Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Version Reviewed: eShop Download
No. of Players: Up to 4 Players
Release Date: June 5, 2020 (EU & NA)
The Clubhouse Games series debuted on the Nintendo DS with over forty games back in late 2005 (Japan) and in 2006 (EU, NA, AU regions). The classic game series used the split-screen Nintendo DS system, along with its touch interface to bring classic board, card, and variety games, to the Nintendo portable system. Now 15 years later, the series is once again at the forefront of Nintendo’s newest handheld/hybrid darling the Nintendo Switch in the form of 51 classic games.
Not much was known about the classic games coming to the Switch, as an early trailer in March 2020 introduced us to the game, and later trailers in April and May showed us the variety of games that would be accessible in the compilation series.
There’s not a traditional story or campaign mode in Clubhouse Games on the Nintendo Switch, though there is a lot of gaming history told throughout the variety of games. There are dialogue moments as well at the beginning of each game that creates a cutesy banter between the characters and teaches you the basics of how to play. There is a great deal of challenge as well if you take on the game as a single-player moving through each of the individual game’s tiers from Normal to Impossible difficulties.
There is a lot of variety of gameplay within Clubhouse Games. First off there is a variety of ways in which you play games, from using a pro controller or dual Joy-Con controllers together as one player, a single Joy-Con in multiplayer matches or motion-controlled mini-games, flat on a table using touch controls to interact with game pieces, point controls, and maybe a few others that I am leaving out.
Games come in a variety of groupings from Nintendo’s own historical archives of Hanafuda complete with unique Nintendo themed cards, as well as other classic games like Shogi, Mahjong, and Gomoku. Touch Control games like Air Hockey, Checkers, and Othello. To some of my kids and my favorite games like Dots and Boxes, Mancala, and Yacht Dice. And the stand out go to games like Hit and Blow, Chinese Checkers, and 6-Ball Puzzle.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
51 games is a lot to wrap your head around. Even in my dozens of hours so far with the game, I have just scratched the surface of what Clubhouse Games has to offer. There is certainly a lot of content packed in and for the most part, each game is fun. The fact that most of the multiplayer games can be played locally using one system (with the exception of some of the card games) and sharing the game with up to three others is great as well.
Along with the multiplayer aspect of sharing the games with up to three systems (one ‘host’ system with the full game and three systems with the free ‘guest’ version), you can also tile the games using Mosaic mode, much like some of the mini-games within Mario Party on the Nintendo Switch allowed for. While this mode is fun and definitely a unique aspect since it requires you to have access to multiple systems, it’s more of a gimmick as there’s a slight lag between systems as your slot car or tank for instance moves from one screen to the next. Plus because there is a bezel between the systems, the difference in distance and calculating your move can be difficult.
As I mentioned earlier most of the games, in single-player, have a variety of difficulty levels for you to progress through. Winning against the variety of CPU opponents can net you some hidden goodies like Nintendo-specific cards, as well as bragging rights for beating an Impossible level CPU on some of the harder games.
Another area where Clubhouse Games shine is in the online. It’s pretty simple to just jump online, select a few games you would like to play, and find a random person also looking for a game. Many games while played online use a timer so that you’re never waiting too long for a turn to happen.
This can be a bit anxiety-inducing for some, though it’s meant to help speed games along that would otherwise be slowed down while playing online and waiting for your opponent to take their turn. The game also uses the Nintendo Online App to allow for voice chat which is a nice addition, and while most people will opt for different methods of communication, its integration is welcomed.
The audio in Clubhouse Games is a bit of a mixed bag. While most of the sound effects are true to their real-world counterparts, the background audio is mostly forgettable and somewhat nausea-inducing. Obviously, though you didn’t get the game for its stunning soundtrack, if there’s one area the game lacks in, it is in the background music.
In-game effects like the rolling of dice, flipping of cards, knocking down bowling pins, scribbling your pencil in Dots and Lines, or uncovering that last color in Hits and Blows are all spot on and well done. The combination of shaking the dice with your Joy-Con and the rattling sound effect in the container is inspiring as both tactile and audible effects help to make the game seem more realistic.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
While not every game is award-winning (I’m looking at you, billiards) the games themselves have an impressive level of care and polish to them. There’s a sheen on the marbles, a texture to the felt, and a tactile feeling whenever your Joy-Con rumbles as your shake dice in the Yacht container or drive your slot car just a little too fast. Oftentimes I found myself distracted by the games outside visuals of a coffee cup sitting on a table or the room around me instead of the gameplay area itself.
As I mentioned earlier, the only hiccups in gameplay performance both docked and undocked that I found were in the games mosaic mode with slot cars and tanks. Other than that the game seems to run at a decent frame rate, granted most games are a bit slower-paced than others.
Clubhouse Games does a lot right. While some games are ultimately forgettable, your time with the game itself will depend on whether or not you have some friends to play with, and if playing board or card games on the Switch is more appealing to you than breaking out the physical games in your living room or kitchen table. The series is great and the collection is filled to the brim with classic games that offer endless hours of fun.
If you like card games, board games, and want to play either by yourself, with a friend or three locally, or against random people in the world, Clubhouse Games is sure to entice you. There is more than enough gameplay here to keep you busy. Also, 6-Ball Puzzle is life.
THE VERDICT: 9/10
*A Review key was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review
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This post was written by jonathanober