Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics Review – Childhood Revisited

    Title: Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics
    Developer: NDcube, C.A. Production
    Release Date: June 5, 2020
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Nintendo
    Genre: Tabletop/Party

Before video games were around, people would entertain themselves with board games. It’s not uncommon that groups meet up to turn off the screens and enjoy interacting with their friends around a table. However, why not combine the world of board games and video games for some weekend fun with friends and family?

Well, it’s clear that Nintendo had this same idea and released Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics. This compilation of party games includes 51 different titles to jump into. The majority of them are digital versions of classic card, dice, and board games, though a few other random activities have been thrown in for good measures, such as fishing and a piano.

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is technically 52 different activities, 51 games, and a piano for players to mess around with. The list of games included are Mancala, Dots and Boxes, Yacht Dice, Four-in-a-Row, Hit and Blow, Nine Men’s Morris, Hex, Checkers, Hare and Hounds, Gomoku, Dominoes, Chinese Checkers, Ludo, Backgammon, Renegade, Chess, Shogi, Mini Shogi, Hanafuda, Riichi Mahjong, Last Card, Blackjack, Texas Hold ’em, President, Sevens, Speed, Matching, War, Takoyaki, Pig’s Tail, Golf, Billiards, Bowling, Darts, Carrom, Toy Tennis, Toy Soccer, Toy Curling, Toy Boxing, Toy Baseball, Air Hockey, Slot Cars, Fishing, Battle Tanks, Team Tanks, Shooting Gallery, 6-Ball Puzzle, Sliding Puzzle, Mahjong Solitaire, Klondike Solitaire, Spider Solitaire and, as previously mentioned, a Piano.

Compilation games such as these were rampant back during the Wii’s heyday. More often than not, these were terrible shovelware releases that simply tried to prey on everyone’s need for more family-friendly games to play on the Wii. Now, Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics might sound like one of these by the name alone, but let me assure you that it is perhaps one of the best party games the system has to offer.

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With 51 games included in the roster, it wouldn’t be a surprise if some of the titles weren’t as engaging as others. While not every single one of the included games will have you glued to your switch for hours, the majority of them are fantastic experiences, especially when playing with others locally or online.

A lot of these games are easily recognizable by there name alone, but I haven’t played many of them since my childhood. Revisiting the likes of Mancala, War, and Dominoes on the Switch was an absolute joy and reminded me of simpler times.

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Clubhouse Games is a rather simple collection. None of the games includes introduces anything particularly new or revolutionizes their genre, but they don’t have to. Darts is fun no matter how you spin it, and sometimes a simple game of 301 is all you need.

In a few cases, however, this simplicity can hurt the games, such as in Texas Hold ’em. In a traditional game of Texas Hold ’em, I love bluffing my way through matches by betting large amounts in an effort to get others to fold. In Clubhouse Games’ version of Texas Hold ’em, however, bets are stuck to 5 chips unless another player raises your bet. This can be annoying, but it keeps things more straightforward. Clubhouse Games never set out to be the premier Poker video game, it’s merely a way for people to be introduced to the games and is a fun way to play short experiences on the Switch.

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Now, I would consider Clubhouse Games a party game, but it restricts players who are playing on one Switch to two. While this makes sense for two-player games like Mancala, Dots and Boxes, and Speed, it feels odd not being able to play Bowling with four people.

Clubhouse Games gets around this restriction by harkening back to the days of Mario Kart DS. As long as one player has a copy, up to three people can join in via local play with a guest pass. This can lead to many fun games of Last Card or Dominoes, but it does require the use of four Switches.

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If you do happen to have friends or family with their Switch consoles, there’s a ton of potential fun to be found. Local play works seamlessly with no noticeable lag and can lead to some amazing play sessions. If you are ballsy enough to try out the Mosaic mode, games of Battle Tanks, Fishing, Slot Cars, and Piano can take on a whole new life. Though this feature is included in Super Mario Party, this was the first time I actually tried it out. I’m happy to report that, while you likely won’t be playing in this mode often, it is a ton of fun and adds different ways to play the games it is compatible with.

Out of the 52 games included in Clubhouse Games, only five games felt lacking in quality. All of the “Toy” themed games, Toy Tennis, Toy Soccer, Toy Curling, Toy Boxing, and Toy Baseball are little more than time-wasters and aren’t really worth playing, even with a second player. Their inclusion as “toys” feels incredibly out of place right next to Bowling, which is a full version of the sport it is based on. I’m not asking for an MLB: The Show or Mario Tennis level of polish for these games, but full, simple versions of these games could’ve taken Clubhouse Games to Wii Sports levels of fun.

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For games that require four players, I highly recommend only playing with actual humans, whether that be in online or local play. When playing against the computer in games of chance such as Last Card, Dominoes, or Ludo, it felts as if the CPUs had an unfair advantage. CPU players almost always have a difficulty option, but this seems to mean next to nothing.

It took me close to 30 tries to beat the computer at Last Card (a copyright-free version of Uno) when they were in their easiest setting. You could chalk this up to a lack of player skill, though that is hard to do in games of complete chance. To avoid a fight with Clubhouse Games’ AI, just play with other real people when possible.

Clubhouse Games

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is a solid compilation of some fantastic games. No, not all of them are winners, but the vast majority are engaging simple versions of the best tabletop games around. Though the single-player experience might be slightly lacking, Clubhouse Games is undoubtedly one of the best local multiplayer experiences on the Switch.

Review copy purchased by outlet or reviewer

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Jake Yoder

Lover of all things gaming, anime, film and theatre. Shonen anime/manga enthusiast.