Clubhouse Games Low-Vision Accessibility
There is a great variety here as long as you’re aware that the accessibility varies from game to game within the collection. The assist features really shine, while the lack of information about each game’s mechanics drag down the experience.
Score7.3 out of 10
Clubhouse Games is essentially a minigame collection, but it’s done to the standards of a first-party Nintendo game. It’s sure to become a family game night staple, and few people can argue with the value proposition of 51 games included in a single title. But it is as much bang for your buck if you’re visually impaired?
About me and my play style: I have albinism. My visual acuity fluctuates between 20/100 and 20/500 depending on if I’m wearing contacts and how tired I am. I have color vision, but no depth perception. I also deal with eye strain if I have to focus too precisely for too long.
Visual Characteristics 9.5/10
(Contrast, Lighting, Tracking, Clutter)
With almost no exception, the visual presentation of the gameplay is clean, bright, and responsive. The backgrounds are understated and elegant, but rendered so realistically, you almost forget they’re there. The lighting is generally excellent, though I might have preferred to be able to adjust the setting for games like darts, where they clearly tried to recreate a club environment.
Because assets are rendered so cleanly and there’s virtually no clutter, it’s very simple to keep track of the ball or your game piece. I had the most difficulty with tracking when playing tennis and baseball, but it was still pretty doable. I’d say it was very comparable to Wii tennis and Wii baseball, to give you a reference.
Accessibility Features 2.5/10
I feel like a broken record saying this, but there aren’t really any accessibility features. There was a bit of hype before Clubhouse Games launched about the tutorials for the various games, and I’m a little mixed on the tutorials. They are much beefier than your typical tutorial for a minigame collection, but they also aren’t anywhere near in-depth as the rule book that comes with a board game.
There’s no in-game wiki or anything to really read up on the rules. Luckily, for more complicated games like chess, they include an extra tutorial mode. However, most of the games teach you the mechanics by tossing you in. The games rarely even show you the button or other inputs needed before the game starts.
I’d have liked to see an in-game wiki with full game rules. I’d also like to have seen controller remapping, particularly for the sports games, and explanations of controls before the games start. There aren’t any options to control the audio or sound effects, which would be very nice because the music can get annoying quickly. Options to change fonts and text sizes would have been very welcome as well.
Assist Modes 7.5/10
There are a variety of difficulty settings for each game, and what’s pretty refreshing is that they are named Normal, Hard, Amazing, and Impossible. Especially for a game that is played by multiple members of a family, I appreciate that the difficulties start with “normal” instead of “easy.” That said, the Normal difficulty setting should serve as a good tutorial difficulty. Many games also include an option to handicap the CPU or other players to make the game fairer for differing ages and abilities.
Some games include guides to see where pieces will land. All of the games include short control tutorials at the beginning of each game. Taken together, these features provide a lot of assistance and reminders, but there are some games without these assists.
For instance, I’m really terrible at Sliding Puzzle because it takes visual-spatial reasoning skills that I just don’t have. There’s no function to offer a guide or slow the game down beyond the Normal difficulty mode. However, in other games, there are guides that indicate possible moves.
Non Visual Cues 6.5/10
There are a lot of non visual cues. The sound effects are intuitive and responsive, though just like everything else in the game, they vary from game to game. While they certainly aren’t bad sound effects, there’s more that could have been done pretty easily.
In the Shooting Gallery game, I would have liked to see a sound when you’re targeted onto an object. In Chess, I would have liked to see different sounds to indicate when different pieces are selected. In Mancala, different pitches could be used to indicate how many stones were in each basket. In Golf, the shot meter could have included an auditory component. These are just a few examples to say that with a little bit of thought, the non visual cues could have been much more helpful for everyone.
Decent Fonts 6/10
There are several different fonts used in the game, and while they are all a clean sans-serif, much of the text is very light and thin. I understand that the differences show the varying menu levels, but the variety of sizes and thicknesses make it difficult to follow.
Without options to make the text bold, much of the text may be too light for players to see. There are also a few different background colors. In the tutorial portions, the background is a bright cyan, which may make the white text look even lighter.
Necessity of Text 8/10
(The higher the rating, the less necessary the text is)
Thankfully, on the game selection screen, each game has a colorful icon, making the gray text title less necessary. Beyond that, before each game, there is a skippable introduction with two talking characters that introduce the concept of the game. I would have given this category a perfect score if those narrated tutorials had included control explanations as well.
As it is, though, you need to be able to see the control schemes given to you by unnarrated button prompts at the start of each game. Additionally, these prompts are only up for a short time.
Handheld Play 8/10
The biggest issue with the game is that it doesn’t tell you which games use which control schemes. Most of the games work very well in handheld mode, but there are other games that are completely inadvisable like Bowling, Darts, or Fishing. There is plenty of space on the game selection menu to communicate that information.
Beyond that, there is infinite space on the game’s website to give consumers that knowledge, but it’s not available. Most games can be played in local multiplayer on the same screen, but some games are played via splitscreens or require multiple consoles entirely. Many of the card games require multiple consoles because there’s no way to keep individual hands secret.
Level of Precision Required 9/10
Some of the turn-based games include turn timers, but they usually give you around 30 seconds, which is generally plenty of time. Of course, some games do require much more precise timing and movement, but overall, there are plenty of games that do not.
Controls and Depth Perception 8.5/10
The vast majority of the games have excellent controls. Some of the sports games gave me a bit of an issue, but I think it would be fairly quick to learn the control schemes if I were a big fan of those games. However, the sports games aren’t generally the best for pick-up and play.
Nintendo has made an excellent collection of games covering a wide range of interests, but there’s really a lack of information about how each game is played. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me on Twitter, but this is simple information that should have been available prior to launch. There’s not even a simple way to find out how many people can play each game. Some games support four players, some two, and obviously Solitaire is a solo game.
Recommendation for visual skills needed for enjoyment
It’s tough to make a recommendation because I don’t know which game you are excited for, but I will say that if you’ve got 20/400 you’ll be able to play and enjoy most of the games in the collection. If you’re willing to use the built-in zoom feature and avoid games with a tight timer, I think you could play with 20/800 or so.
Overall, I recommend Clubhouse Games. There is a great variety here as long as you’re aware that the accessibility varies from game to game within the collection. The assist features really shine, while the lack of information about each game’s mechanics drag down the experience.