Final Fantasy XV is chock full of mini-games, extras and distractions that, by some standards, could easily be their own separate games. Whether you're looking at the numerous and sometimes over the top nature of hunting missions, the delicious looking culinary concoctions of Ignis and his never ending search to fill his cookbook, or even the often intense fishing escapades of Noctis and his passion to be the best angler, there is no lack of deviation in Final Fantasy XV that can easily distract you from the fact that you're supposed to be trying to save the world.
Of course, we should almost expect that from Square Enix at this point. Their RPGs, and especially the Final Fantasy games, have always been host to more than a few mini-games and deviations that make saving dying worlds a little more jovial. With that in mind, we've gathered the best of the best from all Final Fantasy games. From cards and arcades to races and theater performances, these mini-games did more than distract. They downright seemed as though they should have games of their own. These are the top 5 mini-games in Final Fantasy games.
Chocobo Racing (Final Fantasy VII)
The Golden Saucer is most definitely one of the highlights of Final Fantasy VII. Between the arcade, haunted house, fighting arena and park tour, this giant floating amusement park stands out as a glamorously gaudy attraction in a tremendously sad world. To be honest, the Golden Saucer could probably fill this list up on its own with the events and activities it offers. That said, there’s one particularly extensive activity that stands above the rest. When Cloud and company arrive in this place, one of the attractions include betting on chocobo races, but as story events unfold, it isn’t long before Cloud is straddling the Final Fantasy series’ iconic feathered steed to chase victory himself.
From then on throughout the rest of the game, chocobo racing in Golden Saucer is an intricate and ongoing side quest involving finding and capturing the best chocobos in the wild, breeding and raising the best and most unique birds possible and riding them to victory in the big races for fabulous rewards. Chocobo breeding takes on a big role outside of the races too, but it’s sort of amazing that in an industry that loves themed racers of all kinds (see Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing, and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing to name a few), Square Enix never pulled the trigger on making this already fleshed-out experience its very own thing.
Triple Triad (Final Fantasy VIII)
Virtual card games have become quite a thing between the likes of virtual Magic games and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Interestingly enough, players might remember that Square Enix took their own early shot at this particular type of game with Triple Triad in Final Fantasy VIII. Triple Triad has players assembling decks of cards found around the world by challenging and defeating other NPC players in the mini-game. Each card depicts creatures and characters in the game, including monsters, party members, villains, and summons, each with a series of numbers depicting their strength in four directions. On a 3x3 grid, players arrange their deck and place cards, attempting to place numbers higher to adjacent cards and flip them to that player’s color. The dominant color on the board at the end wins the game.
The strategy of arranging a strong deck and gathering the best cards on your journey made Triple Triad a long-running and amusing collector’s game aside the main content of Final Fantasy VIII and even saw a spiritual sequel in Final Fantasy IX in the form of Tetra Master, as well as a real world set of cards produced by Bandai and various third-party and fan-made online editions of the game. Although well before the craze of virtual card games that would come years later, Triple Triad represented an early version of a well-built collectible game positioned alongside a lengthy RPG, much like The Witcher 3’s Gwent.
Chocobo Hot and Cold (Final Fantasy IX)
Chocobos have seldom had the royal treatment and attention they deserved as much as in Final Fantasy VII, but IX came pretty darn close in pushing just how important these feathered friends are to the everyday adventurer. Somewhere along the journey, Zidane and company find the Chocobo Forest and earn the ability to ride Choco throughout the world, but more importantly, they earn the ability to play a special treasure hunting mini-game. Spread throughout the world are chocobo habitats chock full of goodies buried in the ground. How do you get to them? By using Choco’s mighty beak, of course. Players earn treasures and Choco’s beak grows ever stronger and capable of digging up deeper or more heavily buried prizes. Hidden in these habitats are also Chocographs that take the player on numerous treasure hunts outside of the chocobo habitats and lead to some of the game’s most exciting secrets and best items and gear.
Heck, it’s only by being the best choco-treasure hunter you can be that you can even get to the game’s secret super-boss and earn the best summon in the game. Chocobo Hot and Cold might not be on par with Chocobo Racing, but it most certainly has a place in the mini-game pantheon for the enjoyment of the hunt, the growth of your favorite bird and wealth of rewards.
Blitzball (Final Fantasy X)
Let’s face it. For a solid chunk of Final Fantasy X, the journey isn’t about saving the world. It’s about Tidus and Wakka becoming the best Blitzball players they can be. This sport attraction is the dominant pastime in the world of Spira and one of the only distractions from the threat of oncoming doom from the game’s ever-present big baddie. Heck, Tidus discovering his father’s secret Blitzball move is a major plot point in the game. That aside, it just so happens to also be a pretty great mini-game of sport and strategy at the same time. Two teams of five battle for control of a ball to score on the opposing team’s goal, except the whole thing takes place in a giant aquatic sphere.
So prevalent is this game in the world of Spira that you can play at any save point, work out strategies and earn new formations, take part in tournaments and even vie to steal away free agent players from other teams. The game itself in action is a pretty enjoyable as well. Positioning players, taking opposing player HP and talents into account and playing against the clock was a pretty involved process that made Blitzball a challenging and fun deviation throughout Final Fantasy X.
Fishing (Final Fantasy XV)
Final Fantasy XV has a lot of things to do in it between cooking, monster hunting, and dungeon diving, but arguably none of them are as fleshed out into their very own thing as the fishing mini-game. Turns out Prince Noctis is an avid angler and it comes in pretty handy when Ignis needs some fresh meat to cook up. Throughout the world of Eos are fishing spots for Noctis to try his hand at landing the biggest and rarest treasures of the sea. Great fishermen don’t just happen, though. You can’t just walk Noctis onto the plank and expect to land a 40 pound grouper. That’s a fast track to a broken line and a lost lure. No, you have to travel the world, work your way up from the small fry, constantly improve your fishing equipment, find what lures attract the best fish and then engage in epic battles of patience and aggression with the best of them.
There are more than a few times a hard fish will break your heart and steal your prized lure before you know everything you need to yank that whopper out of the water, but when you reach the top of the mountain and take down the biggest challenges in Final Fantasy XV’s fishing mini-game, it will downright make you feel like mighty Leviathan herself.
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