Pokémon has endured a long time with its classic gameplay. But it hasn’t always been simply its core gameplay. Over the years, Pokémon has offered many side-quests in the form of mini-games. Today, I’m going to discuss the most notable mini-games in the main series of Pokémon games, from the originals, to the previous entries, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
The first of the mini-games plays similar to the main game. This recurring mini-game within the series allows player to attempt to catch rare Pokémon. In most versions of the Safari Zone, instead of the traditional way of catching Pokémon, players would have to throw bait to keep Pokémon from escaping or projectiles to make them easier to capture. Though this was arguably a more frustrating way to catch Pokémon, rare Pokémon awaited those who put in the effort.
Here’s an obscure mini-game many likely missed during their respective play-throughs of Pokémon Yellow. Should a gamer have gotten their hands on the elusive Surfing Pikachu and brought it onto Yellow, they could play a mini-game where Pikachu could ride the waves for a high score.
Introduced in Gold and Silver and their respective remakes, this mode shared many similarities with the Safari Zone. On certain days of the week, players could compete to catch the best bug Pokémon within 15 minutes in real time. Rare bug Pokémon could be caught and prizes would be awarded according to placing.
This brings us to perhaps the most well-known of Pokémon mini-games: Pokémon Contests. Introduced in Ruby and Sapphire and enduring until Platinum (with a return in the remakes), Contests allowed trainers to perform with their Pokémon, rather than battle. To that end, every move in the game had both battle effects and contest effects alike. The trainers had a certain amount of time to make their Pokémon stand out to judges using their various moves. This could be done by mere appeal, or even distracting the rival contestants. With much strategy involved, there was nearly as much strategy involved as the main game!
With Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, we were introduced to the Sinnoh Underground. This vast labyrinth of tunnels offered a great deal of activities to do. Players could excavate for a myriad of treasures, create secret bases and play capture the flag with local friends. With an underground nearly as large as the region itself, players could spend much time doing activities underground.
Introduced in HeartGold and SoulSilver, was the Pokéathlon. Pokémon could compete in Olympic themed events, such as hurdle running, disc catching, and so on. Depending on the Pokémon, they could excel at speed events, or power events. It is up to the trainer to train their Pokémon and encourage them during their events.
On the broadway inspired streets of Nimbasa City in Black and White, there was the Pokémon Musical. Trainers could dress their Pokémon and give them accessories to send them to perform in a musical. Players did not have an extremely active role in the musical, though they could command their Pokémon to perform a flourish just once during the performance. Best saved for the right moment to really wow the crowd!
We come to my all-time favorite distraction of the series; making movies at Pokéstar Studios. Introduced in Black and White 2, players became movie stars alongside their Pokémon. First, a script is chosen, and the player follows the script to get a good ending for their film. But the real fun begins after making a film successful. The movie can be redone, but this time allowing a trainer to pick their own Pokémon for the film. Every movie had three possible endings: a bad ending, a good ending, and a hidden cult classic ending attained by fulfilling secret conditions. Finding these hidden endings results in some very bizarre conclusions!
Pokémon-Amie and Super Training
Last, but most certainly not least, features that took advantage of the 3DS on touch screens for X and Y was Pokémon-Amie and Super Training. Both were used to care for a player’s Pokémon. Pokémon-Amie allowed trainers to feed their Pokémon as well as play with them in order to get closer to them. Super Training allowed players to work out with their Pokémon in mini-games or just punch bags. These features made caring and training Pokémon more accessible than ever!
While perhaps no mini-games will ever surpass the core gameplay of the series, a good distraction gives life and distinction to any entry. With Sun and Moon out, many more mini-games await players who seek them. With so many fun distractions aside from the main quest, the real question is, which one kept you engaged?