I remember the fascination I felt when I was a kid, with an old box full of “classics board games” that my grandparents had at their home, from the time when my uncles were young (a large family of 7 siblings).
It was magical to explore that box and discover strange games, even if the rules manual was long lost or even half of the pieces were missing.
They were all classic games, and I have been able to discover most of them through my life. However, some of them kept being a mystery… until June 5, when Nintendo released a delicious selection of classic games of all times.
What is the game about?
51 Worldwide Games or Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics if you live in the US, is a collection of lifelong games. Some of them are hundreds or even thousands of years old. A door to the ancestral game design of the era of the Chinese dynasties, or the Roman empire. Or just from the time of the games of our childhood, when playing with the family around a table was the common.
I must admit that the idea of having this collection of classics to play comfortably with friends and family, attracted me from the beginning. Its simple marketing had an effect on me. Nintendo, apart of excellent game designers, is a company that has been manufacturing board and card games for more than a century with high quality standards. Standards they maintain today in all their products.
Everything indicated that the new game should be at least interesting to explore.
After enjoying the game for a couple of weeks, I can say that it has exceeded my expectations. Mainly because the excellence of the finishes and also because the clear and easy incremental tutorials that drive you into some complex mechanics without any effort.
Unlike in a real board game, the rules do not have to be 100% memorised, because the game works as a game assistant (although you can activate or deactivate different types of assistance, in case you are already an expert)
In addition, playing in multiplayer mode with someone real, in these conditions of accessibility, and the tactile screen, make it perfect for chill afternoons with a friend.
Lets talk now about the different aspects of the game, from the game art perspective:
Art Style: The exquisite simplicity.
The game is clean, simple and modern. It is like a breath of fresh air.
It perfectly combines realism on boards and games elements, with the extremely accessible interface. Using harmonised color palettes and rendered with exquisite simplicity.
The game invites relaxation and enjoyment without unnecessary details, direct to what matters.
It reaches the player with simple communication, and delights him with visual sensations, colors and textures of what would be the real experience of each game. A nice visual journey that transports us directly to nostalgia and pleasure.
Tutorials: Accessibility to the complexity.
One of the most remarkable things about this game is undoubtedly the excellence of its tutorials.
Thanks to a simple animated introduction, player learns the minimum necessary to start playing and then, you learn the rest on the go. Everything is very gradual, without effort. You can start playing the complicated Japanese chess in 2-3 minutes.
Then, apart from the introduction tutorial, each game has its rules manual, perfectly structured and accessible at any time.
UI: Just what matters.
Accessibility and simply elegance is what characterize the interface design.
Backgrounds are plain color, the menus a small text list of options on the left side of the screen (the area where the user directs the gaze when relaxes) and the status of selection is a simple oval rectangle. All with modern, balanced, visually appealing colors.
One of the great successes of the game is how simple and intuitive it is to navigate through it. The entire UI invites relaxation and simplicity to focus on what is important (games).
They are certainly a great contribution to the experience.
Sound and touch feeling.
Sounds are not only a very important aspect that creates immersion in a world of sensations. They also work as reinforcing feedback in many actions along the game.
Because it is a game that is about games, it makes an extra effort to play with a huge amount of sound effect in every detail trying to create sensations of pleasure and better communication. Pieces touching the board, or the dice clashing between them, or the cards being lifted…
As well as sound, another special feature is the joycons vibration.
Switch joycons are famous for have a motor specially designed for this purpose. (HD Rumble) But it is not usual that a game really takes advantage of this incredible technology and what you usually find in an average game is some annoying vibrations here and there.
However, in 51 WG, controllers vibrate in a multitude of combinations, sequences and intensities to give a feeling of direct interaction with the gameplay. It makes possible certain “physical” sensations so characteristic of classic games and until very recent times, unthinkable for a video game. For example, the controller will vibrate subtly to remind each player that they are on their turn. Or it will vibrate in different ways to emphasize an important event in the game.
Far from being a monotonous and annoying vibration, joycons vibrate in dozens of different ways and is designed with good taste, elegance and sensibility, at the same quality of the rest of the game.
In the image used for the marketing and the cover of the game, we can see that the attention of the composition falls on a switch console in which two adults are playing.
The console is the classic version with the joycons in two colors, to emphasize the idea that these people play against each other. Around this scene, there are beautifully arranged multiple examples of the games that you can find within the video game.
Undoubtedly, the intention of the poster is to emphasize the multiplayer game mode, accessibility and ease of use, and how you can cover all that number of games in a portable console that you can comfortably carry with you.
Even if my review is mainly about game art and I don’t want to enter in game design analysis, there are some aspect that worth to mention.
At first, you can think this game is the typical game that shortly is dumped in to the offers box in the store, but it is not. As soon as you start playing you discover how much effort and love, developers put in this title.
The game is full of surprises that awaken your desires to explore it thoroughly.
You can unblock collections, achievements, secrets and new ways of gameplay within the single player and multiplayer modes. And the multiplayer experience is different depending if you play with a single console, or a bunch of players with their own.
Also you have the opportunity to play online with worldwide strangers and will be different experience too.
I highly recommend this title to real game lovers. People who love video games not just for one or two genres but enjoy all kind of game experiences and especially the original ones.
You have combined in this title, the very core experience of gameplay from the ancestral games, and the addiction, fun, and originality from the evolution and refinement of video games in the last decades.
This game is a high quality Nintendo experience with all its merits.