The use of minigames varies greatly by game and by genre. In simulation games, minigames are intended to mimic a certain aspect of the simulation (for example, the hunting sequences in The Oregon Trail). Role-playing games often include complex, optional minigames that unlock a hidden feature of gameplay (usually granting the player's character some new ability). Some games, particularly anthology-like puzzle like Wario Ware, are made up of minigames so short they can only be called Microgames, and games like Mario Party are quite specficially a bunch of minigames strung together.
Another example of a minigame is Arcomage, a game from Might and Magic VII. It involves building up your tower whilst trying to destroy the computer opponent's tower. It's a simple but very addictive game that could be played at the inns around the Might and Magic VII game-world.
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