There is nothing better in a high-octane, action-packed, stressful console game than getting to play a little mini-game to diffuse some of that tension. It seems a pattern in big budget console games that, almost as an Easter egg - yet often also as part of the narrative - the protagonist has to do something that requires us to play a game within a game. More often than not, not to break the narrative too much, the mini-games are ones that are inspired by casino games.But it’s not just as mini-games; casino themes are extremely popular in console games. For example, in Red Dead Redemption - the Frontier revenge game - you can play poker. The mini-game serves to ease some of the tension. Named Liar’s Dice, it consists of players guessing how many of a certain number will be showing out of the five dice they have in their cups. Players can bet, raise, call, or declare – and if you win outright, you gain a scrap for the Bandito outfit.
Moreover, players in the Grand Theft Auto series, starting with Vice City, can wager money on races – which has little effect on the outcome and narrative of the game but provides an added bit of excitement to go alongside the actual game. Fallout: New Vegas, as the name might suggest, also contains a plethora of casino-inspired mini-games. Players can engage in a variety of casinos in games from slots to blackjack to roulette. While the mini-games have no actual effect other than changing the cash levels, they offer a sense of familiarity.
Source: @paradisecasinop on Twitter
Indeed, a lot of the mini-games are snatched from gameplay straight out of online casino sites, such as online Casino Cruise. While the games on the sites are framed around popular content and themed around the premise of some games, such as the Halloween slot, Jurassic World, and faux-Indiana Jones, the mini-games in big console games are framed around the online casino slots. By spreading the influence in an almost cross-platform approach, the players can flit between the two and audiences can be widened.
Dead Rising 2 - as another improvement on the original - also allows Chuck to play mini-games in the various casinos located around the sandbox Fortune City entertainment complex town. While allowing the player to take a welcome break from slaughtering the living dead, and avoiding death at the hands of the living, they also allow him to earn cash or prestige points. The mini-games range from dice games, to slot games, to poker. Indeed, the casino theme at large is a strong one in Dead Rising 2 – with the Yucatan, Americana, Atlantica, Slot Ranch, Cash Gordon’s, and Shamrock Casinos being playable areas.
The casino theme is a good one for the more dramatic console games as the theme of the casino is usually snappy, yet containing enough excitement and tenterhooks moments to keep the adrenaline going. But, particularly in the later missions in games, it also provides a breather from the heavy narrative.
Header image: source: @oni_balonia via Twitter