We’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of playing a game, and you suddenly find yourself playing a game within that game (something that at this point could spark a tired Inception reference). Sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating and you just want to get out, much like being trapped in an unskippable cutscene or a seemingly-endless tutorial level.
On rare occasions, though, it’s actually pretty fun — even to the extent that you’d rather keep playing it than go back to the main game. In this post, we’re going to check out six video games that feature enjoyable mini-games that can at least keep you playing for a minute or two.
Fallout: New Vegas
Regarded as the best in the Fallout series by many fans (or at least the better than Fallout 3 or Fallout 4), F:NV kicks things off with a gambling hook and only continues in that vein. The name is a bit of clue, really. And while you’re traipsing through the wasteland deciding which faction to join or just abusing V.A.T.S to slaughter anyone you encounter, you can take breaks at the Strip and gamble your hard-looted caps. If you get the itch after a few rounds of blackjack to kick things up a notch and investigate OnlineCasinos.co.uk, don’t be surprised: it’s somewhat fair to describe New Vegas as the gambling equivalent of a gateway drug to actual online casinos.
Space Quest III
Packed with elements of homage and parody, the Space Quest series is a classic set of silly space adventures, and it occasionally took an arch look at other video games. In Space Quest III, you stop at a space diner to get some fast food, and you end up needing to beat a Lunar Lander rip-off called Astro Chicken to access an endgame message that you can only read using a decoder ring found in your meal. Does it get incredibly annoying after a while if you can’t beat it? Undoubtedly. Is it pretty fun regardless? Oh yes.
The Witcher 3
Gwent. If you’ve played The Witcher 3 (and you should have), then you’ve had a go (probably more than a few goes) at this simple but captivating card game that inspired a less-interesting expansion. Instead of getting too absorbed in Geralt’s complicated personal life, you can simply look to ride around the countryside, stop at inns, and challenge the innkeepers to table-based combat. I spent many hours trying to win every game, even unashamedly save-scumming my way through the tournament. Hey, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.
Grand Theft Auto V
The GTA series has always had mini-games of different kinds, but Rockstar really kicked things up a notch with Vice City’s RC helicopters, and it only pushed on as the series continued. Grand Theft Auto V is bigger than its predecessors in many ways, and the assortment of mini-games it brings to the table gets the nod over its rivals (for me, at least) because of tennis. What other steal-cars-and-shoot-people game would include a fully-functional tennis minigame with different stroke types? Maybe Saints Row, but there would need to be explosions in there.
The thing of including a mini-game to deal with hacking computer terminals didn’t start with BioShock, that’s for sure, but there was something special about the charm of the steampunk aesthetic mixed with the satisfying mechanics and even the modifiers you could find to make hacking easier. Wrenching Splicers into meaty gibs never completely wore out its welcome, but it was generally nice to stop for a moment and rotate some tiles.
Day of the Tentacle
Day of the Tentacle is also known as Maniac Mansion II: Day of the Tentacle because, yes, you guessed it, it’s a sequel to Maniac Mansion featuring many of the same characters. You don’t need to know that to enjoy the game, of course, but you might know it by the end — after all, there’s a virtual computer inside DOTT that allows you to play the full Maniac Mansion game. You probably won’t play the entire thing (though no doubt someone has), but it’s a pretty fantastic easter egg, and the inclusion was really novel at the time of DOTT’s release.