The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.
Clubhouse Games truly represents the idea of Touch Generations. With 42 classic games on one card, there is virtually guaranteed to be several fun attractions for anyone young and old. Think of it as the portable evolution of Yahoo! Games or the Microsoft Entertainment Packs. With touch screen control, it was only a matter of time before somebody released a package like this. Luckily, Nintendo didn’t skimp on quantity and included more games that I would have hoped for. Beyond just games, the title also includes a brand new online version of the PictoChat messaging software.
So just what is in the package? Games range in complexity from extremely simple to advanced. Thankfully, Nintendo didn’t cut out all of the more region-specific games from Daredemo Asobi Taizen, so players have the chance to try out games like Hanafuda. Some games are presented under alternate or family-friendly names and it may not be entirely obvious what they are, so I’ve listed some alternate names here. The full list of games is as follows:
Old Maid, Spit (Speed/Slam), I Doubt It (Bullshit/Cheat), Sevens (Parliament/Fan Tan), Memory, Pig, Blackjack, Hearts, President (Asshole), Rummy, Seven Bridge, Last Card, Last Card Plus (Uno), Five Card Draw Poker, Texas Hold-Em, Nap(olean), Spades, Contract Bridge, Checkers, Chinese Checkers, Dots and Boxes, Hasami Shogi, Turncoat (Othello/Reversi), Connect Five (Gomoku), Grid Attack (Battleship), Backgammon, Chess, Shogi (Japanese Chess), Field Tactics (Stratego), Ludo (simplified Parcheesi), Soda Shake (Hot Potato), Dominoes, Koi-Koi (Hanafuda), Word Balloon (Hangman), Bowling (10-pin), Darts, Billiards (9-ball), Balance, Takeover (similar to Shuffleboard), Solitaire, Escape (Klotski/Pennant Puzzle), and Mahjong Solitaire.
Never played a particular game before or just always wanted to know how to play Backgammon? Clubhouse Games provides a helpful rule sheet, easily accessible as a button at the bottom of the screen. Additionally, tip bubbles will pop up if a move isn’t taken after a short time. Games are controlled by tapping or drag-and-drop, and valid moves are highlighted on-screen. In general, all of the games have a welcoming pick-up-and play nature that nearly anyone should be comfortable with.
Single Player mode includes three game types, free play, stamp, and mission. Free Play allows players to play any of the unlocked games. Yes, a few of the games disappointingly start out locked, against the spirit of a pick-up-and-play attitude. Each game normally has a few settings, including CPU difficulty and number, which can be changed, though some purists may be upset to find a few unchangeable variations to rules, such as the allowance of negative bankrolls and betting limits. However, for every slight annoyance, there are a dozen other solid games available.
In Stamp Mode, players must progress through each game in succession, receiving up to three stamps per game. Completion of Stamp Mode is unfortunately the only way to unlock all of the games. This can get somewhat tedious due to losing games that are more based on luck than skill. Fortunately, players still get one stamp for losing, while needing three stamps per game to move to the next game.
Mission Mode provides 30 different challenges across 25 games, some of which are no easy feat to accomplish. Examples include 3 bulls-eyes in darts, nil in Spades, completion of Memory in 3 minutes, and a 7-jump in Chinese Checkers. Completion of the challenges in this mode unlocks new avatars and other goodies.
An inherently multiplayer game package, Clubhouse Games indeed has an excellent multiplayer offering. Clubhouse Games includes single-card multiplayer with quick loading of games as well as online multiplayer of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Players can even send out the single-player games to other DS users as "gifts." All but the inherently single-player games are available for multiplayer play, from two to eight players depending on the game. Much like Yahoo Games!, Nintendo’s servers keep a leaderboard of players, which can be viewed from the Nintendo DS, giving players a longer-term playing goal.
Clubhouse Games also includes a full-fledged online upgrade to PictoChat. This version of PictoChat includes multiple pen colors, flood fill, and stamps, and can be used at any time during a game to enhance the competitive experience. Unfortunately, PictoChat is limited to local wireless and online matches with friends. For random matches, several pre-defined phrases can be sent to other players.
No more worrying about 52 card pick-up or missing pawns. Clubhouse Games provides a compelling collection for nearly everyone. With a full experience of single player modes and multiplayer capabilities, both quantity and quality are well served.