Beginning mainly with its seventh iteration, the popular video-game franchise Final Fantasy (ファイナルファンタジー Fainaru Fantajī?) has become known for its inclusion of one or more minigames as part of its core gameplay. Participation and progression in these minigames generally will not affect the main game, but can often offer many items or "power ups" that are either very rare, or simply otherwise unavailable. They can also offer a diversion to the main story, and add a few more hours of gameplay.


Triple Triad[]

Triple Triad board

The Triple Triad game board.

Triple Triad is a card game in Final Fantasy VIII, designed by battle designer Hiroyuki Ito. It was not considered an essential part of the game, but more to provide a light relief to the storyline and allow the player to interact with minor characters in a different way. Through the use of certain Guardian Force abilities, the player was able to create rare items by converting cards earned by besting various competitors.[1] Final Fantasy VIII was the first of the series to introduce a side-game with such interaction.

Triple Triad is played on a three-by-three (3x3) square grid of blank spaces, where cards will be placed as the game progresses. The cards depict various characters, monsters, and bosses from the game, and four numbers placed in arrangement so each corresponds to one of the four sides of the card. These numbers range from one to nine, the letter A representing ten.

In a basic game of Triple Triad, each player has five cards. A coin-flip decision is made to decide which of the two players will begin. The player who wins the coin toss may then choose a card to play anywhere on the grid. After the first card is played, the opposing player may then play a card on any unoccupied space on the board. The game continues with player's turns alternating in this fashion.

Triple Triad Angelo Red

The Angelo Triple Triad card.

When a card is played, its values are assessed and compared to any cards which are adjacent on the grid. If no cards are adjacent, no assessment is made and game continues. If any cards controlled by the other player are adjacent to the played card, then the values of the sides of the played card are compared to the adjacent sides of the opposing cards. If the played card's sides are of a higher value, then the opposing card or cards become controlled by the player, and change in color.

Gameplay continues until the entire grid is filled. As there are only nine spaces on the board, the player who did not go first has one card remaining. Once the game is complete, the player who has the most cards in his color is named the winner. As there are a total of ten cards, this allows the possibility of the game ending in a draw, which may be resolved by a sudden death scenario, or by playing until a winner is defined. The winner claims a prize by taking one or more of the loser's cards.

In Final Fantasy VIII, each region of the game world has its own unique rules that can be applied to Triple Triad. Some include whether the players can see each others' unplayed cards, how many cards can be taken by the winner of the game, and how draws are determined. These rules can be added to or removed from the various regions in the game world, depending on choices that the player makes.

In 1999, following the release of Final Fantasy VIII, Japanese games company Bandai produced a full set of collectible Triple Triad cards. The set was made up of the 110 cards as seen in the game along with 72 artwork cards and a collectors edition playing mat. [2] Because the set was only released commercially in Japan and was not generally available in America or Europe, the cards have become a rare collectors item.

Tetra Master[]

Similar to Triple Triad, Tetra Master is a card game found in Final Fantasy IX. Unlike most of the minigames in the series, a few Tetra Master games are required to be played, one at the beginning of the game, and several closer to the end. The game is played between two players on a four-by-four square grid of blank spaces, where cards are placed as the game progresses.[3] Cards depict various characters, monsters or other items from Final Fantasy IX. Each card features four values written across the card, and has anywhere from zero to eight arrows corresponding to the sides and corners of the card. The basis of the game is for cards on the grid to 'challenge' adjacent cards, whereby the values written on the card are assessed to decide the winner.

FFIX Tetra Master Hedgehog Pie

A Tetra Master card.

In a basic game of Tetra Master, each player has five cards, neither knowing the other's hand. Just before the game commences, up to six grid-blocks can be placed on the game grid randomly. These prevent cards from being placed in that grid square.[4] A coin-flip decision is made as to which of the two players shall begin. The players alternate placing cards onto the game grid. If a player places a card onto the grid with an arrow on it pointing to one of the other player's cards, then a card battle begins.[3] If the other player's card does not have an arrow opposing the attacking player's card's arrow, then it becomes in the control of the attacking player. Otherwise, the winner of the card battle is chosen based on the cards' stats.[5] If a card is taken, then it in turn takes any cards it can have an unopposed card battle with.[6]

Every card has four values, or stats. Each of these stats relate to the strength of the card. The second value from the left is always an alphabetical value, while the other three stats increase on a hexadecimal range, meaning they can range from zero to fifteen, with the letters A through F representing the numbers ten through fifteen. These stats are, in order, the power, the battle class, the physical defense, and the magical defense of the card.[4]

Each stat represents a range of possible values, with the actual value of the stat being randomly chosen in that range whenever a battle begins. The power stat is the offensive value of the card. The physical defense and magical defense stats are the physical and magic defenses of the card. The battle class stat is either a P, M, X, or A, and refers to whether the card's class is physical, magical, flexible, or assault. This affects which stat the attacking card attacks. Physical will attack the Physical Defense stat while Magical will attack the Magical Defense stat. Flexible will attack the lowest of the two defenses and Assault will attack the lowest number on the card.[4]

Tetra Master card battle

An example of card hierarchy

The player who controls the most cards when all cards have been placed is declared the winner. If both players have the same number of cards, then no winner is declared. The winning player may take one of the cards from the opposition's set, but only one which was captured during the game. A game win is declared "perfect" if either player succeeds in controlling all of the cards at the end of a game. In this situation, the winning player claims all of the opposition's cards.[7] There is also a chance that one of the stats of one of the winning player's cards will upgrade after a battle, though each card has its own limits on how much it can be upgraded.[4]

Within Final Fantasy IX, one's collector's level increases and decreases as they play more Tetra Master, depending upon how many unique cards that player owns. [8] To achieve the highest collector's level, the player must collect one of every card in the game, each one with a different arrow pattern, and each one either A or X class.[9]

A board game version of Tetra Master was released for a short time in Europe. It consisted of 120 cards, two ten-sided dice, a manual, a double-sided playing board featuring two scenes from Final Fantasy IX, ten yellow counters and ten red counters. It featured a simplified version of the rules used in the game.[10]

Tetra Master is available to play online on the PlayStation 2 or a Windows PC using Square's PlayOnline service for a monthly fee.[11] Players may choose to compete against computers or other players. Cards may also be traded, auctioned, and bought from or sold to a card shop using in-game currency.[11] Users outside of Japan must purchase Final Fantasy XI to access the PlayOnline service on the PlayStation 2; however, subscription to Tetra Master does not require a subscription to Final Fantasy XI.

Chocobo Hot and Cold[]

Final Fantasy IX also had an additional minigame named Chocobo Hot and Cold. Upon the acquisition of a Chocobo, the player becomes able to access the game inside of Chocobo Forests. No games of Chocobo Hot and Cold are required to be played during the game, though items received through the game could be used in the rest of Final Fantasy IX, including both regular game items and clues towards discovering more items in the main game.

Chocobo Hot and Cold is played inside of Chocobo Forests while riding a chocobo. The player uses the chocobo to peck at the ground, with the chocobo emitting different sounds corresponding to how far away from the closest buried item the player is.[12] Upon the discovery of the location of a buried item, the player must peck repeatedly at the ground to unearth the item, with more valuable items being buried deeper and thus requiring more pecks. The player typically begins the game with a minute to find as many items as possible, though this varies between forests. The player can also extend their time by collecting many items before time expires. Besides items and gil, the player can unearth chocographs, which are pictures hinting at the location of items buried outside of the chocobo forest in the main game world. These items can be retrieved in much the same way as the items in the minigame.[13]

Chocobo Hot and Cold was added to FFXI in late 2006. It is played almost exactly the same, the only difference being that you must receive a certain kind of wildgrass from the stables each time you want to play. This can be bought from any stable in one of the three major cities.[14]



The Luca blitzball stadium with sphere pool being filled in Final Fantasy X

In Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, Blitzball is a sport that combines the six-man teams, positions, and physicality of hockey with soccer kicks for scoring and the hand passes of water polo. The game is played underwater in a large sphere pool suspended in the air. Blitzball is one of the very few fictional underwater sports ever conceived. Although blitzball is a crucial element to Final Fantasy X's plot, only one game is required to be played.

The blitzball minigame is played from a top-down perspective, with the player controlling his team members in turn. Teams are made up of six players a side, of whom one is the goalkeeper. The aim is to kick a dimpled ball (called the blitzball) into the opponent's goal area. The team with the most goals after two five-minute halves is declared the winner. As characters advance through the ranks they learn many new tricks to improve both their offensive and defensive skills, called techniques. Defensive techniques in blitzball often include violent tackles. Some tackles are intended to poison, cripple, or knock opponents unconscious altogether. As substitutions are not allowed outside of halftime intermissions, the use of these techniques can offer teams a temporary numerical advantage. Special goal-shooting and goal-tending techniques can also be learned. The ball always ends up in the hands of a player or in the goal, whether fumbled or blocked.


A goal is scored in the blitzball minigame in Final Fantasy X

When the blitzball mini-game first becomes available in Final Fantasy X, the player takes control of the Besaid Aurochs, and is given a standard player roster, which the player may alter by signing up other players from around the world, including players who began as members of the five other teams. Likewise, other teams may change their rosters as well.

The blitzball minigame in Final Fantasy X-2 differs from the one seen in Final Fantasy X, as players no longer directly manipulate the actions of their blitzball team members. Rather, they act as the coach, training and selecting players for their team. [15]

Sphere Break[]

Sphere break 3

A Sphere Break game in progress.

Sphere Break is a minigame within the game Final Fantasy X-2. The game has a numerical grid that has to be dealt with using a set of rules. The mechanics of the minigame are purely mathematical, relying on sums and multiplications; the aim is to create the most multiples of a "core number" by combining numbers of the sixteen coins on the board. The game is played on a four-by-four grid of blank spaces, which are randomly populated with coins at the beginning of each turn except for the four golden entry Coins in the center. All coins are numbered from one to nine and possess several different attributes that can help the player in the Sphere Break minigame itself, such as Echo bonuses or Quota multipliers, or gain items that can help in the various battles in Final Fantasy X-2.[16]

Before the game starts, a set number of border coins that needs to be collected by the end of the game, or quota, is determined, as well the four entry coins to be used, the number of turns allowed, and the time limit per turn. The empty spaces on the board are then randomly populated with coins with the chosen entry coins in the center, and the Core Sphere produces a random number from one to nine. The player first selects one entry coin, then chooses any number of border coins and entry coins until the total value of the selected coins is a multiple of the core sphere, called a core break. This ends the turn, and the sum of the selected coin values are added towards the quota. Any border coins used are removed from play and replaced with a random coin at a later turn, and all other border coins have their values increased by one. Any coin whose value goes over nine is also replaced. The next turn then begins, and the player continues until there are no turns remaining, the quota is filled, or all border coins are used up.

Entry coins may also contain bonus attributes, such as multipliers to the next turn's score, or items to be used within Final Fantasy X-2. These bonuses or items can only be obtained if the applicable entry coin is used during play.

Easter Eggs minigames[]

Several simple minigames of the series are hidden as Easter eggs which must be unlocked by pressing special button combinations in a particular location. In Final Fantasy, a sliding puzzle can be unlocked while boarding the ship. In Final Fantasy II, a matching game can be unlocked while boarding the ice sled and meeting a certain requirement. In Final Fantasy IX, a Blackjack game can be unlocked on the ending screen.

Reception and criticism[]

Triple Triad was praised by GameSpot as a "more-than-worthy RPG minigame", finding it engaging and unique.[1] Tetra Master, however, was seen by GameSpot as inferior and confusing compared to Triple Triad, as the rules for it were only vaguely explained in Final Fantasy IX and there were very few rewards earned from playing it despite its extensiveness.[17]

GameSpot has also commented that "trivial minigames have been creeping into the Final Fantasy games at an alarming rate over the last few years, and in this regard, [Final Fantasy] X-2 is definitely the most egregious offender in the series".[18]

See also[]

  • List of fictional games
  • Minigame


  1. 1.0 1.1 Vestal, Andrew (February 24, 1999). "Final Fantasy VIII for PlayStation Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-11-15. 
  2. Final Fantasy VIII: Triple Triad. Board Game geek.{{#if: 2006-12-07 | Retrieved on 2006-12-07]]{{#if: | , [[wikipedia:{{{accessyear}}} }}. }}
  3. 3.0 3.1 Alleyway Jack: Let's talk about how to actually play the game. You take turns placing your cards on a 4x4 grid with your opponent. Sometimes your opponent's card flips. That's because of the yellow arrows on the corners and the sides of the cards. If your arrow is facing in the direction of your opponent's card, that card becomes yours. But if your opponent's card has an arrow facing yours, a card battle begins. Square Co. Final Fantasy IX. Square Electronic Arts. PlayStation. (in English). 2000-11-14.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Birlew, Dan (2000) (in English). FINAL FANTASY IX Official Strategy Guide. Brady Publishing. pp. 53. ISBN 0744000416. 
  5. Mogster: If your card wins the card battle, you win the opponent's card. If your card loses the card battle, the opponent wins your card. Square Co. Final Fantasy IX. Square Electronic Arts. PlayStation. (in English). 2000-11-14.
  6. Alleyway Jack: If your card wins against the opponent's card, all the cards facing that card's arrows are yours. That's called a combo. Square Co. Final Fantasy IX. Square Electronic Arts. PlayStation. (in English). 2000-11-14.
  7. Alleyway Jack: What is a perfect game, you ask? You get one of your opponent's cards when you win. If you flip over all of your opponent's cards and play a perfect game, you can take all of them! Square Co. Final Fantasy IX. Square Electronic Arts. PlayStation. (in English). 2000-11-14.
  8. Alleyway Jack: Let me tell you about collector's levels! Check your menu and go to the section entitled Card. You can check your collector's level there. You can level up as you collect more cards. Square Co. Final Fantasy IX. Square Electronic Arts. PlayStation. (in English). 2000-11-14.
  9. Piggyback (January 29, 2001). Final Fantasy IX: Official Strategy Guide (Strategies & Secrets). Piggyback Interactive. ISBN 1-903511-10-0. 
  10. "Final Fantasy IX Tetra Master Card Game". BoardGameGeek. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "TetraMaster". PlayOnline. 
  12. Mene: Here's the thing, kupo. Choco has the ability to seek out treasures and items hidden underground. But I can't ride chocobos. Will you help me, kupo? 60 gil per game, and you keep all the items Choco digs up! Square Co. Final Fantasy IX. Square Electronic Arts. PlayStation. (in English). 2000-11-14.
  13. Mene: There's a picture of some location on the stone, kupo. This place must have tons of treasures... Why don't you go out of the forest and look for this place? Square Co. Final Fantasy IX. Square Electronic Arts. PlayStation. (in English). 2000-11-14.
  14. "Chocobo Raising". PlayOnline. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  15. "Final Fantasy X-2 Side Quests- Blitzball". Square Online. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  16. "Final Fantasy X-2 Review". IGN. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  17. Vestal, Andrew (July 19, 2000). "Final Fantasy IX Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  18. Shoemaker, Brad (2003). "Final Fantasy X-2 for PlayStation 2 Review". GameSpot. 

External links[]

Final Fantasy series


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Common elementsMinigames