Remember when Blockbuster Video was still alive and well? Not only did it have the latest and greatest in movies, but it was also a video gamer’s heaven. You simply went in, paid a few bucks and got a video game for the weekend. Which, in that era, was plenty of time to complete the game at least once. Then you brought it back and swapped it for a new game. It made it far easier for adults and kids alike to vet what video games they actually liked before committing to buying the game fully.
After-all, just how many of us have parted with $60 plus on a game we spend a night playing, only to find we’re just not that into it. And by the time you go to trade it back in, the game has already lost so much of its original value. Wouldn’t it be so much simpler if there was a Netflix or Hulu for games?
Of course, Playstation and Xbox have an idea similar to this with their online subscription services, offering a couple of games free a month for a limited time as part of their online service. But it’s the new Nintendo Switch Online service that’s coming closest to our video gaming Netflix dreams.
The subscription services give you access to a library of NES classic games
For anyone who ever owned a NES back in the day, the Nintendo Switch Online subscription with its library of classic NES games is a dream. At the moment, the subscription will get you access to 20 classic games, but Nintendo have promised that this library will be growing in the near future.
The current games include fan-favourites such as Mario Bros, Dr Mario, Excitebike and Balloon Fight and are all available from a special app included with the Nintendo Switch Online called the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Much like the NES classic, the Nintendo Entertainment System app will stay true to how the games looked when they were first released. This includes a host of visual filters that will allow you to opt for a retro TV mode that comes complete with scanlines and distortion. You can also use the pixel perfect or 4:3 mode.
For games that offer multiplayer, you don’t need to have your friends with you, as the Nintendo Entertainment System app allows for remote ‘player 2’ play. This allows you to join a friend already in progress in a game or to wait for a player to join. This is a particularly good feature for those of us wanting to relive our childhoods with our friends, but with things like location, families and work keeping us away, remote play is exactly what we want. You’ll need a strong internet connection though, as the app can be prone to lagging.
You can even complete the nostalgic fun by pre-ordering special joy cons for your Switch that look like the original NES controllers. The difference is, these will be wireless and can be charged on the side of your Switch, just like the regular Joy-Con controllers. The price for these will be $59.99 for a pack of two and they will be released in December. It is an expensive price tag for what they are, but will it really feel right playing these classic NES games on anything else? Probably, not no, as the controllers are part of the fun of having access to these classic games.
These NES controllers are exclusive to Nintendo Switch Online members and are limited to one per account.
The dark side of Nintendo Switch Online
There is a downside to this online service, though, with Nintendo launching their online subscription it means that games that were once free to play online will need a subscription for you to play with friends. This includes Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8, which will be a tad annoying for those who have been playing for free since release.
Fortnite – arguably the most popular game in the world right now – has somehow managed to escape needing an online subscription, queue parents breathing a sigh of relief across the globe. But it’s only one of very few games that will allow online multiplayer without subscription and it’s likely that any new game that Nintendo release with online multiplayer will require a subscription.
Nintendo Switch Online isn’t as expensive as you might fear
Unlike Xbox and PlayStation, who charge an excess of $60 a year for users to play online, Nintendo are only going to charge $19.99 for a year’s subscription. There are also monthly options of $4.99 or $7.99 for a 3-month package. Which seems very reasonable considering.
Even better, for families, Nintendo are offering a multiplayer Nintendo Switch Online subscription that will cost $34.99 a year for up to seven people. Perfect news, as the Switch has long been considered a family-orientated console.
With a price that is substantially less than both Xbox and PlayStation – and even Netflix – it seems the Nintendo Switch Online subscription is worth the price, especially if Nintendo will continue to add to their online game library and offer members more exclusive offers.