Hey, fellow nerds! This article is all about playing video games within video games. Very cool stuff, and just as important when it comes to discussing how we play games and why they are considered so great — or not. This list is not in any specific order; it's just my favorite mini games as the sprung to mind.
1. Beyond Good & Evil: Pallet Game
I have recently been playing through Beyond Good & Evil on the Xbox One, due to the Games with Gold system. I knew this classic had a cult status, and now playing through it, I completely understand why. One of my favorite aspects of the game —and one that has taken up more time than I would care to admit — is the Pallet Game.
Think air hockey, except with each player having four pucks, and with a small canyon in the middle of the table. The goal is to make it so that all eight of the pucks are over on the opposite player’s side. It seems simple, and it is, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult for anyone involved. What seems easy ends up turning into a heated brawl of trying to pull of a perfect bounce that will make the three clustered pucks in the corner spread out onto the opposing player's side. But if you mess this up, oh man you’re done — unless they screw up, too, but let’s be honest, that isn’t going to happen; this is an A.I.
2. DmC: Devil May Cry’s Bloody Palace
I know, I know — if you have been playing video games for the last 15 years or so, you probably hate the new Devil May Cry reboot. That’s fine and all, though let me tell you this: You're missing out on a very well-crafted experience. But that’s beside the point. The point is that Ninja Theory brought back the wonderful Bloody Palace, and it's just as good as it ever was.
If you really want to test just how good you are at DmC, this 101-floor survival tower unlocks after completing the story mode. As one would imagine, it starts off simply enough, with the basic enemies and letting you get into the swing of the combat once again. But after around 25 floors, the danger starts ramping up, and never stops. The game challenges your knowledge of each weapon and move in Dante’s repertoire, in addition to how well you know each and every enemy. It’s tough, relentless, and endlessly fun. If you liked DmC’s combat as much as I did, this is a mode to check out. Plus, it’s free!
3. Call Of Duty: Black Ops' Dead Ops Arcade
Apparently this has been brought back in later iterations, but seeing as this is the most recent CoD I've played, this will be the game in the series that I discuss. I was obsessed with playing the Zombies mode with my friends in 2008's World at War. Luckily, Treyarch brought the mode back in Black Ops, as well as a hidden mode with a twist. Yep, the developers made the damn thing into a topdown, twin-stick arcade shooter! How cool is that?
Looking back, it seems like an obvious choice to turn the Zombies mode into an arcade shooter. By making it less realistic and owning up to how ridiculous the idea of the Zombies mode really is, gaming gold was struck. Bombs, nukes, hundreds of zombies at once. Three of your best friends. Hectic mayhem ensues. It is your favorite mode in a new light, one that complements rather than takes away from it. Oh, and it’s fun, too. Like mini games should be.
4. Sonic Adventure 2’s Tiny Chao Garden
This brings me back to the good old days, when I would skip school by faking sick just so I could play Sonic Adventure 2. A large amount of my gaming time was spent on this title, and even more specifically, in the Tiny Chao Garden, constantly looking up tips and secrets on how to make my Chao the absolute best they could be. Playing City Escape over and over in order to farm rings to get the next shiny egg and have the greatest collection of Chao the world has ever seen.
Recently, I bought the game on Steam and somehow managed to sink 46 more hours, due mostly to the Chao Garden, and I will probably be spending more time over the coming years doing the exact same thing.
5. Skate 2’s S.K.A.T.E.
No, EA’s Skate series did not invent skateboarding's version of H.O.R.S.E., but you know what it did do? It took the game and made it applicable anywhere. To play a game of S.K.A.T.E., a player performs a trick, then the next player must perform the same trick. If they mess it up, they get a letter. You lose when you spell out S.K.A.T.E. Simple enough.
But Skate 2 had such a well-crafted and crazy world that playing a game of S.K.A.T.E. was an insanely unique experience every time. You could find yourself at a basic skatepark trying to hit the half pipe, and then end up playing a game up on top of a skyscraper, trying to get down safely with the biggest combo. Always a fun time, always an insane time.
6. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's Lock picking
I don’t know how much this counts as a mini game, but I really, really, really enjoy the lock-picking aspect of Bethesda’s games, and I felt it deserved an honorable mention here. I just find it to be such a satisfying little activity and I always look forward to finding the right spot to turn the tumblers. I get goosebumps, it’s that great. Call me crazy, but I would absolutely play a game dedicated to Bethesda’s lock-picking mechanics.
I hope you enjoyed my list of favorite games within games. Check 'em out for yourself. Until next time, nerds.
What are your favorite games within games? How about your least favorite ones? Let me know in the comments below.