Clubhouse Games review: The Nintendo version of a ‘90s CD-ROM compilation

Clubhouse Games screen shot: Title screen

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Not all 51 mini-games inside of Clubhouse Games, the latest first-party Nintendo game for Switch, are worth recommending. But if you like the idea of old, public-domain board and card games on Nintendo Switch in polished, easy-to-play format, a majority of them are.

The series, which last appeared on Nintendo DS in 2006, revolves around digital translations of timeless tabletop games. A list of the included games does a lot to narrow the usual "who is this for" conversation. I'll start by listing everything in this package that I'd recommend as a good two- or four-player game for a diverse audience of ages and experience levels:

Air Hockey Backgammon
Battle Tanks / Team Tanks Bowling
Carrom Chess
Chinese Checkers Darts
Dominoes * Hanafuda *
Hex Mancala
Nine Men's Morris
Renegade (Othello)
Shogi / Mini Shogi Six-Ball Puzzle
Slot Cars Toy Boxing
Toy Curling Toy Soccer

The above list is specific to mini-games that impress as digital translations. There's an additional selection of good-enough games that are, with some exceptions, ideal for children sharing a Nintendo Switch during a long trip:

Checkers Dots and Boxes
Four-in-a-Row (Connect Four)
Hare and Hounds
Last Card (Uno) * Matching
President * Sevens *
Shooting Gallery Sliding Puzzle
Solitaire (Mahjong, Klondike, Spider)
Speed (card game)
Yacht Dice (Yahtzee)

In all, that's 35 good-enough games (with some grouped together as similar variants) in a $40 package. The asterisks in those lists indicate which games require more than one Switch console to work in versus mode, but thanks to a clever "guest pass" system, they only require one paid copy of the game. (Solitaire isn't marked because it's inherently single-player.) Even with that issue, that's 30 decent classics for a single Switch console, and they all benefit from repeat-play scrutiny, robust production values, and family-friendly explanations for kids and newcomers. (They also save you the trouble of packing cards, dice, and other easy-to-lose pieces.)

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