Somewhere down the line, game developers decided they weren't satisfied with just making games. They wanted to put games in their games. Miniature games. Some of them break up the single player experience, some of them add multiplayer and some of them are just something to do when you're bored (but not so bored that you want to turn the system off, go outside and meet other people). On rare occasions, minigames can be even more fun than the games they were packaged in. This is a tribute to the minigames that shamed their macrogames.
I was alive in 1994, so I remember when there was only one videogame genre: platformer. Back then it wasn't a videogame if you weren't jumping over death pits to move the screen right. Pitfall: The Mayan Adventures didn't bring anything new to the table. It was full of cliches like jungles, vine swinging and runaway mine carts. While not a bad game by any means, you'd pretty much seen everything there was to see by the third level. The developers must have realized this because that's where they snuck in a secret portal to the '80s, one that stripped away all your bits and let you play the classic Atari version of Pitfall. It's still got the cliche vines and pits, but that's only because it invented them. Pitfall was the game that defined the genre. For better or worse, every platformer that came afterwards owes a lot to the original Pitfall, none more so Pitfall: The Mayan Adventures.
I know why Super Monkey Ball exists. One day, a Japanese man made a list of words he liked, hung it on the wall, put on a blindfold and threw fish at it. Then he made a videogame out of the words that weren't covered in fish guts: "ball," "super" and "monkey." I'm not complaining. Some of the best games make the least sense. Surely, though, there is a better way to use these imprisoned ball monkeys than an OK version of Marble Madness. And if you have friends, there is. Forget Super Monkey Ball's single player mode, the real treasure is a minigame named after two of my favorite words, "Monkey" and "Fight." It's like the American Gladiators hamster ball event meets sumo wrestling, combined with spring-loaded boxing gloves and power-ups. Nintendo, did you really expect me to peacefully roll across the landscape collecting bananas? What's that? Sorry, I can't hear you. I'm busy punching monkeys off cliffs.
The design team for Tiny Toon Adventures couldn't decide if they wanted to make an uninspired, sub-par platformer, or do something really innovative. They went with both. Most of Tiny Toon Adventures is forgettable, but every few levels they change up the format, and these levels make the game worth playing. The best of these genre busters is the football stage. Is it a platformer? Is it a sports sim? Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose scoffs at your labels. Take everything you learned from Mario Bros and use it to score a touchdown. This is what nerds dream about: "Gordon, all of the varsity QBs have been kidnapped. We need you to score the game-winning football goal using only this SNES controller. All of the cheerleaders are depending on you."