How Nintendo Switch Online Made Me Stop Pining for Virtual Consoles
When Nintendo Introducing the Switch Online classic game catalog for the first time with NES games, I complained when it was announced about what I considered a poor content delivery system. Not only were we asked to play with a significantly smaller library of games than what we had on the Wii or Wii U, but I didn’t even have the option to purchase those games. Instead, we were given a small library of games from a single console with no way to transfer the rights from previous purchases or actually own the classic games I was playing. . I feel Nintendo Switch Online is a worse service in every way, even as Nintendo expands the offerings to include a robust NES and SNES library.
Then in 2020, something changed. With many of my normal social activities on hold, I find myself with more free time at home than ever before. Most of that time I was absorbed in TV shows, movies, and, yes, video games. As part of that, I dig deeper into the classic game offerings on Nintendo Switch Online – after all, I paid for the entire suite, not just Super Mario World, because of my playing habits. I can make you believe. What I found was a bunch of titles I’d never heard of, never played, or completely forgotten from my childhood.
Yes, get access to old favorites like Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Donkey Kong Country are awesome, but i’ve had amazing pleasure digging into titles that i would never get if i had to pay for each title individually. As someone who grew up with the SNES, Genesis, and Nintendo 64, the previously unplayed gems are largely in the NES category. I played a lot of NES as a kid, but it was never at my house unless someone brought them in. So I feel sorry for the games that my friends own. Initially, I missed titles like NES Open Tournament Golf, Rygar and StarTropics, and I enjoyed the opportunity to go back in time with games like Gradius, Ice Hockey, and Super Dodge Ball – titles I played at friends’ houses but never owned. And it also lets me play the SNES games I’ve been missing that I’ve always wanted to try (Pilotwings, Donkey Kong Country 3 and Super Punch-Out!!) without spending extra money.
Then it’s made even better by the fact that it adds some extra features. Save states and rewind functionality are pretty standard additions to classic games these days, but Nintendo has also added online multiplayer for a number of titles in different libraries. However, I do appreciate the special editions of some of the games Nintendo has added over the years, like the version of Super Mario World with the Special World removed and the various variations included, or the Super Metroid version with fully upgraded Samus. While there’s something to be said for working your way through these games to earn these prestigious unlocks, having access to them instantly through the special editions is optional. This pick is an interesting twist to the standard classic game offerings.
In 2021, Nintendo introduced the Switch Online Expansion Pack, which gives players access to N64 and Genesis games, along with premium expansions for games like Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. While I loved my Genesis back in the day, the Nintendo 64 is the component I’m most excited about with this new subscription tier. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite the experience I was expecting when it launched, but through the addition of the N64 controller to the Switch, the constant rollout of new titles to the service and improved emulation. , Nintendo 64 did the same thing for me that other categories did: It gave give me a chance to revisit old favorites and experience games I missed when I was younger.
That’s not to say that Nintendo Switch Online’s catalog of classic games is better than the Wii and Wii U’s Virtual Console in every way. In fact, there are many places where it’s unlike the official way to play these classic titles on modern Nintendo hardware. First, content ownership is something that I feel we undervalue in today’s world of Netflix and Spotify. Yes, those services do a great job for your money, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fired up Netflix to watch something specific, only to find that the show or movie no longer on service. At least with movies, TV shows, music, and most game subscription services, I have the option to buy digital content on modern hardware, while with classic Nintendo games, choose My only official choice on modern hardware is the non-proprietary route through this subscription service.
On top of that, some games (especially Nintendo 64) feature shoddy emulation in the Switch Online library. While that can happen regardless of whether it’s Switch Online or Virtual Console, unfortunately some games don’t play as well as they did 25 years ago when the Nintendo 64 library was one of the main selling points. for Expansion Packs higher price. Thankfully, Nintendo has improved its N64 emulation in the time since the launch of the catalog.
I still very much wish I could own my favorite classic games, but the breadth of what’s offered by Nintendo Switch Online’s catalog of classic games has made me a Virtual loyalist. Console before. Sure, there are still ways to improve Nintendo Switch Online’s approach to classic game offerings, but I’m done moving toward the days of the Virtual Console. Just as I’ve sacrificed music and movie ownership for value, convenience, and unprecedented access to a wide range of content, I’m happy to do the same (to some extent) through through services such as Game Pass, PlayStation Plus, and Nintendo Switch Online.
Now, the price at which we can cut the bulk of subscription services, but that’s a conversation for another time.
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