Clearly, on this front, Nintendo Switch is also doing its part: we had confirmation of this last year with Ring Fit Adventure, in the first months of this 2020 with the new edition of Brain Training, while next June 5th will be the turn of 51 Worldwide Games, which somehow collects the legacy of the old man 42 Timeless Classics for Nintendo DS. The legacy, that is, of a title whose ambition is simply to take some of the most popular recreational activities in the world, transpose them in digital format and finally insert them in a single, large collection, a fun box whose contents really have the potential to attract people of all types and abilities “pad in hand“.
Games for all tastes
Now, it is clear that making a list of all fifty-one pastimes proposed by 51 Worldwide Games, in this specific location, is absolutely out of place. On the contrary, we believe it is more useful to outline the main typological areas, which are five, in principle. The first, perhaps the most important, concerns card games. There are plenty of them, from the most classic ones (Solitaire, Black Jack, Texas Hold’Em) to the decidedly less usual ones: for example “Presto!”, A speed race that revolves entirely around the value of the seeds, or “Coda di Piglet “, a blind card draw challenge in which only a lucky fortune counts to win. Substantial as the previous one is then the category of board games properly understood, which ranges from the most famous (checkers and chess, the othello and the “Forza 4”) to others of a more singular nature, less practiced by the rest of us Old World. At the crossroads between card and table games are the activities that the software defines as “Nintendo’s story”, which are particularly interesting in that they are virtual replicas of the games produced by the Kyoto house at the time of its foundation, before it threw itself headlong in the video game industry. These are gems with a strongly exotic appeal, certainly not suitable for all palates, which, however, the most curious users will certainly want to deepen, and perhaps even know how to appreciate.
Moving on, another type of product can instead be easily associated with real toys for children, reproductions now of the races with remote controlled cars, now of the battles with the tanks, now of some challenges (boxing, baseball) among little plastic men. Finally, the latest genre of entertainment offered by 51 Worldwide Games stages some of the sporting events most loved by couch viewers. These are the simulations of golf, billiards, curling, even of freshwater bottom fishing, represented with lots of fish and streams in realistic-like graphics.
The mosaic of fun51 Worldwide Games also dusts off a feature that has already made its debut in Super Mario Party. Some contents can in fact be enjoyed also through a special mode called Mosaic, whereby, by matching the sides of up to four Switches in tabletop configuration, the game board takes on particular conformations, in addition to increasing in size. Returning to the above example of the races with cars, in Mosaico the race circuit changes according to how the consoles are arranged. As for the game of fishing, however, using more than one Switch means being able to launch your hook over a body of water much larger than normal. This is a feature that, to be honest, we have not had the opportunity to test, but that on paper is really delicious.
The quality of the individual minigames could be discussed at length, as it goes without saying that not all fifty-one are at the same level (especially on the side of competitions that require greater interaction: just think of the table adaptations of tennis and soccer, which they enjoy up to a certain point). The general offer of 51 Worldwide Games is however more than satisfactory, as well as satisfying the many facets of a control system designed to meet the various needs of a virtually very heterogeneous user. In fact, all games can be enjoyed through analog commands – the only option accepted if Switch is used in TV mode – where the vast majority of them, in portability, can also count on the immediacy of the touch screen. A handful of activities, such as bowling and darts, also allows you to use movement controls: an alternative feature that requires you to free the Joy-Con from the grip and hold them well to mimic the action, vaguely in Wii Sports style.
Having said that what has been written so far represents the core of the experience, 51 Worldwide Games surprises above all from an aspect that would normally have a marginal importance, but which in this case contributes tangibly to increasing the value of production.
We refer to everything that surrounds the interactive phases, from the “toy” aesthetics of the menus – a little childish, but still pleasant – to the very useful contents that support the understanding of the rules underlying the various minigames. In fact, every play activity is always anticipated by an introductory video where some puppets – the Guides – take the trouble to explain the functioning of the challenge on duty, a leaner and more synthetic form of the much more detailed written tutorials, however always available. The software’s habit of dispensing some curiosity about each game every time you complete a game deserves praise. A gimmick that brings 51 Worldwide Games closer to a real encyclopedia of traditional entertainment, rich and complete beyond all expectations.
Better in two
From the point of view of the approach to the game, 51 Worldwide Games does what it can to satisfy a wide range of users. Those who usually prefer solo use will obviously have the opportunity to compete against the CPU, whose intelligence is always settable according to different levels of difficulty. Deciding to play exclusively in single player, however, it is clear that the title loses its edge very quickly, which instead may not happen if you choose to try the various hobbies in the company of other players.
In this sense, the work takes a small – but significant – step forward compared to the other party games that have landed on Switch so far, since in addition to allowing local multiplayer for up to four users (only in the case where the individual game activities require it), it even allows you to connect up to four consoles in a table setting, this time without the obligation to have as many cartridges.
A sort of Download Play, if we want, that could be useful especially to those groups of friends who, as it should be, will not want to spend astronomical figures to try their hand at some organized home match when it happens. It should also be noted that 51 Worldwide Games, on balance, tends to give its best especially when exploited in “1vs1” mode. It is a purely numerical issue: the games voted for the four-eyes clash are prevalent, therefore the certainty of being able to share the experience with a second player – be it a family member, your partner or a simple acquaintance – is undoubtedly a factor not to be underestimated when purchase.
In short: 51 Worldwide Games manages to fully unleash its playful potential especially in circumstances of co-presence, being able to watch your opponents directly in the pupils.
Having said that, the game also opens the door to the net, giving the opportunity to challenge singles or users of their friends list, or some stranger who wishes to sell the leather dearly. In this case it will be enough to select up to three activities in which we would like to measure ourselves, after which the software will take care of combining us with a rival who has expressed our own will. Also when it comes to online 51 Worldwide Games it seemed to us to behave rather well, perhaps better than other Nintendo-branded productions, even more noble.