Dad vs. Kid: Clubhouse Games
When a dad and kid throw down in classic board and card games.
My kid just beat the house at Blackjack. Then went on to mangle me in Mancala. Those are only two of the games inside Nintendo‘s Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics. This is a treasure trove, a huge collection of tabletop games along with digital recreations of what you’d find at a penny arcade.
Even better, it’s a huge assortment of games that I will never lose the pieces to! This was the perfect set up for the second round of the Dad Versus Kid throwdown in the Gladstone household.
Last time we played, my little angel got away scott free after staging a bold daylight robbery on my island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I was itching for payback. While I was originally thinking of challenging him to all 51 games that come included in Clubhouse Games in some massive marathon, we decided to narrow it down to about 15.
Our battlefield included Checkers, Chess, Fishing, Slot Car Racing, Battle Tanks, Four-in-a-Row, Blackjack, Mancala, War, Golf, Billiards, Toy Soccer, Toy Baseball, Toy Boxing, and Air Hockey.
Playing side-by-side on the couch with the Switch hooked to the TV is a blast, but that’s pretty typical. One of several nice things about Clubhouse Games is that you only need to own one copy of the game to enjoy it across multiple systems.
We live in a two-Switch household, and in this situation, one console can serve as the host. Downloading the free demo of Clubhouse Games on the other Switch allows a second player to jump in on any of the games. So, after a quick download, we shifted to playing locally, Switch to Switch. That turned out to be a little more problematic, as it unfortunately introduced lag in games like Toy Baseball, making it almost unplayable. So we skipped that one, and went straight to Mosaic Mode gameplay.
It was way more fun than we expected. Playing in Mosaic Mode, you take two or more Switch screens and arrange them lying flat on a table. Once you tell the game the locations of the screens, it creates a funky hybrid board layout that you can play on for games like Fishing, Battle Tanks, and Slot Car Racing.
The competition started with some arcade games where my kid held his own. He scored some early victories in Battle Tanks, Toy Soccer, and Toy Boxing. I was getting worried.
Battle Tanks was a blast in every sense of the word. My kid did not want to stop playing this one. If you have more than one Switch, playing this one game in Mosaic Mode makes it all worthwhile.
Toy Soccer and Toy Boxing were both crushing defeats where I got knocked to the mat...and stupidly scored on myself while trying to defend my goal.
Then the tide began to turn. When we tried out Slot Car Racing, my kid was a little puzzled. He didn’t quite understand why you can only control the speed of a car that’s literally pegged into a slot on a track. Oh, kids these days. Some will never know the joy of a Tyco racing set. So I guess I had the home-field advantage on that round.
Then we went fishing to see who could reel in the biggest catch. Me. Only because I was lucky. And patient.
After the more arcade-like fare, we turned our attention to some of the classic card and board games in the package. This is where things get really interesting. Imagine explaining to a young child how to play the odds in Blackjack and then having them pick it up quicker than you ever did. I am already planning our trip to Vegas when he turns 21.
One of the nice things about Clubhouse Games is that the experience is put together pretty well. You could be forgiven for writing off the game as a simple collection of budget software. However, the title's presentation and how it eases you into each game is fairly ingenious. Take Mancala, for example.
Not only did neither of us know how to play, we had never even heard of this game before playing. The instructions are simply laid out, and before you start, you can quickly go over all of the rules and read hints.
There are even game learning tools to help you improve while you play. In complex strategy games like Chess, the game gives tips for next plays. In some cases, with the trainer modes available, the software simply wouldn’t allow my child to make a bad move.
As our little competition wound down, we celebrated by turning on the piano mode and playing a tune. The kiddo tapped the virtual ivories across two Switches in Mosaic Mode. I hit the digital skins (simulated drums come when you toggle a button and treat your Joy-Con like drumsticks).
Yes, I may have had an unfair advantage with some of these classic games, but my kid still turned up the heat. At the end of the day, though, my ancient age -- I MEAN, “EXPERIENCE” -- won out over youthful enthusiasm.
In order to be fair, I’m letting him choose the next round of the competition. I’m already worried.
Kid: 7 (Battle Tanks, Blackjack, Mancala, War, Toy Soccer, Toy Boxing, Air Hockey)
Dad: 8 (Checkers, Chess, Fishing, Slot Car Racing, Golf, Billiards, Four-in-a-Row, Toy Baseball)
Current Total Standings After 2 Rounds:
Hi, I’m Darren, and I’m a gamer. I also have a problem – my kid. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love him. To. Death. But, he recently destroyed me in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Which he later celebrated by putting together another killer track set on Dropmix (see DJ PJs). I always thought that him topping me in games would be an eventual rite of manhood where I pass the torch to him when he’s older. Y’know, when he beats me in Street Fighter or something. I figured I at least had until he was in middle school. Man, was I ever wrong.
Welcome to my life. I’m a dad. Born in 19xx. Raised on Ataris and Apples, Neo Geos and Nintendos, Dreamcasts, 3DOs, PlayStations…you get the idea. Now I’m doing my darndest to be a good dad – and to teach my kid the ancient art of the circle strafe. Lego. Nerf dueling. Board gaming - all sorts of nerdly pursuits.
Here’s the deal. I share my trials of cooperative play and 1v1 combat alike, give you some ideas for getting the most out of gaming experiences with your kids, and we’ll keep score.