There are two things that I love: traditional board games and mini virtual sports games à la Wii Sports. This is not to say that there aren’t other things in my life that I love, but suffice it to say that if a game comes along which features both checkers and virtual ten-pin bowling, I’m on board.
Luckily for me, Clubhouse Games has come along and released 51 Worldwide Games on the Nintendo Switch, providing a collection of 51 different board, card, parlour, toy and virtual sport games – the combination of which led me down a games rabbit-hole lasting entire weekends.
The sheer volume of popular games from all over the world means, if you’ll pardon the cliché, there really is something for everyone.
You can play tabletops like chess, backgammon, mahjong and go; card games including last card, war, president and poker; virtual toy games like slot cars, pig’s tails, toy curling and toy baseball.
I played and immensely enjoyed all of these – particularly pleasing to me was trying games from different corners of the world I had never had the chance to play in real-life, like shogi, Ludo, hanafuda, and my new favourite, carrom – a tabletop game similar to billiards.
I appreciated the game’s effort to teach me tidbits of the history of each game in small previews, and its streamlined and approachable rules breakdown for each game ensured that I didn’t feel completely in the dark when I opened a game I had never in my life played before.
51 Worldwide Games is perfect for the Switch, with local 2-player gameplay as easy as detaching the Joy-Cons, and the Switch’s portable nature means time can easily be passed while commuting with a relaxing game of war.
My favourite part about 51 Worldwide Games, however, is its virtual sports games, which made me realise how much I missed the chaos of Wii Sports.
I didn’t realise until this game how much I was craving a modern successor to the 2006 Wii classic, the bestselling single-platform video game of all time. Some of the best 2-player local video game fun I have ever had was serving aces and hitting strikes in my best friend’s family room in 2007, flinging the Wiimote dangerously about and putting fragile objects in the vicinity in mortal peril.
While it doesn’t quite fully deliver the charm, mayhem and sheer fun of Wii Sports, 51 Worldwide Games is a close contender, and adds more options than its Wii counterpart – with darts, billiards, air hockey and even fishing available to play, on top of the original five of Wii Sports: bowling, golf, tennis, boxing and baseball.
The game works well, looks good, explains unfamiliar rules simply and helpfully, and the gameplay is clean and responsive. However, once heard already, the skippable but nonetheless tedious explainer preview played before each game gets annoying.
In all, though, the true beauty of this game is that I haven’t even scratched the surface, neither in this review nor my own gameplay, in terms of what the game offers. I’ve mentioned a good portion of the games on offer within this review – but there are still 30 I haven’t mentioned.
A pool of 51 games – some familiar, others nostalgic, some new and exciting, others chaotic and hysterical.
It’s definitely worth a go.