Image Description: A person holding a Super Nintendo Entertainment System controller.

 

By Daniel Litjens

 

Ever since its release in 2017, the Nintendo Switch has been widely regarded as one of the greatest innovations in modern gaming, bringing together the portability of a mobile device with the power and graphics of a home console. It boasts a wide range of first-party and third-party games as part of its catalogue, including Game of the Year winner The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, however its most interesting release might have been as part of the launch of the Switch’s online subscription service in September 2018.

Nintendo Switch Online, which enables online multiplayer and cloud data saves, also features access to an extensive games library from the original Nintendo Entertainment System, all available to play on the Switch. The following September saw the release of a similar library, this time with games from the Super NES console. These new services allow any Switch online subscriber to either revisit treasured games from their childhood, or to discover the games that championed Nintendo as a pioneer in the gaming industry.

This service of Online is the successor to the Virtual Console: a series of games available for purchase on the Nintendo e-shop for the 3DS and the Wii U. By changing these games to be available via subscription, Nintendo have now set a standard for a new service, similar to Xbox’s Game Pass, but for retro games, which is essentially an emulator subscription for Nintendo games.

The big question on Switch users’ lips is now: will we see more games from previous consoles? Many have speculated the release of a Nintendo 64 games library for September this year, which is arguably the most sought-after retro console at present. This would see ground-breaking games such as GoldenEye 007, Super Mario 64, and the original Super Smash Bros. available to play on the Switch for the bargain-basement price of a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.

This service provides a new answer to the question of how to play classic games in the modern age. While some would look to purchase an old console on eBay or Gumtree for an exorbitant price, many also turn to emulators such as Dolphin or RetroArch to play these games on PC. Keep in mind that the distribution of game ROMs is still considered illegal, and many claim that the lack of the original controllers take away from the feel and experience the game originally intended.

The release of NES and Super NES as part of Online has found a middle ground between these solutions. The controls of the Switch, despite decades of development and variations, remain relatively similar to that of the NES and Super NES, which works to retain the original feel of games such as Donkey Kong and Super Metroid.

Through my childhood, I had the chance to play the Super NES at the family beach house, and I would always go back to the masterpiece of Super Mario World. This year, I took the time to play through Super Mario World on the Switch, and I am not ashamed to say I smashed through it in less than two days, with the exact same feeling of wonder and joy I was getting back in my younger days. This service on the Switch has done extremely well to preserve these timeless games.

Nintendo have announced that they intend the Switch to have a longer lifespan of 7-10 years, which could see it as Nintendo’s lead console until 2027. If the current trend continues, we would see the release of Nintendo 64 games in September this year and GameCube in 2021. While not being a fantastic all-round online service, Nintendo Switch Online has exceeded itself in this area, and has set itself up for huge growth for the next seven years of its lifespan.

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay