CLUBHOUSE GAMES: 51 WORLDWIDE CLASSICS / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: NINTENDO / PLATFORM: SWITCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics does exactly what its name suggests, allowing players to learn and master 51 classic board / card / tabletop / parlour games that originate from various countries around the world. There are familiar games like draughts, dominoes, chess and ludo, some that you'll know but appear here under different names (“Last Card” is what most of us know as Uno), and others – like shogi and hanafuda from Japan and carrom from India – that are relatively uncommon here in the West. There's even a bonus tiny piano for you to tinkle on, just for the fun of it, because why not?
All 51 games are available right from the start (no need to unlock anything, apart from a few surprises awarded for mastering certain games...), so you can jump straight into whatever you fancy. Loading up each game, a brief demo plays out on screen along with a brief introduction from some of the game's “guides,” little plastic figurines who talk you through the basics (often through some weirdly out of place dialogue, delivered in such a deadpan manner that you can't help but smile) before letting you loose. More in-depth instructions are available, but some don't quite go as in-depth as you might want them to, so there's a chance you might need to read up on some of the more intricate rules online.
Single players are served well by computer opponents with a range of difficulty levels, and there are plenty of multiplayer options too. There's support for up to four players using the same console, and it's possible to link up to four consoles locally (you can even place each Switch side by side in “mosaic mode” to create one super-sized play area), although it should be noted that the options for three and four players are limited to just two or three games (there's plenty for two players, though). In a very welcome touch, only one person needs to own the actual game, with the other players (locally, not online) simply needing to download a free “guest edition” from the eShop. On top of all this, online play is supported for many (but not all) of the games. Choose up to three games you'd like to play, and you'll be matched up with other players with the same interests – it usually only takes a matter of seconds to find a game, but in case it takes a bit longer than expected, you can continue to play other games until opponents have been found.
As well as allowing you to revisit some old favourites, there's every chance you might come across something “new” that really grabs your attention, like the massively addictive almost-2000-years-old mancala, or perhaps you'll finally get around to learning how to play a few card games that you've never quite got to grips with in the past. If you're in the mood for some relaxing old-school gaming, 51 Worldwide Classics will certainly hit the spot.
(Click here to see the full list of games!)