Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics Review
51 classic board and card games, and ZERO lost pieces.
51 games. An entire bookcase, overstuffed with games for the whole family, has just been shoved into your Nintendo Switch. No doubt about it, Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is a treasure trove, offering tabletop games and digital recreations of what you’d find at an arcade. Even better, you will never lose a single piece!
While we recently challenged family members to heated competition in our latest installment of Dad vs. Kid, it also made sense to dig a little deeper to explain why we highly recommend grabbing a copy of this game. And if you have multiple Nintendo Switches in the house, why you should download the free demo version on them as well. We’ll get to all of that in a second, though. First, let’s talk games.
How do these 51 games break down?
There's no “campaign" here, but there is an introductory element that connects the dots on all the games on-hand. It starts with you selecting a playing piece. That serves as your little avatar, setting up some flighty (and sometimes cringey) dialogue to help explain each of the games.
There are card and dice games...
- Yacht Dice
- Last Card
- Texas Hold'em
- Pig's Tail
- Mahjong Solitaire
- Klondike Solitaire
- Spider Solitaire
Table and board games....
- Chinese Checkers
- Mini Shogi
- Riichi Mahjong
- Hit and Blow
- Nine Men's Morris
- Hare and Hounds
- Dots and Boxes
- 6-Ball Puzzle
- Sliding Puzzle
Games you’d play at a bar...
...and games you’d find at an arcade or amusement park.
- Toy Tennis
- Toy Soccer
- Toy Curling
- Toy Boxing
- Toy Baseball
- Air Hockey
- Slot Cars
- Battle Tanks
- Team Tanks
- Shooting Gallery
What if you don’t know how to play these games?
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. The avatars we mentioned up top? Goofy as that dialogue may be, it sets up and explains each game’s rules in a breezy fashion.
Take Mancala, for example. The instructions are simply laid out, and before you start, you can quickly go over all of the rules and read hints. And, mind you, our resident testers had never even heard of Mancala before playing. Within a minute, the game walked us through everything we needed to know.
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 prevents you from making a bad move (if you’re in check, it won’t let you walk into a trap with the hints turned on).
How Should I Play? Switched into a TV, Local Play, or Mosaic Mode?
Playing side-by-side on the couch with the Switch hooked to the TV is a blast, but that’s pretty typical. Plenty of games offer side-by-side couch co-op. Same goes for local play... or connecting online.
One of several nice things about Clubhouse Games, though, is that you only need to own one copy of the game to enjoy it across multiple systems in the same room.
In a two-Switch situation, one console serves as the host. Downloading the free demo of Clubhouse Games allows a second player to jump in on any of the games. So, after a quick download, my family 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 for a few attempts before righting itself. We would need to do further research to figure out why the hiccups happened in close-proximity local play.
Playing in Mosaic Mode introduces a unique experience that you can custom tailor if you have two or more Switch screens available. With this feature, you can rearrange the Switches so they're 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 things such as Fishing, Battle Tanks, and Slot Car Racing.
Mosaic Mode instantly got us thinking of the screen-extending mini-games available in Super Mario Party on the Switch. There, the stacked screens of multiple consoles allowed players to extend play maps to great effect.
This makes sense, because the team behind the (Mario) party, NDCube, crafted Clubhouse Games. So, this team clearly knows what it's doing.
If you need a break in the action, there’s also a Piano Mode where you can play a virtual tune. Start tapping the virtual ivories across two Switches in Mosaic Mode. Or hit the digital skins (simulated drums come when you toggle a button and treat your Joy-Con like drumsticks).
What's the final verdict? Is the game worth buying?
In case you hadn’t pieced the answer together by this point, the answer is absolutely "Yes." At $40, this is a must-own addition to your Nintendo Switch collection. What could’ve easily been a stack of shovelware is anything but mailed in. Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is, in fact, greater than the sum of its 51 fun parts.