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Hacking Minigame

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One would expect a place like Rapture to have better security systems.
Big Al: That Hacker is used to crack security terminals. Just stand near a terminal and press △ to hack in.
HelpDesk: Press □ to collect the green code snippets. Press ◎ to destroy the red defense programs. The blue defenses are indestructible.
— tutorial for The Hacker, Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal

A minigame in which the character hacks a machine or software system, either to open a password-protected locked door or to access some benefit that the machine is withholding. Occasionally this will extend to Mecha-Mooks, allowing the player to disable or reprogram them to fight on their side with a change in color. Hacking minigames come in a wide range of forms.

Any kind of realistic hacking would be too slow, too hard, too dull, and would require knowledge that most players just don't have. Hacking minigames bridge the gap between realism and fun. We can assume the minigame is just a player-friendly representation of the character's difficulty with the hack, and that characters are indeed hacking properly, even if we don't see it.

Subtrope of Hollywood Hacking. Sometimes these minigames allow for some Menu Time Lockout.


    open/close all folders 

    Action Game 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Ann can use the Grom System to hack any door with an encrypted lock where she has to get the unlock key through the bars of data by finding the right sequence before time is up.
  • Iji has a hacking minigame involving moving a pointer through a maze. Your "Crack" stat doesn't make hacking attempts any easier unless maxed out, but instead determines the maximum difficulty you're allowed to take on (all mandatory locks are level 1, except for one that's "as hard as you can handle", which has the side-effect of making it easier the lower your Crack stat is).
  • In MySims Agents, hacking involves moving the pointer through a scrolling maze under a time limit. And you have to stay on the lit path, which often changes when you pass through certain icons.
  • Enter the Matrix has one, although it's not part of the main gameplay and is instead used as a somewhat immersive way of activating various cheats and viewing concept art. Some versions of it also have normally inaccessible debug commands that require a more conventional cheat code to use, such as the only known to turn open the disc tray with a command instead of pressing the "eject" button on the console. It's also far more realistic than most minigames... while no actual hacking knowledge is required or used, you're going to be very lost if you don't have a basic understanding of command-line interfaces.
  • Hulk: To get by locked doors, Bruce needs to hack into the terminal and rearrange the door code to open the lock and pass through.
  • Project Eden involves spinning disks and quick reactions to hack a device.
  • Inspector Gadget: Operation MadKactus has a Pipe Dream style one. Since you can rotate pieces and there's no penalty to changing pieces, there's no way you can fail it.
  • Batman:
    • In the Batman Begins game, you hack into systems by clicking on 1s and avoiding 0s. There's also an electronic-lockpick minigame, where you just need to click on the wards when they reach the grooves.
    • The Batman: Arkham Series games have a device that you primarily use to hack open locked doors, using the control sticks to find the correct frequency/password. Whilst not necessarily a minigame, it does require a bit of skill to use correctly. However, the Wii U rerelease of Batman: Arkham City has the hacking as a full-fledged minigame, requiring the player to mend circuits with their fingers whilst avoiding obstacles.
    • In Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, the hacking sequence is shown as finding the hidden words throughout the data to shutdown the devices.
    • Batman: Vengeance has a "connect the nodes" minigame in which you have to line up wires to get the power going and complete the circuit to open the doors. Uniquely, it takes place on a 3D cube—you have to line 'em up on one side, and then rotate the cube to complete the whole thing.
  • The Hobbit (2003) has a timing-based pick-the-locks game. Locked treasure chests contain a series of obstacles, which Bilbo bypasses by stopping them when they turn green. Stopping them on anything other than green robs him of precious time; worse yet, some treasure chests have a poisonous security system.
  • 007: From Russia with Love has a twofold game. The first is a Gotta Catch 'Em All situation involving "attache cases." Having collected the cases, Bond can unlock them with a "match the symbols on the gamepad" game for extra research points.

    Adventure Game 
  • The Journeyman Project has you play a form of Mastermind to disarm the bomb planted in the Mars Colony Shield Generator. A connect-the-dots puzzle is used to disarm Sinclair's nuke at the end of the Pegasus Prime remake.
  • Justified in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey - Olivia de Marcos gives Zöe software that she routinely uses to hack. Her explanation as to this useful software is that if someone comes across her and sees her phone screen, it'll look more like she's playing a game.
  • In Code 7, you play as a hacker, so there's quite a few of these. They're based on real hacking procedures (man-in-the-middle attack, brute-force attack, network jamming, etc.), but simplified so they're fun and not too complicated.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • This is used for unlocking doors and accessing encrypted files in Alien Swarm.
  • In Crysis 3, this can be used to reprogram turrets and mines as well as open CELL supply lockers... or even reactivate dormant Ceph Pingers.
  • Rival company patrol bots in Deep Rock Galactic have a chance of being disabled instead of exploding when you kill them, disabled bots can be approached and hacked by completing a timing minigame, but the hacking does leave the player vulnerable to attack while in progress. Rival Router events also require the dwarves to hack relay antennae via a wire-cutting minigame before the main router's anti-tamper mechanism activates.
  • In Half-Life: Alyx, Alyx can use her multitool to open lockers, activate combine fabricators, and disarm tripmines, and the hacks are represented as VR mini-games.
  • Perfect Dark Zero has three different gadgets Joanna can choose to equip herself with before going on a mission, all of which require the player to solve a puzzle minigame on an interface atop the item before activating. The puzzles' complexity scales with the difficulty the game is set at, and she's still vulnerable to enemy fire while solving them.
    • The Demo Kit has a square grid of pipes in which the cells must be rotated to allow an unbroken connection from the start to finish before Joanna can plant the explosives. Higher difficulty levels have larger grids.
    • The Datathief, used for hacking into computer systems and electronically-locked doors, requires that a rotating cursor be hit at certain highlighted blocks as it rotates around a ring before advancing to the next level closer in, with mistimed hits showing a red block the first time and a second mistimed hit on a red block kicking you back a level. Higher difficulty levels have more rings to clear.
    • The Locktopus, for breaking into physical locks, requires that a given direction on the player's joystick be pushed and held with only the color of the device (red is bad, green is good) giving a hint as to which direction needs to be pushed before proceeding. Higher difficulty levels require more pins to solve.
  • Star Trek: Elite Force II has several moments where your character needs to reroute power within a computer system; this is accomplished by a modified version of the old computer game Pipe Dream, where the goal is to rotate "pipes" in order to connect identically colored starting and ending points without hitting a block or crossing circuits.
  • The GBA game TRON 2.0: Killer App featured a hacking minigame that had to be played numerous times to progress. Plus a few more minigames that generally fit this trope. Come to think of it, maybe the entire game was an example.

    Immersive Sim 
  • Both System Shock games have hacking minigames:
    • The first game has two different kinds: in the first one the hacking consists of little puzzles; easy to do if the player them self is good at it or gets lucky. The second one is logging into the Cyberspace, where the game switches to a vertical zero-gravity shooter where the player must navigate the Cyberspace in order to acess closed doors or get passwords, fighting security programs, collecting and using software for special abilities inside the Cyberspace.
    • In System Shock 2, hacking (and modifying, and repairing) involves trying to light up a series of three connected nodes; the results are based pretty much entirely on luck and your character's skill relevant to that task.
  • BioShock:
    • BioShock lets you hack vending machines to lower their prices or hack bots, turrets, or security cameras to make them fight enemies for you. In it, you complete a very Pipe Dream-esque minigame.
    • In BioShock 2, hacking is timing-based, requiring you to make a moving needle land on either a green or blue spot.
    • In either game, you can just pay a small fee to auto hack it. Yes, in this universe you can bribe the machine. That's Objectivism for you!
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided have a hacking game where you capture assorted nodes in a path leading to the registry, before the diagnostic subroutine reaches your I/O port. You can also use single-use virus programs to get in more easily. Although it's possible to find the right codes and username/password combinations in e-mails and pocket secretaries (upon which they will helpfully pop up when you access the corresponding machine), successful hacking brings with it bonuses of EXP, money, and hacking tools, providing an incentive to hack even if you know the codes.
  • In Prey (2017), the hacking mini-game is speed and precision-based, consisting of navigating a node across an obstacle course to reach access points you unlock by pressing the right button. The node bounces off obstacles with considerable force, which is the trickiest part of the mini-game.

    Platform Game 

    Puzzle Game 
  • Hacking is Probably Not Like This, is what you get when you make a game out of nothing but Hacking Minigames. The game has twelve different types of minigames based on different Stock Puzzles.
  • Paradroid has a mini-game when you take over a new robot where you must wire up more connections than the robot you are attempting to influence.
  • LAN Master, a homebrew NES game, is entirely this: rotate the pipes to connect all the computers. Because the author released the game's source code to the public domain, any NES homebrew programmer can use its code to add a hacking minigame. It's inspired by an older video game called "NetWalk", which has been reimplemented many times, for example the KDE libraries version known as KNetwalk.
  • The Witness: What the game essentially consists of. Everything from doors and elevators to windmills and lasers are "hacked" and activated by solving the attached puzzle panels.
  • Welcome to the Game inverts this by having you defend your computer from the hackers.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Fallout:
    • Starting with Fallout 3, if your character has the sufficient computer skill to take a crack at a given locked terminal, you can start a Mastermind-reminiscent hacking minigame in which you try to guess a password by searching through raw data and selecting prospective words. Hidden in the gibberish around those words are also nonsensical phrases that might give you an extra guess attempt when selected, or remove wrong answers. Four incorrect tries get you locked out, resulting in the terminal info being Permanently Missable unless you can find the passcode in a holotape or something, though you can always step away after three failed tries to start the whole process over. Fallout 4 also reduced the failure penalty from a permanent lockout to just one minute.
    • One sidequest in Fallout: New Vegas has a glorified Whack-a-Mole minigame where you have to quarantine a virus in the Brotherhood of Steel's computer network before it jumps to another set of terminals.
    • The Fallout 4: Far Harbor DLC has a memorable quest with a more involved hacking process. In this one, you're effectively entering Cyberspace to perform an Escort Mission, and use something similar to the game's settlement-building mechanic to help an indexer program (represented by little digital bugs) path through a 3D maze of blocks, by placing cubes of code to create a path for the program, aiming decoder relay "lasers" to burn through firewalls, setting up black ice "turrets" to protect the indexers from the system's anti-virus program (represented by flying drones that try and zap your "bugs"), and so forth.
  • LunarLux: Tetra can hack into malfunctioning networks to assist Bella during missions. Hacking segments play out in a retro 8-bit environment where Tetra needs to solve puzzles, dodge stage hazards, and bust viruses to reach the goal.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect lets you hack doors and containers by playing Simon Says in the console version and a Frogger-like game in the PC version.
    • In Mass Effect 2, you instead watch through scrolling boxes of coloured text, then select the matching box to the example, with what you're searching for changing every time. Bypassing is also changed to matching "Pins" on a circuit board to bypass electronic locks. The change from the first game to the second is lampshaded in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC:
      Shepard: Remember when you could just slap omni-gel on everything?
      Liara: That security upgrade made a lot of people unhappy!
    • Mass Effect 3 does away with it entirely: all computers are accessible instantly because you have a completely unrestricted AI working with you, and bypassing doors involves an animation of Shepard putting his/her omni-tool on the door and doing the bypass without any player input, to hide the loading screen for the next area.
  • In Alpha Protocol, you have two hacking minigames - one where you have to match two sequences of hexadecimal numbers to their copies on a constantly shifting board and another one in which you have to activate maze-like circuits in proper order. That and yet another puzzle based on lockpicking.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines allows your character to hack computer passwords so he/she can find information that can be helpful in some missions. However, this depends on how many points you have on your Hacking skill: if the system demands more than you currently have, all you'll get is a jumbled mess of letters that won't get you anywhere. But, since The Password Is Always "Swordfish" here, hacking skills are only relevant in your first playthrough, since you can simply write down the passwords you've already cracked and use them again in your next playthrough to the same effect, even if you have zero points in Hacking.
  • In Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, one of the options of the vending machines you get your items from is to hack it, but you need "Science points" to do so. You can't get any.
  • An important part of the game Freedroid RPG (as it allows you to take over enemy bots).
  • E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy has a skill for hacking. When you want to Hack Your Enemy, you have several options; Hack (convert them to friendlies), Possess (take control of them directly), Steal (steal some of their energy), or Destroy. Once you pick an option, the player must overcome the enemy's defenses and counter-attacks, by buffing their own attack and defense or debuffing the enemy's defense or attacks, or simply attacking the enemy's cyber-health directly. Failing the mini-game can result in nothing happening, the player's screen being screwed up with a giant smiley face on it until they re-hack themselves, or player death
  • Neocron has a hacking minigame that greatly resembles the one found in Paradroid. The hacking minigame is used to open locked doors and boxes.
  • In NieR: Automata, hacking takes the form of a short little Bullet Hell game. While it pops up in various spots of the game, it's primarily used as the main way to damage enemies as 9S, who's a Scanner-type android and therefore not as good as 2B or A2 in actually fighting with weapons.
  • Your Robot Buddy in Anachronox can hack several systems through a time-based minigame involving placing tiles on a cyber-grid laced with obstacles.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei NINE, hacking takes the form of a Real-Time Strategy game. You start by wagering a specific amount of Magnetite, then choose a Port to spawn at. Your goal is to capture the enemy's Command Area, while preventing enemy parties from doing the same to yours. To assist in this effort, you can convert Normal Areas into buildings that grant certain effects, such as Fountains that restore HP and MP, Traps, which damage enemies and inflict status effects, and Shrines, which can replenish your Magnetite supply or steal it from the enemy.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 has a ubiquitous hacking minigame where you must trace a path across a randomly-generated square grid of pseudo-hexadecimal numbersnote  by starting with a symbol in the top row, then jumping to another in the same column, then another in the same row, and so on. The goal is to trace a path that contains certain (randomly generated) symbol sequences displayed to the right of the grid, with each sequence having one effect or anothernote . This is made harder by the limits on both time and on the maximum length of the path (both extendible with cyberware, Skill Scores and Perks), which are offset by the facts that time only starts ticking after you select the first symbol and that if the start and the end of two target sequences overlap, you can chain them into each other to make the trace shorter.

  • Uplink is what you get when you turn the Hacking Minigame into the whole game.

    Stealth-Based Game 

    Strategy Game 
  • X3: Reunion: Terran Conflict has one as part of the New Home plot. Breaking into the Terraformer CPU ship #efaa requires breaking a four-digit code, then solving a Sudoku. The third part is inputting a code you put together from clues throughout the plot.
  • The ancient browser game Urbanoids.
  • The LEGO game Spybot: The Nightfall Incident is an entire game focused around this, represented by "data battles".
  • Deadnaut gives operatives with a hacking ability to work against the creatures on board the various Ghost Ship locations in keeping doors unlocked and turrets on their side.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • While it isn't strictly "hacking" per se, the wiretapping minigame in Covert Action works on much the same principle, making the user solve a puzzle to represent a much more complicated information-gathering exploit.
  • Warframe: Hacking Grineer technology involves turning nodes on right as a rapidly spinning cursor passes over them. Hacking Corpus technology on the other hand involves rotating hex tiles so their nodes match up. Both of these can be quickly bypassed using consumable ciphers. Orokin consoles are rare, and typically just use the Corpus minigame, but one story mission had an event where you had to go track down pieces of an Orokin code throughout the level, bring them back to the console, and assemble the code in the right order. Finally, Narmer consoles (introduced in The New War) require the player to activate nodes on a motion inverted display, and the terminals present in Albrecht Entrati’s labs underneath Deimos use a scrolling sidebar of Orokin script you type in on an ancient late 90s era computer while avoiding incorrect letters.

    Visual Novels 
  • In his flashback in Daughter for Dessert, the protagonist hacks into Lainie’s lawyer’s computer to get money after her family cut her off. The minigame revolves around guessing the password.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Watch_Dogs: Hacks are either just one click of the button with context-sensitive actions, and/or a Pipe Mania!! esque "connect the pipes" in order to gain access to a system, so you can do the aforementioned one-click hacks. Partially averted that you need to figure out what to hack and when, with some hacks being presented immediately as a hackable object is in your reach, or that you need to gain access to an access point in person.
  • EVE Online: An exploration scan might reveal data and relic sites, in where you can hack Space Pirate data vaults and derelict spacecraft respectively, to obtain valuables stored inside. The minigame consists of injecting a virus into a network of nodes which has to be traversed in a specific way to locate and disable the system core while avoiding hidden firewalls and anti-virus systems.
  • One of the side missions in Jazzpunk involves using a pair of augmented reality goggles to grab bits of code with a frog tongue in order to gain a Wi-Fi password.
  • Grand Theft Auto V - Online has a couple of these in some early heist missions.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • In one episode of The Librarians 2014, the characters are unknowingly trapped in a video game, and master-thief Ezekiel is infuriated that the electronic locks don't make sense, being more amenable to Cassandra's pattern matching skills than his own talents. Once he realises they aren't real locks but a hacking minigame, it makes a lot more sense.
  • Zenobia July: On Lukematon, Zen's favorite gaming platform, the admin space consists of virtual tunnels that can be accessed through trap doors in the game environments. By moving virtual levers and dials, Zen can see other players' data and change the game world however she wants. She thinks the creator of Lukematon must have a whimsical sense of humor.


Console Hacking

A showcase of the Corpus, Grineer, and Duviri cipher minigames.

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