- Developer: Nintendo
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release date: 05/06/2020
- Price: £34.99 / $39.99
- Review code provided by Nintendo UK
Introducing: 51 Worldwide Games Review
I love board games and card games, but one of the biggest problems with them is that they more often than not require other people to play. Even games where it’s the players vs the game are usually balanced on the assumption that it won’t be one person playing alone. That’s why even if some people see them as a cash grab, I like seeing these kinds of games come to things like the Switch. They allow me to play them on my own time, even if that means I have to play against a computer player. With so many games, I wondered just how many of these clubhouse games that I would return to.
While there is a lot of 51 Worldwide classics that I love, unfortunately I think things ended up a little too stretched out. There are a lot of games in here that I really love, but then there are others that just don’t function very well in a digital environment. Ludo, for example is a board game that functions entirely on just rolling dice and moving pieces. While there is some strategy to it when players have multiple pieces on the board at the same time, the primary input that players have is rolling a single dice. This is something that just becomes very tedious and boring when played without the physical setup of the game. Pressing a button isn’t like rolling a dice at all. I almost wish that I could shake a Joy-Con to roll the dice, just to at least get a tactile feel for it. Ludo was painfully boring to play against computer players, but even when playing against my sisters, we quit partway through because we didn’t feel like we were doing anything to effect the course of the game. Just pressing a button. This wasn’t the case of all dice games, of course. The strategy of making picks wasn’t lost when playing Yaht Dice, for example. It’s not like these games are broken or anything of the sort, but that they are not enjoyable to play digitally.
Additionally, there were a few games that paled in comparison to other versions that Nintendo has created before, leaving them feeling limp to play. Bowling was the big one to come to mind here. The bowling in this game feels like a cheap knockoff of bowling in Wii Sports. I frankly found it a little ridiculous that I was able to get five strikes in a row my first time playing it. It’s very watered down and I can’t help but wonder if some of these games were added as an afterthought to fill the lineup out so people felt like they’re getting a good deal. Additionally, there are quite a few “toy” games where you play a sort of desk toy version of a game. This does mean that the tennis game on display in this collection is different in terms of gameplay from something like Mario Tennis Aces, but it does make this version look a little disappointing in comparison.
I Win! You Lose!
That being said, there are quite a few versions of games found in this collection that are quite excellent and allow them to be played very well. I was personally very fond of the typical staples of Chess and Checkers, but having favorites such as Mancala or President (also known as Rich man Poor man, Millionaire, or Scum) to round out the lineup was exciting as well. The AI players do grow noticibly more clever with each level of difficulty and I find myself excited to beat the top ones when I have the time to get really good at them.
There’s also a great variety in how long some of these games can last. Something like Hare and Hounds can last little more than just a few minutes and the sliding puzzle game goes just as quick at times. Yet, there are still longer games such as Checkers or Chess. There are also quite a few games where you are able to control how many rounds will happen, giving you a chance to set just how long you are going to be settled in and playing for.
I was, however, a little disappointed with how the game teaches you to play some of these games. For most, it’s simply a matter of reading text with some images, and maybe a light touch of explanation from the little figures that introduce the game. However, when I open up something like Shogi or Chess, I am greeted with the option to learn through short game play tutorials. While I completely understand that not every game needs these, there are a few where I would have liked a deeper explanation. I was really excited to try my hand at Hanafuda, but I don’t feel that I completely understand how the game works or how to tell what belongs to what set without the cheat sheet that the game provides.
Just a Roll of the Dice
The visual design that Nintendo have gone for is clean and slick for easy navigation. You’re not going to be flipping through tons of menus in order to reach the game you are looking for. You don’t even have to look at the suggestions of online players unless you want to. The small sets of games in categories is a nice guide to take you from one game that you like to another that has similar concepts, which I found to be really helpful for organic discovery of new games. They’ve made the choice here to represent people with tiny figures that look like they could be board game pieces themselves, which was a nice visual flair that kept you in the mindset of tabletop games.
Some of the games do feature unlockable visual elements, such as being able to play Hanafuda with deck of Mario themed cards. This isn’t available for all the games though, and I was a little disappointed because they felt a little too far and between for my tastes. Even after mastering every difficulty of Mancala, I couldn’t so much as change the color of the board. This kept every game from feeling rewarding to best the AI players at. Allowing just small changes could have made a difference for some of these games, even if I was happy to get what I did.
The sound design was the part of this game that stood out to me. Not all of the music was standout, clearly being content to remain a background element aside from in menus to keep players from losing any form of focus on the game at hand. The sounds of every piece, die, or card were excellent. Every time I played a game where in real life I would be able to satisfyingly click a piece on a board, I got that sound in-game and I absolutely adored it. Even just moving through the menus, each of the game choices makes a sound like their pieces. Occasionally, I would find myself flipping around in the game selection just to heat the clinks and clacks of board game pieces.
Play with me!
Multiplayer is the big selling point of this game, so I made sure that I tried it out in my 2 switch household, dragging my little sisters away from Animal Crossing in the process. Interestingly, there is a different selection of games for local multiplayer and multiplayer where multiple switches are involved. You can’t play local multiplayer in any game that requires you to have a hand that you keep secret, obviously. This one is cut down by a decent amount, while you can play many more with multiple switches. Basically only excluding solo only games, such as Solitaire.
The multi-switch multiplayer actually only requires one copy of the game, much like the old days of download play on the DS. However, the players without the game still do need to download the game demo in order to join rooms set up by the player who owns the game. They cannot merely hit a button on the switch and start playing, so at least a little forethought is needed. My sisters and I never experienced any issues with connecting up and playing each time we tried. Everything was smooth and even in games that were not turned based, we didn’t feel like we were out of sync with one another.
Additionally, there is the Mosaic Mode, which allows you to change the game board of a small handful of games by laying the switches flat on the table and drawing a line with your finger from one to another. In some cases this was an excellent addition. The strange tracks that could be created for the slot cars was a lot of fun, and the way that positioning could really effect the tank game was a excellent to see. However, I didn’t see the need for it to be in the fishing game, since my sister and I still felt really disconnected from each other on that one since we were basically only playing on one screen each. There’s also very few of these proof-of-concept games, which is why I suspect that the piano segment was added, despite not having a memory game attached to it.
There is also an option for online play, provided that you have Switch Online. It’s something that you have to access from the main menu, rather than just choosing it once you are already in the midst of the game menu. I thought the way this was handled was pretty great. You’re able to select up to three games you would like to play so that you’re not stuck endlessly waiting by just being locked into a lobby for one specific game. You can even brush up on a game by playing alone while you wait. Perhaps the biggest boon, though, is the fact that games “other people are interested in” are marked on the selection screen. Knowing what others are playing or hoping to play was wonderful as it let me know if I might be in for a longer or shorter wait. I count myself lucky that people were interested in the same games I was.
Pick a Card
Overall, I do like playing Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics, but only part of it. The games that I do like in here, I really like. There are just so many of them that feel like they’re one form or another of filler in order to make the game look bigger than it actually is. I will applaud the global approach that was taken here since I never would have known how to play Shogi otherwise and I look forward to getting better at these new games I’m learning.
- Great sound design
- The games that work really work
- Smooth multiplayer and online
- Few unlockables
- Several games could have honestly been cut
- Some games could use more in depth teaching
While some games are excellent, many suffer from a lack of attention, feeling like filler, or simply not translating to a digital space. 51 worldwide games is a mix of highs and lows.