Mini-games within games often serve as distraction for players. While they may be added in as an afterthought from developers, some mini-games are so memorable that some players actually prefer them over the main missions. Here are some of the best mini-games that, if given the opportunity, could be standalone titles.
1. Insectron (Rogue Galaxy)
If Chess was combined with Pokémon, the result would be something similar to Rogue Galaxy’s Insectron. You can raise bugs called Insectors and breed them to receive higher stats. These Insectors can then be utilized in the Insectron Championship games, where you fight several NPCs in order to rise in the ranks. The goal of the tournament is simply to knock down the opponent’s king Insector. Each Insector has a special move that, if used properly, can turn the tide of the battle.
2. Bowling (Grand Theft Auto IV)
The Grand Theft Auto series has a lot of noteworthy mini-games, but GTA 4’s bowling mini-game stands out, largely because it became a popular meme. The mini-game itself is a decent and fun pastime with straightforward mechanics. But throughout the course of the game, the protagonist Niko Bellic will receive phone calls from his cousin Roman, asking him if they can go bowling. He usually poses the question at the most inappropriate times. You could be in the middle of an intense car chase, and that’s the moment he calls asking to go for a game of bowling.
3. Blitzball (Final Fantasy X)
Blitzball is essentially an underwater football game in the world of Final Fantasy X. While the goal for each team is to get the ball to the opponent’s goal post, the method is not so simple. Lo and behold, there’s math involved! It probably explains why many players hate this particular mini-game. But once you get into the groove of the game and crunch the correct numbers, Blitzball is one heck of a fun mini-sports game, hence its inclusion on this list.
4. Fishing (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
There are plenty of reasons why Ocarina of Time is one of the most critically acclaimed entries in The Legend of Zelda franchise. One of those reasons has to be the game’s fishing feature. In the game, fishing is more than just a pastime, as it can be pretty challenging despite the simple mechanics — which, of course, makes the catch all the more rewarding. Why waste time saving the world when you can spend hours and hours catching the biggest fish in Lake Hylia?
5. Motor Kombat (Mortal Kombat: Armageddon)
Motor Kombat (the mini-game) seems way out of character for the brutal and bloody fighting game franchise that is the Mortal Kombat franchise. But this mini-game is way too fun, even if it is a rip-off of Mario Kart. It features familiar characters from the series, and each has their own kart and special abilities. In the spirit of the franchise, fatal crashes result in “fatalities”.
6. Liar’s Dice (Red Dead Redemption)
Liar’s Dice is an actual game you can play with friends, but it’s not something that commonly appears in video games. While Red Dead Redemption featured a few more popular card games, Liar’s Dice offers a unique experience. In this mini-game, each player is given a cup with five dice, which is then slammed on the table face down. You can take a peek at your dice, and then make bets on who has what numbers. Your opponent has the choice of countering your bet, bluffing, or calling it spot-on. As you can see, it’s a bit like Poker, where you have to learn the art of deceiving your opponent. That’s why Poker strategies apply in this game. You have to able to take risks, and also trust your own instincts. Let’s hope a similar mini-game will appear in the upcoming sequel, Red Dead Redemption 2.
7. Snake Vs. Monkey (Metal Gear Solid 3)
In order to unlock the banana camouflage outfit, you need to complete the Ape Escape-themed missions. This mini-game requires players to sneak through the jungle to catch as many monkeys as they can. In hindsight, it doesn’t veer away from MGS3’s core gameplay. Just replace the soldiers with cartoonish monkeys and you have a mini-game. You have to love Hideo Kojima’s sense of humor.
8. Caravan (Fallout: New Vegas)
Many games feature mini-games like Poker and Blackjack, but Fallout: New Vegas introduced an entirely new one called Caravan. Here, the player has to build three “caravans” made from numbered cards. The goal is to outbid the opponent in all three by keeping the total numbers on each caravan above 20 and below 27, while preventing the opponent from doing the same. It sounds complicated at first, but once you get hooked, it’s hard to stop. On a related note, why not check out our list of post-apocalyptic games like Fallout?