Does the world need another Clubhouse Games?
Before the advent of smartphones, Clubhouse Games on the Nintendo DS was quite the novelty. Compilations of these classic games that could be played on-the-go didn’t exist at the time. Though I only played a bit of it, my mom bought her own DS so she could play it to her heart’s content without having to bug my brother or I for our handhelds.
Not long after, smartphones, app stores, and free-to-play games emerged to the forefront. Most of the classic games contained in Clubhouse Games were the first to make the transition. Heck, some of the games within the new Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics already have cheap alternatives on the Nintendo Switch eShop. Do you really need to pay a premium for Nintendo’s versions of these games?
Before we dig into the value proposition of this package, let’s take a step back. Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is a compilation of board games, card games, and other mini games. You can check out the full list here, but the selection has a pretty broad range from Chess, to President, to the Nintendo Switch equivalent of Wii Bowling.
The game’s overall aesthetic is very clean and unoffensive. Reminiscent of Nintendo’s presentation of its broader-reaching Wii games meant for a wider audience. I’d stop short of saying that the game looks great, but it presents each game with accessibility in mind.
Every game in the compilation can be played solo. AI opponents with difficulty settings and game-specific rules options help to fine-tune your experience. Multiplayer is also available, though the ways in which it’s available will vary from game-to-game. Titles such as Yacht Dice or Toy Curling allow multiple players to participate through one console. It’s worth noting though that local multiplayer only supports split Joy-Con controllers. Sadly, your Pro Controller won’t work here.
Other games where each player needs a specific view of the action, such as President, will require each player to have their own Switch. Thankfully, only one local player needs a full copy of the game, as the others can play along by downloading the Guest Pass from the eShop. Finally, many of the games support online play with friends or random online opponents. With most of these games not being of the twitch action variety, the online works well enough for what it needs to do. For a full guide on what games support each type of multiplayer, check out this list.
Many of these games probably don’t need to be reviewed in isolation. Odds are, you already have an opinion on all-time classics such as Chess, Checkers, and Blackjack. For other classic games you may not be familiar with, this is a great opportunity to try something new. Every game has an opening tutorial video and more detailed rules. On our first night, Steff and I discovered the joys of Mancala and Yacht Dice. These types of board games and card games really shine within this compilation and are worth the price of admission.
Some classic titles have a bit more of a focus on action. Air Hockey is a take on the arcade staple, where players will maneuver a paddle over a board and attempt to smack the puck into the net. I really like how the game has a button to trigger a forward strike, but moving the paddle around the board feels a bit clunky. With no options to tune how your analog stick behaves, you’re stuck with what the game gives you.
Billiards does a nice job of providing players with a simple interface that gives players a better idea of where the balls will go after they connect. However, you draw the cue back with the analog stick and I find it to be overly sensitive. For anything other than max power shots, you need to be feather light on the stick.
One of the biggest surprises to me was Darts. Holding your Joy-Con like a dart, you mimic the dart-throwing motion to toss it onto the board. Though I’m certainly not an expert in the sport, it felt really responsive to my actions to the point where I could sort of get a feel for how I needed to throw in order to hit specific spots on the board.
A few of the games even veer into more traditional video game territory. Wii Bowling makes a welcome return with motion controls mostly intact. There are some variations for how it plays, but I appreciate having the ability to play this on a modern console with online play. There’s even a Tetris-like puzzle game that’s super limited in scope, but it’s a neat diversion.
Can you pull together your own version of Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics through free-to-play mobile apps? More or less, yes. But once I put time into it, the differences became more clear. There are a number of great versions of classic games featuring slick visuals and a host of multiplayer options, including online. You can also play these games on-the-go or expanded on your TV. You’ll also be free of ads and other gross microtransactions that are often associated with free-to-play gaming. Odds are you won’t like every game in the package, but there’s probably enough here to make this a worthwhile investment.
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