Since games have begun, people have craved to play games within games. Mini-games, secret Easter egg games, you name it – we’ve wanted to play the games within our video games, like some ridiculous game inception. This is part of the joy of games, that you are able to not just enjoy the game you’re in, but any tip of the hat to other games along the way. Today, Joel and Timlah have been looking into the best games within games – and you may be surprised to hear this isn’t video game exclusive.
Join us as we have a look our Top 10 games within games!
10) Tabletop Games – Tabletop Simulator
We figured this might be cheating a bit, but I wanted to give a nod to this fantastic game regardless. Tabletop Simulator gives you a virtual tabletop in which to play your board games, RPGs, card games and more. One of the coolest things about Tabletop Simulator is the fact it’s added in real physics, which means whenever you place a piece in a board game we’re all familiar with, you can’t just click a spot (well, unless the game was made with that in mind). You need to “physically” pick up the piece, then put it down properly. That is fun unto itself.
Impressively, most of this is user created content, which means that fans are the ones who get to decide how to play their games within this video game. Or you could just be like me: When you start losing in a game, simply flip the table at your opponents. Fun times, fun times indeed. Also, lots of lost friends… Please don’t block me.
9) Mini-games – WarioWare
Also somewhat cheating, we’re now picking a game that is actually entirely about playing mini-games. Fans of the WarioWare series will be familiar with what I mean but if you’ve never picked one up before, these are games that ask you to beat mini-games that characters from Warios world challenge you to. WarioWare is the ultimate in producing a game that revolves purely around the mini-games.
Most of the mini-games last no longer than a few seconds, with only the “Boss Stages” taking longer. Even then, the Boss Stages are so short in comparison to an actual boss stage, that you still feel like it’s just a mini-game in a much bigger game… of Mini-Games. Plus the nature of the Wario character helps to spur you on, wanting to beat Wario and his greedy ways at his own games. Damn you Wario, you might be perfect as a villain and as a mini-games guy.
8) Dice Poker – The Witcher
Looking for a quick in-game buck and then feel the rush of disappointment when you remember you’re not playing a freemium game? The Witcher has the perfect solution! Dice games of chance for gold.
In a game filled with very real characters, and darker facets of life, like racism, drug abuse, and worse, it’s nice to take a well earned gambling break.
I’m entirely sure that some of the players have rigged dice. How the hells do you roll a perfect straight bar one dice, and then roll exactly what they need on that one dice in a single roll?
For more information on the risks of playing dice with dwarves in seedy farms in farming taverns, go to Gambleaware.org
7) Waterloo-O – Psychonauts
Every mental asylum has a Napoleon, and this one has a particular mental block keeping him from getting on with his life. His great x10 grandfather – the actual Napoleon Bonaparte – has beaten him endlessly in a game of strategy that is naturally taking place entirely inside his own head.
Now, the game of Waterloo-O itself is not fully playable in Psychonauts, most of the part you play is persuading the pieces to believe in Fred Bonaparte in the hopes that he’ll finally believe in himself, but it has some elements strongly reminiscent of many great board games: resource management, construction, and warfare. It’s a fun little pastiche of strategy games woven into a narrative.
6) Galaga – Tekken 1
Tekken is a fighting series that I hold very dear to my heart. I remember when I played the original Tekken on my PlayStation 1 and found out about Gon, the most adorable little dinosaur fighter ever. Smash mouth, brutal action in this series, a game that prides itself on the players intuition and sense of defensive timing, rather than all out aggression.
In the original Tekken, there was a lovely little homage to Galaga. A fun space shooter, this wonderful game was also a game I spent many an hour on as a child, so seeing it in my favourite fighter was that much more satisfying. Even better, if you beat the Galaga game properly, you unlocked one of the coolest characters in the Tekken 1 roster: Devil Kazuya. If you played Tekken 1 and didn’t know about this little feature, I want you to go dust off your PS1 and play this. Right now.
5) Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax – Saints Row the Third
Saints Row the Third is a game that prides itself on being wacky, crazy and very different to its competitors. So when I heard about this mini-game within Saints Row the Third, I thought “Yeah, this makes sense!” Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax (PGSERC) see’s the Protagonist of Saints Row the Third play in a game-show styled shooting gallery.
What’s made even better is when you play through PGSERC, you are basically playing Saints Row – You’re just shooting guys! But you’re getting scored and having a game show host announce how well you’re doing. What’s more, there’s several levels of this insane shooting gallery! I have a really bad sneaking suspicion that if this was a real life game show, it would be pulled off the air pretty quickly. Thanks Professor Genki and your stupidly adorable cat head.
4) Blitzball – Final Fantasy X
Blitzball is basically a flying version of football.
There, I said it. That’s all that needs to be said. Well okay, there’s a lot more to it than that. Blitzball is a game that requires skill, timing and patience. The Blitzball itself is a spherical ball that has some studded spots coming out of it. As such, it’s not quite the same as kicking a football, but similar. The Blitzball itself is a strong bit of equipment, able to withstand kicks but if it makes impact with you, wow! That hurts!
There is a small period of time where this is in the main story arc, which allows you to unlock Wakka. Once you’ve done the main story tournament of Blitzball, you can then access the game whenever you go to a save point… And it’s a lot of fun!
3) Chicken Kicking – Fable
At the end of the pier in Oakvale, gather honest and noble men to play a game of skill, strength, dexterity, and mental instability! Test yourself and earn the title that you couldn’t be bothered to spend money to get rid of, plus it’s kind of funny hearing people whisper behind you “Chicken Chaser they call ‘im.”
Of all the in-game gambling options in the vast array of RPGs, this poultry-punting pastime is only for the morally questionable, and certainly not for vegetarians. Feathers will fly (because who can resist that joke?).
2) Geometry Wars – Project Gotham Racing
What the dickens is this? Am I trying to deceive you by suggesting that a very well known game in Geometry Wars was actually featured in a racing game?
Well yes, actually. It was made as a sort of Easter egg mini-game inside of Project Gotham’s garage. You were able to play a full demo of the Geometry Wars game and guess what? It was so popular, that it became its own stand alone Xbox Live Arcade game.
The reason this is so far up the list is simple:
- It was a mini-game that was turned into a full fledged game because of how popular it was.
- It only became the most downloaded Xbox Live Arcade game of all time!
- It was made by the devs just to test how to use the Xbox controller.
- The designer of the game’s surname is Cakebread. That’s a point unto itself.
1) Magic: the Gathering – Magic: the Gathering
Unhinged was a parody of introspection, self reference, and in the cards Enter The Dungeon, it becomes a parody of recursion. Both cards force the players to play another game of magic, the winner of which gains benefits within the game currently being played. You’re playing a game of Magic in a game of Magic, a game within a game. What a damn nuisance!
You have to set aside whatever is going on in the game at the time, and play with whatever is left in your deck! It’s a cruel and demented soul that plays that card to force the other player to lose half their life, but why would you do it just to search for two cards? Mean! Weird!
We’ve seen the best of the best in games within games, but sometimes a shout out, or a nod to a game within a game is just as good. These two honourable mentions are an adorable tip of the hat for games within a game.
Nintendo consoles – Pokemon
I can no longer tell whether the Nintendo consoles in the bedrooms of every protagonist in every pokemon edition since Red/Blue is just a consistent piece of not-so-subtle advertising, or whether it has no just become a running joke.
I often find myself wondering if anyone in the pokemon universe plays pokemon. We all know they’ll have Legend of Zelda on tap, but for the kids whose parents hate them enough to force them to stay home and attend school while the other kids are living on the road and combating wild and deadly creatures and criminal organizations, do they get to play the tame home edition?
Pong – Game Dev Tycoon
In Game Dev Tycoon, you play through the game in hopes to be the next big gaming company.
I’ve recently been playing this game through once again and the very first game I made was “Pong”. Okay, it wasn’t the real Pong, but I chose a sport simulation game called “Pong”. As you make the game, there’s a Pong poster that comes to life and starts to play itself when the game is near completion.
This is only in the first level, but throughout the game there are these subtle little nods to games; including Theme Hospital. Because it’s not really a game within a game, but a nod to a game within a game, I thought it still deserved a mention!
For this weeks vote on the next Top 10, 3 of our previously mentioned Top 10’s for you all!
What did you think of our list? Do you think we’ve forgotten any that really deserved at least a mention? Do you agree with our ordering, or has our love for Magic: the Gathering gone a little too far this time? As always, comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you felt! Please remember to cast your votes for your next choice of Top 10! Also, if you have suggestions for future Top 10‘s, let us know!