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Feature Article

Guide To Nintendo Switch Online: SNES And NES Games, How To Get A Year Free, And More

Switch Online just got an exciting new perk.

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

It's officially been one year since the launch of Nintendo Switch Online, when Nintendo began charging for online play for the first time. As with Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, anyone who wants to get the most out of their Switch will all but have to subscribe. (Note: This doesn't affect Wii U or Nintendo 3DS owners; online service for those systems remains free.) While it's never ideal having to pay for something you used to get for nothing, Nintendo just added an even bigger perk to the service one year after release: a library of 20 classic SNES games, available for free to all Switch Online members.

In addition to the SNES NSO announcement, Nintendo's latest Direct broadcast showed off a slew of new and upcoming Nintendo Switch games. From Switch ports of Overwatch, Return of the Obra Dinn, and Divinity: Original Sin 2 to brand-new releases like Deadly Premonition 2, Pokemon Sword and Shield, and Luigi's Mansion 3, there's so much to look forward to over the next few months and in 2020. And with new models hitting the market this fall--the smaller, handheld Switch Lite and the new Switch with improved battery life--there's truly no better time to own a Nintendo Switch and reap all of its online benefits.

Buy the new Switch with improved battery life

Buy the Nintendo Switch Lite

Shop Nintendo Switch games

Here's a look at everything you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online.

Pricing

First, some good news: Nintendo Switch Online costs significantly less than the competition. While you have to pay $60 for a year's subscription to Sony and Microsoft's services, Nintendo only charges $20. You can pick up a three-month or one-year subscription at Amazon or sign up directly at Nintendo. Here's the breakdown of pricing for a single account holder:

  • One month -- $4
  • Three months -- $8
  • One year -- $20

If you have multiple people in your house who want their own accounts, you'll need to spring for the family plan. It costs $35 per year and allows up to eight people to play online.

See Switch Online Family Plan at Amazon

If you have Amazon Prime, note that you can get 12 months of Switch Online free as part of a limited-time Twitch Prime offer (Twitch Prime is included free with Amazon Prime). From now through September 24, you can claim three months of Switch Online at no cost; 60 days later, you can come back and claim another nine months, netting you a full 12 months free. You'll just need to log into your Amazon Prime account and make sure it's connected to Twitch. Twitch Prime regularly offers a ton of other benefits, like monthly free PC games and free in-game items and cosmetics for games like Rainbow Six Siege, Apex Legends, and The Division 2, so it's worth checking out.

Get 12 months of Nintendo Switch Online free at Amazon

Now let's take a look at what you get for your money by signing up for Nintendo Switch Online.

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Online Play

Without Nintendo Switch Online, you can't play games like Mario Tennis Aces, Splatoon 2, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe online without a subscription. The same goes for third-party games like Diablo 3: The Eternal Collection.

If you look at the Eshop page for online first-party games like Mario Tennis Aces, you'll see a disclaimer warning that online play will require a subscription. Free games like Fortnite don't have the disclaimer and can continued to be played online for free.

Nintendo Switch Online App

Some games, like Fortnite, have voice chat built in. Unfortunately, many games--including Nintendo's first-party titles--don't. And while voice chat is a standard built-in feature for PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live, that's not the case with Nintendo Switch Online.

This feature is already in place, but to talk with other players while playing online, you need to download the Nintendo Switch Online app (you can grab it here: iOS, Android). Yes, you'll need two separate devices to play and talk to people online.

Save Data Cloud Backup

If you were to lose your Nintendo Switch and buy a new one, all of your save data would be gone forever. But with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, most of your save data is backed up on Nintendo's servers.

Unfortunately, it's not all sunshine and cool breezes when it comes to Nintendo's cloud saves. Some games don't support online save data, and if you let your subscription lapse, you could lose your saves.

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Playing NES Classic Games On The Nintendo Switch

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Access to Classic NES Games

PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold subscribers get free games each month they can download and play on their respective systems. Nintendo Switch Online subscribers will get a similar benefit, but with much older games.

Switch Online subscribers have access to a selection of over 40 classic NES titles at this point, with new games added regularly. The games also have added online play, so you won't need your second player to be in the same room with you. You can check out the full lineup of games at Nintendo and see some of the included titles below:

  • Metroid
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Yoshi
  • Kirby's Adventure
  • Donkey Kong
  • Ice Climber
  • Super Dodge Ball
  • Kid Icarus
  • Dr. Mario
  • River City Ransom
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Vice: Project Doom
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • City Connection
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Switch Online also allows you to purchase the Switch-compatible NES controllers seen above so you can play the classic NES games how they were originally intended. The pack costs $60, and the limit is one per Nintendo account.

See NES controllers at Nintendo

Access to Classic Super NES Games

In September 2019, Nintendo revealed the SNES titles are also now available to Switch Online subscribers. The launch list includes 20 classic SNES games, such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Breath of Fire, and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. As with the NES titles, local and online multiplayer is enabled for these SNES titles, and they'll also include the Rewind feature that lets you dial back a few seconds in-game to undo a mistake. See the full list of SNES games available now on Switch below:

  • BRAWL Brothers
  • Demon's Crest
  • Breath of Fire
  • F-Zero
  • Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics
  • Kirby's Dream Course
  • Kirby's Dreamland 3
  • Star Fox
  • Super E.D.F.: Earth Defense Force
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
  • Super Puyo Puyo 2
  • Super Tennis
  • Pilotwings
  • Stunt Race FX
  • Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Soccer
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
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Unsurprisingly, Nintendo will also offer an official SNES controller that's compatible with Nintendo Switch and exclusive to Switch Online members. As the pack includes one controller rather than two, it costs $30, half the price of the NES controller bundle, and there's a limit of four purchases per Nintendo Account. It's not available for purchase quite yet, but you can find more information at Nintendo.

Special Offers

Nintendo also offers exclusive special deals and offers to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. Those offers include a download code for exclusive Splatoon 2 in-game gear (12-month memberships only), the classic NES and SNES controllers detailed above, and access to the free-to-download battle royale game Tetris 99. Nintendo recently offered a voucher deal where you could buy a pair of game vouchers for $100 and redeem them for two games, potentially saving yourself $20 if you stick to full-price ($60) titles. You can't sign up for that deal anymore, but already purchased vouchers can still be redeemed up to a year after purchase.

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