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It’s undeniable that, no matter how intense a video game might be, mini-games are always cool features to distract us from all the action or even keep us engaged for a few more hours. Even though side quests and subplots are up to the task, well-thought-out mini-games can provide a lot of fun and significantly improve the overall gaming experience. Throughout history, developers have developed some brilliant mini-games, and many of those featured card-based gameplays.
From classic card games like poker and blackjack to unique experiences like The Witcher’s Gwent and Fallout’s Caravan, card-based mini-games have been established as special features that increase gameplay time and engagement. Today, mini-games are present in many titles with many different mechanics, but card mini-games are still some of the most popular ones. Without further ado, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable card-based mini-games in the history of video games.
Triple Triad – Final Fantasy VIII
Developed and published by Square Enix, the Final Fantasy series is undoubtedly one of the most lucrative franchises ever, selling more than 159 million copies worldwide and popularizing many features that are now common in most role-playing games. So it comes as no surprise that Final Fantasy also helped popularize card-based mini-games.
With its first appearance in Final Fantasy VIII, the strategy card game Triple Triad was an instant success and captivate players worldwide with its intricacies. Even though its rules were a bit complicated, they were quickly picked up by playing the game, and Triple Triad certainly added a few hours to the title’s playthrough. The game was played on a 3×3 square grid in which strategy cards were placed – to win. A player would need to have a majority of the ten cards placed, which was done by capturing the opponent’s cards.
Blackjack – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Released in 2017 by Capcom, the eleventh installment in the Resident Evil series, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, brought significant improvements to the franchise. The game is the first in the main series to use the first-person view and the first to use Capcom’s innovative RE Engine. But apart from that, Resident Evil 7 also brought us one of the best card-based mini-games in recent years: a twisted version of blackjack.
But players shouldn’t expect the same blackjack rules casinos and online rooms have made famous. In Resident Evil 7, a blackjack game is played between two of the main antagonist’s victims, and players take control of Clancy Jarvis as he wagers against Hoffman. However, the stakes are much higher than a few chips, as the loser of each round either has his fingers cut off or receives electrocution.
Gwent – The Witcher
Developed and published by CD Projekt, The Witcher is a series of action RPGs based on a book series of the same name. The latest installment in the series, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, was received with critical acclaim and sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. But apart from the immersive stories and complex gameplay that amazed players around the globe, the series also introduced one of the most interesting card-based games in video games: Gwent.
Gwent is a turn-based strategy game played between two players in three rounds. Each player must play one card each turn from a deck of 25 strategy cards. The goal is to win two of three rounds, which can be done by placing different cards and spells to obtain points. A player wins a round by outscoring the opponent. Rounds end when either player passes to the next round or when both players run out of cards.
The game was so successful that it led developers to launch it as a standalone title, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, released for Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in 2018.
Texas Hold ‘em – Red Dead Redemption
The Red Dead Redemption series by Rockstar Games is regarded as one of the most significant video games in recent times and has become an instant success since its first title in 2010. And one of the coolest features available in both titles of the franchise is poker, with the classic card game playing a big role in the game’s storylines.
The rules used in the game are from no-limit Texas Hold’em, and players can find tables with varying stakes and bet limits in different locations in both entries, especially saloons and settlements throughout the maps. The mini-game is also available in the online mode of both titles, even featuring multiplayer tables. In the first title, it was even possible to cheat using a special costume, known as the Gentleman’s Attire, obtained by playing online.