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Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer
aka: Sidetracked By The Golden Saucer

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"I won't lose at board games that easily... I've played many bonus modes in games. Like casinos in RPGs... Sometimes I want to play that more than the main game."

Sometimes you're handling the main quest and a game will throw in some sort of diversion for your entertainment. This minigame, sidequest, or secondary story is so absolutely addictive, interesting, or just plain fun that you'll completely forget about the main story altogether. Thankfully, the story does not progress without you so don't worry too much about it. This isn't absolutely limited to video games either. Many websites have so many nifty things going on that you don't even care about the main site at all. These are times when the main story or quest gets derailed by what you can do on the side.

Related to Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! See also Just One More Level! and Quicksand Box. It will normally happen in the Minigame Zone. A Virtual Paper Doll, particularly one with a lot of customization options, can easily become one of these if you're the sort of player who cares about that. Compare and contrast Plot Detour where this is the content, as well Just Here for Godzilla, where the "Gold Saucer" is the main appeal of a work.


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Video Game Examples


  • Humongous Entertainment had a habit of sticking minigames in their point-and-click Adventure Games. While often they were hit-and-miss, they still managed to make some pretty dang addictive ones that left children forgetting there was an entire other game outside of it.
    • Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon. Bear Stormin'. Good heaven almighty, Bear Stormin'. An arcade-styled Auto Scrolling Game where you play as a One-Hit-Point Wonder trying to desperately keep your fuel up while everything else tries to kill you. It starts off easy enough, then, later on, it quits pulling any punches and descends into a Nintendo Hard mess of ridiculousness. Many have outright admitted it they enjoyed it more than the game surrounding it. In fact, it even got a reskin for the later Putt-Putt and Fatty Bear's Activity Pack, and of course it was the most played game in the (15-minigame) compilation, ramping the difficulty up.
    • The Spy Watch Shoot 'Em Up minigames in the SPY Fox series. All of them had a surprising amount of depth and got crazy difficult if you played them for long enough. Radioactive Trash Collector in the third game especially gets crazy addictive and nerve-wracking if you get far enough in it.
      • In Dry Cereal, SPY Fox can challenge Mr. Big Pig in a card game of Go Fish. Many players tend to focus on this part of the game for a great while before continuing on with the story.
    • Buzzy the Knowledge Bug had, for the most part, pretty forgettable minigames. However, The Airport had one major exception — Lost Luggage, a luggage-sorting real-time puzzle minigame where you had to switch conveyor belts to sort suitcases by color. People almost always turned on the game just to play this minigame. In fact, a developer made the last level of it near impossible because he never expected anyone to actually make it that far (also because he was fatigued from working on the game); seems he severely underestimated just how crazy addictive the minigame really was. It was so popular, in fact, that it later was reskinned and re-released as a standalone game (Pajama Sam's Sock Works), and even though that's usually a notion of laziness, nobody really complained in this case.
  • Most recent Nancy Drew PC games will have some type of arcade game in them and some hard-to-obtain prize and/or Easter egg (literally). Many players will get sidetracked halfway through the mystery because they want the prize, and then proceed to spend more time going after it than on the rest of the game overall. The box that's for sale for $99.90 and the rather addictive Land Rush minigame in Trail of the Twister stick out as the epitome of this trope, especially as it takes 50 to 75 plays on the arcade game to get the box.
    • Some of the minigames are so addictive that a player will start a game and Speed Run through the preliminaries just to sit there and play it for ages, completely ignoring the actual game. Smart players will create save points so they can access their favorites immediately.
  • The casino from Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards was so popular, it became a separate online game.
  • The main plot of Heaven's Vault is to discover the past through visiting various moons and ultimately to find Heaven's Vault. However, easily the most interesting game mechanic is translating Ancient. Thus, you can spend the majority of your time sailing the rivers hunting for artifacts and bringing them back to Huang to help you in the translation.

    Action Adventure 
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Adding to the list of open-world games guilty of this trope, the Assassin's Creed series, as it's gone on has become less about pulling off assassinations and more about doing (X) for 100 percent "synchronization". Even free running from building to building counts as this trope. And every game starting with 2 usually has an in-game economy so it's usually to your benefit to stock up on money earned from treasure chests and carrying out assassination contracts. Brotherhood introduced the ability to recruit potential assassins and train them by sending them on missions. There's also the fact that they can be useful for distracting guards in missions where 100 percent completion requires stealth. Also, did we mention this was the first game in the series to have an online multiplayer portion which in itself has become quite addicting? Lastly, starting with III it's actually very common for gamers to report that they spend more time sailing around the world or customizing their ship than they do playing through the main story.
    • IV: Black Flag has, as collectible items: Animus Fragments, Sea Shanties, Treasure Chests, Treasure Maps, Manuscripts, and Messages in Bottles. There are also 15 Mayan Stones to collect and 5 Templar Keys (each with around 4 mini-missions needed to obtain the key). You will need to hunt at least two of almost every animal to fully upgrade Edward (more to craft various outfits), and spend hours pirating around in order to obtain the materials and Reales needed to upgrade your ship. That's all before doing the Assassin and Naval contracts, the latter of which are unlocked by conquering the half-dozen or so Forts dotted around the Caribbean. None of these are required to complete the story (except for some ship upgrades), meaning you can spend days pillaging, plundering, and exploring without progressing the plot by a second.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight is already full of side missions to make one forget the main story. But now the challenge maps present in the other games actually give points to the Tech Tree, so there is a reason to spend extra time off the main mode. And there's the introduction of race maps that are surprisingly addictive given the Batmobile's often wonky handling in the main game, making Arkham Knight probably the best Batman driving game available.
  • Crackdown is nominally about fighting gang leaders (or mutants, in the sequel), but you're going to spend a lot of time leaping from building to building and hunting down orbs. And having a lot of fun doing it.
  • In The Sims, especially 2 and 3, and especially if you download custom content, creating Sims and building and designing houses are often so fun people make Sims and houses they never actually play with. Some people end up creating beautifully decorated Sim houses that look almost like real people's houses, but unfortunately are totally uninhabitable by Sims. Downloading custom content on its own can have this effect too.
  • The Ganbare Goemon series:
    • The Legend of the Mystical Ninja features an entire level called "Amusement Park," which consists almost entirely of mini-games such as concentration, horse racing, a painting contest, and a quiz game show with a ridiculously huge cash prize. Players can and do waste hours here. It also has one of the shops where you can buy the Hourglass item, adding time to the ever-ticking time limit at the top of the screen. You can't just waste hours here, you can buy them and waste more!
    • Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon has the Impact battles. They begin with a cutscene full of awesome music, then a running level, and finally the battle against a mecha-sized enemy (or in one case two). Unfortunately, the game has only three save slots, which is inconvenient if you want to be able to play all the battles over and over again and do anything else with the game.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series is loaded with these, most side activities have a good reward for getting to a certain level in them, making them worthwhile even if you aren't completely enamoured by them:
    • The Vigilante Car Chase.note 
    • Pizza Delivery.
    • The surprisingly difficult Ambulance Rescue mini-game.
    • Taxi driving: get your passenger to their destination as quickly, and safely, as possible. With a cash bonus for doing well.
    • The highly controversial Hot Coffee Mini Game.
    • Impromptu demolition derbies on the highway with whoever happens to be around.
    • The horse race betting shops in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
    • There are a lot of fun activities in GTAIV you can find on YouTube: Horrific one-car accidents, horrific two-car accidents, horrific multiple-car accidents, horrific motorcycle accidents, horrific helicopter accidents, vehicular homicide, insane successful stunt jumps, insane unsuccessful stunt jumps, helicopters plummeting out of the sky for various reasons, falls off of buildings, falls out of helicopters, falls from the edge of space, slamming into buildings at high speed, shoving people down stairs, off of cliffs, and into traffic, cops doing ridiculous dance routines, shooting each other, and jumping to their deaths, the protagonists (Niko, Johnny and Luis) getting ejected from cars or falling hundreds of metres to their doom while screaming hilariously, outrageous ragdoll physics, frictionless/zero gravity chaos, massive tidal waves, and people and cars being launched skyward by playground equipment via the legendary Swingset Glitch. Finding videos about story missions, side missions, bowling, talking, or whatever the heck it is you're supposed to do in GTAIV is much harder.
    • Grand Theft Auto V ups the ante in almost every way in this. Getting sidetracked might not even be getting sidetracked in this game. The entire game seems to be made up of getting sidetracked. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a tee off to get to. In game.
    • GTA Online is prone to distractions. In addition to all the things you can do in single-player mode, the element of player interaction can make the game a Griefer paradise. After all, who can resist the urge to blow up someone else's expensive personalized car they spent 30 minutes customizing to their tastes while riding in a chopper or tank equipped with long-range explosives and lock on targeting?
  • Bully has passing all the classes, the arcade games, the carnival games, racing bikes, racing go-karts, boxing, running errands, paper routes, mowing lawns, breaking lawn gnomes, collecting rubber bands and trading cards, and generally messing with people.
  • Iji gets extra points for doing this in universe with the Easter Egg Minigame Hero 3D. It's a very addictive action game in its own right, but upon reviewing some logbooks it is stated that one of the aliens programmed it in his spare time, and left it there in hopes that the "Human Anomaly" will be distracted enough by it that they can just walk up and capture her.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
      • The Fishing Pond is well-known for its addictive properties. Even after winning the available prizes, you can waste ages in there, looking for the elusive Hylian Loach. It was the result of one of the game designers goofing off while working on the Water Temple; he'd isolated a room with a water pool and some fish for his own amusement, and, when found out, the rest of the team liked the idea enough to throw it in.
      • The Horseback Archery course in the Gerudo Fortress. Ganon can wait. Link NEEDS his perfect score!
      • Someone, with help from others, made sheet music for Ocarina of Time, since the Ocarina is a full-featured instrument, not a prefabricated spellbook.
    • The Pictograph/Nintendo Gallery mega-sidequest in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
      • Due to the "Groundhog Day" Loop going on, it's not uncommon for players to spend entire loops just doing and repeating as many side-quests and mini-games as possible.
      • The 3DS version includes the Fishing Hole. With all the kinds of fish that can be caught in both locations, it's not unheard of for players to spend all three days doing nothing but fish.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
      • The Fishing Hole returns. Still awesome, and this time you can fish in any body of water, using a fishing rod of your very own, plus the Wii controls. The Fishing Hole lobby also has the addictive mini-game "Rollgoal", so you can get sidetracked by another Gold Saucer there.
      • The snowboarding races with Yeto. Aside from being just fun to slide down a snowy mountain, his wife is quite the speedy racer. Expect to spend hours training to get all the shortcuts in order to beat her record time.
    • The Lightning Round in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword allows Link to access a Boss Rush as well as a replay of the Silent Realm challenges, and unsurprisingly this has kept players playing them over and over again because of the Speed Run potential in both cases, and the opportunity to get juicy rewards (including the legendary Hylian Shield) helps.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, while waiting in the multiplayer lobby, you can run into the walls, causing a purple ball known as the Lucky Lobby Ball to fall down. Hitting the ball causes it to fly upwards and play a song from the Zelda series. If you continue to hit it, the song will keep playing and gradually get faster the more you keep hitting it.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has numerous distracting minigames, such as: Snowling, a form of 9-pin bowling using giant snowballs and wooden totem poles; "Boom Bam Golf," where you try to get a giant stone ball into a hole with a minimal number of stasis-launches; Shield Surfing, which is exactly what it sounds like; a "Train to Become the Wind" Pass Through the Rings game; the classic horse-courses, one with targets to shoot and another with hurdles to jump over, plus a plain old foot-race; a distance-gliding test off a certain Sheikah Tower; the "Gut Check Challenge," a test of your speed-climbing skills, with a harder mode when you get bored of the standard one... the list goes on. All minigames track your high score, encouraging you to play repeatedly, and most dispense Rupees (an otherwise-scarce commodity in this game compared to most Zelda titles) in addition to some special prize. This is all in addition to the game being one of the largest Quicksand Boxes in existence, with 120 optional "Shrine" mini-dungeons and 900 Korok puzzles to find and solve, among other things.
  • Saints Row took this trope and made a game around it. It's supposed to be a GTA clone. In reality, doing missions is just another minigame, along with customizing cars, buying bling for your avatar, spraying the streets with the contents of a septic truck against the clock, car surfing, flying under every bridge in town, landing on rooftops, then basejumping off and landing in the back seat of a gang vehicle (all of these unlock rewards), shooting other gangs from the window of said gang vehicle for a reward, putting out fires, towing hot cars, playing a pimp (or ho), driving a celebrity's Bentley and running news vans off the road, taxi driving, jumping in the path of incoming cars for money, tagging, robbing stores, blowing up as much stuff as possible with an infinite ammo rocket launcher, throwing crazed fans into jet engines, engaging in fisticuffs, demolition derby, demolition derby with harvesting combines, street racing, jetski racing, doing stunt jumps, assassinating people and getting drunk or stoned... And streaking.
    • Each subsequent game adds more stuff to do and get sidetracked by: Saints Row 2 let you partake in a violent reality show based on COPS, drive through the city on a flaming ATV, and go on a destruction spree with an attack chopper; Saints Row: The Third lets you run through a Japanese game show that is Running Man-meets-Takeshi's Castle, blow up things with a tank, and play the part of a "guardian angel" with a sniper rifle; and Saints Row IV takes many of the previous activities and throws superpowers into the mix: Telekinesis Mayhem, Super Power Fight Club, Mech Suit Mayhem, and so forth.
  • Sleeping Dogs (2012) has some unique activities that can take up a player's time.
    • The karaoke minigame in each nightclub has its share of players who won't put it down until they get 100% on each song. And the clubs themselves have flashy lighting effects and pulsing pop and hip-hop music that makes it enticing to dance with the NPC clubgoers.
    • Cockfighting. You have the potential to earn quite a large amount of money (especially at the Kennedy Town docks) and players just can't resist making Wei's coffers as big as possible.
    • Mahjong Poker. Not as big a payout as cockfighting, but addictive as all hell.
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order:
    • The game tracks the "completion" percentage of each world you visit, with dozens of collectibles and Character Customization options for Cal and BD-1 just waiting to be discovered. The game incentivizes backtracking to other worlds (after all, this is a Metroidvania title) to find the extra skins for Cal's clothing, BD-1, the Mantis, the lightsaber parts, and stim canister upgrades once you've unlocked the requisite Jedi abilities.
    • The game also has Optional Bosses that unlock after Cal is rescued from the Haxion Brood arena — a set of 12 bounty hunters that are placed in random spots throughout the available worlds. You could waste hours looking for them, and they don't award you anything but experience, but they're definitely worth seeking out.
  • Star Wars Jedi: Survivor brings back both the collectible customization options and the optional boss fights from Fallen Order, along with some new additions:
    • A "Holotactics" minigame, which both grants rewards for beating certain opponents and encourages exploration.*
    • A fish tank which can be filled with various species found as the player explores.
    • The player now has a rooftop garden they can plant themselves with seeds collected throughout the game.
    • Certain new collectibles can be traded to various characters for upgrades and customization options.
  • The Last of Us Part II includes a guitar simulator that lets you play almost any song. Since the game's release, numerous videos have come out of people doing covers of various songs using the game.
  • The Saboteur: The game's option of going around the city and countryside to destroy the various Nazi war and occupation equipment is probably what gave this game its name, more than the actual French Resistance aspect. You'll spend a lot of time blowing up bridges, searchlights, AA guns, sniper nests, occupation towers, artillery, propaganda speakers, fuel depots, and various other things.
  • Although there isn't much to do in Shadow of the Colossus other than killing the colossi and sightseeing, you'll find yourself captivated enough by the scenery to sink hours into just wandering around the place and drinking in the beauty of the setting. Scenery Porn at its finest.
  • The Like a Dragon series is most likely the king of this trope through its great efforts to represent urban Japan and all the attractions this includes. There are dozens of different minigames to play through, each wildly different. Batting cages, casino games, Japanese casino games (like cee-lo), mahjong, arcade games, even crane games where can win little stuffed toys. There's also an entire golfing game to play through, karaoke songs to sing, diners to visit for completion purposes, locations to try fishing, hostess parlors to visit (and ladies to woo), and more. Then there's also the arena to fight in. It's far too easy to simply sink in days and days and days worth of gaming time just getting sidetracked as you, a complete and utter badass Yakuza boss, play golf or try to win stuffed animals.
    • Yakuza 0 features two incredibly extensive side-missions: A real-estate management one for Kiryu and a cabaret club management one for Majima. Many of the game's sidestories, aside from occasionally providing equipment for use in the main game, also provide characters to recruit for these side-missions. Fortunately, getting distracted by these side-missions is beneficial to playing the main story, as despite being massive money sinks, proper investment also provides massive profits for use in upgrading your fighting skills and getting better equipment, as well as unlocking a whole tier of upgrades for your fighting styles, and even unlocking hidden fourth styles for both characters.
    • In fact Yakuza Kiwami makes you do two of these as a part of the "Majima Everywhere" System: over the course of the game Goro Majima, protagonist Kiryu Kazuma's lovably psycho rival, learns of him getting really into MesuKing: Bug Battle Beauties and Pocket Circuit races and demands Kiryu best Majima over them. As always Majima doesn't go down without a fierce fight.
  • Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, having been made by the same developers behind Like a Dragon, mainly focuses on the badass martial artist Kenshiro's quest to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but also features many of the same mini-games or rough equivalents (such as the batting cages replaced with swatting away motorcycling thugs with an iron beam), so it's easy to set the story aside as always. There are some exclusive ones as well, including working as a barman, helping Lin with her grocery business, treating patients in a hospital and even playing a copy of Sega's first Hokuto No Ken game.
  • Like a Dragon's Spiritual Predecessor, Shenmue, also featured a great many ways to waste time. You gotta go find your father's killer, but you'll likely end up getting sidetracked collecting Virtua Fighter and Sonic the Hedgehog figurines from gumball machines, hitting up the slot machines, slumming it in the arcade playing Space Harrier and Hang-On, playing billiards and darts in seedy bars, unlocking duck races to bet on, and wait, weren't you suppose to go asking about sailors?

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Kaos Mode in State of Emergency strips out the storyline and just lets you wreak havoc. It's actually more fun than the story mode.

    Eastern RPG 
  • In the Atelier Series, you're supposed to balance alchemy, combat, and exploration. However, the alchemy mechanics are extremely deep and intricate, so in the games where you don't have a time limit, it's easy to spend hours focusing entirely on making the perfect item, chaining and looping syntheses into each other to bump up your quality and get the strongest traits onto one item. The Mysterious subseries, whose alchemy involves placing tiles onto a grid like a Puzzle Game, can be especially fun, yet time-consuming.
  • The Fishing Mini Game and faerie raising in Breath of Fire III and IV could be pretty fun.
    • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter has an Ant colony you can raise, working in many of the same ways that the fairies do in III. A much-needed addition to a game where quite literally every step you walk is one step closer to your death. This makes returning to towns to restock on healing supplies and buying new armor and weapons that you couldn't afford the first time you got to the town quite risky to finishing the entire game.
  • Dark Cloud and its sequel had placing cities so everyone's 100% happy, frequently meaning you have to rearrange an entire town repeatedly.
    • Dark Chronicle gave you the option to take pictures of items and mix them to create possible new weapons. Cue every time you get to any new place, you whip out the camera and compulsively take pictures of everything and mixing them to get something new.
    • Fortunately, in 2, it is possible to build more houses in an area even after achieving 100% completion, so those who enjoy that aspect of the game can continue playing around with it after they finish the area.
    • Both games also feature a Fishing Mini Game. It was surprisingly deep in 2 — giving you two types of fishing poles that are used quite differently, the ability to level up your fishing poles extensively, a contest that rewards you for catching the largest fish, and the ability to put fish in an aquarium to prepare them for a fish race!
    • There's a golf mini-game called Spheda which gives surprisingly good rewards on certain floors. After beating the game, you unlock the ability to play through a special Spheda course. The only reward for beating it is to see how low you can get your score!
    • Every floor in the game offers 3 or 4 medals by completing certain criteria. Getting all these medals requires doing a good bit of the aforementioned fishing and Spheda.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Any game with a casino is prone to this; such as Dragon Quest VIII. Series creator Yuji Horii is an avid gambler himself, which is why gambling mini-games are a major element of the franchise.
    • Gambling was mysteriously absent from Dragon Quest IX, but returned in Dragon Quest X.
    • Dragon Quest II featured the first gambling mini-game: a simple slot machine where you could win prizes if the three symbols matched. The ultimate prize was a Gold Card, which could reduce prices of items at any shop by 50%. Even if you only matched two symbols out of three, you could still another token to try again.
    • Dragon Quest III had the pachisi track mini-game (called sugoroku in Japanese) in the SNES and GBC versions. The game also featured the monster arena, where you could earn some extra gold by betting on which monster would win. The gold card returned, but instead it allowed the player to play the pachisi track an infinite number of times without tokens.
    • Amusingly, in Dragon Quest IV, this happens to one of the heroes in-story. Chapter IV ends with Meena and Maya arriving in Endor, which happens to have a casino. If you don't waste time, you can get to Endor about fifteen minutes into Chapter V with a completely different and unrelated character and you'll find Maya in said casino, trying to win back the money you had just left them behind with at the end of Chapter IV! Her sister Meena is not amused.
    • Dragon Quest VII has poker. They brought it back for the remake of IV, but they nerfed the double-or-nothing feature.
    • The Monster Arena in VIII was also greatly expanded from III, allowing the player to not only choose which monsters could fight but also allowed the Hero to call your monster team in battle to fight for a few turns.
    • Dragon Quest XI has poker, slots, Slime Quest Slots (where you have to help the hero Goolysses), and roulette after the second casino unlocks.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The Gummi Ship sequences in Kingdom Hearts or Kingdom Hearts II. Particularly in II, where the sequences received a much-lauded overhaul which turned the levels into the adrenaline-fueled lovechild of Star Fox and Panzer Dragoon.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep has more distracting and addictive mini-games than you can shake a stick at. Command Board can suck away hours of playtime each time the player unlocks a new game board. And then there's Disney Town, which is basically the Gold Saucer of Kingdom Hearts— full of incredibly fun and addicting mini-games. And that's not even including the multiplayer aspect in the Mirage Arena, which lets the player do all of this and more with friends... suffice it to say, it's very, very easy to completely disregard the story. It doesn't help that they give you a very good incentive: the top two rounds (in the original) give out the Infinity +1 Key and the most powerful Shotlocks in the game — including Lingering Will's Ultima Cannon! That in itself wouldn't be too bad... unless you're a Billy-no-blokes, because the Mirage Arena is designed for multiplayer. The Shotlocks are guarded by the third and fourth forms of the evolving SNK Boss.note . To say nothing of the command menu and melding process, for some gamers, who will spend HOURS tweaking and mastering their commands, because... Gotta Meld 'Em All.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] has Spirits (friendly Dream Eaters) helping you in battle. The game includes a fully functional virtual pet simulator for taking care of them — one can easily get distracted from the main point of the game thanks to this, though your Spirits do gain some battle prowess along the way.
      • Raising specific Spirits is also required to unlock essential late-game abilities like Second Chance and Once More, so devoting a decent amount of time to this feature is pretty much mandatory unless you want to try beating this game's notoriously difficult endgame bosses without those abilities...
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals:
    • Ancient Cave is this. A 100-level randomly-generated dungeon where equipment and spells are randomly distributed, with ever-increasingly powerful monsters and a giant boss at the end. It even has collectible Iris Treasures which serve no purpose. The worst part is the developers knew it: After beating the New Game Plus mode, you're given the Gift Mode, which strands you in the town next to the Ancient Cave with the ability to select which members join your party from every playable character in the game. It was so popular that it spawned a phone release with JUST the Ancient Cave and nothing else.
    • Forfeit Island, which holds the traditional casino. And a pawn shop, where you can buy back the stuff you sold. Or fed to your Capsule Monster to make it grow into a stronger form.
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga features a number of mini-games across the overworld, all of which can be played to earn various beans and the occasional piece of clothing. One can spend a ridiculous amount of time farming Hee Beans in Star 'Stache Smash while the surfing mini-game run by a pair of Oho Jees is especially valuable for awarding the only constant supply of highly rare Hoo Beans.
  • Monster Girl Quest: Paradox has a gargantuan number of sidequests. Simply recruiting every one of the hundreds of monsters will take many hours. Leveling up those monsters and raising their Relationship Values will take many more hours. And lots of monsters have their own sidequests, some of which (like Vanilla's shop and Papi's blacksmithing) are very extensive. Then there's the Small Medals scattered around the world for you to collect, Grandeur's theater (where you can unlock shows where your various companions perform), the casino... Last but not least is the Labyrinth of Chaos, a postgame dungeon that could easily be an entire game by itself.
  • NieR: Automata has a Fishing Mini Game so addictive and distracting that the game even lampshades it; there's a special ending just for abandoning your mission in the name of continuing to fish.
  • Pokémon:
    • In the first generation games, winning a large sum of coins at the casino was the only way to get Porygon, outside of spending an even larger sum of money. However, you can get Dratini which evolves into Dragonair, then Dragonite. You can also get Pokémon you have normally would have trouble catching, such as Abra (Teleportation from battle) and Clefairy (Hard to find in Mt. Moon), and Scyther (Safari Zone). In later titles, the Casino Gift Shop gives out the most useful TMs and items, so the gambling really does pay off, especially for "Stop Having Fun" Guys.
    • New to the scene in HeartGold and SoulSilver is the "Voltorb Flip" game, which combines Luck-Based Mission and Awesomeness by Analysis. Your total coins can only go up because you're not actually betting in this game. On the other hand, they compensate for this by making it take even longer to make just as much money as you could by Save Scumming the slots... which just results in even more incentive to play it for hours.
    • Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum have Pokémon Contests, which involve a different set of stats entirely, and are rightly a whole other game. Imagine a competitive beauty pageant, for Pokémon.
    • HeartGold and SoulSilver has the Pokéathlon: track and field events for Pokémon.
    • Breeding. Trying to hatch the perfect Pokémon sometimes is more fun than the battling. And sometimes wondering how it even works is a whole different ball game.
    • Roaming around the Underground trying to find Shards and the like in Diamond and Pearl.
    • Pokémon Stadium (1 and 2) have addictive mini-games, to the point that one of the main complaints about Pokémon Battle Revolution is that it has no mini-games.
    • Back with a vengeance in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 in the form of Pokéstar Studios. Shooting movies there is very addictive, and you'll be staying in Virbank City long after beating Roxie because of how fun it is to do so.
    • In Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, Join Avenue is very addictive and you get excellent perks, items, and training options for leveling up your shops there. Even better, online battles and trades help you do so quicker, so you might end up Sidetracked from One Golden Saucer by Another Golden Saucer. Team Plasma can wait when you still need 300 points to level up your Cafe!
    • For those who love battling, the Battle Subway and Pokémon World Tournament are the places in Unova to go! The former is a seven-battle system that pits you up against a wide variety of Pokémon. Although the regular lines can be pretty easy up until the last eight battles or so, the Super lines are perfect for competitive-level trainers who need something to try out their tactics on. Endless, unpredictable battling means nothing is the same, and even other trainers or an in-game one can join, too! The latter is a tournament-style system that pits you against almost every Gym Leader and Champion in the series. It's useful considering that you earn points needed to buy valuable held items and TMs by doing so. Battle-loving trainers will have a blast.
    • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, with the addition of facility building, similar to Join Avenue above, you can get distracted from the main plot by focusing on grinding materials and improving your Paradise. Not to mention the mini-games added like Sunken Treasure and Prize Palace.
    • Pokémon X and Y has two types of mini-games that can be accessed anywhere: Pokémon-Amie and Super Training.
      • Pokémon-Amie is a way to build relationships with your Pokemon. You can pet them, feed them desserts, and play smaller games that make your Pokémon friendlier toward you. This causes your Pokémon to gain many benefits during battles, such as being more likely to land critical hits, recovering from major status conditions, and surviving attacks that would have otherwise KO'd them. Thus, it's very easy to get stuck on this mode if you have a lot of free time.
      • Super Training is a set of mini-games where your Pokemon kicks soccer balls into a balloon to try and pop it as fast as possible. This has the gameplay purpose of increasing your Pokémon's Effort Values which can be manipulated for Min-Maxing, and is much, much easier than the previous way of knocking out certain Pokemon over and over again. Secret Super Training has mini-games that reward rare items like Evolution Stones, PP Ups, and even PP Maxes if the player does well enough. Of course, it still takes a long time to complete, so players find themselves spending a lot of time in the mini-games, causing this trope.
    • Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, on top of having Super Training and Pokémon Amie returning, introduces the DexNav. It detects hidden Pokemon and gains better search functions the more a particular species of Pokemon have been encountered. Hidden Pokemon detected by the DexNav may have Egg Moves, their hidden ability, holding certain rare items like Lucky Egg and Life Orb, possess Perfect IVs, and even be Shiny. Players will just waste their time fiddling around with the DexNav than doing any actual progress in the game.
    • Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon continues the tradition with its two unique minigames.
      • Not only is Mantine Surfing fun, it is the earliest BP can be gained in any game in the franchise, and there are a lot of good things on offer, such as vitamins, Max Revives, and Move Tutors for useful moves such as the elemental punches, Stealth Rock, Earth Power, and more.
      • Ultra Warp Ride is a way to acquire every Legendary Pokémon from Gens I through VI, an infinite number of Ultra Beasts, and even obtain Shiny Pokémon that aren't in the Alola Dex. Even better, it opens up right after Ultra Necrozma's defeat, before the player's final Trial. It's not at all unlikely a player will end the game with a different party than they had before as a result.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield has two:
      • Pokémon Camp. It functions similarly to the above-mentioned Pokémon-Amie, allowing you to play fetch, tempt your 'mons with a cat toy, and talk to them. It also has the addictive curry-making minigame, which not only heals your Pokémon and gives them extra experience points, but also gives you a number of curry recipes to collect. Chances are you'll be more focused on making curry than actually challenging the League.
      • The other is the Wild Area, a sprawling expanse of land that partially turns the game into a Wide-Open Sandbox. Between the variety of hidden items, the variety of Pokémon found there, and the fact that it's open before you even get to the first gym, chances are you'll be spending a lot of time there.
  • Go on, just pick about any Persona game that incorporates the free time elements. You're given one whole year in the game's timeframe to defeat the Shadows and climb Tartarus, catch the serial killer plaguing your town, and clearing your name of a false assault charge and changing the corruption of society for the better, and unlike most games, there are deadlines that will result in a Non-Standard Game Over if you fail to meet them... or, alternatively, you can enjoy a thriving town/city to explore with stops and venues to increase your stats, a Fishing Minigame in Persona 4, batting cages and darts in Persona 5, and in all three games, socializing and helping your friends through their problems, which can so engross players that they make them often forget about the main plot! Doubly so when, if you play your cards right, you can hook up with some of the characters as well... in short, Persona absolutely lives on this trope, and the most common complaint of fans of the series is that the game ends all the same.
    • Persona and Persona 2 both have casinos that feature slots, video poker, blackjack, and (in P2 only) bingo. Playing nets you coin tokens that you can exchange for weapons, armor, spell cards, and other useful stuff. Unless you're on an emulator abusing save states, however, be prepared to spend hours on these games to get the shiny stuff. In P2, Yukino even laments all the time one of her old friends (you, the player character in P1) spent in the casino in the midst of a crisis.
    • Persona 5 Royal also includes My Palace, a feature akin to Fire Emblem Fates' My Castle hub and is just as addictive. You could spend hours in this mode without even caring to think about the main game itself, endlessly toying with customizing a massive virtual dollhouse. You can even play an Uno-like card game called Tycoon, which can get ridiculously addictive as well.
  • Star Ocean:
    • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time actually has an item that will have you ignoring the battles because it's just so much fun to roll around. It's also easy to get caught up for weeks playing games in Gemity, although that's partly because the Bunny Racing game is so luck-dependent it will take you weeks to win all the prizes.
    • Star Ocean: The Second Story also had the bunny-racing game, which was just as hard (if not harder) to win at. At the very least, there's only one prize there that you can't get elsewhere, but seeing as it's possibly the best set of footwear outside of the game's Bonus Dungeon... Not to mention in both Star Ocean 2 and 3 you can go back and visit places that you can't return to normally, either because the planet no longer exists, or the location is on a different planet. Now add on that in every city you can disband your team and interact to get special endings. SO2 had 81 possible endings, only available through team-city interactions.
    • Star Ocean: The Last Hope brings back the Bunny Racing mini-game as well, though this time around there is a small degree of control of the bunnies while they race, and you can affect various stats like speed, endurance, and such based on foods you feed it. Having a small degree of control over the outcome makes it quite fun to play.
    • Star Ocean: The Divine Force introduces Es'owa, a board game that plays like a cross between Dots & Boxes and a tabletop miniature game. Players can be found in almost every populated area in the game, and winning nets you money and figurines based on characters from previous Star Ocean games that not only are powerful pieces to use in Es'owa but can be equipped as stat-boosting accessories.
  • Suikoden:
  • Super Mario RPG:
    • After a certain point, you can go back to the first town and buy a Game Boy game from a kid who had been playing it the whole game (he sells it to you because he finally beat it). It's an insanely addictive Space Invaders clone where you can create giant combos for MASSIVE POINTS.
    • Grate Guy's Casino (assuming you can figure out how to get to it without a guide anyway). Offers two rather terrible games with high chances of losing, but also a game from Grate Guy himself (essentially a coin flip game) with a prize if you beat him 100 times. Said item is a moderately powerful, infinite-use attack item, so it's well worth the considerable amount of time it takes to get.
  • Super Paper Mario:
    • The arcade. Four insanely addictive and incredibly fun mini-games. Many players would only leave to spend their tokens on that which they could sell, do so, then return with more money. Even if they eventually got bored of the game they were playing, there were still three more.
    • If you get bored of Tilt Island, there is no helping you.
  • The Keterburg casino in Tales of the Abyss is the only way to get the Joke Weapons. Since the weapon graphics in cutscenes do change to reflect the weapons the characters equipped, wasting time at the casino to get the joke weapons can easily be worth it for the opportunity to watch Jade wave a giant finger pointer around in the midst of a serious scene.
    • Abyss has a really weird mini-game in Nam Cobanda Isle, where you hit a bunch of spots with Meiu (panels on the floor, moving panels... that stuff), and you get points every time you do it, especially if you hit the panel that puts up the flags. It's terribly distracting, because if you leave the area, you have to start getting the 99999 points all over again, and you don't even get that great of a prize, other than saying you spent hours doing nothing. Also in Nam Cobanda Isle, you have Dragon Buster, and from it, you can get TWO titles for Luke. THEN in Ketterburg, you have the casino, where you can choose to play Poker or Nephry Ball (which is essentially the lotto). With this, you get chips and can buy very unique items, almost all of which can only be found at the Casino.
    • Tales of Vesperia has a Nam Cobanda Isle itself and the opportunity to play the ever-so-addicting casino games. There's also a mini-game in another area where you have to accurately predict if the next number is higher or lower than the one preceding it.
    • Also, the working Casino in Tales of Symphonia for the PlayStation 2. None of the prices were so great — except the pretty cheap Devils Arms weapon. Or Raine's bunny outfit, costing the most chips.
  • The Millenium Puzzle/Puzzle Box in the Wild ARMs series. Many tales are heard of gamers stopping in the thick of the plot upon opening up new sections of the map just to seek and solve every Puzzle Box they can at that point.
  • The mini-games at the festival in Wild ARMs take up way too much time. It's perhaps fortunate that you can only play them while the festival is going on.
  • After beating the first playthrough of A Witch's Tale, you get to play a game of Blackjack against all the other characters.
  • In-Universe example in The World Ends with You: in the Secret Reports, Joshua was so hooked on Tin Pin in Another Day, he forgot the entire Third Week has passed. Proof that Square-Enix is making too many addictive games.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1, hoo boy. This game may well hold the record for just how early it's possible to get sidetracked: the first town alone contains literally dozens of sidequests, as well as around 50 unique, named NPCs to register in a chart detailing their relationships with all other NPCs! A player could spend hours doing sidequests before even leaving the first town! By the time one is done with sidequests and moves on with the main story (if only for having no more quests to do), the party can easily be many hours and about a dozen levels past what the game expects.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X practically invokes getting distracted. Story missions can only be unlocked if a certain level, percentage of Frontier Nav is reached and/or an Affinity Mission is completed. Naturally, this requires a lot of exploring.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has the "Tiger Tiger" game. The game is the primary method of upgrading Tora's artificial Blade, Poppi. Given Poppi is also the only Blade Tora can have you are actively encouraged to do this.
    • Salvaging can end up taking up a lot of playtime simply because it can become a Game-Breaker and one of the best sources of money in the game.
    • And in true Xenoblade tradition, it would not be exaggerating much to say there are one hundred sidequests in this game.
  • Xenosaga Episode I's card mini-game, Xenocards, is incredibly addictive as well as astonishingly in-depth, an entire Collectible Card Game built into the sci-fi JRPG. It's also the best way to make money, if you know what you're doing. And if you don't know what you're doing, the entirety of the game following the mini-game's availability may feel broken, as prices take a significant hike.
  • Xenosaga Episode III has Hakox, which could have been released by itself as a sweet budget title.

  • Photographing all the wildlife and plants in The Amazon Trail for 100% Completion can become this. There are so many and some are quite rare. You can easily spend an hour on one very short leg of the journey just clicking on "Explore," scanning, waiting for anything that might pop up from underwater or fly in from offscreen, returning to the river...and immediately clicking "Explore" again. Same goes for fishing until you manage to catch the pirarucu, who can easily take five minutes to show up...if he shows up.
  • Wolfquest technically has a plot you're supposed to follow — find a mate, breed, move your pups, the end — however, it's easy to get lost in pretending to be a wolf, hunting animals, and exploring the wilderness.

  • Soul Series:
    • Soulcalibur III introduced customization the option for making your own personalized fighters, and the feature has stuck around in all following main games. It's quite popular to just create original characters or interpretations of characters from any work of fiction, rather than actually playing the game in any of the various fighting modes.
    • Soulcalibur III included a mode that allowed you a sort of turn-based strategy, meets real-time strategy, meets fighting! It was so interesting and well done, you could end up spending hours just trying to figure out new strats and different warriors to use to get through a section and either lose as few casualties as possible or try to lose none at all (very difficult, especially early on). It also had the effect of unlocking various things in the game proper (such as new customization options... another sidetracking activity in itself). And the best part was if you enjoyed the fighting in the game, it used the conventional fighting of the game (rather than some weird hybrid version as was used in some of the Tekken side games) so it was the best of both worlds!
  • Tekken Tag Tournament's Tekken Bowl mode is highly addictive. It is likely if you're with friends you will play this more than actual fights. Tekken 7 improves the bowling mechanics and pin physics to the point that it's as good as or better than many games specifically dedicated to the sport.
  • The Coin Shooter mini-game in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. There are other ways of getting trophies and stickers, but you'll keep your finger hovering over the Fire button for hours just waiting for a new/rare one to float into the playing field.
  • Tobal No. 1 was a unique take on fighting games set in 3D back in the early days of the genre. While it was unique enough on its own to be fun, it also included a rather hard dungeon exploration mode with randomly generated dungeons, monsters to fight that would test your skills (and were not just reskins of the fighters available), and was genuinely fun. After the fighting was done, you could count on hours and hours of replay in the dungeon.
  • With the thousands of characters potentially available to use, M.U.G.E.N already makes for a big enough time-sink. Add in the nigh-limitless customization options you have via stages, soundtracks, and graphics, and you can kiss your free time goodbye. And that's without even getting into the fact that with a little coding know-how and a lot of patience, you can create your own new content from scratch.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Bioshock 2: In the Minerva's Den DLC, Subject Sigma can play Spitfire, one of the first video games ever made.
  • In BioShock Infinite's DLC Burial at Sea, Booker can gamble on slot machines early in the game, much to Elizabeth's annoyance.
  • Call of Duty: World at War had the Nazi Zombies unlockable survival mini game. Given this has online leaderboards and co-op multiplayer, one can literally spend hours playing sometimes instead of the normal modes. Then it got people making their own maps for the PC version... then it got three downloadable bonus maps to buy (or get for free for the PC version), complete with traps such as electro-shock fences and swinging maces, and various power-ups...
    • And then they released Call of Duty for iPhone. Which game? Modern Warfare? No. Nazi Zombies. Many people played the campaign once or twice, online a handful of times, and Nazi Zombies for hours.
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops outdoes itself by giving us several further Nazi Zombies maps. The default one lets you play as Fidel Castro and JFK, then among the DLC maps, there was Call of the Dead. What's Call of the Dead? This is Call of the Dead.
  • Far Cry 3: Your girlfriend, your friends, and your brother were all kidnapped by Ruthless Modern Pirates and are likely being tortured, raped, and/or sold into slavery as we speak...but who cares about THEM? You've got animals to hunt, outposts to liberate, radio towers to find, screw around on jetskis and hang gliders...
  • Perfect Dark's Combat Simulator. Seeing as it's the only mode available to even play if you don't have an Expansion Pak, they had to make it really addictive. And quite so: there are more levels and maps than in single-player, you can set every weapon that appears, fight with up to 12 opponents, select the behaviors of the AI, customize damage/health settings, choose from several different game modes, switch from free-for-alls to team battles... as at least one reviewer has noted, it's amazing that the old N64 cartridge didn't explode from everything the multiplayer has to offer alone.
  • This is more of a subjective one, but just about every Unreal Tournament game except UT3 had amazing mods and "mutators" (miniature mods that could be switched on and off in-game).
  • As soon as Overwatch released its Paris map, players found themselves far more invested in playing the working (and accurate) pianos with their guns than shooting each other.
  • In case you're bored of shooting people or robots and capturing points and briefcases in Team Fortress 2, there's a ton of custom game modes out there to endlessly enjoy. You could play Prop Hunt, where one team is disguised as random props and the other team must hunt them down. Or there's Vs. Saxton Hale, which pits every player against one super-powerful boss character. There's Deathrun, pitting players through a Death Course full of traps triggered by one person. Maybe fighting off zombies in Zombie Fortress is your thing. You could play WarioWare-style mini-games. If you want to just shoot people but in more insane ways, there are: servers where every attack yields a Critical Hit; the UberUpgrades mod, which allows you to upgrade yourself and your weapons to insane heights; the Randomizer mod, which randomizes all your weapons; or the x10 mod, which multiples most weapon stats by ten and grants other weapons ridiculous bonuses. If you're a trader, not a fighter, there's plenty of trade maps where the emphasis is on trading or exploring the often expansive and detailed maps. If you play on these kinds of servers too long, you might forget how to function if you return to a normal server...

    Hack and Slash 
  • In No More Heroes, the side-jobs were largely regarded as a minor obstacle to blaze through in order to unlock more lucrative assassination jobs. So what happens in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle? They get turned into faux 8-bit mini-games... and they're just as fun as the main game itself. In particular, "Bug Out" and "Tile in Style" are easily liable to suck your time away. Oh, and if you're not into those, there's the faux-Moe Shoot 'Em Up in Travis' room, which allows you to blast the ages away. The eventual discovery of a hidden "Special" mode in the latter, unlocked by beating the game on Hard without dying once, did not help.

    Level Editors 
  • Absolutely ANY games with Level Editors and/or create a character modes. Seriously, any sandbox-type game with these features (any theme park or rollercoaster game, Spore), will have probably more people using the features than the single-player mode, and for Super Smash Bros. Brawl alone there are a heck of a lot of people spending more time on the Stage Builder than the main game itself.
    • StarCraft is of special note because of this aspect. More people play custom UMS games online than play the game the way it was meant. Likewise, Warcraft III's Defense of the Ancients mod has taken on a life of its own.
    • Sauerbraten. It's a free FPS game with in-game ONLINE CO-OP LEVEL EDITING.
    • Already no stranger to create-a-whatsit modes, the WWE wrestling game series has recently added in a create-a-story mode. For anyone who's ever said they could pull better plot twists out of their ass than Vince Russo could actually sit down and write, it's both a dream come true and the sputtering death of whatever social life they had.
    • The other edit modes are no slouch either, with the ability to create wrestlers, move sets, arenas, logos, et al becoming so vast 2K Games have to regularly cull those with low votes/downloads before their servers blow up. A casual search for John Cena alone would reveal upwards of fifty pages of him, and if you can name a wrestler, character, or real celebrity, odds are there's not just one version of them but several.
    • TimeSplitters, arguably more time was spent making levels than actually seeing any action. Though the challenges are also fun in and of itself. Then again, this may have been the game itself since the first installment was a fairly bland "Get MacGuffin and return to the starting point"

  • City of Heroes has the invention system and in-game market. Instead of, oh, saving (or terrorizing) the City, some players log in just craft and sell in-game items. For in-game money. Just to buy more expensive things to sell for higher prices to get MORE in-game money. All while paying REAL money every month to do this.
    • The Winter-themed chalet with slopes and a bobsled run also constitute this.
    • Base construction. Originally intended as a PVP mini-game cross between Space Management and Tower Defense (like Dungeon Keeper without the minions), but the PVP raid feature never worked properly and was scrapped, leaving bases only useful for item storage and shortcutting between zones. Nonetheless, some supergroups built huge and elaborate bases just to have a pretty place to hang out when not on missions... and spent over a hundred hours perfecting it.
    • And then they added the Mission Architect. Spending hours to perfect your personally-designed mission arc definitely counts as this trope. But furthermore, in the context of the game universe, the Architect is a simulator, which means any hero who leveled from 1 to 50 on Architect missions was playing video games rather than doing anything productive.
  • Every year, Kingdom of Loathing celebrates Crimbo with at least two weeks' worth of dedicated content, during which most players' ascensions fall to the wayside. Other random events that eventually become lost forever also become the distracting shiny, such as "Biggs' Digs" and the subsequent skeletal apocalypse in 2010.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, codex hunting and datacron puzzles can kill days worth of play. There are also Heroic-level sidequests that reset daily, PvP, the space battle rail-shooter, flashpoints, bonus series for each planet after you've completed the main class quests. Not to mention XP just for filling out the map. It's not unheard of for players to hit the level cap around Alderaan (meant for levels 28-35, with a Nintendo Hard bonus series going to Level 43).
  • Similar to the City of Heroes example above, in World of Warcraft, players will often spend just as much time leveling their professions as they will actually leveling normally. It becomes really bad when one reaches the current end-level content of the game, where gathering the materials and recipes necessary to improve your professions is actually tied directly to the high-level daily quests and dungeons, making it almost a subversion of this trope. However, there are plenty of people who prefer simply loitering about the local auction house and simply buying whatever they need from the more active players, just so they can hang out in the Trade chat channel and barter their wares... you know, rather than actually play the game they spend real money on each month. On the other hand, players will also specifically create characters that just go out and gather materials so they can sell them to the higher-level characters looking to improve their professions. This method is even recommended to beginning players, both so they can level faster without having to go out of their way to level their professions (purposefully subverting this trope) and so they can get a bit of extra money during their low-level grind.
    • The sheer number of quests, sidegames accessed by quests, and achievements found in WoW can easily make you forget about that Arthas guy with the cool sword or that dragon that wrecked Stormwind.
    • The Darkmoon Faire is the most straight example, being an entire island dedicated solely to fun and merriment. It has a large variety of games to play and an increasingly massive number of prizes to be purchased, plus containing quests that help up level a character's profession points in addition to some extra game tokens and tickets (plus gold if you are at max level), so you also get an incentive to undust your alts.
  • Guild Wars 2 has a wide range of activities to distract from the main story, such as jumping puzzles, collection achievements, and complicated crafting professions. Perhaps the biggest time (and gold) sink for many players is crafting legendary weapons, which requires either incredible luck with an item drop or completing a series of special achievements.
    • The annual festivals provide plenty of unique achievements and items for anyone who decides to focus on them. Halloween and Wintersday provide unique themed activities such as jumping puzzles, dungeons, and events while the Super Adventure Box is a Game Within a Game with unique gameplay and art.

  • In Super Mario 3D World, the Captain Toad side levels were so popular, they received their own dedicated game!
  • There are a number of stylus-using mini-games in New Super Mario Bros. for the DS.
    • A lot of the games were featured in the earlier Super Mario 64 DS remake. Whichever card in your DS, the Bob-omb Sorting mini-game is enough to forget that you've actually got a proper game to play through.
  • Way back in Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES, if you played it in two-player, there was a version of the original Mario Bros. game (and, if you played enough times to get through the very long repeating rotation of modes, a couple of other two-player mini-games). You selected it by going to your "opponent"/co-player on the map, and clicking, or by clicking as they tried to run past you! Whoever won the mini-game got to have the next turn, and the players moved so that the winner got the location where the battle was fought. So (depending on where the players were on the map) you could be trapped in an endless cycle of battling to play the next level. Not to mention you could steal the emblems you win at the end of levels so you could also start a cycle to get those back.
  • In Super Mario 64, Lethal Lava Land becomes a huge skatepark in the later stars after you get the Koopa Shell. Players have also been known to glide around using the wing cap, trying to collect all the 1-up mushrooms while avoiding landing or falling into the lava.
  • It's likely that some people who bought Ape Escape 3 bought it for the Metal Gear Solid parody mini-game (Mesal Gear Solid: Snake Escape), and then found themselves enjoying the cute monkey game that came free with it.
    • Similarly, there are many of us who have popped the disc for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and ended up catching monkeys for hours on end.
    • Ape Escape 2 has the soccer mini-game which could well be its own game trying to win against the other team.
  • Banjo-Kazooie:
    • The Tower of Tragedy quiz and "shootout" modes in Banjo-Tooie are so neat, Rare included them as their own mini-games. They're also ridiculously addictive and make great multiplayer fodder.
    • One can spend more concentrated time building vehicles in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts than actually focusing on Jiggy Challenges.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal has a fair amount of addictive side content to supplement the main game:
    • The single-player campaign is generally quite well regarded as is, but the game is also known for its surprisingly solid four-player multiplayer mode that is considered just as if not more fun than the main game.
    • While some of the Annihilation Nation challenges are mandatory to complete, the many side challenges are extremely addicting due to being full of pure combat without being too overwhelming in difficulty. The big bolt rewards and ripe chances to farm for XP are just icing on the cake.
    • While the Qwark Vid-Comics are mandatory to complete the game, they're so damn addictive due to their simple side-scrolling nature that you'll find yourself playing them far more often than needed. That Challenge Mode offers big bolt rewards for collecting all the Qwark Tokens in them makes it even better.
  • The obscure Nintendo 64 platformer Rocket: Robot on Wheels was full of this stuff.
    • In the first world, "Clowny Island," there's a mini-game that lets you build custom roller coasters for the titular robot to ride in. While there is a goal to it (the coaster's path must hit certain targets), more than one reviewer has noted its extreme distraction potential. "Just one more coaster, I swear!"
    • The second world, "Paint Misbehavin'", features a paintball-spewing vehicle called the HoverSplat. The paintballs are there so you can solve color-based puzzles... but the fun of them is using them to paint the entire level crazy colors.
    • The fifth world, "Pyramid Scheme," features, in its Lethal Lava Land half, the "Glider Bike"—A motorcycle with BAT WINGS that FLIES. If you think you can resist the allure of flying around inside a volcano while doing aerial tricks on a motorcycle, you are very, very wrong.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog series:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has Casino Night Zone, which can cause some players to lose by running out of time. Yes, the slot machines are that addictive!
    • In that vein, most of the "theme park" Zones in the entirety of the series invoke this both in-game and during play; all of them... except for Sonic 3's infamous Carnival Night Zone...
    • The Special Zones where you tried to get the Chaos Emeralds. Those were a game in their own right. The trope is played straight when you lock the Sonic the Hedgehog cartridge on Sonic & Knuckles. You get a full version of the Blue Sphere minigame, with a total of 134,217,728 levels! It also will sidetrack players from playing both games attached.
    • Chao raising in the Sonic Adventure games. For some people, it's the only reason why they still play those games. The first Sonic Adventure also featured two different pinball games in Casinopolis note  that can prove addicting in their own right, along with a collection of other mini-games like kart-racing time trials, Amy's Whack A Mole, and the Sky Chase stages - the Updated Re-release added a Game Gear emulator to the main menu, with every Game Gear Sonic game unlockable by collecting Emblems, some of which are earned through the aforementioned minigames.
    • Sonic Mania marks a return of the Blue Sphere minigame as the bonus stages from reaching checkpoints with enough rings, and beating all of them unlocks a mode similar to the stand-alone Blue Sphere game with randomly generated levels. It includes the variation with classic rules and a "Mania" variant that adds two new types of spheres. The game also contains a minigame in the form of a remake of Puyo Puyo/Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, which can also be unlocked to be played at any time after clearing enough bonus stages. It's possible to get lost in either of these, spending game sessions not even touching the main platformer because of them.
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2 and 3 have kart racing. Essentially, they're their own little mini-Mario Kart games, complete with several tracks, characters, and power-ups! They're available from the title screen, too, making it even easier to bypass the main game completely and go straight into racing tiny cars forever.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: While no one's complaining about the solid single-player campaign, the original game also includes a bunch of surprisingly robust and fun multiplayer modes (Beach, Raptor, Heist, War, Tank, Race, and Deathmatch) that are all available right out of the starting gate, and they are considered to be just as fun, if not more fun than the main game, and being a Nintendo 64 game, it supports four players off the bat, though they can also be played alone with reasonably intelligent AI opponents. In fact, when the Xbox remake Live & Reloaded only included one of the modes (a variant of the original games Deathmatch mode) and threw out the rest, it was considered a deal breaker for many fans of the original game.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby 64 contains, for no adequately explained reason, three mini-games in addition to the main game. That doesn't stop them from being a total time-sink, and great fun if you happen to play them with your friends. It helps that the "100-Yard Hop" minigame has the popular Gourmet Race theme from Kirby Super Star as its BGM.
    • Kirby: Triple Deluxe contains a Super Smash Bros.-like mini-game involving playing as Kirbys with permanent abilities. It's exactly as distracting as it sounds. So much, in fact, that "Kirby Fighters" received a standalone update on the Nintendo eShop as Kirby Fighters Deluxe. The same applies, though to a lesser degree, with "Dedede's Drum Dash", which similarly was re-released as Dedede's Drum Dash Deluxe.
    • Kirby's Return To Dream Land Deluxe contains Merry Magoland, a game mode with a whopping 10 of these minigames ranging from various entries in the series, all of which have multiple difficulties, support multiplayer, and boast missions to complete. Not to mention playing minigames will get you stamps that can unlock masks that you can put on your character. Once unlocked, you could easily sink hours into Merry Magoland without even touching the main campaign.
  • Spyro: Year of the Dragon. Skateboarding mini-game. You know what I'm talking about.
  • The arenas from the Ratchet & Clank series. Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando features the Megacorp Games, and the Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal equivalent is Annihilation Nation. You're only required to do a couple of missions from each of them, but there's an insane amount of extra gauntlets, arena battles, and boss fights to do at these arenas that don't move the story forward at all, but reward you with bolts, some optional items and in the case of Up Your Arsenal, experience. The arenas are so popular that Ratchet: Deadlocked is basically just Annihilation Nation expanded into its own standalone game.
    • Ratchet & Clank also has the hoverboarding sequences, which can become highly addictive over time.
  • Freedom Planet 2 gives us the Battlesphere. Three levels of Home Run Challenges, fourteen separate challenges independent from the main story, and individual rematches with every boss battle in the game, including two that are exclusive to the Battlesphere? Yeah, you're gonna be here for a while. And some of that is mandatory if you want to get the Golden Ending, too! And we haven't even talked about the arcade cabinet in the lobby. The best example of its allure is in-universe, where Carol abandons her missions for the Magister to win some GRAND PRIZES in the Battlesphere, and Neera Li goes along with it due to some secondary objectives that can be done at the same time.

  • It's easy to get sidetracked by the Golden Egg in Angry Birds, to get so busy trying to hit said Golden Egg that you wait and do the actual level after you get the Egg.
  • Plants vs. Zombies has an incredible amount of features beyond the standard Adventure mode. And as the in-game prices of new items for use in Adventure mode skyrocket, you may find yourself turning to these alternate features to build up your cash supply before braving the next level.
  • Professor Layton and the Last Specter is very difficult to play through without getting distracted by the "Little London" Mode.
  • The "Episode 3" update of Phantasy Star Online 2 introduces its own Golden Saucer in the form of the Casino Lobby, which features slot machines and a shooting gallery. Coins won from these games can not only be used to purchase novelty weapons but can also be used to summon rare bosses in the game proper!
  • Shenzhen IO has been described as a great solitaire game with a pretty good programming puzzler attached to it. It was so popular that even the devteam spent more time on it, first releasing a standalone version, and then porting it to DOS.
    • Opus Magnum is another Zachtronics programming game with a fun casual time-waster attached, Sigmar's Garden, an alchemy-themed variant of mahjong solitaire.
    • Exa Punks includes even more ways to not get work done, with both another variant of solitaire and HACK*MATCH, an action puzzle game similar to Tetris Attack.
  • One of the puzzles in The Fool's Errand saw you challenged to a card game called 'Thoth'. It was an extremely simple game played with the major arcana of the tarot where each player was dealt two cards (one face up so their opponent could see it, one face down so only they could see it) and three more cards were dealt out face-up- first you picked one card, then your opponent picked one. Each of you were attempting to complete a better Pair or Triple, with the winner of each hand scoring points based on how much better their hand was than their opponents, and the first to 700 points winning. Despite its simplicity (and the inherent advantage you had by always getting to pick a card first), the game had a surprising amount of depth. All you had to do to complete the puzzle was win once, but some people found themselves coming back and replaying it over and over again.
  • The Super Monkey Ball games are well-known for their mini-games. Monkey Target is a series classic, and with good reason. In the first and second games, it's especially bad, because the developers essentially added several full-fledged sports simulators that could easily pass as their own games to the mix. The second game has ten mini-games, and any one of them could easily become a huge time sink. How about a round of Monkey Billiards? Or some Monkey Tennis? Monkey Soccer, anyone?
  • Void Stranger is best known amongst shmup fans, particularly fans of System Erasure's previous game ZeroRanger, for the late-game 0st//ranger minigame. Between the elaborate gameplay mechanics, the existence of multiple modes, and a training mode with many options, an ambitious player can end up playing this minigame for hours to perfect their scores. Some shmup fans wish that this game had a standalone release rather than having to push through a lengthy game in a different genre just to get to it.

  • Project Gotham Racing 2 featured a rather innocuous-looking arcade-game box in each of your in-game garages. What should that box guard but the treasure that is Geometry Wars. Successful enough in its own right to sell well on Xbox Live Arcade, as well as spinning off a sequel and a WiiWare adaptation.
  • Road Rash 64. One of the unlockable benefits is Insanity Bikes (AKA jumps really far). One of the levels is an airport runway with a little jump at the end. Even if you blow the jump, you still go hurtling hella far. So very, addictive.
    • The different tracks are all on the same large map, so it's possible to drive off-road through miles of poorly rendered countryside and end up in another level.
  • Test Drive Unlimited 2 features a casino that is unlocked for 800 Atari Tokens (which is $10.00 in real money), what makes it worth playing is the ability win both an Audi R8 Spyder and a Spyker C8 Aileron Spyder if you're willing to spend the time and (sometimes) money to get the one-million tokens for just the R8. (The conversion rate for Casino Tokens is 1 Token = 2$, requiring a whopping 2 million dollars to buy the tokens for it).
  • Forza Motorsport games from Forza Motorsport 2 onward have an extensive paint and livery editor where simple shapes can be combined into thousands (yes, thousands) of layers to form elaborate designs. Some players spend far more time painting their cars than actually racing them.

  • Can happen in Patapon, but fortunately the materials you gain from doing so are necessary for army-building.

  • Because actually winning a game of NetHack is a nigh-impossible task (at least until several months or years of gameplay, even if you do use the Internet to look up spoilers), most casual players don't pay much attention to the main quest, possibly not even remembering what it is.
  • While there is technically no way to actually "beat" Dwarf Fortress, and most of the game is doing whatever you think is fun, there are some things people do that go above and beyond simple 'Because I felt like it'. These are called Mega Projects. They can range from closing the Fortress off from the outside world and flooding the mapnote , to creating a massive stone ceiling blocking out all that pesky sunlight, to constructing statues of Dwarves (and, in one extremely surreal case, the Elven King of the Dwarves) that are hundreds of feet tall, made of pure gold, and with magma for eyes).


  • While still a core aspect of the main game, some people spend ridiculous amounts of time tweaking and customizing their mechs in Armored Core.
  • The hacking minigame in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is going to eat up so much of your time just for the rewards, experience, and exploration it offers. Several important mission segments of the game feature large rooms with up to a dozen computer and security terminals, and you're going to have a hard time resisting the temptation to just stop and spend twenty minutes scouring the room for things to hack.
  • Descent 3 introduces speed tunnels to the series, which catapult the player from one end to the other at high speed. And they are hella fun to ride! Which is why one of the secret levels is made of nothing but speed tunnels that stretch for miles. You will spend more time screwing around in this one level than you will the entire campaign.
  • If all the videos on YouTube are any clue, the composer feature of Mario Paint.
    • Which was apparently later ripped off into a standalone program for easier editing. Also, the standalone program allows for sharps and flats. The original could only compose in C major. Or possibly A minor, but...
  • Wessel Stoop, developer of The Sapling, initially treated the various scenarios as the main game, but most players tended to focus on the Sandbox Mode instead (thanks in part to the random mutations) while treating the scenarios as an elaborate tutorial. Wessel decided to just run with it, and dedicated the third major update into turning the sandbox into a proper game mode as opposed to a fun little side project.
  • Thrillville is a game centered around building your own Golden Saucer, and then playing in it! Those roller coasters you built? You can ride them! Those arcade games you set up? Fully playable! The bumper cars? Go nuts!
  • Stardew Valley has two arcade machines that you can play: "Journey of the Prairie King", a Wild West-themed shoot-em-up, and "Junimo Cart" a Minecart Madness minigame. There's also the hidden Casino, where you can play slots or CalicoJack, a variant of Blackjack.
  • The Xbox Zoo Tycoon games have buggies that you can drive around, complete with handbrake mechanics. Admit it, at some point you spent far too much time Tokyo drifting around in these things than actually building and managing your zoo.
  • The Sprite Casino in Harvest Moon DS and DS Cute. Well, two-thirds of the Casino. The blackjack and poker games can be addictive. The Memory game tends to be ignored.
  • This was a recurring situation in MechWarrior 4 Mercenaries. Space pirate raids? Interstellar civil war? Invasion by honor-obsessed warrior clans? Forget that, time to become champion of the Blood Sport Gladiator Games of Solaris VII! The wars can wait a year for you to finish the Gladiator Subquest...

  • The darts mini-game in Backyard Baseball 2005 is quite distracting.
  • EA Sports' NBA Live series, starting in 2005, includes the All-Star Weekend dunk contest as a mini-game. Doing 720-degree dunks is way more exciting than grinding out a full season.
  • A not insignificant number of Madden NFL don't bother playing the games themselves, and prefer to play Franchise Mode like a "management sim" instead. They'll build teams, hire coaches, and generally run the franchise while merely simulating the actual football games. There exist numerous editing programs for Madden 08 (the last Madden released for PC until Madden 19) which give players control over nearly every aspect of this style of play.

  • Nippon Ichi strategy games tend to fall into this trope due to the massive amounts of Level Grinding it takes to tackle the Superboss battle(s); one cycle of the game is completable in twenty to thirty hours, but many more are required to acquire and power up that Infinity +1 Sword.
    • Not to mention the Dark Assembly in the various games. There are two ways to handle it. One is to basically force every bill you could ever want through — this turns the area into yet another place to go level grind (with getting some sort of improvement in addition to levels). The other is an in-game version of Bribing Your Way to Victory, in which you use the spoils you're not using from other level-grinding trips as bribes to get everything past without fighting. Each version is self-perpetuating, as well — the senators remember what happened to them in previous votes, so they'll be more prone to blocking your bills if fought before (necessitating another fight) and more prone to passing your bills if sufficiently bribed in the past (giving you the chance to bribe other senators).
    • The Item World and Chara World both embody this trope. The former is a randomly-generated dungeon crawl that allows you to not only power up that Infinity +1 Sword, but find more like it for your team. The latter is a randomly-generated crawl that lets you power up your characters so they get better bonuses from those weapons and armor you spent hours improving. It's entirely possible for players to stop their storyline playthrough because they end up very invested in Item diving.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones had the Tower of Valni, the Lagdou Ruins, and random battles on the world map. In order to unlock them, one did have to play part of the way into the main game (in the Tower's case, the player unlocked a floor every few chapters; in the Ruin's case, one was nearly done with the game by the time the place became available), but after that the players could go through them as many times as you wanted. It helps that the ruins and tower both had rare treasure in them and that certain random battles could be used to steal items from enemies with a glitch.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening restores the battles on the world map, plus has the "Reeking Boxes" that allow the player to summon Risen to the map itself. HELLO GRINDING FOR GOLD, SUPPORTS, LEVEL-UPS, AND SKILLS.
    • Fire Emblem Fates has the Gold Saucer being its Hub Level in the form of My Castle! Aside from the metric butt-ton of customization and upgrade options, you get to partake in the lottery, fight in the arena, cook to give stat bonuses to your units, decorating your soldiers with accessories, visit other castles to battle, trade, gain skills and buy items as part of Fates' Socialization Bonus, and visiting the sauna and occasionally (by accident) peeping on the opposite sex there. Because of the genuine perks associated with maintaining your hub world, the genuine fun involved and its out-of-the-way presence compared to the main story (to the point that Fates willingly invokes Gameplay and Story Segregation to make the existence of My Castle mesh with the narrative, in a series that invokes Gameplay and Story Integration wherever possible) means it's not unheard of in the slightest to hear players rack up way more time in My Castle than the main campaign!
      • Plus, the Birthright and Revelations paths also have the random battles and the chance to use gold to find more enemies. Again, HELLO GRINDING FOR GOLD, SUPPORTS, LEVEL-UPS, AND SKILLS.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses has numerous gold saucers including such things as a fishing mini-game almost rivaling Zelda's in notoriety (at least, among the fandom), tea parties with your units, infinite optional battles, and more. All of these serve to help you gain professor levels, experience, and/or supports.
  • The Pikmin series always has at least one alternate mode with a goal of being dropped in a bite-sized level and trying to accomplish as much as possible. Growing Pikmin in the first, getting as much treasure as fast as possible in the second, and a variety of tasks in the third. It can be very easy to sink in to any of these modes, especially Mission Mode of Pikmin 3, with its replay features encouraging to go at it again to play optimally.
  • In the Frozen Throne expansion of Warcraft III, if you discover a certain secret during a level, you get to enter a secret episode called "The Crossing" where your objective is to build different towers among a row to kill the waves of enemies trying to blow up a portal. It may be just one level, but you're likely to replay it over and over trying to survive the whole gauntlet of enemies.

    Survival Horror 
  • Dead Space has a mini-game known as "Zero-G Basketball" or "Z-Ball." Even though Isaac is playing by himself, it's still a lot of fun.
  • System Shock has a variety of mini-games you can find. Most are simple (like Tic-Tac-Toe), but one is a Wing Commander spin-off with a thirteen-mission campaign. Hope you didn't opt for the time limit on the main game. The sequel has some as well, including an Ultima clone that's several hours long. For extra coolness, play this while a hacked turret blazes away at foes.
  • Resident Evil 4 has shooting galleries halfway through the castle section that are hard to resist playing to completion just to get the juicy rewards. It also has the Mercenaries minigame after finishing the game, which could be considered a game on its own.
  • The Evil Within 2 has the shooting gallery that you unlock in Sebastian's Safe Room at a certain point in the game. The Candy Crush like "Chain Attack" mode is so addictive that the game even lampshades it; when you hit the maximum possible point score (100 thousand), Sebastian comments that he should get back to finding his daughter now.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Jet Force Gemini had quite a few mini-games stashed away in the second half of the game. Arguably the most elaborate one is the Podracer-esque/F-Zero racing game.
  • Splatoon 3 has Tableturf Battle, a Card Battle Game side activity that doesn't even have its own selection option in the main Hub World menu — the player has to physically walk to the location if they want to battle NPCs, with the ability to fight other players in the Lobby not releasing until six months after launch. For some, the inconvenience and the wait are worth it, as Tableturf offers a lot of depth in deckbuilding and strategy to the point where there are those who have reported spending more time on it than any of the main modes.

    Western RPG 
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Given the series' large game worlds and non-linear nature, this is naturally one of the driving design factors for each game. Sure, there is a deep main quest and Loads and Loads of Sidequests (some of which, particularly the Guilds and Factions, with their own significant Sidequest Sidestories), but you can also spend dozens of hours reading the many in-game books (which range from short stories to full-blown In-Game Novels), collecting alchemy ingredients, creating spells/enchanted items/custom weapons and armor, turning your player home into a Superhero Trophy Shelf full of your questing souvenirs (at least following the series' 3D Leap, and much much more.
    • Game Mods are another major draw for the series. The easy-to-learn and flexible "Construction Set" Level Editor comes packed into the PC version of each game starting with Morrowind, and the Elder Scrolls modding community is one of the most robust and industrious in gaming. The vast assortment of available mods can increase the content of each game thousands of times over. (And that doesn't even count the countless man-hours spent creating the mods in the first place.)
    • Morrowind actually implements the ability to wander around and complete quests away from the main quest as a storyline element. A large portion of the main quest can be legitimately skipped as long as you are at least level 21 and have 50+ reputation. (A formidable achievement if skipping the main quest, but quite possible if you fully complete several of the faction questlines.) If you meet this requirement, an NPC involved in the late main quest waives his usual demands to be acknowledged by seven different groups and allows you to meet with him directly.
    • Oblivion:
      • Oblivion takes this trope to such an extreme that, after you get a feel for it, the main quest seems like the most marginal sidequest. Sometimes you get so engrossed in wandering Cyrodiil that the Oblivion Gates everywhere are more an annoyance than your reason for adventuring.
      • The Oblivion Gates themselves can be diversion for those who are Sigil Stone-hunting, gathering Daedric alchemical ingredients which only grow within, and/or going for 100% Completion. That's why you do all of that, open the Gates, and do it again with more monsters.
    • Skyrim:
      • Skyrim has loads of dragons even before you get the main quest really rolling, and they're a real nuisance if you didn't get good at killing things or surviving attacks and are just trying to catch butterflies for your potion shop or explore to get 100% Completion. You can own shops, become nobility, rise to be the head of every guild, hunt random-encounter dragons and find every Wall to add to your Shouts, etc., and all that's unmodded.
      • On the PC version, there are a plethora of mods that change the interface, make aesthetic improvements, patch issues that Bethesda never got around to fixing, and, of course, add content. Many of these mods conflict with one another, and it tends to be a bad idea to enable or disable mods in the middle of a game, so it's all too easy to get into a cycle of downloading and installing mods for an hour, futzing with load orders for three hours, playing for two hours, running into a recurring crash or strange glitch or something that could be fixed by adding or subtracting another mod or two, so it's back to spending an hour downloading and installing mods, then three hours futzing with load orders...
      • Skyrim has a plethora of mods that can actually disable the main quest, remove your ability to shout, and dump you anywhere in Skyrim, effectively erasing any and all ties you had to the original main quest (and the theme of the game).
  • Fable had "Card Pairs" in Bowerstone South. Pretty fun and fairly easy to master, with the added bonus of earning you all the cash you would ever need within a few hours.
  • The Fallout series is especially guilty of this, where many of the sidequests or just exploring the maps draws you away from the main story, to the point where the first two games put a time limit on the first major quest to keep you focused. However, sidetracking is one of the main appeals of the games. The various wasteland settings make it very fun to explore and for players to do whatever they want. No matter how urgent the main-quest in the games supposedly are, players hardly focus on them since doing so (particularly in older entries) would end the game.
    • The third game has no such time limit until the final part of the main quest. It is very easy to get caught up in exploring and doing sidequests right from the moment you leave the vault, to the point that the player can hit the level cap before really beginning the main quest.
      • Since Fallout 3 doesn't let you keep exploring after completing the rather short main quest, it's preferable to tackle as many sidequests as possible first and level up.
      • At least the Broken Steel DLC raises the level cap from 20 to 30 immediately when installed, so you don't have to worry about hitting 20 and having to finish the main quest in order to start Broken Steel and progress on to 30.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • The game offers up multiple casinos throughout the gameworld where you can while away the hours playing roulette, blackjack or slots — even gaining "comp prizes" if you're good enough to win a certain amount of money off the games — or you can lose all your money and have to walk back home with your tail between your legs (as is exemplified in-universe by the 188 Trading Post, where you'll meet gamblers who've lost their earnings and are trying to get their bearings again or raise cash to get back home). This even extends to the Dead Money DLC, where the Sierra Madre Casino has a full complement of games you can enjoy towards the end of the mod, and are even encouraged to spend as much time there as you can before completing the main plot, as you can no longer return once the DLC is complete and you head back to the Mojave. For the truly masochistic, on a new game you can start walking towards the Strip (mountaineering past the Cazadores and Deathclaws), easily collect 2,000 caps on the way for the entry check, and spend the rest of the game gambling at slots, roulette, or blackjack, sleeping in the casinos and buying marked up food from casino bars, until you run out of money. Just like real-life Vegas.
    • Characters with Luck of at least 7 will probably run into the jackpot limits and get barred from gambling in about an hour of gameplay or two. The devs put this in to keep the players from breaking the in-game economy, but it also has the effect of blunting this trope.
    • There is no limit, however, to how much you can play the "Caravan" card game (barring your personal finances or the deaths of anyone willing to play). Even hunting around for new playing cards to add to your deck and prove addicting.
    • Each DLC has a specific Collection Sidequest that will have you wasting plenty of time trying to get them all. Dead Money, aside from the aforementioned casino, allows you to find and upgrade the starting rifle (the Holorifle) with three schematics found in and around the villa, as well as an assortment of vending machine codes and item caches you can find around the various areas, which can be turned in for items or used to buy stacks of Pre-War Money. Old World Blues adds a sidequest to find and upgrade every personality module in the Sink (your home base), and will have you running to every inch of the Think Tank in order to collect and unlock their potential (and allows you to do things like build your own seed farm, itself an example of this). Lonesome Road has a pair of collection challenges, "Feel Like a Kid Again" and "Nostalgia", that task you with finding 15 RALPHIE The Robot posters and six audio recordings from deceased explorers in the Divide, respectively — to say nothing of all the gear you can find (including three unique Marked Beast Masks) and nukes to destroy.
  • Fallout 4 easily takes the cake out of all the Fallout games.
    • Like other games in the series, there are tons of sidequests to pursue.
    • The settlement-building mechanics can easily take up hours of your time as you work to make your settlements the perfect little homesteads in the wasteland. Even more, if you take into account the time spent searching for resources to use to build your settlements.
    • Weapons and armor (power armor included) are similarly customizable, and you can expect to spend a decent chunk of time working on making the perfect killing implements.
    • If you like minigames, you can collect holotapes that feature Expy games of Missile Command, Donkey Kong, or even a full-fledged, Wizardry-style, CRPG. You can play these games on any computer terminal you have access to (including any terminals you build and set up in your settlements) or even just your Pip-Boy.
    • The Automatron DLC adds the ability to create robotic companions. Expect to invest a lot of time building the perfect robots, if not a full-blown robot army!
    • Nuka-World gives you a full theme park to explore, with functional rides and attractions along with a game room. The park's Raider gangs are all jockeying for power and expecting you to take charge and invade the Commonwealth, you say? Psh. Who has time for that crap when you still have hi-scores to beat in Ski-Ball and Whack-A-Commie?
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • If you are intent on winning all of the swoop races, you will probably spend enough effort on them that you end up at a loss with the track fees, unless Save Scumming is used to cheat them. It doesn't help that getting the best time is literally a difference counted in fractions of a second. The second game is slightly more forgiving on this account.
    • "Beating" everyone at the card game Pazaak takes even longer. Most Pazaak players will only play for a certain amount of time (generally until you've beaten them a certain number of times in a row), after which they won't play for money anymore. Even with Save Scumming, each game can take a few minutes to play, and if you're trying to win five straight games or so with a dozen different people... well... you do the math!
  • The Mass Effect series has this in spades:
    • Although you do have to pay attention to the main storyline of the games eventually, you can waste an awful lot of time exploring/scanning what seems like every single planet in the known galaxy, if you'd like. This can lead to some rather funny Mood Dissonance, as you can angrily tell someone you have to hurry, you have to save the galaxy... and then immediately hop back in your spaceship to probe another couple dozen planets, and maybe leisurely explore an abandoned space station or two.
    • There are many, many parodies of the fact that you're spending an often-significant amount of time romancing your crew members as the galaxy races towards oblivion. For three games.
    • The final DLC produced for the game, Pinnacle Station, rewards the player for completing the associated combat challenges (itself an example of this trope) with a pseudo-gambling minigame where they can bet on expeditions manned by other ships and crews, which will sometimes net high-level weapons and armor. It's not uncommon to see players risking all of their funds on the off-chance of getting a Master-level set of armor or a particularly high-level gun.
    • Mass Effect 2's Lair of The Shadow Broker DLC allows you to re-enter the Shadow Broker's base once you've completed the main story, wherein you will get access to dozens of conversations and private messages written by characters in the Mass Effect universe. In addition, a gambling minigame similar to Pinnacle Station returns in the form of "Investments", which can either yield additional credits or result in a loss. The email conversations and email exchanges proved to be so popular that a separate companion app, ME3: Datapad, was later developed for the following game in the series, which included dozens of messages that appeared as the player progressed through the main story.
    • The "Search and Rescue" mode for Mass Effect 3 lends itself well to this trope. Instead of scanning planets for resources like in the previous game, the mode now gives players the chance to amass War Assets, money, artifacts, and more.
    • The Citadel DLC was made with this trope in mind. Once the main mission of the DLC is completed, a whole area of the Citadel opens up for the player, which is filled with many side activities (in a manner similar to FF7's Gold Saucer). This includes a casino with different games to bet on, an arcade (including a claw machine where you can win prizes) an apartment that can be customized, and a combat simulator with a full set of sidequests and numerous high-level challenges. You also get the ability to throw a party for all of your surviving squadmates (and this party has several different variables based on the mood you set, lending itself to replays) and can hang out with your squadmates after the fact. You can also challenge James to a pull-up challenge that has no reward.
    • The Expanded Galaxy Mod functionally turns the Normandy itself into a much more active hub area. The player now has access to a "Crew Manifest" mechanic where specialists and key personnel can be designated into specific roles, thus conferring gameplay or visual benefits throughout the ship. A shooting range can be deployed in the armory, in which squadmates you've recruited will combat on your abilities and you can buy different sets of targets. A Wall of Weapons is also added, thus turning weapon acquisition into a Collection Sidequest. There are also new sets of collectibles (namely, support ships and mechs that can be displayed in the Normandy's cargo bay), as well as depreciable War Assets and Assignments peppered throughout the galaxy.
  • Both The Witcher and The Witcher 2 had Dice Poker, a gambling game where two players would try to form better poker hands not by drawing cards, but by rolling dice. Dice Poker is treated like Serious Business in-universe, with some players refusing to accept Geralt's challenge unless he can prove himself by beating all the lesser players, making the whole thing an extensive Side Quest spread across the entirety of both games.
  • The Witcher 3 replaced Dice Poker with a card game called Gwent. With so many cards to collect, four factions to play as (with the Blood and Wine expansion pack adding a fifth), and a lot of deck-building possibilities, many a player found themselves clocking more hours with the cards than the rest of the game. Gwent became so popular with the player base, that CD Projekt RED eventually set about making a standalone version of the game, with more extensive rules and multiplayer content to boot. Lampshaded at one point if you challenge a particular NPC to a game of Gwent at a particularly inappropriate time:
    Olgierd the Immortal: "An immortal demands you fulfill three wishes, and you’ve the gall to propose a round of gwent?"
  • Might and Magic VII and VIII featured Arcomage, a card game that can be played at any tavern. Additionally, every tavern had different house rules. Both games have a quest to win at every tavern, which can only be completed towards the later half of the main quest as not every city can be reached until then.

Non-Video Game Examples

    Anime & Manga 

    Fan Works 


    New Media 
  • The Strong Bad Email feature has overshadowed the other features on Homestar Runner.
  • Struggling role-playing game writer Rich Burlew was desperate for a way to draw people into his site, in order to bring more people to his articles and the forums. So he made a webcomic, which has since overshadowed everything else he's done.
  • Social networking sites get people who socialize for a week or two, then stay for the games.
  • Users of the Something Awful forums divide into two groups: those attracted by the front page who stayed for the forums, and those who say "Wait, there's a front page?"... and then get probated for being unfunny.
  • Fark charged users $5/month to be able to see the links that weren't approved for the main page. Folks started submitting links that they specifically didn't want on the main page, just to be able to use the comments sections like a forum (Fark does not have a formal "forum", just a mass of rejected links). From that mass, the TotalFark community was born.
  • Matt in Two Best Friends Play gets distracted by the coloring book part of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, which annoys his friend Pat to no end.
    Pat: "You're like, the worst person I have known in my entire life."
    Matt: "Well this is fun."
    Pat: "God I hate you so-we're no longer friends."
  • There have been some complaints from fans of the Source mod for Half-Life 2 Zombie Master; while the game ostensibly revolves around the titular Zombie Master-controlling zombies and activating traps like a Real-Time Strategy game while the rest of the players try to survive and complete the level, many servers play so-called "mini-game levels" that revolve around recreations of games like Donkey Kong or Tetris or make an obstacle course (some of which have unavoidable traps that can only be dodged by faking out the Zombie Master). Complaints have been raised on the official forums over this apparent abandoning of the mod's intent.
  • Retro Game Master:
    • Invoked in the ActRaiser episode, where Arino spends a disproportionate amount of time in the simulation mode, despite his title as Chief being at risk in that episode should he not complete the game in time.
    • He also insisted to try to access the bonus levels in Pilotwings. At least the two times he succeeded were quite cool.
  • Some users on internet forums spend more time in forum game threads than in discussion threads.


    Web Original 
  • In the Yogscast Minecraft Series Simon Lane and Lewis Brindley are regularly distracted by shiny things, but at least getting better at actually running after them:
    "There's a giant iron block over there I wonder if I could mine it... no, no, we don't have time!"
  • davidr64yt of X's Adventures In Minecraft has a similar problem. Every time he sets out with a specific goal in mind ("I will kill cows and collect enough leather to create a full suit of armor") he will inevitably get sidetracked into doing something entirely different, such as, in the given example, building a boat and wandering the high seas, ending up in a terrible battle to the death with a spider.
  • Nerdcubed: In his "completes" series of Bully (see above), Dan freely admits he would happily ignore the rest of the game to play the mini-game "Consumo."
  • Parodied in the Collegehumor video The Legend of Link's Distractions. It's basically a case of realistic outcomes on showing just what would happen if Link is too busy either fishing or chasing chickens to do anything that actually involves saving Hyrule.
  • Christina Grimmie likewise illustrates it in this Disney video.
  • With the way Chuggaaconroy formats his videos as part-Let's Play part-Walkthrough, almost always going for 100% in every game he plays, he's very prone to falling victim to this trope, notably in games like Ōkami, Skyward Sword, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. This habit of his is something he lampshades very often.
  • ProZD makes a joke about this trope in "Sidetracked by sidequests", where Dennis can't be bothered to play through the main story because he's too busy trying to find all of the game's pinecones. The joke returns in "facing the final boss after doing every single sidequest" where getting distracted by all of the game's sidequests results in Dennis one-shotting King Dragon because he's now overleveled. Oh, and he also found all 900 pinecones.
  • In this story from Not Always Working, a restaurant inside a casino has very good food, but terrible reviews from a food delivery app. Turns out the delivery drivers are getting distracted playing roulette, so food orders from that restaurant arrive severely late, if at all.

    Real Life 
  • Google and Pac-Man. Released to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man, it managed to do enough side-tracking to cause approximately 4,819,352 hours of lost time, with a cost of $120,483,800.
    • And you can still play the interactive logo/Google Doodle here.
    • Pretty much every interactive Google Doodle counts. From those that hook you up for hours trying to play a song in them (Les Paul's guitar, Moog's synthesizer), to fun mini-games like daily ones of the London Olympics.
    • Typing in "Atari Breakout" in a Google Image Search will result in that very game becoming playable. You might forget why you were searching for a picture in the first place.
    • As any high school student knows well, pressing up on the "No Internet connection" page for Chrome (the one with the T-rex on it) gives you a tiny jumping game. Even your web browser is distracting you from your education.
  • Pretty much anybody who goes on vacation in Vegas, really (although that's sort of the point). Particularly notable are the people who play the slot machines they have right in the airport & end up losing their shirts before they even see the city itself.
    • If you do decide to play the slots (which you shouldn't — they don't provide enough of a return), then at least play the ones nearest the doors; they pay out in lower amounts, but they also pay out more often, to 'hook' people on the way out and get them to turn around.
  • TV Tropes operates on this basis. How many times have you clicked into a link to another page and forget the page you were reading before? Mitigated somewhat by the "open in new tab" option on the right-click menu... until you can't open any more tabs. Or you realize that your tab bar is getting cluttered and use the equally-handy "Close Other Tabs" option. Of course, most people simply use the mouse wheel button, saving a lot of time doing both things... good luck browsing a site like this using a mousepad without this function.
  • Tied to the above, procrastination is one of the most common symptoms of ADHD, and you may get sidetracked by absolutely anything. Sure, you could and probably should be doing X, but Y is just so much more interesting.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sidetracked By The Golden Saucer, Sidetracked By The Sidequest, Sidetracked By The Minigames, Distracted By The Minigame


The Real Joy of Fallout 3

This is just only a few of the other stuff you can do in Fallout 3.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / Sidequest

Media sources: