A long-standing tradition in the video game industry since the arcade era, mini-games were always responsible for keeping us engaged for endless hours, with cool extra features and gameplays, even if the rewards weren’t all worth it.
Of course, there are several mini-games that were a complete disaster, with incredibly boring and repetitive gameplays that only served the purpose of infuriating players. However, over the course of more than forty years of video games, there were some memorable mini-games, and even more recent titles have been able to provide us with awesome extras.
The 1990s were certainly a rich period for video games and players all around the world. Two generations of home consoles, and hundreds of successful titles marked the decade, and some of the games released then are still among the best-selling video games in history. And mini-games were definitely a part of this.
One of these titles that still rank among the best-selling games was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the fifth installment in the popular Nintendo franchise. The game was the first in the series to feature 3D graphics, and was released for Nintendo 64 in 1998. Ocarina of Time is considered one of the best video games of all time, and some regard it as the best ever. It was a commercial and critical success, and was praised for its complexity and immersiveness, featuring extensive quests, puzzles, and mini-games. And certainly, the most memorable of them was the fishing mini-game, which kept players engaged for hours just to earn a piece of heart. This mini-game was so successful that it was replicated in several subsequent Zelda titles.
Another popular title from Nintendo that was known for its many mini-games, Super Smash Bros. was released in 1999 and became an instant success, selling over 5 million copies within two years. The crossover fighting game featured several mini-games over the years, but Break the Targets, present in the original game, is certainly the most iconic. Each character had a different challenge, and some of them were incredibly hard, but the rewards made all the effort worth it.
One of the best-selling RPG franchises in history, and a pop culture phenomenon, Final Fantasy is also one of the most complex and immersive video games ever. With over 15 titles across multiple gaming platforms, the series has always featured a lot of mini-games. And Final Fantasy VII, released in 1997 for PlayStation and considered by many the best in the series, introduced a mini-game that would be featured in several subsequent installments: Chocobo racing. Players could bet on the outcome of races, or even enter the competition with their own chocobos, after capturing and raising them at the Chocobo Farm.
But it’s not just retro video games that feature great mini-games, and many titles in recent years have come up with great extras that certainly added several hours to their gameplays, and were received with critical acclaim.
That’s the case of poker and blackjack mini-games in the Red Dead Redemption franchise. One of the most successful video game series in the past decade, Red Dead Redemption brought us remarkable renditions of these card games, perfectly capturing the excitement of poker and blackjack, thus providing an authentic thrill, as if we were playing these games in one of Canada’s online casinos, or even at a Wild West saloon. These mini-games are featured in both entries in the franchise, and their online modes as well, which led to players even creating tournaments and competitions within the games.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla might have been somewhat of a disappointment, with all its bugs and fillers, but one of the coolest features in Ubisoft’s 2020 release is the combat dice game Orlog. As a great mini-game should be, Orlog is easy to pick up and gives us a satisfying strategic depth as we progress in it. Players just roll the dice and choose the type of attack, defense, or steal coins that can be spent on special abilities called God’s Favors, which are applied at the end of each round. It’s possible to play Orlog in most towns in the game, and each one has a different God’s Favor.
However, when we go about novelty mini-games, there is one that stands out among the rest: the strategy card game Gwent, introduced in the The Witcher series, by Polish developer CD Projekt Red. This mini-game was such a success that led the developers to release it as a stand-alone title in 2018. Gwent: The Witcher Card Game focuses predominantly on eSports, with several qualifiers and ranked events, and even a Gwent Masters tournament, featuring the top ranked players and sizable prize pools.