From optional distractions to fully-fledged side games, mini-games have long been a staple in many larger video games. They provide a unique change of pace, offering diversions from the main story that can be both entertaining and rewarding. Some of these mini-games have even gone on to garner a cult following, owing to their distinct charm, engaging mechanics, and innovative design. Here are some of the best mini-games ever included in video games:
1. Gwent from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Arguably one of the most acclaimed mini-games of all time, Gwent is a strategic card game that players can encounter in CD Projekt Red’s action role-playing game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Gwent requires both luck and skill, with players needing to outsmart their opponents through a series of tactical decisions. Collecting cards throughout the world of Witcher 3 to build a competitive deck adds an additional layer of depth and satisfaction to this mini-game. It became so popular that it eventually spawned its standalone digital collectible card game called Gwent: The Witcher Card Game.
2. Fort Condor from Final Fantasy 7 Intermission
Fort Condor is an entertaining tower-defense mini-game featured in Final Fantasy 7 Intermission. Players must strategically place units to stop waves of enemies from reaching the top of the fort. This mini-game not only provides a strategic and tactical distraction from the main game, but it also adds to the depth of the world-building in Final Fantasy 7, connecting you to the struggles and endeavors of the people living in Fort Condor. The engaging strategy gameplay combined with the unique Final Fantasy aesthetic makes it a fan favorite.
3. Blitzball from Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy is renowned for its mini-games, and Blitzball from Final Fantasy X stands out among the rest. Blitzball is a hybrid of underwater rugby and soccer where teams compete to score the most goals. The game’s unique concept, detailed mechanics, and rich lore make it an immersive experience that stands on its own. Its deep tactical gameplay, coupled with a management system where players recruit and train team members, adds layers of engagement that go beyond the regular mini-game experience.
4. Poker from Red Dead Redemption II
Rockstar Games has a history of incorporating detailed mini-games into their titles, and Red Dead Redemption II is no exception. One of the standout mini-games in RDR II is Poker. Using Texas Hold ‘Em rules, players can participate in games of poker in various locations across the game’s vast open world. Rockstar’s painstaking attention to detail shines here as the mini-game successfully captures the tension and excitement of a real-life poker game. Not only does it serve as a fun diversion, but it also helps immerse players further into the late 19th-century setting.
5. Pocket Circuit Racing from Yakuza Kiwami
Pocket Circuit Racing is a mini-game in Yakuza Kiwami where players can build and race model cars. Despite being a mini-game, it has a surprising amount of depth, with a wide variety of parts to collect, each affecting your car’s performance differently. The thrill of tweaking your car to perfection and then seeing it succeed (or fail) on the track is highly satisfying. What’s more, the mini-game features its storyline, complete with charming characters and dramatic rivalries, adding even more value and enjoyment.
6. Zeppelin Mini-Game
This one hasn’t yet been included in a full-fledged video game, but it is an interesting minigame which could one day appear in a major title, such as Cyberpunk 2077. Zeppelin is a new and intriguing minigame. The objective of the Zeppelin game is to guide your airship through perilous skies while dodging enemy fire and gathering upgrades. So prepare yourself, assume control of your zeppelin, learn how to play zeppelin game and embark on an extraordinary adventure.
7. Triple Triad from Final Fantasy VIII
Few mini-games in the history of the genre have commanded as much attention as Triple Triad from Final Fantasy VIII. This intricate card game, playable across the world of FF8, challenges players to capture their opponent’s cards by placing their own cards with higher-ranked sides next to them on a 3×3 grid. With over a hundred unique cards featuring characters, monsters, and bosses from the game, players can spend countless hours hunting for the rarest and most powerful cards. Triple Triad was more than just a side-quest; it provided a strategic depth and complexity that rivalled many standalone card games. It became so beloved that it was later included in several other games in the Final Fantasy series and even inspired a real-world version. Triple Triad perfectly encapsulates the allure of a great mini-game: captivating, rewarding, and a fully realized game within a game.
8. Chocobo Breeding and Racing from Final Fantasy VII
Chocobo breeding and racing from Final Fantasy VII represent an ingenious blend of a long-term progression system and a fun, dynamic racing game. Chocobos, the iconic bird-like creatures of the Final Fantasy series, can be caught, bred, and raised by the player. Through selective breeding, players can improve their chocobos’ stats and even produce special color variations, each with their unique abilities that can access previously unreachable areas on the game’s world map.
Once your chocobos are ready, you can enter them in races at the Gold Saucer. Each race is a thrilling challenge, with controls that require the player to balance their chocobo’s speed and stamina carefully. Winning races gives players access to valuable rewards, and with the right chocobo, you can even unlock some of the most potent items in the game.
Through its clever interplay of breeding and racing mechanics, this mini-game offers a deep and rewarding experience that extends beyond the main storyline. The sense of achievement from producing a winning chocobo is unique in the gaming world, and the Chocobo breeding and racing mini-game has rightly become a beloved feature in the Final Fantasy series.
Mini-games like these showcase the creative ingenuity of game developers, offering players engaging side activities that often contrast with the main gameplay. They serve as a testament to the depth and versatility that video games can offer, transforming these interactive experiences into rich, multifaceted worlds teeming with possibilities. So the next time you’re on a daring quest or saving the world, take a moment to play a card game or compete in a race. You might find these diversions to be just as rewarding.