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File:Shenmue arcade outrun 9769.jpg

You even have to pay the coin.

While you're playing a video game, your character comes across a machine or home console, and you start playing a completely different unrelated game.

The game could be an Embedded Precursor, or an older unrelated game, a poorly disguised copy of a well-known existing game, or something completely original.

The game does not have to have any relevance to the plot but that does not exclude it from this trope.

This is a Sub-Trope of Mini Game but isn't the same thing. It's different by being a separate game. Your character in the outer game isn't chopping wood or breeding Chocobos; he's just sitting at an arcade machine. May overlap with Unexpected Gameplay Change and Bonus Stage. Compare to Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer.

(Fun Fact: Namco Bandai actually holds a U.S. patent on using this trope in a Loading Screen, which explains why their games usually feature fully-realized minigames that resemble some of their classic hits.)

See also Embedded Precursor for those sub-examples. Also see Show Within a Show.


  • Ratchet and Clank Up Your Arsenal had the Captain Qwark Vid comics, which are a side-scroller similar to Mega Man.
  • Grand Theft Auto San Andreas had clones of Tempest, Asteroids and Defender. You could also play billiards at one of the local bars.
  • Tales of the Abyss had the classic first generation side-scroller Dragon Buster as an unlockable bonus.
  • Bully had several with names like "Nut Shots", "Monkey Fling", "Consumo" and "Future Street Race".
  • Animal Crossing had a number of classic NES games ranging from Super Mario Bros. to Donkey Kong Jr Math.
  • The Warriors had a Final Fight or Double Dragon like beat-em-up called Armies of the Night.
  • Pitfall: The Lost Expedition had both the original Pitfall and Pitfall II the lost caverns as bonuses
  • In Marvel Ultimate Alliance, you get trapped in Murderworld for one level. During said level you get to play games like Pitfall and Breakout.
  • Shenmue had Space Harrier and Hang-On in it. Shenmue II had those two with After Burner II and Out Run.
  • You can go into the main character's crib in Saints Row 2 and play a console video game called Zombie Invasion.
  • Club Penguin spy missions are all minigames anyway, but in one mission, an arcade game was yet another minigame, making it a game within a game within a game.
  • NASU (the most depressing game in the universe) for the NES in Yume Nikki.
  • The 'Raising Hell' expansion pack of Overlord had a section where you had to play miniature golf, and then Break-Out, with a fat halfling as the ball in both cases. The first was annoying, but the second was hilarious.
  • Project Gotham Racing 2 had Geometry Wars in it.
  • Time Splitters had three games that could be found (via cartridges hidden in levels in story mode) that could be accessed by pressing the reload button with the Temporal Uplink out.
  • Second Sight had two games (which could be played on the PDA/Pause Menu), one found as a cartridge and another by playing on an arcade machine.
  • Occurs in No More Heroes; whilst travelling via train during one of his missions, Travis pulls out a hand-held console and starts playing Pure White Tiny Giant Glastonbury (which itself is a spin-off of a fictional anime Travis is obsessed with). Once the game is complete, the mission continues and the game is unlocked at his home for future playing.
    • The sequel gives us "Bizzare Jelly 5", also a spin-off of the anime, that you can play from the start of the game.
  • Tin Pin Slammer in The World Ends With You
  • The Xbox360 version of Ghostbusters the Video Game allows the player to play Q Bert. It's one of the arcade machines at the firehouse.
  • The Nintendo Wii version of Indiana Jones and The Staff of Kings has the Lucas Arts adventure Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis as an (easy) unlockable. Staff of Kings was apparently bad enough and Fate of Atlantis (before it was put on Steam a month or so latter) rare/good enough for someone to make a replacement cover for Staff of Kings that makes the box look like a Wii version of Fate of Atlantis see here.
  • The Super Turbo Turkey Puncher 3 (which uses the same graphics/sprites as the original Doom) arcade machine in Doom 3.
  • An Untitled Story has a computer and several arcade cabinets with mini-games that you can access by buying them for your house from the store in Sky Town.
  • Hero 3D in Iji is accessed from an in-game computer terminal.
  • The Funmachine in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People plays a different game in every episode. It occasionally even factors into the plot.
  • In Super Mario RPG, you can buy a Game Boy off a guy in Mushroom Kingdom and start playing Beetle Mania.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, you can play Star Stache Smash at the arcade in Little Fungitown. The first time you play that game, it's actually a plot point.
  • In La-Mulana, by equipping certain ROM combinations with the MSX2, you can play PR3 and Mukimuki SD: Memorial. The former is a parody of Parodius for the MSX, and getting a certain score in it is required to progress at a certain point of Hell Temple. The other begins sort of like Tokimeki Memorial, but then drops its Dating Sim mask and turns into a variation of the "Snatcher Headhunter" game mentioned below.
  • In the Xbox 360 game Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, you can go to Klungo's Arcade and play his masterpiece, "Hero Klungo Sssavesss Teh World", an eight-bit Self Insert platformer where the entire control system is a single button. And it regularly crashes, prompting Klungo to appear and reboot it for you.
    • According to some, this is better than the actual game.
    • A later DLC pack unlocked the sequel: "Hero Klungo Sssavesss Teh Universsse", which added a gun to Klungo's arsenal.
  • In System Shock, the PC finds some memory sticks with useful programs ? and games. Just plug one into your interface and play. In System Shock 2, you can hack the game device to get access to all the games.
  • Lucas Arts Day of the Tentacle contains the original Maniac Mansion in the game. It can be accessed from Weird Ed's computer.
  • Anachronox has this in the form of game cartridges that can be played on a machine back in Boots' office.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has the original Prince of Persia available to play as a special bonus if you break through a certain wall and go up a staircase.
  • Astro Chicken and Ms. Astro Chicken in the Space Quest series.
    • In Space Quest 3, the Astro Chicken game actually serves a plot point. In Space Quest 4, the Ms Astro Chicken game is just there for fun.
    • Space Quest 5 includes a space-based Battleships variant. You get to play it about halfway through the game at the Spacebar when Captain Quirk challenges Roger to a game of Battle Cruiser. If anybody knows if losing to Quirk affects the game, please edit this entry to include the results.
  • Police Quest: Open Season has the Stroids arcade game, an Asteroids clone, in the bar.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, the player can engage in an arcade game on Nam Cobanda Isle called "Tales of Draspi."
  • Left 4 Dead 2 brought us the sideshows in Dark Carnival. The Peanut Gallery, which was a shooting gallery (and unlocked the box with Gnome Chompski for an Achievement). There was Stache Whacker (a Whack-A-Mole game which, when beaten, would break the machine, spew winner tickets, and alert the horde as it dings happily). And there was the Strength Test which, when hit correctly, would knock the bell clean out and alert the horde. This one was also achievement-worthy.
  • Xenosaga Episode III had HAKOX, an arcade game. The player is required to play it for a while at one point of the game for the main story to progress.
  • In the Point and Click room-escape Lights, you have to complete a handheld LCD game about chicks crossing bridges to get a code.
  • Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty's Campaign Mode features an arcade machine with The Lost Vikings on it. Not THAT Lost Vikings though, it is a Space Shooter entirely made within the capabilities of the map editor.
  • "Captain Square" in Live a Live is an interesting twist - it's ostensibly an arcade game, but it plays exactly the same as normal battles do.
  • The Deus Ex mod The Nameless Mod included several minigames, like Tetris and Breakout, that you could play on in-game computers.
  • Donkey Kong 64 has two minigames to obtain the Rareware and the Nintendo Coins. Cranky offers you the game Jetpac as a example of the good past times in videogames. The other game is the original Donkey Kong game, in a Arcade placed in one of the levels. These are not optional, however; you had to play through both of these Nintendo Hard games to get into the room that unlocks the final boss fight.
  • Penumbra: Black Plague includes a shooter minigame in one of the PC´s.
  • The Adventures of Willy Beamish has Willy training for the Nintari championships using a game called Monster Squad. In the PC version, it's a cutscene of a platformer, but in the Sega CD version, it's a playable Space Invaders clone.
  • Subverted in Duke Nukem 3D: Upon confronting a Duke Nukem II arcade machine, Duke simply says, "Hmmm, don't have time to play with myself."
  • Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures features an arcade in both the countryside and the city. The arcade contains both the original Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man. The Sega Genesis version of the game replaces Ms. Pac-Man with a new game called Pac-Jr. (not to be confused with the Bally-Midway produced Jr. Pac-Man). Both Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Jr. require three cartridge pieces in order to play.
  • Try summoning an "ARCADE MACHINE" in Super Scribblenauts.
  • In Call of Duty Black Ops you can play a very old text-only adventure game Zork I on a terminal on the main menu screen as an Easter Egg.
  • In Prey, the bar where the game starts features a playable video poker machine and an arcade game loosely based on Pac-Man. Later on the player can stumble across the video poker machine on the alien space ship with the minor change that you can win every single round because the game will always deal the best possible hand based on whatever cards you've held.
  • The Israeli video game Tchachei Harating has a couple of arcade consoles in the lower floor of the hotel, where you can play, for instance, a karate fighting game.
  • The Tokimeki Memorial series loves this trope:
    • The first game has a Twinbee Time Attack minigame.
    • The second game has Circus de Aimashou, a remake of Konami's old game Circus Charlie.
    • Tokimeki Memorial Pocket has a Beatmania minigame.
    • Dancing Summer Vacation is built around the Dance Dance Revolution Tokimeki Mix minigame.
    • Several games of the series have original Shoot'Em Up minigames such as Force Gear, Stardust Symphony EX and Psyth (in 1), Star Crusher (in Tabidachi no Uta), Space Ring Fighter and Melting Point (in 2), and Go-Driller (in Leaping School Festival).
  • Most Humongous Entertainment games would have at least one. Occasionally they would even factor into the plot.
  • Ninja Gaiden for the xbox has an arcade machine that can play the old Ninja Gaiden trilogy, if you can find the cartridges, that is.
  • Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep contains the Command Board, which takes all of the gameplay and rules of Square Enix's Itadaki Street boardgame videogame series and mixes them with this game's characters and settings.
  • Urusei Yatsura: Dear My Friends had three unlockable minigames.
  • SD Snatcher features "Snatcher Headhunter", a Whack-A-Mole arcade game, which needs to be played for Plot Coupons.
  • Catherine has Rapunzel, an arcade game in the Stray Sheep with eerily similar mechanics to the nightmares but the time limit replaced with a movement limit. In fact, it's similarity to the nightmares is why it was put there.
  • Final Fantasy VII has the arcade games found in the Gold Saucer, some of which curiously parallel events that actually happen to your team. For example, there's a motorbike racing game, which uses the exact same graphics as an actual motorbike chase that your team goes through earlier in the game.
  • Dynamite Deka included the old Sega arcade game Deep Scan, points from which could win more credits to play the main game. Dynamite Deka 2 did the same thing with Tranquilizer Gun, another old Sega arcade game. The Play Station 2 remake of the original game substituted Periscope, a simulation of a still older coin-operated attraction Sega produced in the era before it made video games.
  • In Fallout 3 one of the computers has a text adventure game called "Reign of Grelok" on it that you can play.
  • In a couple of the Nancy Drew games, Nancy has to access a suspect's computer by solving or scoring points in their laptop's casual games. The Game Within a Game boasts a lower resolution than the rest of the ND game, presumably so it's obvious that this trope is in effect.