In 2005/2006, Clubhouse Games was released on the Nintendo DS system. Taking full advantage of the system’s touch screen, the game was a compilation of various board and card games, complete with tutorials on how to play the games and online multiplayer. With the success of the Switch, Nintendo have seen an opportunity to bring the franchise back for a new generation. 51 Worldwide Games is a worthy addition to anyone’s collection, thanks largely to its high production values and accessible gameplay.
When starting the game for the first time you have to choose a figurine that represents you and answer a few basic questions. The questions include what your favourite food is, where you live and what is your heart’s desire. This generates a profile that is shared online for other players around the world to view. Later you can go back and select which games amongst the collection are your favourites, as well as view statistics on which games you have mastered and how many times you have played each one. The figurines of players appear on a globe, where you can check out their favourite games and see what’s trending in other countries. Those questions you answered act as a search filter, purely for the fun of it. As a side note, it was interesting to see mostly Americans shared my love of steak while people in other countries were generally healthier… Either way, it’s an interesting way of looking at fun logistics around the world!
The original Clubhouse Games required players to unlock games by collecting stamps. For 51 Worldwide Games, players have instant access to the entire collection, so you can choose to dive straight into old favourites or try your hand at games you haven’t played before. If you’re not sure what to play, you can always consult the figurines on the globe who also double as an in-game guide and list their favourites for you to play. Nintendo even has a few figurines on the globe who list games based on themes, such as action games or card games. We’re not going to list every last game that’s in the collection, but if you wish for a more detailed look we recommend heading over to the official Nintendo Australia website. A majority of the games are of high quality and feel like the perfect virtual representation of their physical counterpart. It’s really going to come down to personal preference as to which ones you enjoy, but it definitely pays off to try new games. Personally I have been thinking of purchasing a darts set just because I enjoyed the version that’s featured in 51 Worldwide Games.
Upon selecting a game players are treated to a short (but skippable) video that shows you how to play. The videos are injected with humour as the figurines make little jokes at each other’s expense, but they also do a substantial job of explaining the rules. You have text guides as well, if you prefer, that go that little bit more in-depth. When playing solo you are able to pause the game at any moment and consult the instructions, which is handy for some of the bigger board games such as Chess where each piece has different moves. The videos in particular are good for children who are still developing their reading skills, making 51 Worldwide Games accessible to almost all gamers.
Many games feature multiple ways to play. An example is billiards, where you can select to play 9-Ball, 8-Ball or Simple Rules. 9-Ball is where players must sink the balls in sequence from 1-9, with the player who sinks the 9-ball claiming victory. 8-Ball is where players compete to sink all the low or high balls before sinking the 8-ball. Simple Rules is where the player who sinks five balls first, wins. For games such as Bowling, you even have the option to put up bumpers. These variations add both variety and replayability to the already substantial collection. For single-players, you can also determine the difficulty levels of the AI and will get medals based on how far you can go. Sometimes the medals will be based on completing different variations of the game where AI is not relevant, such as Solitaire. Keep in mind these medals are reflected on your stats screen, so there’s a bit of incentive to complete everything for bragging rights.
It’s worth noting that some games force players to use either motion or touch screen controls. Darts for example, cannot be played with the Pro controller. Instead you have to use the Joycon to “throw” the darts or flick them using the touchscreen. For most board and card games the touchscreen actually works better than a traditional controller, purely because it’s more intuitive to select and move pieces rather than drag a cursor over the screen.
Local multiplayer for up to four players is supported on the one Switch console, but the amount of games you can play together gets progressively lower the more players there are. Games such as President are not supported on the one screen, which is understandable since you don’t want to reveal your hand to other players. Other games were originally only designed as two-player affairs, so once you add that third or fourth player to the mix then suddenly they can’t join in. There is a saving grace if players have their own Nintendo Switch system, however. One player can own the full game, while others can download a free version from the eShop which allows them to join in on the multiplayer mayhem. Inexplicably, games such as bowling and darts only support two players when in real life you can realistically have many more players. These limitations prevent 51 Worldwide Games from becoming a true favourite at parties, which is unfortunate and dampens the otherwise great experience.
Online multiplayer is also supported. Before entering matchmaking you are asked to select three games. You are then paired with other players who want to play at least one of those games. There is some lag every so often but for the most part the online experience is solid.
Nintendo have also included a bonus toy; a virtual piano. If you turn it upside down while playing in handheld mode, it suddenly turns into an electric organ. It’s a nice little inclusion, but it’s also a good demonstration for 51 Worldwide Games’ mosaic mode. This allows up to four Nintendo Switch systems to link up and interact with each other’s screens. In the case of the piano, you get a longer keyboard. For the game Battle Tanks, mosaic mode allows for the grid to be customised and the match to take place across all four screens. While a unique and fun idea, the drawback is, once again, you are required to have multiple Nintendo Switch consoles which isn’t something everyone has available to them.
The graphics are ridiculously detailed. The games all look crisp, are perfectly modeled and take place in realistic settings. When playing card games for instance, cards are dealt on a felt tabletop resembling something you would see at a casino or an enthusiastic friend’s place. It’s really the attention to detail which brings 51 Worldwide Games to that next level in production values. The UI is also clean and straightforward – there are no hard-to-navigate menus and games load quickly.
There’s little reason for you not to add 51 Worldwide Games to your collection. The title is an absolute joy to play thanks to the in-depth tutorials, variety of rules for different games and, perhaps most importantly, it saves you the hassle of taking out the physical games that are stored away somewhere in your cupboard. The multiplayer side of things is a bit of a letdown, but it’s a minor hiccup in an otherwise fantastic package.
- In-depth tutorials - Variety of rules to play - High production values
- Need multiple Switch consoles to take full advantage of multiplayer - Motion and touchscreen controls are forced onto you at times