Game Review

Clubhouse Games Express: Card Classics Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Paul Schreiner

Call Nintendo's bluff or fold.

In the vein of the previously released Express titles, Clubhouse Games Express: Cards Classics offers a very slimmed-down, bite-sized version of its full-featured cartridge release. Whether this package offers enough to warrant a purchase is the question, and although this is a strong hand, ultimately there's no real trump card.

The games included are Blackjack, Five Card Draw, Last Card, Last Card Plus and President. The first two games work entirely around a betting mechanic; Blackjack, as you may well know, is a classic game of 21. Make your bets and try to beat the dealer, while exceeding 21 is an automatic loss; end up with the most points after a set amount of games and you win. Five Card Draw, one of many poker variations, also has you playing for most points, and you'll only have the opportunity to swap your cards from your original five-card hand once in each match. Victory can be achieved by the best poker hand or by out-bluffing your opponents and making them fold.

The other three games may appear to be quite similar, with the victory condition of clearing your entire hand, but they turn out to be entirely different games from one another. Last Card is a simple game of high cards: play the highest card within the given suit to win a hand and you'll be able to start off the next round. Without a matching suit card you're forced to pick up cards until you acquire one which can be played.

Last Card Plus, while only similar in name to the former, very much resembles a game of Uno but with a regular deck of cards. You can only play same-suit cards or cards with matching values. There are a number of special cards: 2s and 3s will have you draw the corresponding number of cards, but one can also add another 2 or 3 to force the next player to draw even more, and forfeiting your turn. 8s allow you to change play to a suit of your choice, while 9s reverse the order of play. Lastly, aces force-skips the next player's turn; if you don't have a playable card, you draw one and skip your turn.

President is a form of Choh Dai Di, also known as Big Two. The start player has the option to play a single card, a set of equal cards, or sequence cards, and the other players try to match the hand with a set of higher value cards. Once no other hand can be played (by choice or lack of cards), whoever played the last set may start the next round. Strategic thinking is key to winning this game. After each match all players exchange two of their cards, but only the winner of the last match may choose which of his cards to trade, while all other players have to forfeit their two highest value cards.

The games offered in Cards Classics are directly lifted from the original Clubhouse Games, sporting the exact same look as they did in the latter. It's all rather plain, but being functional and not bogged down by eye candy isn't necessarily a bad thing, though you'll quickly learn to turn off the elevator music. Thankfully, easily accessible and comprehensive in-game rules for each game are available should you ever become confused about the order of play. If you should so choose, several of the games also allow for slight tweaking of the rules to make them easier or more complex, and a simple records button allows you to view how many times you've played and/or won a particular game. As an incentive, winning set amount of games will earn you different graphical backdrops from which you can choose.

As you may already know, there is no online component to Cards Classics. You get the option to play up to seven opponents (four in Five Card Draw) which may consist of AI, friends via download play, or a mixture thereof. Frankly, we can't imagine anyone bothering with download play since you can play all of these games with a simple deck of cards, which may turn out to be cheaper and more fun, too. That said, the AI does offer quite a challenge in the harder difficulties. What should also be mentioned is that, as in Clubhouse Games, you can "gift" any of the games to other DS owners, who then can download the chosen game for free-play on easy mode until they power down their DS consoles.


If the five games aren't enough, and the missing online feature is a game-breaker to you, we advise that you might be better off getting the full game which is only $15 more brand new. That doesn't mean Card Classics is a bad deal: all the games included have merit of their own and can provide fun pick-up-and-play sessions for on-the-go. It really all depends on how much you like your card games, without having to scrounge around for cartridges.

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User Comments (19)



Stuffgamer1 said:

That score seems quite high for what is essentially a complete and total RIP-OFF! But maybe I'm just biased on the side of "getting a good deal for my hard-earned money."

I still say go with the full retail release. Having these five games on your system isn't worth it unless you REALLY want to be able to play them without toting around the game card (like it's SO big in the first place...).

I will give an exception for those who actually only like these games and don't care about everything else in Clubhouse Games (strange though that would be), and who also have no interest in playing online in the first place. There is a target group for this game, I GUESS, but I still feel that said group mostly consists of casual DS users who just don't know any better (like literally HALF the currently available DSiWare lineup).



metakirbyknight said:

@ 2. Stuffgamer1

Actually I like all of these Express titles, yes they aren't huge cartridges and they are hot swappable in the DSi, they are a burden to get out of my case's pocket or my backpack on the plane. And how odd that these are like five of the seven games included Club House Games that I care about are in this title. For me this is a must have title, and I hope more Express games come to DSiWare. Oh and maybe I'm biased towards $1 a games being a good deal.



warioswoods said:


As I've argued elsewhere on this site, you're missing the point entirely. This is exactly the way that puzzle games and simpler games (card games being a perfect example) should be sold from now on. You do get a much better deal in the end by picking exactly the parts that interest you, and avoiding the less interesting modes or parts of a game that were only inserted to pad and justify the retail release in the first place. I've looked at the complete list for Clubhouse Games, and only a small subset of it would interest me (bowling? darts? hot potato ? I can't imagine ever enjoying those on the DS).

The part about not needing a cartridge is also very important; it's not a matter of their size, it's the hassle of keeping up with them for such basic things as wanting a quick game of blackjack when you're on the go. It's far better to have this kind of game (and Dr. Mario is another great example) sitting on your DSi menu than it is to need to keep up with game cartridges for something you might play for all of 5 minutes at a time on a sudden whim.

Again, the shift in gaming that is likely to come about due to the increasing focus on smaller downloadable games is strikingly parallel to the shift in music purchasing effected by iTunes. You pick the songs you want without buying the full album with all the filler tracks, and you don't need to put a CD into anything in order to just hear one track you suddenly think of. I find myself listening on the iPod to a lot of songs I'd almost forgotten about due to the fact that they were embedded within otherwise mediocre albums that I'd never want to put in. I have several DS games that might contain one or two modes I enjoy but that never really get any play time for the same reason; if I'm only looking for a quick 5 minutes session, I don't want to go get the cartridge and pass through the menus.

This isn't to say that full retail games for portable systems should or ever will cease, but they should only be for the kinds of games that justify it, and that you will want to sit with for extended periods of time rather than just wanting a very quick session here and there. Puzzle games, card games, and simple arcade-style games are perfect for smaller downloadable form; longer games, RPGs, and anything with a more expanded scope should be retail.

As for the dropping of online functionality, I don't see the difference between AI and a real person for card games where you aren't really communicating anyway.



Corbs said:

I think Nintendo is gearing these stripped-down DSiWare releases towards the casual gaming crowd who don't want to spend a lot of money but want to have some games to enjoy. They seem to fit in more for those quick little bursts of gaming on the go.

But you could also say that they are a bit of an advertisement for some of these retail titles that were released quite awhile back. Maybe they're hoping these little titles might drum up interest in the retail releases.

Either way I think we're just seeing the beginning of these type of DSiWare releases as they seem to have quite a few more on tap.



LinktotheFuture said:

Everyone who is thinking about getting this should just buy the retail Clubhouse Games. It is one of the best DS games out there, and a great value, 42 games for 20 bucks or less.



papermario128 said:

Not a bad for five bucks, I might get it despite the reviews because to me no online play isn't a big deal on a handheld system but if this was for wiiware it has to have some sort of online mode or else.



Olimar_91 said:

Some games just make more sense in digital format, and clubhouse games is a good example. Would have been nice with online play, but this seems like a nice game to have packaged in your DS.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

@warioswoods: Well said. Although, I beg to differ on the online front. It would've greatly benefited and as such the game would've been more recommendable, especially if the Friends feature remained in tact, which would've had you communicating with Friends via text chats.
@LinktotheFuture: Agreed.

Anyhow, I'm just glad that this is the last of the titles for the launch window and we can finally get moving with the "proper" releases - Mighty Flip Champs!! anyone?

Oh and for the record, a Canadian would be hard-pressed to find this game for $19.99 at the moment unless they searched hard so that in itself could appeal to some.



Objection said:

Finally, the DSi provides us with what we've been waiting for...demoes! Except the Nintendo Channel already does that...and these cost money. Wow, DSiWare is so great.



Stuffgamer1 said:

@warioswoods: I agree that downloadable chunks will make more sense in the future for these types of games. I'm just pissed at Nintendo for wasting DSiWare releases on pieces of a retail game I ALREADY OWN! Maybe they should make a NEW game that's available ONLY in downloadable chunks...I wouldn't have a problem with that.

I just feel like these pieces of games aren't made for me (because they aren't), but that they ARE holding back the release of Mighty Flip Champs, which I DO want.

@metakirbyknight: "And how odd that these are like five of the seven games included Club House Games are in this title."
There are 42 games in the full retail Clubhouse Games, not 7. And maybe $1 per game WOULD be a deal if the retail game didn't come out to slightly under $0.50 per game.

And any way about it, I still say that the lack of Wi-Fi compatibility on this DOWNLOADABLE (meaning you must have Wi-Fi access to buy the game, unlike the retail version) chunk of a game with Wi-Fi compatibility is inexcusable.



metakirbyknight said:

@14, Stuffgamer1

Oh, sorry, typo, I meant five of the seven I cared about. Also, who will I play cards with online? I can see lag if I buy it, I mean every game has a huge lag over Nintendo WFC, unless it's EA. I don't want to pay $15 dollars so I can play games that were added in there to give it retail status, I hate that, all games should be downloadable, so many games have lots of extra crap added in to make it worth $20-$50 dollars. This is how the games coming out in Express titles should have been in the first place.



legochesser said:

God, the price must be 200 NP, not 500! That's way too much for something like this, I've the full game!



Kyloctopus said:

Clubhouse games is awesome, I played that game like it was my job. The card game place was the best. I already have the full versain so I don't need it. This game is only good if you have a friends with a ds, which I have. But the only problem is that this doesn't have wifi connection. But look at it this way Games 200 points, multiplayer with games = 300 points. Cause playing with other people is awesomer than the game itself. If you have a friend with this game don't buy it. Download Play.

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