What I’m Playing: Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics
I loved the version on the DS, so I got this the moment it was released on Switch.
You start by picking from a set of little human pieces, which you can recolor their skin & hair, but not their appalling clothes. I almost went with Dad there, but in the end Cool Bro looks better. Looking at the random other players later, I see a lot of them chose that or Suit Guy. As I’ve noted before, Nintendo has Mii avatars, and then doesn’t use them in games even where it’d make sense. You see a little face photo of your Mii in some games, but it should use your Mii in the world! Nintendo is so frustrating and anti-social.
Then you go to a globe UI, with figures representing “guides” that give you a menu of a few games. Or you can just pick any game from a preposterously long line menu, or you can hit X (up button) to switch to a grid which is more reasonable. UX is very confused, always a couple extra button presses or spinning the cursor around a too-large area to get to anywhere you want. You unlock more guides by playing games, earning trophies.
Your piece has up to 5 “recommendations”, but you can’t set them from in the game, you have to go all the way back out to the globe, find your piece, and add them from a list. And these don’t help you jump back to a game fast, you have to find it in the grid every time.
Like almost all Nintendo software now, there’s no settings for audio, and the “music” is driving me insane, but I need the sound to play some of these, so I’m constantly muting and unmuting. At least in the old days, Nintendo’s music had complete scores, but they’ve apparently fired all their musicians, this is just beep-doo-beep-de-beep, over and over until I stab someone.
Each game starts with couple figures playing the game with often amusing commentary—the kids narrating Connect Four as a samurai duel is fantastic—often enough tutorial for anyone, but it immediately comes up to a menu with “How to Play” and Play, and hitting + in game usually gets a help menu. They’re trying to teach you games you may be unfamiliar with. However, showing the tutorial EVERY time you start a game until you hit X (up) is insipid.
There are medals for winning against the AI and playing at least 2-4 times depending on the game, so there’s a little grind possible if you’re into that.
Nintendo History guide gives you: Hanafuda, Gomoku, President, Shogi, and Riichi Mahjong, which Nintendo made for a century before going into the videogames business.
Many of the games have local and Internet multiplayer, which I haven’t yet tried. I expect the usual Nintendo® Quality™ networking, which is to say everything will drop out constantly. I’d rather play against AIs.
Current playlist of 11 good, 16 bad, 25 unplayed doesn’t seem all that positive, but the good games are usually very good, and you can just ignore the stupid ones. The constant terrible music is the only strong negative.
I’ll keep updating this post as I play more of them.
bold is good, italic is bad, plain is I haven’t bothered to play it yet.
- Mancala: aka Awari. Anyone who’s typed in games from Basic Computer Games is intimately familiar with Awari. It’s a weird little game, but fast and fun, and there’s just enough strategy against a smart player (not the AI) to make it hard to win.
- Dots and Boxes: “Boxing” is also very familiar from school. The first player (default to you) is at a severe disadvantage, but it’s possible to only give up a few boxes to the second player, and then clean up the rest.
- Yacht Dice: aka Yahtzee, Poker Dice. Nice enough, but I found the controls a little finnicky, it should not use the “do stuff” button for both pick and reroll. Slaughtered the AI, as one would expect.
- Four in a Row: aka Connect Four. Pretty dull, aside from the tutorial.
- Hit and Blow: aka Mastermind, Bagels, etc. with an unfortunate translation name. But I dislike the color-matching version, I’m a numbers person.
- Nine Men’s Morris: I don’t understand this game. You start playing while setting up, and it just screws anyone who loses one piece. Also obviously should have been #9.
- Hex: Again, should’ve been #6. It’s a road-building game, dumb low-challenge game.
- Hare and Hounds
- Chinese Checkers: aka Pegboard. Not Chinese, sort of checkers except nothing is captured.
- Ludo: aka Parcheesi, Sorry!, Trouble, etc. I switch to the 3 dice to come out rule, rather than automatic/on 6, otherwise it’s Parcheesi (not quite Indian Pachesi), a good being-dicks-to-each-other race game.
- Backgammon: An ancient dice game, a good fun game. I dislike the joycon controls, cursor-moving by spike around the track instead of selecting individual pieces left/right.
- Renegade: aka Othello, Reversi, etc., pretty standard. I lost really badly the first round, and then eked out a win, I’ve always been bad at this game, or anything that requires me to do deep analysis of simple positions (go, checkers, etc.), I’m a broad strategy for complex positions (wargames) thinker.
- Chess: There’s a sort of lesson program, but the starter AI is incredibly suicidal, so it’s not even interesting. Probably it gets harder, but I’m not that interested yet. I dislike the set design, it’s very hard to tell the pawns apart from bishops, queen from king, and there’s no alternate set option. Still, it’s Chess.
- Mini Shogi
- Hanafuda: Very pretty cards, but I’ve never learned the sets, and visual association like this is harder for me. AI let me win 3/3 on this, which is crazy since I was just clearing chaff, I never saw more than 2 cards of a good set. However, after winning the guide “gave me a gift” of Mario-themed Hanafuda cards, so that might be easier for me. I think this might be worth practicing at.
- Riichi Mahjong
- Last Card: aka Uno, Crazy Eights. The card branding is almost but not quite infringing on Uno, so it hits that uncanny valley effect, and I kinda hate looking at it. AI didn’t stand a chance, I don’t know what they were even doing, picking cards at random? There isn’t much strategy to Uno, but no strategy means you lose.
- Blackjack: Gives a limited number of rounds, and chips but you can go into debt. Does not have Split, which is kind of amateurish, and it doesn’t have the dealer check their down card on A or 10 up, so you might play a round and find out they have Blackjack. It’s bizarre beyond belief that they didn’t make Blackjack be game #21, but #22. But I can always play a few hands of Blackjack.
- Texas Hold ’em: aka Poker.
- President: aka Asshole, Daifugo, etc. Kind of an annoying party game, giant hand of cards to manage at start. I hate the rich-get-richer mechanic, which is why it’s sometimes called Capitalism, but it’s more like Monarchy.
What is it good for? Absolutely nothin’
Say it again, war, huh!
What is it good for? Absolutely nothin’, come on!
—Bruce Springsteen, “War”
I timed this, and it takes 5 seconds and one button-press for each card, and it always resets the cursor to the rightmost card, so it takes a minimum of 2.5 minutes. Was this included as a prank?
Takoyaki: Ten octopus. Almost as random as War, but you get a choice when Joker is drawn, and it’s much faster. Winning this nonsense unlocked a Mario-themed card deck!
- Pig’s Tail: aka Buta no shippo. Instead of a little action game of throwing drawn cards into a pile but avoiding matches, it’s a completely random War-like, with a slow “penalty cards” deck.
- Golf: Cute little putting game, only has 3 clubs: Driver, Iron, Putter. It’s not quite a wacky golf or mini-golf, but it’s not any kind of realistic golf simulator.
- Bowling: Has touch controls or joy-cons, but I have a Switch Lite, so I just went with touch. A little rocky start, but then I can get a strike most throws. IRL, my aim is a little too erratic, but I’ve played hundreds of hours of Ramp Champ and other touch-stroke games on iPhone, so this isn’t hard for me.
- Carrom: Like marbles or pogs, but without the freedom of motion, and a strange “queen” you have to take another coin after or you put it back. I don’t know that I like this game, it takes too long and the controls are stupid (stick to move up/down only, L/R to aim?!), but it’s competent and kind of interesting.
- Toy Tennis
- Toy Soccer
- Toy Curling
- Toy Boxing: Lightly based on Rock’em Sock’em Robots, but without the pop-up heads or movement forward/back, just button-mashing. Controls are A/B to wobble your guy’s arms out to hit or up to block, which is implausibly hard to switch between, they should’ve used L & R shoulder buttons. Normal AI is easy, Hard AI is brutal, I assume the others are unwinnable?
- Toy Baseball: Accurately simulates a cheap mechanical baseball game from the ’60s, with maybe the worst pitching stick control I’ve ever seen. Once I got the hang of it, I recovered from 0 runs to 3, while the machine that doesn’t fumble with sticks got 6. Not likely to play more. There’s no Toy Football, as that’s not “worldwide”.
- Air Hockey
- Slot Cars
- Battle Tanks
- Team Tanks
- Shooting Gallery
- 6-Ball Puzzle: A weird collapsing ball Tetris variant, not as interesting as Bejewelled or Tetris.
- Sliding Puzzle
- Mahjong Solitaire: 20 layouts each for Beginner, Standard, Advanced difficulty. Has a nice color-assist, which is good if you can’t easily make out the stack depth. I can see this being a big time-killer for me.
- Klondike Solitaire
- Spider Solitaire
- Bonus: Piano: The piano has a single octave, the help says the buttons or shaking joycons does something, but it does nothing on the Switch Lite at least. Turning the device upside down gets you a synth with 4 octaves selectable by button, but the keys don’t rotate into normal position, so it’s pretty unusable. I would prefer a real “toy piano” simulator, but then you may as well buy a teaching piano toy or a proper cheap synth, they’re $30 or less on the ‘zon.