Are there Singapore landmarks suitable for use in video games? Of course there are!
1. Marina Bay Sands
The current top Singapore landmark demands first mention on this list for video game tourists! Occupying the most scenic spot of the Singaporean waterfront, Marina Bay Sands (MBS) not only enjoys a full view of the Singapore skyline, it is itself a highly eye-catching ensemble of ultra-modern architecture, the showpieces of which being the world’s largest public cantilevered platform and the lotus shape ArtScience Museum. In actual fact, MBS has already appeared in video games, for example, as a hazy background in Battlefield 4. What I’m suggesting here is for the integrated resort to be a proper gaming stage by itself. Such as the backdrop for a Street Fighter like bout. Or an entire zone for metrovania-like exploration. With its size and exotic components, the whole of MBS is perfect for every type of cyber adventures.
2. Gardens by the Bay
Like MBS, the supertrees of Gardens by the Bay have appeared in video games, specifically, within a battle zone in Call of Duty. With them being among the most esoteric modern installations in Southeast Asia, I feel they deserve far more attention than that. How about as a setting for tactical role-playing adventures like Devil Survivor? Or as a world wonder in the Civilization series? In addition, the solar-powered supertrees are hardly the only unusual fixtures in Gardens by the Bay. There are also the two futuristic exhibition domes. In a JRPG-ish game, secret life-preservation systems in these domes would be what saved a fraction of the Singaporean population from global catastrophe. How would the story then continue? It’s up to gamers to discover.
3. Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay
Before MBS, Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay stood at first place on any list of Singapore landmarks. It’s still worth a mention, and here I’m going to recommend to be more than a background. Locally and internationally, this strange edifice has earned various nicknames, from beloved ones like “durian head” to rather unflattering titles like “fly’s eyes.” In a Persona-like title, what would this become? In an alternate reality of Singapore, would Esplanade be one huge monstrous fly, whose inner cavities you have to traverse in other to revert it to its original form?
Or maybe it’s some sort of semi-organic base, ruled by none other than the Lord of the Flies himself, Beelzebub. That would be a splendid setting for a Shin Megami Tensei episode, wouldn’t it? In fact, had Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay been in Japan, I bet it would have long appeared in a SMT episode.
4. Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall
Like other ex-European colonies in Southeast Asia, Singapore has an abundance of historical, colonial structures, the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall being one of these. Built in 1862 as the colony’s town hall, the complex has since been used as an exhibition centre, performance venue, and even as a hospital. Today, its most recognisable feature, the clock tower, is a permanent symbol of the Singaporean downtown waterfront. Together with the statue of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles before it, don’t you think this is the perfect setting for a boss battle? One in which the founder of modern Singapore comes to monstrous life while the hands of the clock spin frantically? I’m getting sacrilegious here. So I’d have to leave the rest to your imagination.
5. Suntec City, Fountain of Wealth
Suntec City was constructed in the 90s as a multi-use complex, with the Fountain of Wealth being its showpiece. Conceptualised using the concepts of Feng Shui, the fountain was built to resemble a crucible gathering wealth, while the towers around it symbolise the fingers of a cupping hand. Admittedly touristy and cheesy, the fountain nonetheless became one of the most visited Singapore landmarks back then, with rows of tourists eager to wet their hands at the centre geyser.
For me, it is exactly this gimmicky nature that makes the fountain perfect for an outrageous RPG adventure. A gathering of wealth? How about an actual focusing of mythical energy, thereafter transforming the fountain into a super weapon that can disintegrate wicked galactic foes? Once more, a little gaming imagination and storytelling is all that’s needed to bring this landmark to virtual life. It could go from being an ambition for wealth to a civilisation saving superweapon in a flash.
6. Cathay Building
The Cathay Building at 2 Handy Road enjoys many titles, though not all of these are celebratory. The first and tallest skyscraper in Singapore in the 30s, it was also Singapore’s first air-conditioned cinema and one of the colony’s most renowned art-deco buildings. During the Japanese occupation, it was the headquarters for various bureaus of the occupying force, before serving as the HQ for Lord Louis Mountbatten after liberation. Today, the restored complex is no more than another squeakily clean shopping mall cum entertainment centre. Yet, under the pen of a skilled storyteller, could it not be fertile ground for all sorts of otherworldly adventures? Just imagine, what if you’re accidentally locked in it overnight, with all sorts of historical remnants springing to life. What kind of story would that lead to? We could be talking about a survival horror scarier than Outlast here.
7. Fort Canning Arts Centre
As mentioned, Singaporean downtown is graced by many European structures, a legacy of its colonial past. This is yet another one, perched atop quiet Fort Canning Hill in the heart of town. (Previously, Government hill) Originally a British army barracks, the building was utilised by the Singapore Armed Forces following independence before conversion into squash courts and offices in the 70s. Nowadays, it’s the performance ground for various art festivals and events. For example, the highly popular Shakespeare in the Park performances are hosted here annually.
Strictly speaking, Fort Canning Arts Centre ought not to be on this list. Most locals wouldn’t think of it if asked about Singapore landmarks. Yet, consider this. This is still a building near a hundred years old, a large house on a hill too. If you’ve visited Fort Canning outside of festival days, you’d know how quiet the vicinity is as well. What do these translate into? Gothic horror, dear readers. I wouldn’t want to be within this building after closing hours, no matter the circumstances. Unless you’re supernaturally talented, like in video games, I suspect you would feel the same way as me.
These Singapore Landmarks are Also Perfect For …
These 7 Singapore landmarks could all be conveniently visited within a day. (You need to have good legs, though) Here’s my recommendation.
- Alight at Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. The Cathay Building is visible from Exit A.
- In a southwards direction from the Cathay Building, head down Stamford Road, passing by the YMCA building and the National Museum of Singapore. There are open-air escalators located beside the National Museum. Use these to ascend Fort Canning. Fort Canning Arts Centre is a short walk from the top, visible from Canning Rise.
- Stroll down Canning Rise to reach Hill Street. You’d pass by the Singapore Philatelic Museum and a Singapore Landmark not on this list, the Central Fire Station. Continue down Coleman Street till you reach the large field known as the Padang. (Coleman Street is the same road as Canning Rise, only the name changes) Once the road ends, turn right and walk pass National Gallery, Singapore till you see Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. The clock tower is your beacon.
- From Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, you’d need to use Google Maps or a similar app to find your way to City Hall MRT station. The route is actually just to reverse your walk from Canning Rise, but to make a right turn midway at North Bridge Road.
- The Citylink Underpass at City Hall MRT station connects you directly with Suntec City. Once within Suntec City, it’s impossible not to find the fountain.
- Citylink will also conveniently connect you with Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay.
- From the theatres, walk along the waterfront till you reach Marina Bay Sands. You cannot miss it as MBS is in full view.
- MBS itself is directly connected with Gardens by the Bay, which is just beyond it.
I suggest setting off before lunch. This means you’d likely wouldn’t get to see the night performances of the Fountain of Wealth. However, timed correctly, you could catch the various light and laser shows at Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.