One of the funnest parts of adventure games is getting to explore the world, getting to see all the fun visuals and details unique to that game's universe. Some of them, especially open-world games will have you trek across locations for a majority of your adventure, and you'll wind up familiarizing yourself with landmarks, being able to orient yourself within the game's world, just by looking at a single building. Especially if you've played that specific game over and over.
If I were to name an example, it would have to be the Kanto region. After pouring hundreds of hours replaying the game with various Pokemon teams as a kid, I've burned every building inside and out, route, cave, and Gym into my brain. Sometimes, I think with distress, that I could have something more valuable stored in that brain-space that holds this information, but regardless, my repeated travels from Palette Town all the way to Indigo Plateau will never be shaken from the deepest recesses of my memory. It doesn't help that anyone who knows anything about Pokemon is aware of how many games Kanto has been a part of, from the original Red and Blue, to Yellow's more anime-esque take, Gold and Silver's shrunken-down retreading and their respective re-releases, and Fire Red/Leaf Green and Let's Go's remakes of that oh-so-familiar world.
Another game that manages to create a memorable gaming world is Persona 4. Inaba is repeatedly described as a boring town with nothing of interest, and its small-town vibe plays a major role in both the story and the game's overarching theme. It's hardly comparable to Persona 3's bustling city of Iwatodai, or Persona 5, which lets you travel by bus to visit multiple varied and sprawling Japanese prefectures. Yet, throughout your 80+ hour journey throughout the game, you wind up appreciating Inaba for all its charms, just like the local residents do. Each day, you'll either be hanging out with your friends at the Junes Food Court, or going to class every morning. Most of your Social Links--another integral part of the game--have to be sought out, and they each have their own daily schedules and favorite places to relax. When it rains and no one wants to go outside, you'll find yourself fishing at the Samegawa Riverbank, and given just how many times it rains in Persona 4, you're going to be walking there a lot. The world feels lived in and real, and it helps you slowly become aqcuainted with it, to know where everything and everyone is, to the point of no longer needing a guide. Just like how you would become adjusted in real life, if you had to move to a new town, just like the main character.
But perhaps the best example of all, is Peach's Castle, from Super Mario 64. It's the quintessential hub world, letting you explore the castle, both inside and out. You begin with just a few doors available to you, with the rest locked behind Power Stars. As you begin to collect more and progress through the game, you'll open a handful of new doors after every world, finding new rooms, each with unique designs that stand out. Even years between revisiting Super Mario 64, I still know that the left-most door in the entry will take you to Bob-omb Battlefield, that taking the stairs to the door with the large Power Star on it will lead to a hallway with Princess Peach's picture on it, only for it to trick you and turn into Bowser, before dropping you through a trick floor, or how if I were to be blindfolded, I'd still probably be able to beat Koopa the Quick, just by knowing the path so well. There's no shortage of secrets to be found either, such as The Princess' Secret Slide level, found by jumping into a stained glass window at random. It rewards the player for exploring the world thoroughly, and thanks to careful considerations and genius level designs from the development team, they were able to give us one of the best 3D worlds ever.
Now, we want to know. What video game map is the most memorable to you? If you closed your eyes and tried to perfectly re-create a single world in your mind, which game would it be, and why?