Games within games, the mini-game has been a staple for many, many years. Sometimes nothing more then an afterthought. Added as a way to pad out a game and give it some longevity. Then we have the mini-games that are games within themselves. These are more then just padding and are as much a part of the full experience as anything else.
When we talk about The Witcher 3, don’t we always refer to Gwent? When we think of Final Fantasy X doesn’t Blitzball come to mind?
So with that we thought we’d have a look at what we consider the best of the best mini-games and come up with a top 10. Enjoy!
10 – Insurance Fraud (The Saints Row series)
Of all the activities you can take part in within the Saints Row series, Insurance Fraud is by far the most imaginative and most fun. The aim? Throw yourself into a car and rack up the money as you get launched into the air. Using ragdoll physics, you can rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars by pinwheeling into vehicles, buildings, people and more. It’s always hilarious and so satisfying as you cause mayhem by being sent flying over the city!
9 – Chao Garden (Sonic Adventure/Sonic Adventure 2)
Raise and care for tiny creatures with the aim to enter them in races and win rewards. The Sonic Adventure games basically has in-game Tamagotchis but with less of the cleaning up of crap. A great way to waste away hours as you raise your Chao to be the best.
8 – Fork Lift Racing (Shenmue)
At the latter part of Shenmue, Ryo gets a job as forklift operator at the docks. Famously you will have to do his job during working hours but before clocking in it’s time for a race! Every morning Ryo and the rest of the forklift crew take to their vehicles and take part in a few laps around the docks. Depending on what position you finish in, you’ll get a toy for your collection!
7 – Hacking (Bioshock)
Want to hack something in Bioshock? First you’ll have to complete a pipe puzzle that sees you moving pieces around a board to get the water from one end to another. Speed and quick timing is key as the moment you start, the water is flowing. Miss a piece of pipe or direct the water the wrong way and you’ll take some damage for your trouble.
The sense of urgency that hacking has coupled with a range of challenging boards makes this a really memorable mini-game. It’s just a shame you’ll have done it hundreds of times by the end of the game.
6 – Blitzball (Final Fantasy X)
For every person that loves Blitzball, there is another who hates it. It’s basically underwater rugby with maths. Complex as hell at first but once you get to grips with it and start winning some games it’s really satisfying.
5 – Fishing (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
The fishing mini-game is nothing new but Ocarina of Time’s is one of the best. It’s all about getting the biggest fish so you can get another heart piece, Worth it? Absolutely it is. The crushing disappointment as you allow it to get away followed by the rush of adrenaline when it is right within your grasp is oh so good.
4 – Liar’s Dice (Red Dead Redemption)
There were a number of games you could play in Red Dead Redemption but none as fun as Liar’s Dice. All about bluffing and making the right call, you check your dice and try and calculate the probability of all the dice on the table. Then you bid…
It doesn’t sound like fun but it really is especially with the range of players you can go against in the huge world.
3 – Tetra Master (Final Fantasy IX)
The second best card mini-game, Final Fantasy IX’s Tetra Master is so addictive. Do battle by placing cards on a board with the person holding the most at the end, winning. Win and you’ll get to take one of your opponent’s cards depending what ones you captured. It has a surprising amount of depth regarding attack and defence values and although it can sometimes feel cheap, the feeling of beating someone and taking their powerful cards is so good. That there are so many to collect and so many people to play against means you’re going to spend countless hours trying to master it.
2- The Mercenaries (Resident Evil 4)
So popular was the mercenaries mini-game from Resident Evil 4, it would be turned into its own game on the 3DS. The concept is so simple too. Take control of a character who has a set of pre-determined weapons and items and try to survive. Basic but so addictive, it kept us coming back way after we’d finished the main story of the game.
1. Gwent – (The Witcher 3)
It had to be, didn’t it? Another that was so popular that it has been turned into a standalone game. Gwent is a fast-paced card game that sees two opposing sides do battle. You must select and place your cards strategically to win, taking risks and delivering knockout combos.
Choose a deck and start placing your troops on combat rows. If you have enhancements or weather cards you can also utilise them to lower your opponents score with the aim being to have more points then them at the end.
Describing it can’t do it justice. It really is the most detailed, fun and rewarding mini-game ever. What’s your favourite?