TORONTO – While video games may occupy an outsized piece of today’s entertainment landscape, they have not extinguished the appeal to their ancestors. A visit to a board game cafe, casino or even a cottage on a long weekend will provide ample evidence of traditional games still being enjoyed in all their tactile glory.
Restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, have made enjoying a live board game or round of cards more difficult. Some potential players might be isolating on their own while others might not have an old chess set or backgammon table to help pass the time. In addition, many places where game enthusiasts would normally congregate to match wits remain closed.
The release of a video game compilation of popular board and card games would seem well-timed, given current circumstances. “Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics,” out this week for the Nintendo Switch, collects some of the all-time legendary pastimes — checkers, chess, backgammon, poker — and bolsters the package with a diverse selection of popular games from around the world.
Digital versions of classic games are far from a new idea — the “Clubhouse Games” brand itself debuted in 2006 on the handheld Nintendo DS system — but the roster included in this title as well as the options for solo or multiplayer competition are impressive.
Many of the games on offer will be familiar, including dominoes, Chinese checkers and versions of “Connect 4,” “Mastermind” and “Yahtzee.”
There are also some that might be new to North American gamers but have large followings elsewhere in the world, including: Mancala, a centuries-old strategy game; Ludi, a game of Indian origin; and Shogi, also known as Japanese chess.
The 11 card games available include casino classics Texas Hold ’em and blackjack, as well as Japanese favourites Pig’s Tail and Hanafuda.
Pool (both 8- and 9-ball varieties), darts, golf, bowling and air hockey are among the sports offerings. Solo gamers can play three types of solitaire as well as a sliding puzzle.
A slot-car racing simulator is also included. If you have access to multiple Nintendo Switch consoles, they can be placed next to each other in ‘mosaic mode’ to allow for increasingly complex track designs to stretch across the screens.
The individual games are well presented with easy-to-use controls, and each has a comprehensive tutorial to help players unfamiliar with the concept or rules quickly learn the ropes.
Not confident in going head-to-head with a human opponent? The games can also be played against opponents controlled by the game’s artificial intelligence, with different difficulty settings available.
Games can be played by multiple players either online, by sharing a Switch console, or on multiple Switch consoles on a local area network. Some games like Texas Hold ’em, which require players to keep their cards concealed from their opponents, cannot be played on a single Switch.
While the game is heavy on content, it also comes with an attractive sticker price. Nintendo’s website lists the suggested retail price at $49.99 — around $30 cheaper than a triple-A new release.
Of course, a video game can’t duplicate everything that playing a game head-to-head with a live opponent offers.
There is no real substitute to looking an opponent in the eye as you make the last checkers jump or declaring “Checkmate” while placing your winning piece with a declarative thud.
But this compilation has plenty to offer at a fair price, and at least no one has to put all the pieces away when the game is over.
“Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics” is rated E for all audiences. A copy of the game was provided to The Canadian Press for review.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2020.
Let’s block ads! (Why?)