This collection of 51 tabletop, board and card games for the Switch is pretty damn good. 51 Worldwide Games (or Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics) is exactly as described on the box. It’s a digital collection of 51 of the world’s most famous, best-loved and most played games. Instead of having to carry them around with you though, now you can play them all on your Switch.
It’s all brought together in a slick, visual pleasing package with that Nintendo minimalism they’ve used in games like Wii Fit and Nintendoland. When you login to 51 Worldwide Games for the first time you create a profile and select your location from the globe.
You’ll need Nintendo Switch Online to use the network features which boils down to having your friends see you on the globe and read your records as well as playing with others via the internet. Once that’s done, you have a choice of which ‘Guide’ to invite and you’re off.
51 Worldwide Games Review
These ‘Guides’ are figures that populate the globe and offer you a collection of games. For example, some will teach you card games, some board games, some single-play and so on. It’s a good way of grouping the different games on offer so players don’t feel overwhelmed.
You’re also free to simply choose from any of the 51 games available. It’s nice that they’re all unlocked right away and not hidden behind some slowly unlocking timegate or achievement system. As much as I might enjoy a game of chess once in a while, I don’t want to have to play it in order to get to Texas Holdem.
There are rewards for playing and mastering each of the games though. And depending on which game, it can be very, very easy or really damn hard to do. For example, most games have multiple modes or difficulty settings to choose from. Those that do, will require you to win at all difficulty settings and in all modes. Once you do, you have mastered that game.
Others though, don’t lend themselves to various modes or difficulties, so you simply need to finish the game once or sometimes twice. Solitaire is a good example. Once you finish it with the Draw 1 and Draw 3 rules, it’s done.
The upshot of going through all the modes and difficulties is learning trivia about each of the games and occasionally unlocking extra content. So far, I’ve only managed to unlock Super Mario Bros. versions of Hanafuda and regular playing cards. It’s cute enough to be worth it.
One of the best things about 51 Worldwide Games is how optimised it is to be played either in TV mode or handheld mode. Playing in TV mode, you can easily navigate with the Joy-Cons or Pro Controller and there are occasional motion controls for flavour. Playing in handheld mode lets you use the touchscreen and really streamlines a lot of the card and board games. It’s so much easier to move a board game piece of play a card if you can use the touchscreen rather than the controller.
Either way works well enough, but some games are more suited to one control scheme than the other.
I’ve exclusively played 51 Worldwide Games in single-player so haven’t tested out the multiplayer functions but I can imagine it would be perfect for family game nights. Up to four players are supported on one system and the controls are simple enough that each player only needs one Joy-Con. 51 Worldwide Games also supports Mosaic Mode for some games but best of all, you can play with up to four players using only one purchased copy of the game.
When it launches, a special Guest version of the game will be available free on the eShop. By using it, three Switch ownerd can connect locally to a Switch with a purchased copy and all four players can play together. I’m most excited to play Texas Holden with four players as each player only gets their view instead of the entire table.
And yes, I’m aware you can just play with cards but playing that or any of the other games on Switch means no set up, no clean up and no mess. You don’t even need to dig the must old board games out of your cupboard. You just click the one you want and away you go.
There’s a reason why the games included in this collection have been around as long as they have. In some cases, centuries. They’re fun and easy to learn. They also don’t tend to take too long so you’re always ready to play another round or choose another. It’s a really quick and easy way to pass some time.
Retailing for $59.95 AUD still seems a little on the pricey side for a collection of digital board games but, if you were to buy these games separately you’d be looking at hundreds of dollars for the physical versions. Seriously, have you seen the price of board games today?
For the amount of content, the number of hours you’ll play and the ability to play with friends, with or without the game, 51 Worldwide Games is easily one of the must-have Switch games this year. Even the Australian Prime Minister would approve. It’s basically, what he’d consider, an essential item during the COVID-19 pandemic.
51 Worldwide Games was reviewed on Switch using a digital copy provided by Nintendo.