Nintendo’s latest Switch release is simple – but sometimes, simplicity can be the best.
Back on the Nintendo DS, a thousand years ago, I had a quiet obsession. Not Pokemon. Not Mario Kart DS, or The World Ends with You. Not even Elite Beat Agents or Ace Attorney – though I was a little obsessive over those. No – I was obsessed with 42 All-Time Classics – also known in some countries as Clubhouse Games.
This little collection of games was deceptively brilliant. Classic games from around the world gathered into one package, it was a natural fit for the DS and touch-based input. Now, fifteen years after that game’s release, we’re getting a Nintendo Switch sequel: 51 Worldwide Games or Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics, depending on your territory.
This game is exactly what it says right there on the box. It is 51 games from around the world collected up into a neatly-presented package as a Switch cart or download. It’s a solid value package, but the easiest way to get a handle of what it’s about is to see some of it for yourself – so we’ve put together a video preview that shows off 14 of the 51 included games.
All the games are bite-sized and all are based on existing things – so the game comes with a lower retail price to match – £34.99 in the UK and $39.99 in the US, or a similar regional equivalent. The fact these games are familiar is the point, however – and they run the gamut of the different ways you might want to play on the Nintendo Switch.
If you’re a handheld player or a Switch Lite owner, the best offerings are perhaps the solo-friendly games that you can use to pass a lot of time quickly. In this sense it’s a perfect commute game; you can boot this up for a game of solitaire, or to kill time in hands of Blackjack or Texas Hold ‘Em. There’s some games that are essentially puzzles for a single player to tackle, too.
For action while docked, 51 Worldwide Games turns its eye towards the sort of multiplayer shenanigans that made the Nintendo Wii so beloved. Nintendo turns its hand towards bowling again here, for instance, as well as things like darts, a shooting gallery and a surprisingly real-feeling imitation of air hockey. Some of these, like darts and bowling, require you to unhook the Joy-Con controllers and use them for motion controls just as on the Wii, while others use more traditional controls.
That isn’t to say that these motion-driven games are exclusive to docked Switch machines – each also features touch screen controls for those playing them handheld. Similarly, all the multiplayer games have multiple difficulties of AI opponents for you to face off against, and there’s broad online support across the game.
Sandwiched between these two ends of the spectrum are a range of games that are equally at home in either setting, and can again be played with people or against AIs. There’s legally-distinct, differently-named versions of classic games like Connect 4 and Uno, plus things like Chess, Checkers and Shogi, to name a few.
There’s also a few more traditionally video gamey entries like Slot Car Racing, a Battle Tanks mini game and ‘Toy’ versions of Boxing, Baseball and Football – simple, two-button implementations of classic sports that could lead to excited, yell-inducing multiplayer sessions among a family or among some liquored-up friends. Nintendo’s history is also referenced directly in places, like with the inclusion of the Hanafuda Card game the company began making over a hundred years ago and a golf game that closely resembles the Satoru Iwata programmed NES Golf.
Between playing, this collection charms with facts about each of the included games and their history – I actually learned a thing or two. Similarly, the tutorial content that teaches you how to play each game, even more complex board games, is solid. There are challenges for each game and as you work towards mastering them, and players are encouraged to share their favorite game picks with other players online. As for the games themselves, they’re all unlocked from the start.
Anyway, it’s all good. This isn’t a game that’s likely to be considered groundbreaking or earth-shattering, and I do have minor misgivings about how much nuance the motion controls for things like bowling allows compared to its classic implementation on the Wii, but these things are small potatoes: this is a big package at a great price.
By offering such a wide variety of experiences to please both handheld and docked players alike, 51 Worldwide Classics is a worthy follow-up to the DS Clubhouse Games and quietly becomes another must-own Nintendo Switch title. It’s not a big-budget, mind-expanding adventure – but it’s a fun, solidly-constructed collection of eminently playable classics. It’s video game comfort food, and has been a delight to meander through in the present day’s isolation. It’s a cliche, but there really is something in this package for almost everyone.