Sidetracked By The Gold Saucer / Final Fantasy

The Final Fantasy series is particularly famous for this and the Trope Namer. Beginning with VII, all of the mainline installments and several of the remakes and tie-in games have featured a Mini Game Zone.

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    Final Fantasy 
  • The original NES/Famicom game had a secret minigame that could be accessed on the ship by inputting a button combination, and consisted of a sliding puzzle. Not only was this minigame kept in through various remakes and re-releases, but it was actually expanded in later versions to award more items and potions as prizes for players who completed the puzzle faster.

    Final Fantasy II 
  • Like the previous game, using a secret command while riding the snowcraft would open up a match minigame, where the player needed to flip correct pairs of portraits as fast as possible. The Dawn of Souls re-release added a hidden mode-within-a-mode where all the portraits were replaced by slightly-different pictures of frogs, but with better rewards (like Genji equipment).

    Final Fantasy IV 
  • The Nintendo DS version adds a selection of minigames that can be accessed via the Fat Chocobo, including mathematic, jumping and speed competitions. Doing well enough in these games rewards you with items and permanent upgrades for Rydia's Eidolon, Whyt.

    Final Fantasy VII 
By virtue of being a Killer App for the original Sony PlayStation, FF7 featured a number of time-wasting areas that would go on to be revered in the franchise and set the standard for all instances of this trope to come.
  • The titular Gold Saucer is the Trope Namer — a Mini Game Zone where you could net dozens of free and unique items, ride a gondola with your party members, take part in an arena-based battle mode and try your hand at Chocobo racing. Not only did it allow you to replay other games encountered over the course of the main plot (motorcycle riding, snowboarding), but you didn't even have to go out of your way to find the Saucer — you visit it as part of the main story and are encouraged to waste time there. Some people didn't even leave until they were forced to due to running out of money.
  • The beginning of the second disc (in the original PSX version) had you taking part in a snowboarding game on Mt. Corel. The game even encouraged retries by having the snowboarding course lead to different areas, and it was easy to walk back to the chalet and try it all over again. It became so popular that a cellphone-only version of the game was released in North America and later in Japan.
  • The motorcycle fighting mini-game also got a mobile game of its own, Final Fantasy VII: G-Bike.
  • The Fort Condor sidequest. While only a minimum number of matches have to be completed to acquire the Huge Materia during another sidequests, there are actually a total of 15 fights that can be played, along with a metagame aspect where you can purchase troops and armaments to defend the tower. The game even incentivizes ignoring the plot and backtracking long distances to the Fort to play these matches, as several of them are time-limited and give special rewards.
  • Saving the world can wait through several generations of Chocobo breeding and racing. This does get you several Infinity Plus One Swords, Final Disc Magic and Eleventh Hour Superpowers, but they're all Bragging Rights Rewards as it's easy to save the world without them.
  • While you're at it, go ahead and slaughter thousands of monsters to level up your Materia and get the complete Master set.

    Final Fantasy VIII 
  • Triple Triad. Many players clocked more time playing this card game than the rest of the game put together, possibly because FFVIII's Junctioning system made Triple Triad the local flavor of Level Grinding. It's lampshaded on at least one occasion; start a card game with Ellone on the Lunar Station, with all hell about to break loose thanks to the Lunar Cry, and she'll reply incredulously, "You wanna play cards now?!"
    The Spoony One: "EVERYONE, FALL BACK! THEY'RE COMING AT US FROM ALL SIDES! WE NEED A BARRIER BETWEEN US AND THE SNAKES what, cards? Yeah, I got a minute."
    • Pretty much every enemy you ever fight in that game is scaled to your level, and it's completely possible (especially if you try traditional level grinding) to find yourself unable to progress because the scaling assumes that you're going to be upgrading equipment, spells, GFs, and such as you level. Playing the card game allowed you to win cards, which you could turn into items, which could then be turned into spells to link you your stats to increase your power. Probably the only game where playing a card game is the Disc-One Nuke.
    • There is, in fact, a method of playing the game by which you basically don't ever level at all, thereby making the whole thing significantly easier. How do you do this? Convert every enemy you meet into a triple triad card and then follow the above method. Disc-One Nuke indeed.

    Final Fantasy IX 
  • "Chocobo Hot & Cold". It helped that some of the things you could find included the best armor for four different characters, the best weapons for four different characters, and the best weapon you're likely to get for a fifth. It also gave you access to the Bonus Boss. And that the music was catchy like nothing else.
    • That Bonus Boss (A big rainbow-swirl sphere named Ozma) required a further sidequest: Finding and satisfying all of the "friendly enemies" scattered all over the world by giving them their requested jewel(s). By doing this sidequest, the Bonus Boss goes from absorbing the Shadow element to being weak to it as well as now being within melee range, instead of only being targetable by magic and ranged attacks/skills.
  • The Blackjack mini-game after the end credits is a totally meaningless and yet addictive thing to throw in just for fun. You can basically play it forever; they give you a 1000 dollar payload to start.
  • The Tetra Master card game got so popular that PlayOnline released a pay-to-play online version of it along with Final Fantasy XI.

    Final Fantasy X / X-2 
  • Blitzball has enough content in its mechanics to be its own separate game. Managing your team, recruiting free agents or even other players whose contracts have expired, learning techs to improve your players performance in a match, etc. The amount of time a player could spend on Blitzball alone compared to the rest of the game can add up really fast.
  • Final Fantasy X-2:
    • The massage mini-game in Chateau Leblanc, in which you must (according to the game's own words) "adjust your technique for peak pleasure". The game even encouraged you to replay it multiple times, with a special item given you if you get it right on the first try.
    • Sphere Break, on the other hand, was only fun for people who enjoy math. You'll play it to get the Lady Luck Dressphere and then curse those wasted hours for the rest of your life.
    • Blitzball may have been even more addictive than it was before, despite no longer being able to directly control the players.
    • Gunner's Gauntlet is fun, until you realize there's a temple version that plays like a first-person shooter. There goes the rest of your month.

    Final Fantasy XI 
  • Aside from the return of Chocobo Hot & Cold from IX, XI was the first to introduce seasonal minigames, via the introduction of the Sunbreeze Festival. This was a limited-time Mini Game Zone filled with activities that could be played in the starting cities, along with purchasable fireworks, new Non Player Characters and more. The festival ran for more than a decade due to its popularity.

    Final Fantasy XII 
  • The hunting missions comprised a significant amount of the game's content, yet the player wasn't required to do any of it beyond a couple of required story missions. Many players found themselves drawn in by the hunt and spent many hours trying to find all of the legendary monsters found throughout the gameworld.
  • The reward from the fishing sidequest basically amounted to a Bragging Rights Reward, but that didn't stop players from sinking hours into getting the best fishing rod, lures and unlocking other fishing zones.

    Final Fantasy XIII Trilogy 
  • Subverted in XIII. In Chapter 8, two of your party members visit Nautilus Park, but before the game gives you a chance to really start doing anything, you get captured by soldiers and the rest of the party has to rescue them.
  • Played straight with the missions that become available in Chapter 11. Completing them all can take more time than some players are willing to spend. Not only that, but in order to get all the Trophies/Achievements, you not only have to complete them all, you have to five star them all.
  • XIII-2 has the Serendipity timeline. The game teases you with it early on and lets you in toward the middle. The Chocobo races are just as time-consuming as they were in VII. There are also slot machines and cards which become available through DLC. That's right. Not only do they want your gil, they want your real money now, too. As if to lampshade this trope, it's stated that Serendipity exists outside of time.

    Final Fantasy XIV 
  • Patch 2.51 added the Mandervillee Gold Saucer, with its own versions of Chocobo racing/breeding and Triple Triad, now available in multiplayer thanks to XIV's nature as an MMORPG.
  • A later patch added the Palace of the Dead, a pseudo-Roguelike which, while it doesn't give spectacular payouts (and those, only at the end), seems designed to ensnare everyone's attention for hours on end.

    Final Fantasy XV 
  • Justice Monsters Five!, a pinball minigame, was popular enough to warrant a short-lived bout of popularity as a separate iOS and Android app. It helped that the game didn't resemble a traditional pinball table, instead having the player use pinballs to directly attacks monsters.
  • Like XI and XIV, XV has a summer festival that is temporarily added to the game each year, where the player can go to compete for unique rewards, cosmetic items and more. The festival also had DLC items attached to it, expanding the amount of items that could be purchased.
  • The fishing minigame proved to be so popular that when the PC/Windows Royal Edition was released, a new Royal Yacht vehicle was added which gave access to more fishing spots (and was even played up in the advertising). Notably, the fishing minigame was beefed up after the Episode Duscae demo as a way to humanize the group, and eventually resulted in a spinoff fishing game, Monsters of the Deep, being released in 2017 that offers much of the same experience in VR with additional features and modes.

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