The headline news is that bowling is back. And all weekend, to be fair, my house has rung out with the expectant rumble of a bowling ball moving over polished wood, and then the glorious hollow thwock of impact. 51 Worldwide Games, which is out for Switch on the fifth of June, offers very unfussy multiplayer bowling – you aim, you use the Joy-Con held side on to pull back and let go. Strike! Or gutter. It’s a reliable thrill that keeps people playing for hours.
But there is so much more to this beautiful package of games. Yes, I appreciate there are fifty more things. But the riches! People talk about Animal Crossing being the perfect lockdown game, and I get that. But does Animal Crossing know the rules to Mancala?
51 Worldwide Games has bowling and golfing and spins on boxing and curling and all that jazz. It has fishing and slot cars and two kinds of games with little tanks. But what’s won me over completely are the board games from around the globe – Mancala, Ludo, a speedy Chess set that allows me to work backwards through my defeats once they’re all over. Mahjong! Hanafuda, with a beautiful slap to those stiff little cards. It doesn’t just have these games, it knows the rules! This is obvious, of course, but it didn’t feel obvious when I loaded the game up. Each new game, playable to a newbie like me from the off, through a mixture of excellent tutorials and simple, no-frills UI, felt like a gift. The game but also the knowledge of how to play it. Here’s Hanafuda! I think I will spend a lifetime learning this, but I can play it right now.