A look at some of FINAL FANTASY’s best minigames

From Chocobo Racing in FINAL FANTASY XIV, to Triple Triad in FINAL FANTASY VIII, we take a look at some of the best the series has to offer
By Square Enix Team

FINAL FANTASY games typically tell epic tales of derring-do, in which brave warriors risk life and limb for the fate of the world itself. But even heroes want to bunk off from time to time. This is where the minigames come in.

The series is packed with optional activities that change up the mechanics and provide a change of pace to the main adventure.

Like these for example:

Fishing with Noctis

When Noctis isn’t battling daemons, raiding the tombs of his forebears or accidentally driving his car into guardrails (that one might just be us), he likes to unwind with one of his favorite pastime: fishing.

Fortunately, fishing in FINAL FANTASY XV makes quite the splash. It’s a fully-fleshed out side-activity that’s as deep as the Vesperpool itself.

Not only do different fishing spots feature different things to catch, you’ll have to work out the best rods, tackle and lure for each. Then, you have to make sure you’re targeting the right place when casting. Finally, when the fish bites, the fight is on!

Even with the right equipment, you’ll need to reel in carefully, and know when to release the line’s tension and when to crank it up. If you can tire out the fish before the line snaps, you have a scaly prize that you can eat or exchange for gill. Sorry, we mean gil.

If there’s any downside to fishing it’s that it does come with a minor sense of guilt. While Noctis is happily waving his rod around, his pals Ignis, Prompto and Gladiolus are forced to stand around and twiddle their thumbs.

Of course, it’s not like it’s completely unbearable for the other members of the entourage - Prompto has an opportunity to take some nice photos, and every new fish gives Ignis a chance to click his fingers and “come up a new recipe!”

But Gladio? Yeah, that guy must be itching to get back into the Regalia.

Chocobo Hot and Cold - FINAL FANTASY IX

Chocobo Hot and Cold is one of those side activities that initially seems like a fun diversion and slowly blossoms into a full-scale obsession.

The game itself is simple - you goal is to use Choco the chocobo to find and dig up valuable items in a given area.

The more that your trusty bird ‘Kwehs’, the closer you are to a valuable find - when you’re in the right spot, Choco will thrust his beak into the ground and pull out items, money and even weapons.

Although it sounds straightforward, Chocobo Hot and Cold has a few twists to keep things interesting. You only get 60 seconds to dig up as much as you can, and there’s an element of randomness to keep things from getting too predictable - you’re never quite sure what Choco will pull up.

What you want most is Chocographs - essentially treasure maps that lead you to stashes on the World Map that contain armor, cards and other desirable items.

You can even find upgrades for your chocobo that allow you to access new sites to play - you guessed it - more Chocobo Hot and Cold.

It all adds up to a compelling loop that’s hard to break free from - there’s always time for one more go. And then maybe one more.

Gunner’s Gauntlet - FINAL FANTASY X-2

FINAL FANTASY X-2 is positively overflowing with optional things to see and do, from Blitzball to the Fiend Arena. But we’ll admit that we have a soft spot for Gunner’s Gauntlet.

This brisk, fun mini game temporarily turns FINAL FANTASY X-2 into a third person shooter. Yuna wants to prove to the skeptical Beclem that she’s strong and capable, despite no longer being a summoner.

To that end, you take control of Yuna as she races through a series of courses, blasting fiends and collecting treasure chests along the way.

It starts easy enough, but before long you’ll be swarmed by all kinds of monsters. You’ll have to juggle different targets, different types of ammo, and your position to keep your chain going and get through the gauntlet unscathed.

It might take a few tries, but it’s worth doing - complete the first course with enough points and you’ll unlock a snazzy new garment grid!

Chocobo Racing - FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

Anyone who likes a good mini game should visit the Manderville Gold Saucer at least once. This gaudy wonderland is a popular hangout spot in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online’s Eorzea, and is overflowing with games and activities.

You can try to hit the jackpot in the Jumbo Cactpot, battle minions against each other in Lord of Verminion, play crane games, play Triple Triad in the Card Square and much more. There’s so much to see and do that the easily distracted may never leave.

One of the most popular activities though is one that you’ll find in many a FINAL FANTASY game: Chocobo Racing.

FINAL FANTASY XIV Online has one big difference to the variety of racing in those other games though - you can play against other players in real time.

As you’d expect, you take your chocobo onto a racing track, and try to cross the finish line before the opposition. Your fellow adventurers will put up a real fight, but they’re not the only thing you have to contend with - weather can greatly affect how your bird will perform in a race.

You’ll also have to deal with track hazards that can either help or hinder. For example, blue panels will give you a speed boost, while purple will inflict the Heavy status effect and cause your bird to really drag its feet.

All said, Chocobo Racing’s an entertaining way to spend a few hours, and a decent way to pick up some MGP - the currency used in the Gold Saucer. Of course, if you really want to dig in, you can look at breeding and training your chocobos too - and that can be just as satisfying as the racing.

See what we mean about the Gold Saucer being hard to leave?

Triple Triad - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

Depending on who you ask, Triple Triad is a card game inside FINAL FANTASY VIII, or FINAL FANTASY VIII is an RPG inside a card game.

It’s one of the most popular side activities in the series and it’s easy to see why: what initially seems like a basic card game turns out to have more layers than an onion.

You build a deck of cards, based on monsters, summons and central characters from the adventure. Cards are placed on a 3x3 grid - if your card number is higher than the card next to it, you flip it to your color. Whoever has the most cards in their control at the end, wins the game.

Sounds simple right? But then the twists start to arrive. Every region of the world has its own set of rules - for example, your deck may be randomized or elemental effects can be added to the game board, affecting card stats. And then there are the trade rules, which determine how many cards you’ll gain or lose from a match.

That’s already quite a bit of complexity, but then the game adds another layer of strategy on top. A card-crazy character called the Queen of Cards travels the world - splash a bit of cash her way, and she’ll spread a rule of your choice to other regions, allowing you to manipulate the local game to your liking.

But there’s yet another catch - the Queen has a chance of automatically spreading Trade rules. This can be both good and bad - for example, if she spreads the ‘All’ rule around, you’ll find yourself in a tense scenario where every defeat results in you losing every card. Yikes.

Despite all these layers of strategy, Triple Triad never becomes confusing or overwhelming. It’s no wonder it’s so beloved by fans.

You can experience it yourself in FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered - available now on Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Steam.

Those were just a few of our favorite FINAL FANTASY mini-games... but what are yours? Let us know in the comments or on social media: