Back in the mists of time I owned an old Nintendo DS cart that never left my console for more than a few minutes. That game was 42 All Time Classics and it was an odd sort of mix of card, board and mini-games that all seemed to gel together in a way only Nintendo seem able to do.
51 Worldwide Games is the Switch sequel I never expected but I’m delighted that it’s finally here. It takes the same idea of gathering a bunch of traditional games from around the world and providing a front end to play through them in different ways.
That’s not to say Nintendo haven’t innovated here. Not only do we have card games such as Blackjack and Solitaire and board games such as Chess and Connect 4 (or 4 in a row, as it’s more commonly known) but mixed in between we now get toy versions of slot cars, boxing and curling and ‘pub’ games such as bowling and darts.
As you can imagine, each of these game types requires its own control system so for some you’ll use a more traditional button layout, others you’ll need to use the touchscreen or motion controls (yes, bowling and darts use motion controls and, what’s more, they’re good!). It all works very fluidly using a menu system that revolves (literally) around a globe with people (represented as plastic statues) who are unlocked as you play acting as hosts and supplying a set of recommended games to play through.
If that’s not your cup of tea or you want to play something specific then you can head quickly to the plain white menu where all the games are neatly lined up ready to play. Each game has a short introduction by two ‘hosts’ with full voice acting. It’s sort of endearingly cringy stuff but it gets the basics down quite well. If you still need help there’s a text based short help section for each game as well.
Multiplayer options depend on what game you’re playing but many have online and local options that allow you to easily set up or join a game. The local games that require more than one Switch console even allow you to download a demo version from the store for 3 other people to play with or against, which is a great touch. There’s single screen multiplayer for games like bowling and air hockey (the former via turn based play and the latter using a touchscreen or controller).
Another feature worth mentioning is that a few games, slot cars and fishing being the main ones, allow you to place up to 4 Switches on a table together so that the tracks can be built across the screens. It’s a great feature though I’m not sure how widely used it will be.
A compilation of old traditional games could easily have been a throwaway set of hastily made shovelware but Nintendo have managed to inject care and attention in to each game to create a perfect set of fun activities. Like that old 42 All Time Classics, I have a feeling this one will be a constant feature on my Switch for a long time to come.