Why play just one game when you can play 51?
51 Worldwide Games – or Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics as it’s called in North America – is exactly what you’d expect it to be from its title; a collection of 51 games, from all around the world. From board games to card games, sports and arcade games, there’s a huge range of titles on offer. Essentially, whatever your taste, you’re likely to find something you’ll enjoy.
Having played compilation games in the past, I expected a rather basic setup; nothing more than a list of games to choose from. 51 Worldwide Games surpasses expectations with a beautifully clean user interface. Games are a pleasure to browse, and each title is introduced with a voice-acted explanation of how to play. These are real highlights, and help you get to grips with games you’re not familiar with. Usually, it’s a conversation between two players; one who’s familiar with the game and one who isn’t.
“Whatever your taste, you’re likely to find something you’ll enjoy here”
They’re not all as helpful as others; some provide only a vague introduction to the game, so you’ll still have to rely on the also-included text instructions to figure out how to play. Annoyingly, the controls for each game will appear in neither; these will be presented to you separately when you start playing a game. Luckily, the controls are never overly complicated, but they can vary from game to game, and also how you’re playing.
Every game in 51 Worldwide Games is fully playable in single-player. Most games have AI opponents of varying difficulties to play against. Other games, including those that are designed to be played alone anyway, have multiple twists and rulesets to try. So even with just one of the 51 games on offer, you often have multiple permutations.
“The real joy of 51 Worldwide Games is playing with friends”
The real joy of 51 Worldwide Games, though, is playing with friends. You can play together on the same Switch, play locally on multiple Switches, or online. Not every game can be played on one console; some titles, like dominoes and Last Card (Nintendo’s answer to Uno) require your deck to be kept private, so these can only be played online or with multiple Switches. But the majority of titles allow two to four players to join in, whether by grabbing a controller each, or using the same touchscreen.
A few motion control games give the collection a real boost, although the motion detection seems a little hit and miss. Darts, which requires you to hold the Joy-Con on its side as if you were throwing a real dart, has excellent precision once you’ve got the hang of it. But bowling, which should have been a real highlight, felt unbalanced. Some throws went perfectly; others were hampered because the game didn’t seem to pick up our movements well enough. It’s a shame, because it’s the closest thing we’ve had to Wii Sports bowling in over a decade.
What is truly excellent, is that to play on multiple consoles with friends, you don’t need multiple copies of the game. As long as one player owns the full game, everyone else can download 51 Worldwide Games‘ free demo from the eShop. Along with providing access to four games, it allows for full participation in local play.
Whether playing by yourself or with friends, you’re going to have a great time with 51 Worldwide Games. It provides a great primer to games you’ve never played – or even heard of before. One of my favourites has turned out to be Mancala, an ancient African game about moving ‘seeds’ from one pot to another. But if you’d rather play something a little more modern, or familiar, you’re covered too. There’s four-in-a-row, dots and boxes, draughts, blackjack, and plenty others.
” It’s a joyful, relaxing compilation that provides a pleasant respite from our hectic, stressful lives”
Away from ‘parlour’ games, you’ll also find a Point Blank-style target shooting game, a 3D golf game, slot cars, air hockey and more. There’s also a match-three style game. While some games may not be as appealing to you as others, there are no ‘duds’; every game is presented with the same level of care and finesse as the one before it. Even if something doesn’t instantly jump out at you, I’d urge you to try it; you might just find a new favourite.
51 Worldwide Games should be in everybody’s Switch library, without a doubt. At £35/$40, it’s an absolute bargain in terms of value for money. There’s endless replayability here, whether playing by yourself or with friends. And, thanks to its wonderful presentation, excellent visuals and voice acting, every single title is a pleasure to try. It’s a joyful, relaxing compilation that provides a pleasant respite from our hectic, stressful lives – and who doesn’t want that?