There's lots of video games. There's lots of games within those games. These nebulous items have perplexed gamers for years. "What do we call them?" one gamer asked long ago. "I don't know, they are so mysterious" retorted another gamer. "Wait!" one gamer shouts, sprittle launching suddenly from his supple lips and landing in the stubble and goatee of his fellow gamer. "They are miniature games inside other games! Let us call them Tiny Ones." That gamer was executed. The others continued the conversation into the years. It spread. Everyone from all corners of life attempted to label these mischievous gremlins, scuttling about within other games. After years of honing their wording, refining their titling, word scientists finally just gave up and called them "minigames." Here are a few.
Blitzball (Final Fantasy X)
Let's start with an iconic one. Besides the laughing scene, Tidus's favorite past-time here is the most infamous thing about Final Fantasy X. You either love it or hate it and just as there are people who can't stand any of the one forced Blitzball match you need to play, there's just as many who have put more hours into this side content than the main game. Playing this game's version of water polo, you have a team of eight players; three offensive fielders, four defenders, and one goalkeeper. As offensive and defensive players, you have options to tackle, intercept, pass, shoot, break through opponents, or set everything to auto and let the computer do it because honestly, who's got the time? However, this game has one catch: it's contained within a JRPG. So that means that everything in this sport is turn-based. When you encounter an enemy, you both stare at each other as you do the math to make sure your numbers are bigger than theirs. Each character has separate stats for health, passing, shooting, and overall endurance.
This turns this sport that looks so kinetic and exhilarating in cutscenes into a more methodical, slow-paced game of underwater chess. The game ties into the overall story pretty handily too, being featured prominently all over the world of Spira as the main source of leisure for the people. There are people you meet in all the areas of the game that you can recruit to your team, stacking even more talent and getting those numbers even higher. Maybe this game would have been received better if the mandatory match wasn't so difficult and unfair and that dude tries to punch you before the match starts, that's at least a yellow flag, come on ref. My condolences to those of you who messed up that one minigame on the ship earlier and didn't have the Jecht Shot.
Sex (Viva Pinata)
Viva Pinata is such a good game, it's really staggering how good it is. You can really get sucked in and kept fixated in one place for hours at a time, only moving slightly every once in a while to change position. Speaking of, let's talk about sex. The Pinatas in this game resemble animals and as such, they do in fact mate. However, they don't go for a bit of thigh thumping. Oh no, they don't have a session of gland-to-gland combat. No, and don't even begin to think that they're playing peek-a-boo with your vein cane in the flesh pipe (oh my god that one's fucking awful, I hate it). No, in fact, what they do is dance. No, I'm serious this time, I'm not doing euphemisms anymore, they're actually just dancing.
Fulfilling a number of conditions puts your pinatas in the mood and once they find a mate, they bring their partner to a home and perform a dance with them. If this was all, that would be fine enough and only a little cheeky. But what actually happens is you have to take part in a maze minigame. Guiding one of the pinatas through a maze, where along the way you can pick up chocolate coins and goodies, your objective is to reach your wanting lover at the end. As I said before, the dancing was cheeky, but navigating yourself through a narrow passage to your partner in order to produce a child is perhaps a little too on the nose, even for Rare. That's more than cheeky at that point. It's probably both cheeks. It doesn't even matter that this minigame isn't that good because once you stumble upon it, you can't forget it.
Monkey Target (Super Monkey Ball 2)
There are a lot of minigames in Super Monkey Ball and most of them are very well realized. A comprehensive list of all of them could possibly be a more informative and more entertaining piece of reading than this very article, so let's all just take a second to think about the things we could have read and the lives we could have led. Once you've wiped away salty mucus from your eyes, read on! Because this minigame is amazing.
You start at the top of a stupidly large ramp and then decide to plummet down. Hopefully you're playing with friends or family because then you get to try and knock them off while you all roll down the slope. It never really works, so I advise you to try and nudge them a bit in real life as well. They'll probably think it's hilarious and that you're a cool and popular dude, so go for it. Once you've reach the end of the slope, it jerks up sharply and launches your monkey into the air. From here, you press the A button, your ball pops open to produce the most un-aerodynamic wings you're liable to ever see, and you're flying.
There's collectibles to get up in the air and since this minigames chooses the winner based on points, you want those. The flying controls have you sort of snake your way through the sky, similar to Mario's cape in Super Mario World, which I could never really get the hang of but everyone tells me that it's fine and that I'm dumb and to shut up, so please keep that in consideration. Finally, you have a target off in the distance that you must land on, with the higher-scoring targets being much smaller than the lower-scoring ones. At this point, you need to alter the trajectory of your monkey to perfectly land, try and slow your monkey so you can be more precise, and make sure no other monkeys are looking to get in your way. After all of this planning and with a bit of luck, you can come in at too narrow of an angle, bounce up, and fall into the water.
Pipe Hacking (Bioshock)
Hacking in video games has a varied track record. You either get the good stuff like making Atari 2600 shapes in Alien Isolation or you get the shit like playing "Where's Waldo" with lines of code in Mass Effect 2. This minigame isn't bad though. Given a grid, you have to rotate pipes in order to create a continuous line from one side to the other while the pipe fills up with liquid in real time. The constant pressure the liquid puts on you is exciting and is a much better communicator than a countdown timer is.
Now, with all of that said, there is a lot of hacking in this game. If you choose to hack everything you can in order to secure as much money, security bots, and Gmail passwords as you could ever possibly want, you're going to be here for a while. One thing that a game will oftentimes do is to create an enjoyable, quaint mechanic and then make you engage with it so much that the thought of seeing it one more time can turn you off the game entirely. With that in mind, it wouldn't be unfair to say that hacking is the Scrappy-Doo of Bioshock.
Pacing in this game is imperative and constantly having to stop, open up a new window, and lay down pipe oftentimes threatens to halt that pace entirely. It's truly a godsend that you can autohack these games, but those cost resources. You could try going through the game without hacking anything but that's actually the worst idea I've ever heard. So actually, I've found that the most optimal way to play this game is to go through normally, hacking only what you want. If you ever feel like you're obligated to open up a vault, then just leave it alone. It probably isn't even worth it. It probably doesn't have the exact amount of money that you need for that shotgun ammo or food that you desperately need because you're hurt and, as noted before, broke. It's probably fine to leave alone.
Chao Garden (Sonic Adventure 2)
To be frank, there's nothing really special about these things. The races that they can do suck. The sumo fights that they can do suck. There's really not much to actually do with a Chao that is that fun. But these things are so fucking good. These Chao are, first off, adorable. They hatch from eggs and immediately just want love. They make noises and crawl around like tiny actually cute babies. You can give them animals you find in the main game to turn them into that respective animal or give them test tubes of goo you find in the main game to turn them into dead babies stronger versions of themselves. They have stats that get raised so they can perform more favorably in those races and sumo matches. The whole process is really relaxing and you can pick up your chao and carry them around or just put them in the pond and see if they prefer water over oxygen.
The second Sonic Adventure title is my preferred Chao experience because you can unlock different areas to raise your little boyos if you play the right way. You can end up turning your Chao into a demon or an angel and once you do, you unlock either the canonical Heaven in the Sonic Universe or a swamp with a gravestone and a cage and a blood lake and oh Jesus, this is the franchise that made Shadow after all. Something else that's fun about these Chao Gardens is that you can pick the character you play as while you're running around the garden. I strongly strongly recommend Eggman, he is the man and he says "Yosh" all the time, what a riot. One thing that can end up sticking with you in a bad way long after you've stopped playing is what you must do once you must get rid of a Chao. In order to get rid of a Chao, you have to say goodbye to it. And it's heartbreaking. You get this music. And this message about where he's going. And the message states how you're never going to see him again. It's a bittersweet feeling and one that's appropriate for the end of this article, I feel.
Go to 1:25 for the good cry
So those are some minigames. I actually have a list of other ones that I could talk about but maybe I'll save that for another entry in this minigame saga I've now created in my head at this very moment. I don't know what you might have learned from this, but it's fun to read about things you already know. That's really the joy of writing articles, it's giving enjoyment to the reader. When writing an article, it's also important to also have a satisfying ending.