Over many years in video game design, the minigame has gone from something of a sideline to being integral to the game’s overall appeal. They help move the title’s plotline forward and enhance the experience by adding an extra layer of immersion.
In Assassins Creed: Black Flag, playing checkers in the Caribbean is a real treat and Grand Theft Auto has a fantastic array of options; there’s the chance to play blackjack or even sit at the poker table in the casino to earn a few more in-game dollars. Poker is a fantastic example of a minigame because it’s a real game with actual rules, so it doesn’t take much to get involved. All you need to do is understand the poker hand rankings, and you’re away.
It’s been so effective as a minigame that it’s been in many titles, as it fits the narrative perfectly. In Red Dead Redemption 2, you can sit at the table and learn more about the van der Linde gang, which opens up more of the plot. In Watchdogs 2, you can practice your hacking abilities to spy on others at the table via security cameras to win the pot.
However, while those are based on games we’ve had in real life, other titles choose to stray away from those familiar activities because they just don’t fit their game. So, developers then create their minigames, some of which are as good, if not better than the real games that we know and love, and we’ve compiled a shortlist of some of them below.
Gwent – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
It’s fair to suggest that Gwent is one of the most popular minigames ever created. The card game, which is based around a clash of two armies locked in battle, has had players transfixed ever since it was included as part of the plot in the third game in The Witcher franchise. Gwent was so popular that in 2016 that a standalone version was released, and developers CK Projekt Red are upping the ante even further as there’s to be another version coming later this year. Project Golden Nekker is to be an entirely new version of the game, proving its status as one of the most loved mini games ever.
Caravan – Fallout New Vegas
Rather than taking on poker in a game set in the post-apocalyptic world, Obsidian Entertainment decided to go all in a game called, Caravan. The game is played with at least 30 traditional playing cards and is enjoyed by caravan guards and travelers in the Mojave Wasteland. It has similarities to blackjack, although instead of looking to hit 21, the aim is to get between 21 and 26, with the latter being the better score. While it’s not spawned its own spinoff like Gwent, Caravan certainly has its own army of loyal fans and is worth a play.
Triple Triad – Final Fantasy VIII
This game originally appeared in the eighth version of the massive RPG title and has since resurfaced in later versions due to its popularity. Players obtain cards by defeating monsters or other players in battle; each card has four ranking numbers in the top left corner, representing the card’s four corners.
In the top right will be an image representing one of eight elements such as fire and ice, ten cards are played and the player with the higher-ranked cards captures those from their opponent. Triple Triad has also been produced as a physical game, highlighting how much of a hit it’s been.
21 – Resident Evil 7
The most macabre game on this list is another akin to blackjack, with the player trying to achieve 21 without going over. However, the wager on the table here is your fingers! Included in the packs of cards are special effects cards that force your opponent to draw an extra card or lose your trump card. 21 was released on the Banned Footage DLC pack for the popular game. The game leans heavily into it’s credentials as the loser is the first to lose all their fingers.
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