The Problem with Minigames
So this week's post was supposed to be a non-horror film review. I even had Monday off, so getting a movie watched and reviewed shouldn't have been all that hard of a task. This is even taking into consideration that I spent all day Sunday either cleaning my place or outside hiking with the dogs. But here I am Tuesday morning, with no non-horror film watched and no review for my readers. Why Larry? Well, the simple truth is that I sunk about twenty odd hours between Saturday and Monday into Kingdom Hearts III. And not into the story, those hours were spent going after Ultima Weapon (which I am happy to say I unlocked before fighting the final boss). But to get that glorious keyblade, I had to slog through hours of terrible, monotonous, awkward minigames.
Before I dive too deeply into my weekend, I want to let the readers know that I am not altogether opposed to minigames, and in fact they can sometimes be a blast! In particular, one of my all time favorite minigames is from Resident Evil 4. After beating the game you can unlock Mercenary Mode, where you have a set amount of time to kill as many bads and rack up as many points as you can. I spent hours post game grinding out all the characters and unlocking high scores. And this was back on the Gamecube, where you don't even get the small reward of a trophy for sinking in that kind of time!
But on the same hand, RE4 also had a minigame that made me want to pull out my hair. And that my friends was the bottlecap nonsense. I couldn't imagine a more boring, monotonous waste of my time at that point, and even though RE4 is in my top ten games ever, I avoid that minigame like the plague. Another one of my all time favorite games is Final Fantasy X. The amount of hours I sank into that game is incredible to say the least. I loved completing the sphere grid, unlocking monsters in Calm Lands, and grinding out great gear. But... FFX also has some trash minigames. If you have played this game, then you already know. But for those who haven't let me break them down for you. First, the chocobo racing minigame to unlock a piece of Tidus' ultimate weapon. Imagine trying to control a wild giant bird while dodging soccer balls and pigeons while being drunk. This is what the designers of this minigame did with the chocobo racing. Next they decided that doing something dumb and monotonous would be great, so in order to unlock Lulu's ultimate weapon you have to dodge 200 lightning bolts in a row (an added bonus is that there is no on screen count and one time I messed up and thought I had 200 only to have 199 and a broken controller). Finally, if that wasn't enough mandatory fun time for you, in order to unlock Wakka's ultimate weapon you get to play the worst sport to ever exist that is just trash and un-enjoyable, BLITZBALL!!
One standing theme though is that crappy minigames does not necessarily make a bad game. The same is true for KH3. After some hesitancy, I found that I truly enjoyed the game. The story, I thought, did a good job cleaning up the messy timelines and also had all of the characters we had come to care for all in the same scene. But lord have mercy, some of the minigames just SUCK. There are a lot of them, but I am going to just highlight two. The first is the Flantastic Seven. They are a bunch of different minigames (ranging from fun (kill as many enemies as possible) to shoot me now (looking at you sledding fan in Olympus)) and you have to beat the "high score" for each in order to unlock a piece of Orichulum+ which is needed to unlock Sora's Ultima Weapon. I am embarrassed to admit how much time I had to sink into the sledding minigame. It isn't fun, the controls are unfair, and it almost stopped me from unlocking the weapon. But I did finally grind through it, only to run into another AWFUL minigame. And guess what!? It is another sledding minigame in the Frozen world. You have to find ten "treasures" but you can only get about one a run and they are incredibly hard to tell apart from other objects on the race. Again, hours were sunk into this mess and I thought that it would stop me from getting the weapon. But I prevailed and in the end had the Ultima Weapon before the final boss fight.
So moral of this story? I personally think gamers do not mind the grind, especially when the reward is so worth it in the end. But developers, if you are going to make us sink literally a whole weekend into your minigames, for the love of god make them fun!