Mini games have captivated players worldwide for a long time – from retro to the modern day. These bite-sized gaming experiences offer a refreshing break from the main gameplay, becoming a big part of many video games with complex features. This article dives into the essence of what are mini games, what their purpose is, and why everyone finds them so fun.
So what are mini games?
Mini games are small, self-contained challenges packed up within a larger video game. They are called that precisely because of their nature; they’re mini!
Generally, mini games deviate from the primary gameplay mechanics, offering themselves as a small peaceful break for when you need a change of scenery. As such, they provide you with unique objectives, rules, and gameplay styles that are simple and accessible.
As most of them cater to various tastes and preferences among players, there’s a range of small ideas that work perfectly for a mini game. These can range between simple puzzles and fast-action reflex to party-based multiplayer competitions and complex simulations.
What are mini games used for?
The obvious purpose of a mini game in a video game is to offer you a diversion from the layered storyline or complex gameplay. You wouldn’t want to feel monotonous about the game, so mini games offer that temporary break you may need. As a diversion, they offer bite-sized experiences, introducing new mechanics or skills that do not pose as a large challenge.
Some games integrate mini games into the larger feedback loop, where completing them can earn you exciting rewards, such as in-game currencies, items, or achievements. This is so you feel motivated to explore other mini games, find the fun, and spend more time playing.
They also make social interactions among players a breeze. Party games like the Mario Party titles feature opportunities for you and your friends to compete against each other, or work together towards a common goal. These shared experiences strengthen social bonds and create memorable moments of friendly competition and teamwork.
What are the types of mini games?
The diversity of mini games is immense, spanning across a wide range of genres and themes. So you’re bound to find new and interesting ones across various games. Here are some common types:
Casual mini games are inspired by the casual nature of most resource management games as well as the relaxing aspects of our day-to-day lives. For example, our game Space Chef is about exploring the galaxy and collecting ingredients to serve customers and build your own space diner. However, players can do the cooking itself through a fun mini game that plays similarly to fan-favourite games, such as the Papa Louie series.
Strategy mini games involve decision making, planning, and resource management. Some games have classic strategy games as a small feature, such as chess in the Harry Potter game series.
However, some do offer more complexity, such as the now-popular card strategy game, Gwent, which was originally a mini game in The Witcher 3. The game is inspired by an old school card game Condotierre. The goal of the player is to get more points over the opponent using their deck of faction cards.
Strategy mini games aren’t as frequent in most video games considering their complexity. But they are a great contrasting addition to any game with a comparatively fast-paced, reflex-based, or action-based core gameplay.
Puzzle mini games challenge players to solve puzzles, riddles, or brainteasers within a limited time frame. Generally, puzzles in mini games tend to be incredibly minimal, helping players ease into a relaxing activity that tickles their brain a little. Puzzle gameplay generally would include simple tangrams, pattern-matching (most notably Match 3), and pathfinding.
Action mini games offer gameplay that emphasises reflexes, timing, and hand-eye coordination. Players may engage in quick-time events, rhythm-based challenges, or fast-paced obstacle courses.
An example of this would be the Bonus Stages in the Street Fighter games. In it, players must hit the incoming watermelon/volleyball at the right time, or wreck a car completely before the timer rings.
Sports mini games simulate various sports activities, such as racing, football, tennis, or golf, and condense them into an arcade-style experience. Open world games benefit from them the most for immersion and worldbuilding.
Games such as Grand Theft Auto take that further and use them as an opportunity to gain favour with NPCs and enjoy extra gameplay benefits. This soon becomes a rewarding gameplay loop in itself while still remaining consistent with the rest of the game.
Casino mini games feature virtual versions of casino games, such as poker, blackjack and even roulette. Essentially, these simulated experiences allow players to indulge in a simulated betting experience with no risk. Some incorporate the main in-game currency into themselves, offering players a chance to gain more rewards for winning them.
Are mobile games considered mini games?
While mini games you find in larger games tend to be self-contained with a simplistic gameplay loop, it isn’t full-fledged enough for a stand-alone game. The difference between them and most bite-sized mobile games is the gameplay depth.
Let’s take the example of Hybrid Casual games. These are games that combine the simple, fast-paced gameplay of Hyper Casual games, with the deeper progression and monetisation features of Casual or Mid-Core games. In other words, you get both:
- the quick, satisfying gameplay you know and love from Hyper Casual games,
- and enjoy whittling through upgrades, features, and rewarding progression systems that make you want to come back for more, something Casual and Mid-Core games are known for.
Generally, making a Hybrid Casual game requires eye-catching visuals, rewarding design systems, and monetary support for production pipelines that last 3-4 months.
In contrast, a mini game is designed to offer a baseline experience; what you see is what you get. So they lack gameplay depth needed to make space for ways to monetise gameplay opportunities.
However, if you’re an aspiring developer, making mini games can be a great start to building your experience making games. Even though they’re not commercially viable enough to ship, they do offer a peek into how games are designed and programmed. These are the skills you’ll need to make more complex game systems that feel engaging for players.
Are you an aspiring game developer?
Mini games have lightened up the gaming landscape by presenting themselves as fun activities designed to give players a break. They provide players with an engaging experience through quick bursts of fun. So, next time you embark on a gaming adventure, don’t be afraid to explore the fascinating world of mini games within!
Better still, if you’re a game developer making games and want to publish them, send them our way and we can help you achieve big success with it!
As an award-winning game publisher, we know what it takes to turn your game into a big hit. Upload your game prototype on our official Publishing Portal (if it’s a mobile game) or send it to our publishing scouts (if it’s a PC and console game). We’ll analyse your game and get in touch with you about your results. Meanwhile, catch us on our social media (TikTok | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn) to get the latest deets on our gamedev efforts.