Saturday, June 27, 2020

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics (NSW) Review

The weekend is a great time to unwind and play a game or two... or one of 51! That's exactly what you get with Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics for the Nintendo Switch, and here is SuperPhillip Central's review!

Nintendo's got game... and LOTS of them!

The original Clubhouse Games released on the Nintendo DS in 2005 as part of Nintendo's Touch! Generations lineup of casual-oriented software for the system. It brought about many digital family game nights and rowdy online sessions with friends alike almost 15 years ago. Now, it's 2020, and fortunately, Nintendo--with the help of Super Mario Party developer ND Cube--has decided to bring the series back out of long hibernation for a sequel. Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is no doubt packed with games from all around the world to enjoy, but some odd quirks stop it from being as terrific of a title as it could have been.

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics features--unsurprisingly--51 unique games from all around the world. You have various categories of games, from board games to parlor games, and card games to action games. There's definitely something for everybody in this collection of classic games.

While it was easy for me to dive in and play the games I already knew the rules for and enjoy them immediately, it was also a barrel of fun to pick up and learn the rules of new games, some of which I had never even heard of before this package. I'm alluding to titles like Mancala, Nine Man's Morris, Hare & Hounds, and Pig's Tail, for instance.

Mancala, pictured here, wasn't just one of the games I learned to play--it was one I learned to love.
Fortunately, each game not only houses an adorably cute opening video presentation of each game, complete with a family of wooden figurines interacting with one another in amusing ways, but the games have a comprehensive list of rules to interact with. For games like Chess and Shogi, for example, you can even turn on an assist grid that shows where there are safe and hazardous spaces for your pieces to move. Super helpful and there whenever you need them.

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics has easy-to-learn controls for players of all skill levels. Even playing with my game-averse dad was something that we both enjoyed, as he [eventually] learned the controls and even won a bunch of games--particularly some of his in-real-life favorites, Billiards and Bowling. The latter uses touch or Wii Sports-like motion controls so you feel like you're in a bowling alley yourself--save for the need to spend money on a rented pair of bowling shoes.

"Four-in-a-row!" More than just the name of the game; it's also the objective!
Multiplayer is of course a huge part of Clubhouse Games, and it works well enough with this Nintendo Switch sequel. The majority of the 51 classics in Clubhouse Games on Switch can be played locally on one screen. When you get to certain card games like Texas Hold'Em or the Uno-like Last Card, it gets trickier. You'll need a Switch for each player for these games, as they'd otherwise be impossible to play when everyone can see each others' cards. That said, only one copy of the game is needed across all Switches. The player or players without the game can download a free trial version of Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics from the Nintendo eShop and link up with the Switch of the player who owns the full version. It's a charitable way to handle things--and moreover a most welcome one.

Texas Hold'Em is one of several games that requires multiple Switches to play locally.
What isn't so wonderful is playing multiplayer online, particularly with randoms. There is a twofold issue with Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics' online on the Nintendo Switch. The first is that you need to have the Nintendo Switch Online app on a smart device to voice chat, which isn't new to Nintendo's online method with the Switch--just one that is woefully under-cooked and inefficient. Secondly, and most alarmingly, there is sometimes a hellish amount of lag present when playing online with other players. I'm not just talking about action-oriented games, either--I'm talked about turn-based ones as well, which is just amateurish from Nintendo. Considering the original Nintendo DS Clubhouse Games had competent online as well as voice chat directly in the game, and this Switch sequel has neither--and you're playing money to play online via Nintendo Switch Online--is an absolute travesty and unacceptable.

Still, as someone who prefers to play locally and with friends, Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics' shameful online isn't that big of a deal, but for those who do want to play with players from across the country and around the world, it's a travesty. No hyperbole intended, either.

I'm having Mario Party flashbacks all of a sudden!
That said, even as a solo player in Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics, there's plenty to accomplish. A clever medal system rewards players for beating the AI at various difficulties--and the AI can be quite challenging at later levels--and there's also some modest unlockables here and there. It will certainly take some time to play each game, master each game and, earn medals (which you can compare and contrast what medals other players on your friends list have for an alternate form of competition).

Sorry, Blue, but the old rope-a-dope technique won't save you here!
Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is one of those games that I see myself coming back to for the near and also distant future. It's perfect to bring out for parties, family get-togethers, and any not-so-special occasion as well, such as when you're bored and looking to play a quick game of Four-In-A-Row or Dominoes to kill some time. Though online is a ridiculously rough spot, Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is an otherwise highly competent and well put-together collection of gaming classics. Not all of the 51 games are winners, but the majority of the games brought and continue to bring loads of fun to the SuperPhillip household. I managed to accumulate armfuls of favorites. You certainly will, too.

[SPC Says: B+]

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