Justin: Our final question has to do with mini-games in RPGs,
which have been available since the SNES days. What do you feel is the
best example of a well-placed mini-game and how would you like more to
appear? Think SMRPG's mini-games, FFIX's jump rope/Chocobo Hot and Cold/frog
catching, or the card games for examples.
Tony: mini-games should be optional! Once you make them a mandatory
part of a game their nothing more then nuisances!
Matt: I disagree, they aren't always nuisances. Take, for example,
the water fall mini-game in Super Mario RPG. It was extremely well placed
and, while required to be played once, wasn't detrimental to the gameplay.
In fact, there's about a million mini-games in SMRPG, all well placed.
Of course, my favorites are both of the RPG Mario games where you can
transform into classic Mario.
Tony: Point. But take, for example, the Hundred Acre Wood in Kingdom
Hearts. I'm never going to beat KH 100% because I can't stand those mini-games!
You should at least have an option to skip them!
Pierce: I think Final Fantasy VII did a great job with mini-games,
making an easier version of them a part of the game and then leaving them
for optional play later on in the game. After all, the motorcycle game
in FFVII was just too cool.
Andrew: I think mini-games add substance to RPGs. As long as they
aren't lame like reviving the girl in FF7, I think they add an element
Pierce: I agree. They add a dimension of liveliness to both the
game's world and the characters.
Andrew: Sometimes, the repetition of "fight, plot, town, fight"
needs to be alleviated, so I wouldn't be in favor of their total elimination.
I could do without the button mashing though.
Justin: yeah, at least make them interesting.
Pierce: Yes, button mashing is bad. What about card games? What's
the general opinion of them here? As in, FFVIII and FFIX.
Andrew: FFVIII's was excellent. I felt the card game was very
well integrated, and while learning and mastering it didn't take too long,
the collecting aspect and the occasional annoying rule made it a challenge
right to the later stages of the game.
Andrew: FFIX's was a steaming pile of crap.
Pierce: Amen to that.
Justin: FFIX's wasn't bad, once you got used to it.
Pierce: Was it just me, or did they try to make figuring out the
game part of the challenge?
Andrew: It was entirely arbitrary, not integral to the game, and
Justin: I would have liked to see more mini-games in FFVIII, though.
The card game one is the only one I can remember.
Mike: I think it's impossible to talk about mini-games without
mentioning FF7. Not that it has made the best use of them, but it certainly
used them in an interesting way, as breaks from the standard gameplay
into more appropriate systems, through the use of the Gold Saucer enabling
players to go back and play their favorite parts of the game and when
frustrated with the story and/or mechanics of the regular game it offers
a diversion within the game world itself. That it does this with elements
from the story only adds to its ingenuity.
Tony: Agreed. FF7 is probably the best game when it comes to mini-games.
I actually really liked the FF7 mini-games
Mike: The real key to FF7's mini-games is how story-oriented they
are in their first appearance. I mean, the result is a kind of "gameplay
appropriatism" or blurring of genre boundaries. Think of a game that is
unclassifiable because its fights use a fighting game's system, its exploration
uses an RPG's system, its car races use a racing game's system, etc. It
uses gameplay as a means of telling a story as opposed to finding a system
and attaching a story.
Pierce: I can't help but agree. FFVII definitely had it right
with mini-games. I loved to just sit around Gold Saucer playing the motorcycle
game, the snow boarding game, and the submarine game for hours.
Justin: Yeah, I'd like to see more fleshed out mini-games that
allow you to go back and play them for scores.: but I'd prefer if they
were there just for fun, and not to get items. My roommate has more than
his fair share of profanity reserved for FFX's mini-games.
Pierce: Vortex: The items give you something to work toward, though
- added incentive and whatnot.
Justin: yeah, but I like just wanting to play it for fun's sake,
not just because I want an item.
Andrew: Those confounded butterflies...
Pierce: Or those pesky lightning bolts...
Andrew: not to mention those infernal birds in the chocobo racing...
Pierce: Or playing blitzball for days on end and NEVER seeing
a wisp of the Jupiter Sigil...
Matt: Basically, I think mini-games should be used if the significantly
contribute to the enjoyment of the game. Don't require them if you have
to be skilled to win (perhaps have extra bonuses for being skilled) and
make them fun. If not, don't use 'em.
Tony: FFX is a perfect example of what mini-games should not be
Pierce: Which is why I liked FFVII's presentation of mini-games
Justin: I think FFX really overdid it with the mini-games. Sure,
blitzball could be really cool, especially if it required you to build
a world-class team through trading and recruiting to start to win games.
When you had to win an ungodly amount of games to get an item, and it
wasn't difficult at all to win games, just time-consuming, it wasn't anywhere
near as much fun.
Mike: Would everyone agree that the real issue with mini-games
isn't the games themselves but their context within the game world?
Justin: Well, it really seems that mini-games are fine when they
fit into the game well or when they're really well done, like Triple Triad.
Anyway, that's about all the time we have for tonight, so does anyone
want to make any parting comments?
Mike: Yes... parting comment: Thanks. :)
Pierce: I'd just like to give a quick shout-out to my good GameStop
bro, Clarence. Because you have to understand, he is the man. Rock on,
Tony: Beware little kids! FOR I AM COMING TO DEVOUR YOUR SOULS!
That, or your Anime. I'm not sure which yet.
Matt: Musically inclined people: Rise to the bluegrass remake
Mike: Hehe, bluegrass is the trend now, isn't it?
Tony: Send me Guides!
Andrew: For lack of something better to say, let me consult the
I-Ching. Here is the first available choice (from the 20th hexagram):
"Shows the looking of a lad - not blamable in men of inferior rank, but
matter for regret in superior men." Hmm. That doesn't sound right at all.
Justin: Thanks to all that participated and read, and goodnight!