07th Dec2018

Games Within Games – Which Minigames Still Hold Up?

by James Smith

As much as we love modern video games, there can be no denying that as we get older, it can become increasingly difficult to find the time for longer gaming sessions. Because of this, we often find ourselves finding smaller timeslots to drop into a minigame or two. While these can be incredibly fun, they tend not to require hours at a time, although there is a definite tendency of many players to get so absorbed within these systems that we spend hours engaged anyway.

So, what are the biggest and most common examples of this, and what do they bring to the table?

Red Dead Redemption 2

The most recent example, and one that many of us have spent considerable time playing already. As with the previous RDR back on the PS3 and Xbox 360, RDR2 comes with a variety of minigames, which are not only fun but which help contribute to the overall wealth and skills of Morgan himself.

"Red Dead Redemption 2 Special Editions R" (CC BY 2.0) by BagoGames

“Red Dead Redemption 2 Special Editions R” (CC BY 2.0) by BagoGames

The big two here are our old favorites of poker and blackjack. Hustling a bunch of drunken cowboys out of their cash never gets old, and neither does playing Texas Hold’em to begin with. Sure, it might not have actually existed in that form back in the late 1800s, but that doesn’t mean we care. Even better, when we lose, we can just show them what the “fastest hands in the west” really means. The other games here include dominoes and five-finger fillet, the latter of which we would not recommend playing in real life.

Far Cry 5

One of the prettier games on the market, and one which can be played in chaotic short-bursts, but our real interest here is in fishing. A far cry from blowing up cult members with rocket launchers and sending a bear out to bear down on those who remain, fishing in Far Cry 5 stands as the calm among the storm. So relaxing is Far Cry 5′s fishing, that we’ve had Grandma comment on how nice this game was compared to others we play with all the ‘dreadful killing’. Of course, that illusion was shattered when a boat of drug-runners came by within range of missile-lock, but poor planning on their part can hardly be placed on us. On the downside, there is no poker in this one as there is in previous Far Cry entries, but RDR2 can keep us satiated for now.

"Far Cry 5 / Stream" (CC BY 2.0) by Stefans02

“Far Cry 5 / Stream” (CC BY 2.0) by Stefans02

Also among the side activities available here is animal taming, which is great for catching your own little buddy out in the wilderness. Inherited from Far Cry Primal, the animals here might not be as strong as those gained through story missions as official companions, but bonding with an untrained animal which took out a squad of cultists of its own accord is that much more personal a bond, and that suits us just fine.

Watchdogs, New Vegas, Mario Party, and even Pokemon

What do these four very different games have in common? The answer, which might surprise you, is slot games. Due to some combination of a simple to understand nature and the potential complexity which comes from slot design flexibility, slot games have been some of the longest standing minigames since the earliest days of console and PC gaming. Over time this has even grown to be a two-way street, as even actual online casino games like the LeoVegas VideoGame Slots have incorporated themes like Tomb Raider to popular effect.

This flexibility is what allows these versions of games to run the gambit from traditional to heavily gameplay-integrated. Watchdogs, for example, has basic slot machines as you would expect from any real-life casino. Fallout New Vegas, on the other hand, has slots which change winning chances based heavily on player SPECIAL stats. Mario Party has slots which serve to make your friends hate you, and Pokemon lets players win credits to purchase otherwise unobtainable Pokemon like Porygon.
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Of course, these are just a few examples, as slot machines and minigames as a whole have become increasingly popular with the modern games expanding to unprecedented new heights. So what are your favorite minigames, and how upset are you that we are yet to see a return of Final Fantasy 8′s Triple Triad?
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