Developer - Agenda
Publisher - Nintendo
Single Card Multiplayer Gameplay
Online Compatible (Wi-Fi Connect)
Touch Screen Compatible
It was only a matter of time before Nintendo managed to get on the card/table game bandwagon that mobile devices (e.g. cellular phones) have tapped for quite sometime. Clubhouse Games is Nintendo's Touch Generation Brand's answer to all those addictive games people all around the globe have been playing on wireless devices for the past 5 years plus. And I have to tell you that the sheer amount of games included will keep you busy for quite sometime.
This game was never meant to be a "flashy, push the hardware to the limits" type of game. Everything in it is quite simple looking, but it really gets the message through. Both of the DS's screens are utilized in all games, showing everything from cards, card tables, board game tops, dart boards to bowling lanes. I found it kind of neat to have my bowling ball in the bottom screen and once I launched it toward the pins it made its way from the bottom screen to the top screen where the pins awaited their fate. Bottomline is that these games were not meant to be complicated, and the graphics follow the same train of thought.
I have to say that the audio in Clubhouse Games follows the methods of development that the rest of the game does, do as little as needed but do it well. The music has somewhat of a "lounge" feel to it, but it does not annoy you during gameplay and it seems as though it really is meant to be as cheesy as it is as it mixes in with the rest of the game. As for the rest of the sounds, they are quite limited to game pieces moving, cards being dealt and action game specific items (e.g. darts or bowling balls) heading toward their desired goal, and like the graphics, they do their job well and get the message across.
Clubhouse Games is all about simple card and board games that we have been playing with real cards or dice for years. There are a total of 42 different games to choose from and most are available from the start. You will find card games like Old Maid, Rummy or Texas Hold 'Em. You will find such board games as Checkers, Chinese Checkers, Chess or Backgammon. And there are action oriented games such as Darts, Bowling or Word Balloon (Hangman). All these games are just the tip of the iceberg. You will find that most of these are games that you have played in the past in one form or another. Should there be a game that you do not know much about the rules are just a stylus tap away for your viewing and learning pleasure too.
All the games that you play make full use of the DS's dual screen setup. Many of these have been presented in such a way that it seems like most were meant to be played on Nintendo's innovative machine. The upper screen is used to show the game board, opponent's cards and table. The touch screen displays your own cards or pieces and lets you move them about with the stylus. This touch screen control is a definite plus as you can move cards/game pieces with ease. And for those action games, such as bowling or darts, it is as simple as placing the stylus on the object you need to throw and slide the stylus across the screen to throw your on-screen item (e.g. dart or bowling ball).
Gameplay is broken up into single player and multiplayer modes. Single player includes free play, stamp and mission modes. Free play is self explanatory. In stamp mode you against the CPU and once you beat the CPU you are awarded stamps to add to your collection. Mission Mode is the meat of the single player game. Here you have a number of time and score based challenges that are oriented around all the different card, board and action games included in Clubhouse Games. Both the stamp and mission modes are reward based. As you beat the specific challenges you open up new avatars and table color schemes as well as unlock some of the games that were not accessible from the start. The computer AI ramps up from the easiest to hard difficulty and you will find the AI gives you a challenge in the higher settings. All in all the single player modes will drain away a lot of your time and these modes are perfect for those looking for a fix of simple card games or looking to kill some time well stuck on a commuter train or bus while heading to work.
Multiplayer is quite robust in Clubhouse Games too. You and your friends can play together using local network connections, or you can utilize Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connect service to play over the internet. Should you decide to play locally, only one copy of the game is needed as your friends can download the game mode you are playing. And interestingly enough everyone gets the same experience from graphics to sound. As mentioned the online experience is handled via the Wi-Fi Connect experience. You can arrange to have a friends only game or you can play random people in what is known as the worldwide mode. There are also leaderboard rankings that track every game for you and your fellow friends. You can also use a communication feature while in your rooms. This feature is pretty much the default PictoChat program on the DS.
When I first got this game to review, I was a little antsy to what laid ahead. However after some playtime with it I found out why so many people play these games on their wireless mobile devices, because they are simple, easy to play and somewhat addicting. Clubhouse Games manages take the Touch Generation brand to heart and provides any gamer with simple graphics and sound, and adds great gameplay in both single and multiplayer modes. Good job Nintendo, I think you've even got my wife hooked too.
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI