Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts everywhere.
Agreed with FFX's Blitzball being #1, my god, so much fun.
It’s no secret that, lately, people haven’t been too happy with Square-Enix. Whether they are withholding great titles from coming to West (Final Fantasy Type-0), spending too much time on one series (Final Fantasy XIII) or taking entirely too long to release a game (Kingdom Hearts III), the fact is that many fans have lost faith in them. Personally, I still believe in them and think they rarely falter at putting out quality releases. One of their strengths has always been to make games that offer more than one type of entertainment. This mainly comes from their repertoire of mini-games. Honestly, if Square-Enix made a compilation of their best mini-games, updated the graphics, expanded the content and gave it online capabilities, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.
Ice Cream Beat is a nice rhythm-based mini-game featured in Disney Town from Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. This mini-game is part of the story-line when you play as Ventus, but can be played in all three story-modes. The idea is simply to hit the “X” button in rhythm while following Huey, Duey and Luey with the D-Pad. It may not be the most innovative mini-game that Square-Enix has to offer, and it sounds easy enough, but don’t be fooled. It’s friggin’ challenging!
Beetle Mania is a secret mini-game you can buy in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. It can be purchased at the Mushroom Kingdom Inn from the jittery little Toad in the corner after you finish Marrymore. Beetle Mania can be found in your menu under the title “game”. Shooting shells with a star-spitting beetle can be very entertaining, but equally intense as you try to dodge what feels like hundreds of shells at a time. It fits the feel of old-school Atari games. Of course, back then, it wasn’t so old.
Edge’s Ninja Blade Glade is a nifty, Shuriken throwing mini-game exclusive to the DS version of Final Fantasy IV. It is one of the five mini-games used to increase Whyt’s, one of Rydia’s Eidolons, stats. The objective is tap enemies as they appear on the screen, causing Edge to throw Shurikens at them. Hold off on an enemy for too long and they will fire at Edge. It was most likely implemented to make use for the DS’ touchscreen, but that’s not a problem in my eyes.
Dream Drop Distance may not be the best Kingdom Hearts game Square-Enix made, but it’s far from mediocre. I’d have prefered having actually partners as opposed the Dream Eaters, but they brought their own bit of fun. Several mini-games were used as training exercises for your Dream Eaters. The best by far is Water Barrel. The objective is guide your Dream Eaters underwater to collect prizes. You move them by tapping the touchscreen, creating waves that push your Dream Eater away from where you tapped. There are also bombs you can tap that will shoot any Dream Eaters nearby across the screen.
At the beginning of Chrono Trigger (and any time you travel to the present) you can visit Millennial Fair. There are various mini-games at the Millennial Fair where you can earn Silver Points. Silver Points can be spent in Norstein Bekkler’s Tent of Horrors. There are three mini-games you can play in the tent. All three are pretty simple, but the Tent of Horrors has a certain flair to it. It has a pretty dark atmosphere and Norstein Bekkler is a bit creepy. Plus, one of the games is used in the story in an awesome way. It’s one of those moments where Square-Enix shows how clever they can be.
Jungle Slider is a mini-game that takes place in the Deep Jungle from the very first Kingdom Hearts. The goal is to collect all the fruit as you slide down branches and through caves. At first, it appears to be just some random way to transport from the top of Tarzan’s tree house to the camp. If you get all ten fruit, you get a prize and unlock the next level for the next time you go down. Keep getting all the fruit to collect some sweet prizes and work your way up to level 5. Piece of advice; keep Tarzan in front of you. There’s no need to have that Rasta hairdo blocking your view.
Fruitball is another one of the three mini-games found in Disney Town from Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. The mechanics are similar to those of Tennis, except you jump fifty feet in the air to hit giant fruit into your opponents net. Fruitball takes a little more skill than Ice Cream Beat, and with all the flying fruit, it can get pretty chaotic. When it gets too crazy, you’re probably better off just mashing the Triangle button, knocking the fruit in the air then hammering them down with “X” or “O”.
This one’s a little more on the nerdy side, but I don’t care. I love me some math. This is another mini-game played in Final Fantasy IV to increase Whyt’s stats. Playing as Rydia, you are given four numbers that can be added, subtracted, multiplied or divided in separate equations to make the number 10. After you reach 10 with your four numbers, you given another set, and this repeats until your minute runs out. There’s a pretty popular cheat for this mini-game. Simply, close the DS after seeing the numbers and solve the problem using up almost no time. I know you honest-livin’ gamers aren’t going to be tempted to do such trechory, though.
At the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II, the player is thrown into the life of Roxas. Part of his storyline requires you to save up money. To do so, you need a job. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most people would agree that Grandstander is the hardest of the jobs. You are essentially a juggler. As Roxas, you use your little toy sword to hit a ball up in the air as many times as you can without it landing. You can play later as Sora and use your Keyblade, which makes it a bit easier. But if you want to complete that journal, you need to hit it at least 100 times! Leave it to Square-Enix to give crazy tasks for the sake of game completion.
A recurring optional world in the Kingdom Hearts series known as the 100 Acre Wood, a world based off Winnie the Pooh, consists of several mini-games. Playing these mini-games is required for completing the world. Probably the most strategically challenging mini-games is The Expotition from Kingdom Hearts II. You guide Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore and Roo across a booby-trap ridden cave and do so in as little time as possible. The idea is to keep their courage up, because if their courage meter drops too low, they’ll scatter in all directions. Just about anything is enough to make these guy quake, so you need to take caution as cross slippery ice, rocks fall from the ceiling and swarms of bees attack.
That’s right. Mario Kart isn’t the only Mario game to feature cart riding. Moleville Mine Cart is a mini-game featured in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, and can be accessed after completing Moleville Mountain. The first play is mandatory, but after that you go back and try to beat your beat time whenever you desire. As you trek the dangerously perpendicular track, you can collect coins (which you keep) and mushrooms, which give you a speed boost. Be sure to break while making turns, otherwise you’ll end going off the track, wasting precious time.
Snowboarding first appears in Final Fantasy VII as a way to travel to different locations in the Great Glacier. Depending on what paths you take, you can end up on four different spots. It later appears in the Wonder Square at the Gold Saucer. It’s another time-based mini-game. Reaching certain times will grant you more courses. It’s easy to get lost in time while in the Wonder Square, and Snowboarding definitely lends a hand in that. As an added bonus, you can ride as Tifa or Cid. Cid on a snowboard makes me smile for some reason.
In Chrono Trigger, during the year 2300 A.D., you will come across an interest robotic biker named Johnny. Engaging Johnny will land you in a high-speed, F-Zero-esque race, at least in Mode 2. If you collected the Race Log in the chest by the Proto Dome, you can check your three highest scores and switch race modes. Mode 1 is pretty basic, keeping the whole race as a side-scroller. In Mode 2, you are given the ability to change the camera angle, but this is at the cost of losing boosts. Changing the camera angle now seems like nothing, but back in the SNES days, it wasn’t something you just sneezed at. Jetbike Race even did well enough to spawn its own standalone game.
Beetle Race is another great mini-game from Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. It can be accessed after completing Seaside Town, by renting the Beetle Box at the Beetle Shop in town for 100 coins. Head back to Booster Hill to begin. The game, itself, isn’t as much of a race as it is a gathering game. It feels like a race, since you are running up a hill side-by-side with three Snifits, but the objective is collect. Try to make your money back and them some by collecting as many beetles as possible. Jumping on the rolling barrels and Snifits will give you a little speed boost, making it easier to get them. The female beetles only give you 1 coin, but the males supply you with 50 coins. It’s also a great way to collect some frog coins. You get one for every gold beetle.
This part of the Final Fantasy VII was always tough for me. Not only can this mini-game provide a challenge, but how much damage you take gets carried over to the battle with Motor Ball that follows. In the story, you are on a highway, escaping Midgar. Riding your motorcycle as Cloud, your goal is to protect your party in the truck ahead from enemy bikers. This mini-game also appears in the Wonder Square. A good technique is take out all of the orange bikers first. Then, the red bikers will stay back is keep swinging your sword. It may seem a little cheap, but no one ever lost points for making things easier.
Skateboarding could be considered more of a feature than a mini-game in Kingdom Hearts II, but several mini-games spread out through five worlds include skateboarding. There is Street Rave in Twilight Town, Free Style in Hollow Bastion, Time Attack in Port Royal, Sand Slider in Agrabah and Workshop Rave in Halloween Town. Each mini-game consists of either performing stunts to gain points or collecting crystals along a set path. My favorite would have to be Free Style. This mini-game is somewhat of a miniature Tony Hawk game within Kingdom Hearts. Whether you’re collecting crystals, performing stunts, casually rolling around or using the skateboard as a means to get around, skateboarding provides a good amount convenience and entertainment.
For me, Chocobo Racing is easily the most investing mini-game of Final Fantasy VII. Not only can you bet on races, you can ride your very own Chocobo and race it yourself. On top of that, you can breed Chocobos and improve them through go up classes. The actually racing isn’t complex, but the added details give it depth and provide long-time goals. Due to the Chocobo’s popularity and Final Fantasy VII’s popularity, Square even put out Chocobo Racings its own game (not the same!). I’m hoping that one day Square-Enix will think to do make this compilation I’ve put together and do Chocobo Racing some friggin’ justice.
The training mini-games for your Dream Eaters in Dream Drop Distance provided a fair amount of entertainment, but Flick Rush is definitely the bread and butter of their existence. I’m sure fans of Monster Rancher, or any battle system of the like, enjoy Flick Rush. It pays a slight homage to Chain of Memories using a card-based battle system. Picking your three best Dream Eaters, you enter tournaments against the computer or face off against other players online. Each Dream Eater has a set of numbered cards that set off different attacks or can used for defense. Having a higher valued attack will cause you to break through your opponents attacks or defenses. There are many strategies and tactics that can used to perfect your skills in this deep, immersive mini-game.
Triple Triad is card game that makes for a great way to spend some spare time in the world of Final Fantasy VIII. The way it’s implemented into the game makes it feel like more of a way of life than a simple side game. You could just casually walk up to someone and engage in a Triple Triad battle. Each player has five cards and takes turns placing a card on a 3×3 grid. Each card has four numbers, one for each side. If you place a card’s side of a higher value next to your opponents card, you claim that card. In most cases, this will leave at least one side of you card exposed. Your opponent can just as well place a card of higher value by your card and claim it. You win by claiming the most cards at the end of the game. By winning, you can take one of your opponent’s cards. Collecting all 110 cards certainly is no easy feat, but taking the time to sculpt your deck and take on various opponents makes it one enjoyable ride.
I honestly couldn’t tell you if I spent more time on Final Fantasy X or Blitzball. Blitzball is practically big enough to be its own game. Even people I know that absolutely hate Final Fantasy X still pay respect to Blitzball. That’s not to say that its charm worked on everyone, but it certainly won me over. Blitzball follows a similar structure to Soccer, yet combines the sport with RPG elements. The goal is simply to get the most points by getting the ball into your opponents net. There are six teams and sixty available players you can use to customize your team, the Besaid Aurochs. Each player has varying stats and techniques. Each time you collide with a player on the opposing team, it turns into a little Blitzball battle where you can use techniques to help you score, pass or breakthrough. Leveling up your teammates will increase their stats and teach them new techniques. Various prizes can be won, including Wakka’s ultimate weapon, by competing in tournaments and playing in a league. Honestly, I’m surprised that with the amount of content this “mini-game” has, that Square-Enix hasn’t pushed for a stand alone. One plus, is that there are rumors of being able to play Blitzball online with the Final Fantasy X HD remake. Add that to Kingdom Hearts 1.5 finally being announced for the U.S., and Square-Enix is pardoned in my book.