Paige FTW: Games Within Games

The recent Kingdom Hearts III trailer showing off ­Game & Watch-style mini-games (which Sora, naturally, plays on a little handheld system) got me thinking about the best video game mini-games.

In no particular order, here are a few of my personal highlights for when the battles get boring and the grind gets grim.

Fishing in Final Fantasy XV

In the weird pastiche that is FFXV, fishing stands out as a strangely enjoyable diversion. The fishing system is intuitive, responsive and offers plenty of challenge. The game even took the time to implement a leveling system, buffs and a wide variety of equipment. There’s a reason that this is the part of the game that got a VR spinoff.  

Tekken Bowl in Tekken series

This supplemental diversion to the King of Iron First Tournament is surprisingly enjoyable. Each fighter has different speed and power variables (though I mostly love being Kuma so I can rocket-launch that ball down the lane), which lends, at least, the illusion of depth to an absurd premise.

Tin Pin Slammer in The World Ends With You

Someone online compared Tin Pin Slammer to a kind of digital Pogs, and they aren’t too far off the mark. The little 2-D brawler (of a kind) utilizes the Nintendo DS touchscreen to great effect. Although Tin Pin is just a diversion in the main story, the quirky title also embraces an absurd alternate universe side story where Tin Pin Slammer is the only means of battle. 

Home-Run Contest in Super Smash Bros.

Smash has been embracing increasingly more complex diversions to its battles (Smash Tour was uselessly frustrating in the Wii U installment), but to me, nothing really beats the classic Sandbag abuse simulator. The techniques are by now well-known (Jigglypuff’s Rest, Roy’s Flare Blade) but the sense of satisfaction when you crack Sandbag more than 5,000 feet is priceless.