PHOTO: Nintendo

The Nintendo Switch has always been the perfect console for gaming with friends and family. From the debut title, 1-2-Switch, to late-night Mario Kart 8 Deluxe races, it’s a system that’s got a little something for any gamer. Now, the system has expanded its horizons even further with Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics.

Yes, there are actually 51 different games included in this first-party Nintendo Switch release, but don’t assume quantity trumps quality in this case. This Switch update to the classic Nintendo DS title Clubhouse Games is teeming with card games and a variety of short but sweet minigames that can be enjoyed solo or with up to three friends.

This collection is a well-made and extremely pleasant surprise that will have Switch owners jumping for joy over another batch of great games that can be enjoyed at home with friends or during a lengthy work commute. Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is a veritable gem. It’s available now as a physical copy or an online code for $39.99.

Globetrotting games

Play with multiple devices
Play with multiple devices PHOTO: Nintendo

This release is exactly what it says on the package: It’s a collection of 51 different games, including regional favorites from around the world as well as more traditional board games and video game mainstays. This includes pastimes like mancala and spider solitaire as well as chess and checkers. There’s a series of familiar games like Yahtzee (called “Yacht” in-game) and Texas Hold ‘em. From blackjack to backgammon, if you have a favorite card or board game, chances are it’ll be represented here.

The familiar games are great additions, but where you’ll really see the collection shine is with its great games from around the world like shogi or hanafuda. But if those aren’t to your liking, you can check out fun arcade-type options like Fishing or Air Hockey, both of which are faithfully recreated and optimized for maximum enjoyment in bite-sized chunks. There’s Billiards, Bowling and even a few wacky minigames based on blowing your opponent to smithereens in a friendly toy tank competition.

Each game has been given an abundance of polish and attention to ensure you’re getting the best possible version, down to the sound effects and approachable controls. No matter who’s invited to play, whether it’s your friends or your grandmother, these games are simple to pick up and enjoy.

Learning is part of the fun

51 different games are available
51 different games are available PHOTO: Nintendo

It’s worth the price just to learn how to play such a wide variety of games that you may not be familiar with. Some of the included games have complicated rules that would normally require you to look them up online or read unclear instructions. But here, you can learn to play swiftly and easily with the help of the game’s sprightly hosts, and it’s an absolute pleasure, as they teach you every step of the way.

Each game comes with a special introduction, presented by toy figures with effervescent personalities, who explain the game’s origins and a brief overview of the rules. It’s not unlike a fun Nintendo Treehouse presentation, and watching these introductions gives you a great overview of what you’re in for with each game, in case the descriptions don’t do enough for you.

Following the introduction, you can opt to practice as you learn the ropes, and your toy hosts will be around to make sure you’re ready to play. You can stop practicing at any time and just jump into a game, too. These introductions can be replayed if you ever need a refresher. They’re all so approachable and fun that you feel as though you’re interacting with human hosts. These little figures have more personality than some fully realized game characters, though.

These figurine hosts can be changed out throughout your time with the game, too. You get your own figure that you can customize a bit and place on a globe game board where several others have been stationed. You can choose a “host” to hang out with you and impart knowledge on different categories, from card games around the world to those that Nintendo was involved in early on as a toy company. This adds a fun element of personalization that we really enjoyed.

Enjoyable alone or with friends

Play head to head with your friends
Play head to head with your friends PHOTO: Nintendo

Clubhouse Games supports up to three additional players with both local and online multiplayer options, either via the same system or the included Guest Pass functionality. Online play is smooth as silk and plays just the same way you’d expect it to offline, with relatively short wait times to get into a game. Some are more populated than others, with chess being incredibly simple to jump into, but you can choose several games to be queued into and you can also see at a glance how many players are online, to help you determine what to play.

But despite the fact that you’ll likely want to enjoy these games with friends, playing solo is incredibly rewarding as well. You can play each game on progressively more difficult settings against the AI and earn trophies for beating your digital opponents. Doing so will unlock medals, trivia and even additional variations on your chosen title.

For instance, playing the traditional Japanese hanafuda card game won me a new set of Nintendo-themed cards to play with. This gives you plenty of reasons to keep coming back, as it’ll take quite some time to master each level of difficulty, since some will have you sweating.

Bottom line

Play with your friends on one device
Play with your friends on one device PHOTO: Nintendo