Clubhouse Games

When I shop for new experiences for my favorite handheld system, I look for fun games at great values that utilize as many of the DS’s unique strengths as possible, and Clubhouse Games is a fantastic collection of 42 classic card, board, and skill games that encapsulate everything the DS does best.

Facts and Features:

  • With more than 40 games to choose from, including chess, spades, poker and darts, Clubhouse Games will appeal to everyone from kids to adults. There’s no need to lug around boards or cards anymore – Clubhouse Games offers one-stop gaming for people on the go.
  • Clubhouse Games is for people of all skill levels. The touch control is intuitive, and video game newcomers will appreciate the easy-to-use interface. Each game includes instructions for people who want to brush up on their rules.
  • Play with up to seven friends via single-card local wireless play, or use Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to challenge a friend across the country or the ocean. Can’t play checkers without shouting “KING ME!” across the table? The in-game chat feature takes table talk to a new level.

Check out the selection:

Card Games:

  • Old Maid
  • Spit
  • I Doubt It
  • Sevens
  • Memory
  • Pig
  • Blackjack
  • Hearts
  • President
  • Rummy
  • Seven Bridge
  • Last Card
  • Last Card Plus
  • Five Card Draw
  • Texas Hold ‘Em
  • Nap
  • Spades
  • Contract Bridge

    Board Games:

  • Chinese Checkers
  • Checkers
  • Dots and Boxes
  • Hasami Shogi
  • Turncoat
  • Connect Five
  • Grid Attack
  • Backgammon
  • Chess
  • Shogi
  • Field Tactics
  • Ludo

    Variety Games:

  • Soda Shake
  • Dominoes
  • Koi-Koi
  • Word Balloon

    Action Games:

  • Bowling
  • Darts
  • Billiards
  • Balance
  • Takeover

    Single Player Games:

  • Solitaire
  • Mahjong Solitaire
  • Escape

    Touching is Good
    The newest game in the touch generations series, Clubhouse Games has a simple interface, with easy-to-navigate menus. Using the touchscreen to move pieces and tap buttons often mimics the motions of the real thing and sliding checkers or throwing darts is so intuitive that anyone can pick up the game and play. Graphics and audio are adequate and serve their purpose without being distracting. Text, cards, and pieces are clearly visible; while the audio is on par with other casino/board video games (an option to mute the music is present).

    Diddle in the Middle!
    Designed for play with friends, but including great single player modes and games, this compilation gets wireless right. Not only can one to eight players play any game locally (single or multicard!) but Nintendo has set a new standard in demo sharing by allowing one to download any game on the card for play against computer opponents. (Note: Like other DS downloads, this game is erased at power-off). Online play is available in two modes: “Friend Battle” and “Worldwide Battle.”

    Everyone’s invited
    Friend Battle requires that you swap friend codes before playing, and Worldwide battle allows players to compete against strangers from the far reaches of the earth. One of the benefits of Friend Battle (aside form playing with your pals) is the pictochat, which contains most of the features found in the DS’s built in pictochat, easily accessible at any time with a tap of the stylus! This feature alone is very entertaining and works well, however it is missing an on-screen keyboard, therefore communication is handled by drawing words and pictures only. In order to protect younger players, worldwide battle chatting is restricted to preset phrases such as “Nice!”, “One more!”, and “Aaack!” accompanied by an optional smiley. Regarding the Wi-Fi play, a connection to the Nintendo WFC takes about 15 seconds on average, and communication errors are infrequent, however the online community is only 3600 people strong as of this writing and finding opponents for the less popular games in off-peak times can be a problem. I have yet to play any game with all eight player slots filled. In addition, there are four games that do not work over Nintendo WFC, they are Old Maid, Spit, I Doubt It, and Pig.

    In many online games, the single player experience is neglected… not so here. The single player mode consists of “Stamp Mode”; wherein the goal is to play each game in order to earn stamps and unlock new games. This mode has a passive play system in which you get at least one stamp for playing even if you lose. This feature makes the game very playable for anyone of any ability and is a great way to discover and learn new games. Another single player mode, “Mission Mode” lets the player unlock new icons that can be used as online avatars by completing challenges. These “missions” are varied and fun, not just “get this high score” or “do this before the timer expires”, and also have a higher level of difficulty. The third one-player option “Free Play” allows free play of any unlocked game against computer opponents called CPUs. The difficulty and number of CPUs can be adjusted before play.

    A Roll of the Die
    In order to inform you before you make a purchase and perform my duty as a critic I need to fill you in on a few discrepancies. My first impression as an action gamer was stymied by the physics of the skill games, particularly billiards, in which the balls slide like hockey pucks instead of rolling (particularly noticeable in the trick shot missions). After a few tries however, the other skill games became addictive even with the unexpected behavior. The game rules also leave out certain things you may miss. For example blackjack has the double down option, but no splitting or insurance, and texas hold ’em is missing a “no limit” variation. It is for this reason that I would not recommend purchasing the product for one specific game. If you do, you may be let down. On a good note the selection of games that came with the package contained a few surprises that offset this revelation. For example, I discovered that Turncoat, Last Card Plus, and Grid Attack are, aside from differently shaped pieces and slight rule variations identical to the classic games Othello, Battleship, and UNO respectively. Purchase the game for variety and the multiplayer experience and you will be more than satisfied.

    The Chips Are Down!
    We have been yearning for more online play ever since the Nintendo WFC arrived, and great games like Animal Crossing, Mario Kart DS and Tetris DS have simply raised the stakes. Clubhouse Games makes great strides towards opening the gate and if Nintendo plays their cards right in marketing this game (think Brain Age), we could have the Wi-Fi explosion we DS gamers have been waiting for.

    — Blake Leftwich