The best secret minigames hidden in video games
Minigames are now part and parcel of most video games. They often range from tabletop classics with a twist to innovative side games expanding on the overall narrative in a fun fashion.
Most are fairly forgettable once gamers complete them. But some of the best minigames are so good they eventually become their own thing. Often considered the pinnacle of the genre, the fast-paced card game of Gwent introduced in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt spawned an entire spin-off franchise.
Yet while many minigames are quite obviously in your face, developers sometimes sprinkle their games with far more secretive options. So, how would you like to come across a well-hidden secret? Let’s dive in and check out some top-notch secret minigames.
Arcade games – Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley is all about that sweet country life. Perhaps the most successful farming sim ever, this casual indie game offers a serene respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The story kicks off as the player-character quits their unfulfilling office job to inherit their late grandfather’s dilapidated homestead in far-off Pelican Town.
Turning that bare plot of land into a thriving farm, players plant and harvest crops, raise cattle, and improve facilities to maximise profit. Fishing, mining, and socialising with fellow townsfolk are also on the menu after an exhausting day of spading and cow milking.
But Stardew Valley is full of many more surprises, including some exciting retro minigames on the arcade machine at the town’s saloon. Interacting with the machine, players can initially beat the Journey of the Prairie King. A special version of this retro arcade shooter later pops up during one of Abigail’s heart events. But another minigame called Junimo Kart gets unlocked upon reaching the bottom of the mines and securing the so-called Skull Key.
Retro Easter Egg – Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 4 is the top-selling entry in Naughty Dog’s massive franchise by a long shot. Bagging several awards, the fourth installation in the series wrapped up Nathan Drake’s story to a tee. Gripping storyline, emotional depth, and stellar cinematography aside, the game introduced open-world elements leaving players to freely roam around a handful of exhilarating levels to their heart’s content.
But well before the storm hits, Uncharted 4 lets gamers sit down and enjoy a good old nostalgic treat. Titled “A Normal Life,” the fourth chapter hides a retro game within the game as Nathan’s wife challenges him to a gaming session in Crash Bandicoot.
Of course, players can only access one level of that nostalgia-filled PS1 classic. And this minigame is notoriously frustrating, for there is no way to beat Elena’s score until much later in the game. Still, this meta nod to Naughty Dog’s early beginnings is a heart-warming Easter egg.
Secret card games – Yakuza Kiwami
Few games come close to the Yakuza franchise for sheer minigame fun. Each entry in the mobster series consistently leaves players much freedom to explore and interact with their surroundings. Goofy minigames abound, from wacky survival can collection to displays of epic disco moves on the dancefloor.
But the franchise also knows its way around hidden levels and surprises. A remake of the original title, Yakuza Kiwami introduces an underground gambling den. This covert hideout doesn’t show on the map until the player-character collects the password, either by rescuing a damsel in distress or getting the upper hand on a bellicose yakuza. Only then can Kazuma Kiryu make his way into the basement of a ramen restaurant to gamble away on casino classics like baccarat and blackjack. These minigames involve no actual gambling, though.
Gamers wishing to snatch real winnings can therefore turn to online options instead. Online casinos are now outspread worldwide, even accounting for countries where land-based gambling venues are scarce, like India. Better yet, online platforms grant users the best casino bonuses. Newcomers can grab hefty welcome packages in just a click, often comprising free spins and cashback deals. Seasoned players may as well claim loyalty rewards and VIP promotions. Game-specific bonuses also await those with a knack for a specific game, from poker to rummy.
Minigames are an entertaining way of pausing from a game’s overarching narrative. But secret minigames take the fun to the next level by pushing players to achieve a series of in-game objectives or explore their environment more extensively. And nothing beats the gratification and satisfaction that come with unlocking these unapparent features.