Nintendo Switch Online Service Offers 20+ Free NES Games, But It's Not Virtual Console

Subscribers will have access to Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, and other NES classics.

16 Comments

After months of silence, Nintendo finally shed more light on its premium online service for Switch. The subscription service launches this September and is required to play games such as Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe online, but it also comes with some additional perks for subscribers, including a library of classic titles.

Nintendo will offer subscribers to the Switch online service access to a selection of NES games as part of its "NES - Nintendo Switch Online" program. At launch, the lineup will consist of 20 titles, although the company says that more games will be added to the library "regularly."

Only half of the titles in the initial lineup have revealed thus far, but they consist of some of Nintendo's best-known NES games, including Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, Balloon Fight, and Dr. Mario. The remaining 10 titles will be announced "in the future." The full list of confirmed NES games includes:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Donkey Kong
  • Dr. Mario
  • Ice Climber
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Mario Bros.
  • Soccer
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tennis

On top of being able to play the classic NES titles solo, each one is playable online for the first time thanks to newly added online features. According to Nintendo, "Depending on the game, players can engage in online competitive or co-op multiplayer, or take turns controlling the action. Friends can even watch each other play single-player games online, and 'pass the controller' at any time." The NES games also support voice chat through the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app.

In addition to the classic NES library, the Switch online service offers subscribers the ability to back up their game data via cloud saves. As mentioned above, it will also be required to play Nintendo games like the aforementioned Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe--as well as the upcoming Mario Tennis Aces and Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido--online. However, Nintendo says that other Switch games "will vary," and players will not need to have a subscription to continue playing Wii U and 3DS titles online.

The Switch online service rolls out this September. Subscriptions will be available for one month (US $4 / £3.49 / AU $6), three months (US $8 / £7 / AU $12), and one year (US $20 / £18 / AU $30). Nintendo will also offer a Family Plan for US $35 / £31.49 / AU $55, which allows subscribers to invite up to seven other Nintendo Account holders, even on different consoles, into a family group and have access to the same membership benefits.

Nintendo has yet to announce if classic games from other legacy consoles, such as the Super NES and N64, will be offered on Switch, but the company did confirm that it will not bring back the Virtual Console service. In a statement to GameSpot, Nintendo said, "There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems."

However, while the Virtual Console moniker won't be returning, that doesn't necessarily mean that other classics can't appear on Switch in other forms. The company also reiterated, "There are a variety of ways in which classic games from Nintendo and other publishers are made available on Nintendo Switch, such as through Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo eShop or as packaged collections."

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Professor_Megaman

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Yes, but will it be possible to play online without crippling lag and sessions being constantly dropped?

I'd like to think that if they're gonna start charging money for online play, they should put some of that revenue into overhauling their servers so that gamers can actually use them.

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Neoistheone

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Edited By Neoistheone

Nice. I'd like an emulator like how the competition does it.

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Zeveroth

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Did anyone notice if the games will be downloadable or strictly streaming games?

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BlueFlameBat

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No Metroid or Super Mario Bros. 2?

I wouldn't be surprised if Shigeru Miyamoto decided what games there would be. He was a talented developer, but he needs to stop making decisions at Nintendo.

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Vodoo

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Edited By Vodoo

I wonder who built their network for them this time. I remember a while ago when EA was building Nintendo's online infrastructure but tried to build in EA Origin backdoor access. Obviously no one wants that, so that's why it's taken so long.

I can just picture little Japanese men sitting their reading instruction manuals titled "how to assemble a multinational server system for online play: Volume 1 of 50," and watching their glasses fog up, lol.

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Redsyrup

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Two articles back to back that essentially have the same content. What's going on Gamespot?

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JustPlainLucas

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I really think Nintendo is missing on a ton of money by not having their entire catalogue available as Virtual Console. Not sure what they're trying to do with this package, but rest assured it won't have the same impact as Virtual Console. I JUST want to play Super Dodge Ball on the go! Is that too much to ask?!

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kickinlikesally

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@JustPlainLucas: Love that game. Takes about 10 minutes to beat, but it's so much fun.

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JustPlainLucas

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@kickinlikesally: It really is. When I was playing it as a kid, I never found anyone good enough to play with. Such a shame we may never see this updated with online play...

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planetgloom

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"Free"

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cobsohn

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I'll just save some money and keep playing these on my e-reader.

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BarcaAzul

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Hmmm, on one hand it’s not a lot of money. On the other you don’t get much either compared to Plus or live.

Virtual console was just a brand, doesn’t mean they won’t release stuff digitally.

Wonder also if they will announce a mini N64 before they do that?

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deactivated-5dd711115e664

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@barcaazul: I've been a Plus subscriber for a while now and every single year I have to really convince myself it's worth the price just so me and my kids can play online. I'm not sure it is, which is why Plus offers those free games every month. But in any given year there is really maybe only 3 plus games that get any play and even then, it is much MUCH less play time than games we actually want and go out and purchase/download. Honestly, I would much rather pay $20 a year for plus and get rid of the free games.

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Neoistheone

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@ZIMdoom: it's like 16 cents a day for ps plus. lol

If I hadn't bought 5 years worth I wouldn't pay for it either.

Games take hours to download, the lag and latency is double what it should be, and they won't even let me play with my ps plus friends on the go with cross play.

You honestly don't need online on ps4 to play their best games.

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AHYL88

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@barcaazul: It's to be expected given how much less this costs by comparison.

Exactly, people don't seem to understand the statement "There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner" It sounds like they're maybe re-branding the feature; whether previous purchases carry over is a different matter but the name is 12 years old this November and it's something from the Wii era.

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