A dietary staple of all video games is the sometimes overlooked mini-game. The short break they offer from the gruelling 9 – 5 of story-mode can either be welcomed as a quick slice of light-hearted fun, or are abhorred as a stodgy slab of game-play that must be laboriously tolerated before proper play can continue. Their appeal lies in the simple, repetitive nature of their goals which can be replayed for hours on end in addictive sessions with players growing in skill and speed and being genuinely proud of their exploits. Everyone can follow the storyline of a horror game or complete a race enough times that they eventually win but there is a certain amount of dignity in a quickly achievable high score. And this is almost the mantra of the earliest video games which offered simple, quick entertainment that proved highly addictive and charming.
“Fishing” – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
I think the beauty of the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time fishing game lies in the artistry of the open world and the bizarre calm that’s created through a virtual fishing session when compared with the manic mashing of buttons you’ve just come out the other side of in the Water Temple. Out of all the mini-games unlocked at various stages of the game, fishing has to be my favourite.
“Mercenaries” – Resident Evil 4
Whether you’re going through a zombie dry-spell or you just want to blow some undead faces off, Mercenaries drops you in a zombie infested war zone with a time limit. Kill as many as you can and gain a score you will definitely be disappointed with. This mini-game was so good it won its very own 3DS spin-off but gained mixed reviews when released for a slightly ambitious retail price.
Slightly cheating, but this game deserves it. So no, Crash Bash isn’t technically a mini-game in itself but rather a collection of Crash Bandicoot mini-games compiled onto a loveable PS1 disk. Move through several different warp rooms and discover the delights of 4-man air hockey, painting floors with pogo sticks and desperately avoiding being trampled by a tonne bell while maintaining your spot on a tiny ice glacier.
“Monkey Wars” – Super Monkey Ball Touch and Roll
Super Monkey Ball Touch and Roll on Nintendo DS had many download play mini-games that I devoted a lot of time to mastering. Possibly the best, though, was Monkey Wars. A first person shooter monkey-style in which one player flings fruits and pies at their opponents, the game was horrifically competitive and has broken many a sibling relationship.