hell. After fights, enemies will drop items. Those range from healing, attack/defense buffs, poison attacks, and more. Oh, and you also get floating companions called "Guardians", which grant you different special abilities.
The goal is to defeat enough enemies to power your team up just enough so that you can beat Gargos. It has that perfect dash of risk and reward. If you fight too often, you won't have enough HP to stand a chance against Gargos. But if you don't fight enough, you won't stand a chance against him. Period.
Shadow Lords aside, learning and mastering different characters is also a blast. If you subscribe to Game Pass, the definitive edition is available to download and has EVERYTHING.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Image source: Nintendo
HILARIOUS. This one takes place on a desert island. New Horizons is, without a doubt, the best in the entire series.
You start with a barren island covered in weeds, flowers, and trees and slowly transform it into your very own utopia. Want to make an outdoor cafe? Go for it! Want to have a gigantic, sprawling garden? You do you! The possibilities are absolutely endless! With the addition of crafting, multiple levels to the terrain, new items, and new events, this game will keep you occupied for at least 500+ hours.
BUT WAIT. THERE'S MORE! The expansion, Happy Home Paradise, will suck you in for another 200+ hours! In the DLC, you work as an employee of the Happy Home Association and you'll work with villagers to design their dream vacation home. Each villager will pitch a different theme which comes with different furniture, wallpapers, outdoor decorations, and so much more! I've never, ever thought of myself as an interior decorator or designer, but I've spent hours staring at the screen, trying my hardest to make the most out of each area of each house.
What's even cooler is that the more homes you design, the more the game will allow you to do! You start off making small homes, but soon you're able to make bigger homes and add more floors to the home and even make two villagers roommates! It's absolutely insane how much there is to this game!
If you haven't already played New Horizons, (or any Animal Crossing game for that matter) absolutely check this one out and say "GOODYBYE" to all of your free time. :')
Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania
Image source: PlayStation Store
I'm absolutely BANANAS for Super Monkey Ball!
In these games, you just need to get the monkey-in-the-ball to the goal. To do so, you basically move the stage to make the ball go where you want it to go. Along the way you'll collect bananas, watch the monkey inside the ball freak the hell out, and jam-out to the hypest soundtrack known to man.
This game is essentially a "best-of" compilation of everything from the first three Super Monkey Ball games with remixed soundtracks, stages, and loads and loads of unlockables via the in-game store.
I've spent way more hours than I'd care to admit trying to master the physics of the game so that I can beat all of my clear times. There's also alternate game modes for each stage, adding EVEN MORE replayability and challenge! There's "Reverse Mode" where the starting point and goal are swapped, "Golden Bananas" where you NEED to collect all the bananas in the stage, and "Dark Bananas" where you have to complete the stage WITHOUT TOUCHING ANY BANANAS.
THERE'S EVEN MORE. There's optional paid DLC that lets you play as other Sega characters, like Sonic, Tails, Morgana from "Persona 5", Beat from "Jet Set Radio" and even Kiryu from "Yakuza"! You can even play as a miniature GameGear, Dreamcast, or Saturn console!
This game is one big timesink. By the time the rescue boats come, you'll be a master Super Monkey Ball speedrunner.
Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise
Image source: IGDB.com
Viva Pinata is such an underappreciated series! It's not without its flaws, sure. But it's still a pretty addictive game.
In Viva Pinata, you're in charge of a garden where you grow different fruits, veggies, and all sorts of other stuff! Your garden will occasionally be visited by different pinatas which are designed after different animals or mythological creatures. Different pinatas are attracted to certain plants, certain types of environments, or other pinatas. To name a few, there's the "vulchurro", "horstachio", and "macaracoon". Their names are usually a combination of the animal that they represent and some type of sweet, confection, snack, etc.
Your garden will occasionally also be visited by "ruffians", bad dudes with the intent of hurting your pinatas, and sour pinatas which will wreak havoc on your garden by eating seeds, dropping poisonous candies, and destroying objects. You can tame the sour pinatas, but the ruffians can only be stopped by certain means or until they're done being dickheads in your garden.
Trouble in Paradise adds more pinatas, more biomes, and a new plot that has you repopulating the pinata database after it's been deleted.
Both games are backwards compatible on Xbox One, Series X/S, and are available on Game Pass and the Rare Replay! If you're at all interested, they're so easy to get your (digital) hands on.
There you are! My top 5 games that I would cycle between to keep myself somewhat sane while waiting for rescue.
Feel free to tell me yours in the comments!
Make sure to check out the newest episode of our podcast, while you're at it!