Forty two (!!!) unique, pub-style games? It would have been nearly impossible to screw it up. Thankfully, Nintendo didn't.
So there I sat on the Play-Asia.com page, wondering if I wanted to order The Billiards import for my Nintendo DS system. And then I thought to myself, "Is it really worth it to pay $30+ for a simple little pool game? What if someone saves the game and adds it to a little collection?" And then my other side went, "Yeah, but what if such a collection never gets released in the US, and then you're paying $50 for the import?" Eventually, I decided to hold off the purchase, and I continued to wonder if anything would come in the form of a collection. Good to say it has.
Clubhouse Games is the latest in Nintendo's Touch Generations line-up, and while it's not technically the most overwhelming piece of technology for the DS (we're talking simple board and card games), it's quite entertaining. The package itself contains 42 different games, spanning from card games like Blackjack to more complex sports games such as Bowling and Billiards. All of these are fully interactive with the touch screen, enabling you to become the master of at least a few of them, if not all.
As you proceed through the game, you'll be earning stamps of approval and working your way up the ladder in progress. Single-player isn't the most competitive mode out there, but it does give you plenty of practice on each of the games. Most of them play just fine, requiring simple touches or movements to get things in motion. However, some activities are simpler than others. Darts took quite a bit of getting used to, having to set up the trajectory and actually hit the damn dartboard. Fortunately, the controls are easy enough that you can adjust and find your rhythm rather easily.
As far as presentation, Nintendo went the basic route with the game. The graphics are what they are, a representation of their activities and little more. You won't really find that many personality quirks here, just the games and how they were meant to be played. This is a little saddening, as I think this would have been a great opportunity to include some more Nintendo charm. The appearance of Mario, maybe some Kirby on the side...hey, it worked for Tetris DS. The sound's even more bland, with music numbers that play like they're being spouted out by a worn-out jukebox. Pass.
But this is more than made up for by the gameplay of the 42 different games themselves, as well as the hours of fun you'll have taking on other people. The game supports single-cartridge play with various players so you can compete against others locally, and you can also hop online via WiFi Connection and take on several others. This is the perfect little community game, and you're bound to find someone who wants to play the Battleship clone just as badly as you. The game is also supported by PictoChat, so you can talk garbage as you dish out your sporting revenge. Just mind the language, people.
Clubhouse Games is an example of substance over style, and I love it. While the games won't win any awards for graphic achievement or soundtrack, they're still quite fun to play, whether you're by yourself or hopping on against friends. And the wide variety of games should assure that there's something for everyone, even the old coot in the corner who insists he can't play darts. Sometimes it's best to just keep it simple, stupid. Nintendo does just that, and they succeed quite well. And hey, I spent my $30 on the better game. Yay!
What's Hot: 42 games to delve through, both off and online for multiplayer enjoyment.
What's Not: Presentation is underwhelming.