3 Lists of 3 Mini Games in Video Games

There are some mini games—small games within larger one—that are more fun to play than the original video game in which they’re found. Mini games are so pervasive in video games that there are some video games that are nothing but compilations of mini games. Uncle Geekly’s looking at you, Mario Party and Wario Ware.

But which mini games are the best in the business? Which ones are ones someone could play for hours on end without finishing the main questline? Your uncle Geekly will give you his answer with this week’s 3 list of 3.

Great Mini Games


Project Gotham Racing 2 (Geometry Wars)

Geometry Wars had its humble beginnings in the popular racing game Project Gotham Racing 2 as a hidden joke. The designers threw in this minimalist retro puzzle game, and it became so popular that it received a standalone release, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved.

This twin-stick space shooter had such addictive gameplay and stunning visuals that gamers didn’t care about the game’s uncompromising difficulty. Slap me around and call me novice.


Super Monkey Ball (Monkey Target)

Rolling monkeys inside giant, transparent spheres is no easy task. I never got into Super Monkey Ball’s main game, but I’m up for a multiplayer game Monkey Target any time. Your monkey rolls down a huge ramp, and once they’ve built up enough momentum, those large balls open up to form wings. Then, players glide their monkeys gently through bananas and power-ups to land on targets found in the middle of the sea.

Gliding is relaxing, Monkey Target’s controls are far better than Super Monkey Ball’s, and the mini game is joy. I could play—and have played—this mini game all day.


Animal Crossing (Nintendo Entertainment System)

Who needs a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Classic when you can collect in-game NES cartridges in Animal Crossing?

Sure, this one’s a little bit of a cheat because they’re classic NES games coded within a Wii game, but I got excited whenever I found an NES cartridge in Animal Crossing. I picked up Donkey Kong Jr. Math. Woo hoo!


Final Fantasy Mini Games


Final Fantasy X (Blitzball)

I was going to make this list by incorporating Final Fantasy mini games within the larger list of great mini games, but I came up with 2 out 3 games coming from Final Fantasy, so FF’s getting its own list. I’m not even sorry.

The first one in this list is the one I didn’t include at first because the premise is the strangest of the three: Blitzball. Final Fantasy X’s Blitzball is underwater soccer meets basketball. It makes no sense. It’s also awesome.

I don’t know how many hours I wasted playing Blitzball instead of finishing Final Fantasy X’s main story line. I didn’t care that Sin was going to destroy Spira. I want to sign the best Blitzball goalie Nimrook to a long-term contract. I’m also going to transition from Wedge, who’s a great shooter early game, to a combination of Nedus (very fast and a great prospect for shooting) and Nav Guado (great counter-attacking forward). I’ll assemble a team that no one can beat. Mwah-ha-ha!


Final Fantasy (Chocobo Racing)

Final Fantasy VII introduced chocobo racing, and it was a blast. The breeding system didn’t make a lot of sense, but the actual act of racing your chocobo (those are ostrich-type creatures for those who don’t play much Final Fantasy) played well. You had to know when to sprint your chocobo and when not to. I’m king of the chocobos.

The mini game was so popular that Final Fantasy brought the sport back for several iterations. Final Fantasy XIII-2 had a complex system where players could develop their chocobo’s statistics. You had to strike the right balance to achieve victory. Final Fantasy XV allows players to ride chocobos in the open world, which felt great, especially when Prompto makes up words for the song that plays every time a chocobo graces the screen.

“I like to ride my chocobo all day.” Me, too, Prompto. Me, too.


Final Fantasy VIII (Triple Triad)

I find that most gamers fall into one of two mini card game camps: Triple Triad or Gwent. While I admit Gwent is a great game, it got its own release separate from The Witcher after all, I’m in the Final Fantasy VIII’s Triple Triad camp. I’m an older gamer. Deal with it.

I never used Quezacotl’s Card Mod Ability on any rare card. Keep your 100 Megalixirs; I want my Bahamut card. The same goes for three Diamond Armors. That Seifer card is too awesome.

I even cast the card capture spell so many times I lost count. I didn’t even care if I won a battle, I just wanted my cards. Sure, it’s a little like Pokemon, but I had to collect them all.


Fun skill checks that may as well be mini games

This one may need a little clarification. There are games within games, but there are also skill checks that can happen (like sneaking or fishing) that can occur within a game that’s really another mini game within a larger game. Here are three good examples of skill check mini games.


Bioshock (Pipe Hacking)

A lot of games feature some lame computer hacking mini game—I’m looking at you Fallout 3’s word searches and Mass Effect 2’s matching blurry lines of code that you couldn’t pay me to play—but Bioshock took the classic game Pipe Dream and added a steampunk twist. One had to find and match pipes to make water flow where you wanted it to before the water escaped the system.

It’s a fun mini game that gets a little old after the hundredth hack, but it’s a great throwback in an equally great game.


The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Fishing)

Gamers can fish as a mini game or skill check in numerous titles. Legend of Zelda even has several titles in its series where fishing is possible, but Ocarina of Time proves to be the best of the best.

The big payout is a piece of heart, but I liked it when I caught a fish so big that the guy who runs the plays deemed it “illegal.” Screw him. I threw his hat into the pond.


Skyrim and other Bethesda titles (Lockpicking)

Skyrim started the old hair grip and screwdriver method of opening locks. Bethesda has perfected this rumble controller feedback, dexterous challenge. I know that I’d never be a great lockpicker in real life, but for a few hours, I can pretend with Skyrim, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and Fallout 3.

There are too many mini games to list here. Let us know what your favorites are in the comments and if you don’t agree with any of the games on this list, you can challenge me to lockpicking duel in Skyrim. First one to 100 wins.

Geekly’s Free Video Game Summer: August 21, 2016


Hi, guys. I didn’t forget you, I’ve just been dealing with housing issues (my house is constantly under construction) but you don’t want to know about that. You want more games. This week’s Geekly’s Free Video Game Summer is brought to you by video game versions of collectible card games. I know I cover tabletop games with my other reviews, but there are plenty of free-to-play video games that use the collectible card game model. Just to clarify, you collect cards (of varying rarity) in a collectible card game and make decks out of the cards you collect. It’s a decent game model for a free-to-play game and there are plenty of free-to-play collectible card games out there. Let’s get started.


Final Fantasy Portal: Triple Triad

Full disclosure: there’s a lot more to the Final Fantasy Portal besides Triple Triad, but the only thing I’m covering here is Triple Triad. Ah, I loved Triple Triad in Final Fantasy VIII. It’s the collectible card game within the role playing game. Players would collect cards of characters found within the game and challenge random non-player characters to card duels. The rules are simple.

You play on a 3×3 grid. Every card has four values for each one of its sides (left, right, up, and down) and these values are printed in the upper right-hand corner of the card. You play cards in the 3×3 grid and if your card’s value on one side is greater than your opponent’s you take control of their card (kind of like Othello). Whoever owns the most cards at the end of the match wins. In the original game, players only obtained characters from Final Fantasy VIII, but Final Fantasy Portal’s version of Triple Triad includes all numbered entries in the Final Fantasy franchise and that’s a lot of fun.

The original Triple Triad weaved in elemental play—the card based on the Brothers summon had an earth element and its values were doubled against cards with a lightning element—but Final Fantasy Portal’s Triple Triad omits elements and adds same and plus to the gameplay. Same is okay; if you play a card that matches the values on cards that share two or more sides, you flip over any opponent’s cards adjacent to the card you played. Plus functions similarly to Same but you add the values of the cards on all sides and if the sum is the same, you flip over all opponent cards. I hate the Plus rule.

Plus can negate any good card you may have. If one side is an 8 and the other is a 9, all your opponent has to do is play a 2 to the 9 while playing a 3 to the 8; both sides would equal 11 and you just lost some of your best cards. You can dictate which rules you play in versus mode, so you can avoid the Plus rule and it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of Triple Triad, but how hard would it have been to assign an element to each character? Still, Final Fantasy Portal’s Triple Triad is a faithful port of the popular Final Fantasy mini game. And wouldn’t want to construct a deck with the best characters from Final Fantasy lore? This one’s staying in my collection, but I’m not sure how often I’ll play.


Order & Chaos Duels

On the surface, Order & Chaos Duels looks like a Hearthstone clone, but there’s more going on beneath the surface—not much but a little. Like Hearthstone, you assume control of a hero who has their own innate ability and you’re trying to knock your opponent’s hero’s health to zero. You cast minions and spells to buff your minions or debuff your opponent’s minions. All of this should sound familiar to Hearthstone fans. Order & Chaos’s twist is that it matters where you play a minion.

You have five locations (one row consisting of five spots) you can play your minions, each minion has attack and health, and if you lower your opponent’s minion to zero health in a spot or there is no minion in the spot, your minion attacks your opponent directly. This simple addition offers more strategy, and that’s a good thing, but I never felt as if I had agency in a game of Order & Chaos.

Sure, you set up your minions to defeat your enemy, but unlike Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering, there’s no way to counter anything your opponent does—or at least these counters are few and far between. Most of the time you’ll set up your minions during your planning phase, pass the turn to your attack phase, and once you’re done attacking, your turn’s finished.

There are also alternate ways of winning in both Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering (namely you helping your opponent run out of cards: milling their deck) that just doesn’t exist in any tangible way in Order & Chaos. The play styles don’t offer much variety either, so I’d say Order & Chaos is a pass.


Epic Cards Battle

I’m not sure if Epic Cards Battle even qualifies as a collectible card game. Sure, you collect cards but you don’t build a deck so much as you pick your best card or two and play them ad nauseam.

If I didn’t like the lack of agency in Order & Chaos, I hate the lack of agency in Epic Cards Battle. All you do is pick the card(s) that has the best combination of attack, health, and speed and see these cards battle it out on their own with no input from the player. Some of these characters/cards have special abilities but gameplay boils down to those three statistics and whose cards have the better of those statistics. Epic Cards Battle puts more emphasis on scantily clad women than it does gameplay. If you’re into that sort of thing, Epic Cards Battle might be a decent game. If you want something more from your gaming experience, I’d skip it.


Card Lords

Card Lords combines elements from several games in this review and it does so in a satisfying way. It could be that it deploys a similar art style as Card Wars 2 (which I’ll cover later: foreshadowing, baby) and I like that art style, but it does use the best part of Order & Chaos, which is “card placement matters.”

Akin to Epic Cards Battle, Card Lords has players select their best cards. Unlike Epic Cards Battles, it feels more like you’re building a deck, or at least assembling a team with abilities that play off each other well. There’s a lot of repetition to Card Lords’ gameplay but it’s enjoyable in small doses, and players will get small doses because Card Lords also uses the ubiquitous energy resource found in free-to-play games. You’ll play a few matches before you have to wait an hour or so—or spend money (and that’s how the developer’s get paid). But unlike most free-to-play games that use energy, you don’t have to wait long; it’s literally an hour or less.

The last element Card Lords introduces is developing your cards. You can power up your cards so they’ll gain special abilities (another thing we’ll see again in Card Wars 2) and you get a sense of developing your team/deck. You also have slightly more control in Card Lords than you do in the previous two entries (Epic Cards Battle and Order & Chaos), but it still doesn’t have as much strategy as I would like. There are few moments when you wouldn’t use your cards’ special ability as soon as it’s available to you and battles still come down to who has the best stats. Still, Card Lords is worth a look.



Cardstone is a Rogue-like dungeon crawl that just happens to use cards as its means of combat. You collect cards as you journey deeper into the dungeon, but if you die, your deck resets and you have to rebuild your deck the next time you enter the dungeon. That’s curious.

Cardstone plays more like a deck-builder game (a game with set cards and you build your deck each time you start a new game) instead of a collectible card game (a game where you build your deck over time and your deck remains the same unless you make changes to it). I like the idea of a free-to-play deck-builder game, but I’m not sure if Cardstone’s combat works as well as I would like.

Players face a new creature in the dungeon with each round. Sometimes a creature will run away if you have too high a level—you do gain levels and increase your health, even if your deck resets—but when a creature stills around, you cycle through your deck on a timer. Every three or four seconds, you draw a new card from your deck. You’ll see that card rotate on the screen until you use it or it disappears (gets discarded). This mechanism leads to players drawing healing cards when they need to deal damage and damage cards when they need healing. It doesn’t matter early in the dungeon, but the deeper you get in the dungeon, the harder your opponents get and the less likely it is you’ll get the right cards. Funny how that works. This perceived cheating by the AI makes Cardstone the most frustrating game of this bunch. I don’t know how many times I fought a creature to a first one who deals damage wins scenario, only to draw into five consecutive healing cards. Note: do not play Cardstone if you’re easily irritated.

I like Cardstone’s concept but I’m not sure how long it’ll stay in my collection. It’s another game that’s worth a look. You may find it enjoyable.


Dengen Chronicles

I was intrigued when I first downloaded Dengen Chronicles. It’s a collectible card game, but the cards are hexagonal shaped and the board is laid out like a honeycomb. Unfortunately, there’s little to no strategy.

Like many other games in this list, the winner of Dengen Chronicles boils down to who has the best stats: attack and health. But the board factors into the equation. Character/card placement matters, but it matters in the worst possible way. During the first turn, whoever has a character/card in the top point of the star deals damage first to the first, opponent character/card located clockwise on the star. So, whoever gets to play their card/character first typically wins. Sure, the next round shifts who deals damage first to the next point clockwise on the star, but by then the damage is already done.

Dengen Chronicles overlays a convoluted element chart on the board. Each section of the honeycomb represents a specific element and only characters with that element can be played there—you get bonus attack if they have multiple copies of that element printed on their card—but all you have to do is build a deck that has a strong showing in the first, third, and fifth elements, and you can dominate most games.

The only issue with that strategy is that everyone tries to use it (player versus player) and who wins is the person who goes first. At that rate you may as well flip a coin and call heads or tails instead of playing Dengen Chronicles. For me this game is a strong pass.


Card Wars 2

Full disclosure: there is a physical, printed version of this game and I haven’t yet played it, but I have seen Adventure Time and like the Card Wars episodes. Card Wars 2 is one of those few games where I don’t ever mute the game. John DiMaggio’s Jake the Dog walks you through the tutorial and the rest of the cast voice the characters they portray in the cartoon.

The game itself is a good representation of the Card Wars found in the animated series. They’ve got everything, including Jake’s favorite element: Corn. You can pick any element you want to play. Each element has a distinct play style, which is something that’s missing in many of the other games on this list. You can even mix-match cards from various elements to build an awesome deck, and it’s a lot of fun to experiment. Compared to the other games on this list, Card Wars 2 is a must play.

But Card Wars 2 isn’t all sunshine. It uses an energy system, which isn’t bad, and players can also upgrade their cards. I’m not against upgrading cards either but how you upgrade cards matters, and with how Card Wars 2 is set up, you could spend real-world dollars trying to upgrade your cards the preferred way. The first way you can upgrade your cards is by leveling them up. The problem with this method is that your decks are capped off at a certain numeric level, based on your player level. So if you level up your cards, you might only be able to put a 40 levels of cards in a deck, and if you have a card you want to use that’s level 40, one card could be your entire deck. The better way to upgrade your cards is to enhance them, and to do that you’ll have to collect items and merge them with your card. These items are difficult to acquire and this is where Card Wars 2 tempts players to make in-game purchases.

If you’re patient with leveling yourself up as a player and then leveling up your cards, Card Wars 2 can be enjoyable and free. If you’re impatient, you could spend a lot of real-world money or you could get frustrated. Card Wars 2 is the most enjoyable game on this list and a must play for an Adventure Time fan.

Well, I hope this longer group of games makes up for the couple of weeks I missed. Until next we meet, thanks for reading.