At the best of times, mini-games can add a welcome change of pace to a game and maybe even enhance its replay value, as you get stuck into an unexpectedly addictive diversion to the main campaign.
But quite sensibly, even the most well-crafted mini-games tend to be optional excursions, because sometimes players just want to get on with the story and progress through the game proper without having to jump through a bunch of hoops.
However, there are those games that misguidedly decided to bamboozle players with compulsory, unskippable mini-games, and more to the point, those mandatory mini-games sometimes happened to be absolutely infuriating.
Whether impossibly difficult or simply joylessly dull, these 10 must-play mini-games all added considerable and totally unnecessary baggage to otherwise terrific games, making players temporarily miserable in the process.
Though these thoroughly naff and obnoxious mini-games provided perhaps only a temporary blip in their respective experiences, those feelings of anguished resentment continue to live on regardless...
10. Asteroid Shooting - Dead Space
Dead Space is arguably one of the finest games of its generation... save for that widely-loathed - and entirely mandatory - mid-game sequence where the player is forced to take control of a cannon and shoot a fleet of incoming asteroids.
What makes this so frustrating is how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the projectiles, which can quickly result in the hull being destroyed and the player being forced to start it all over again.
You can do yourself a favour by turning up the game's brightness to max to make the asteroids more visible, but even then, a couple of fails are still likely, especially when your damn gun overheats and you're taken out of the fight for a few seconds.
The rest of the game isn't terribly difficult, but this tedious brickwall of a mini-game has kept players stumped for literally hours. Thankfully fans hated this diversion so much that EA didn't try to shoehorn it into either of the sequels.
9. Hacking - BioShock
The hacking mini-game in BioShock commits two cardinal sins: it's infuriatingly frequent and intensely tedious all at once.
Hacking in BioShock is envisioned through a series of Pipe Dream-esque plumbing tile puzzles, which, while amusing the first few times you do it, quickly become an agonising chore that never lets up.
Thankfully there are barely any mandatory hacking sequences in the game (even if they're strongly encouraged), and so by game's end players were surely skipping every non-essential hack possible - especially as some later hacks are near-impossible if you lack the correct equipment.
Mercifully, BioShock 2 streamlined hacking into a far more straightforward and less time-consuming QTE-style mini-game, before Bioshock Infinite ditched it completely.
8. Ocelot's Torture - Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid features one of the most iconic and infamous mini-games of all time, with its late-game torture sequence after Solid Snake is captured.
Snake is placed in a torture device and electrocuted, causing his life to drain away, all while the player frantically mashes the Circle button as much as possible to keep Snake's life bar from being depleted.
You see, failing to resist the torture still allows players to progress through the rest of the story, but results in Meryl's death at the end of the game.
Countless infuriated players found themselves unable to successfully beat Ocelot's torture, short of buying an unofficial PlayStation controller with a "turbo" setting which allowed them to spam the Circle button simply by holding it down.
But if you did it the hard way, it was an extremely taxing mini-game, albeit one that successfully translated the gruelling nature of the torture to the player.
7. Snowboarding - Final Fantasy VII
For reasons that still remain a mystery today, Square decided to include a snowboarding mini-game in Final Fantasy VII once players arrived at the Icicle Inn - and worse still, the story can't be advanced without playing through it.
Though the mini-game only lasts a matter of minutes, the wading-through-treacle controls make it a completely joyless experience for every single one of those minutes, a misguided attempt to break up the action.
More than anything, it's a lame, ill-fitting affectation which further proves that Square should have stuck to what they knew. Cool Boarders this ain't, and it's even more of a clumsy mess when played nowadays.
6. Bringing Down The Star Destroyer - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a mostly underappreciated gem, though there's one mini-game that's left fans irate ever since the game's release.
In one level, protagonist Starkiller has to use his Force abilities to literally tear a Star Destroyer out of the sky, as was a memorable component of the game's marketing campaign.
Sadly the scene itself is painfully annoying, as the player has to switch between using the Force to manipulate the Star Destroyer - with a set of needlessly fiddly and obtuse controls to boot - and keeping waves of TIE fighters at bay.
As the game does an incredibly poor job of explaining the Force controls to the player during this set-piece, fails-a-plenty are certain, made all the worse by the fact that it's totally unskippable.
5. Skirmishes - Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Ni No Kuni II was a rather divisive sequel among fans for many reasons, from the inclusion of several progress-denying brick-walls where players were forced to complete a repetitious series of side-quests, to the baffling addition of an RTS-style "skirmish" mini-game.
In order to protect the kingdom of Evermore, players will need to amass an army and periodically fend off nearby invaders. While most of these battles are thankfully optional, there are a few required to continue with the story.
Though these battles aren't particularly difficult, they're the definition of soulless video game padding, and boring enough to outstay their welcome even at only around 5-10 minutes a-piece.
More than anything, the skirmishes underline a game that's disappointingly packed to the gills with bloated filler to prevent players from simply steamrolling their way to the end.
4. The Gummi Ship - Kingdom Hearts
Square Enix sure knows how to throw a stamina-draining mini-game into an otherwise terrific RPG, huh?
Kingdom Hearts is a fantastic game, no question, but fans largely agree that the big lowlight is the whole Gummi Ship mini-game.
Players must use the ship to travel between the game's worlds, at which point Kingdom Hearts temporarily transforms into a mediocre rail shooter, as you're tasked with avoiding obstacles and blowing up enemy ships.
Even with the ability to eventually upgrade your ship with time-saving warp tech, the ship is a clunky "necessity" without which players can't move between worlds. Though the sequels sadly didn't remove the mini-game entirely, they certainly made it decidedly more tolerable.
3. The Racetrack - Mafia
Though the Mafia games are largely focused on cruising around the city and shooting, the fifth level of the first game, "Fairplay," forced players into an horrendous mini-game where they needed to win an extremely challenging race.
The main problem is that the car you're tasked with driving is extremely tough to control while maintaining a high speed, ensuring you're likely to flip over and lose the race dozens of times in a row. Worse still, you can't get past the mini-game unless you place first in the race.
The mission pissed off players enough that 2K eventually issued a patch to lower the difficulty, but by that point many had simply given up and moved on to other games.
2. Blitzball - Final Fantasy X
Is there any Square Enix mini-game more widely complained about than Final Fantasy X's dubiously iconic underwater sport Blitzball?
Though there's mercifully only one mandatory Blitzball game in the entire story and you don't need to win it, that doesn't change the fact that the oddball sport is a lot less fun to play than it might at first seem.
Between the somewhat esoteric, convoluted rules and sheer time-consuming nature of playing a game - not to mention how dubiously it's tied to Final Fantasy X's actual story - Square Enix took an underwater football-basketball hybrid and somehow made it weirdly dull.
Perhaps were it played out in real-time rather than being painstakingly turn-based, it wouldn't have made us all feel so drowsy and irritable.
1. Fishing - Nier
Fishing mini-games are almost always optional, though in typically player-baiting (sorry) fashion, Nier offers up an initially compulsory fishing mini-game that also happens to be one of the most infuriatingly obtuse ever made.
First of all, the in-game explanation for how to catch a fish is scarcely coherent at best, and many players were then infuriated to discover that they weren't even fishing at the right spot to catch the single fish needed to move the story forward.
As it turns out, you actually need to move away from the starting area and head to the red X on your mini-map to find the fish. But in a small act of mercy, numerous failed attempts eventually results in the fish being automatically awarded to the player.
Given how countless players fled to forums to complain about wasting hours trying to get that damn fish from the starting area, it's clear that the objective just wasn't explained clearly enough - to say nothing of the clunky fishing mechanics themselves.