You Can Play Nintendo Switch's New NES Games Offline For A Week

You'll need to "check in" every week to verify you still have an active subscription.

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Now Playing: Nintendo Switch Online NES Launch Titles Revealed - GS News Update

Nintendo's online subscription service for Switch has launched, and one of the benefits you get for subscribing is access to a library of NES games. Each of these classic titles supports some form of online play, whether that be competing directly against another player in Balloon Fight or taking turns controlling the action in a traditionally single-player title, but until recently, it had been unclear whether or not the NES games could be played offline. It turns out they can, but there's a slight caveat.

According to the FAQ page on Nintendo's website, the NES games included in the Nintendo Switch Online service can be played offline for up to seven days. That means you'll periodically need to "check in" online every week in order to verify that you still have an active subscription and maintain your access to the games.

20 NES titles are available now that the Nintendo Switch Online service has launched, including some of the console's most iconic games, with additional titles coming each month. As previously mentioned, each NES game supports online multiplayer; in single-player titles, you'll be able to switch between who's controlling the game, or the second player can use a hand-shaped cursor to point out hints and applaud certain actions. You can take a look at the complete launch lineup below:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Baseball
  • Donkey Kong
  • Double Dragon
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Ghosts'n Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Ice Hockey
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Mario Bros.
  • Pro Wrestling
  • River City Ransom
  • Soccer
  • Super Mario. Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • Tennis
  • Yoshi

In addition to the NES library, Nintendo Switch Online subscribers will be able to back up their Switch data via cloud saves; however, not all Switch games will support the feature, and you'll need to have an active membership in order to keep your cloud saves. There will also be "special offers" exclusive to Switch Online subscribers, such as a pair of NES-shaped Joy-Cons for use with the aforementioned NES titles.

Nintendo offers Switch Online subscriptions in three increments; you'll also have the option to purchase an annual family plan, which will extend the service's benefits to up to eight Nintendo Accounts across multiple consoles. If you're unsure about subscribing, you can sign up for a seven-day free trial, but if you don't cancel before the trial period ends, it will automatically turn into a one-month subscription. You can read more about the service in our roundup of everything we know about Nintendo Switch Online.

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Avatar image for FallenOneX

I can see how this will actually annoy some (others posting just want to rant), but I don't have a problem with it. If I have my Switch and am without any way to access the internet for over 7 days, I'm in trouble anyways.

Avatar image for xantufrog

There was some internet rage about this going around suggesting that if you didn't check in once a week you'd lose access completely - like, your save game would go away or something.

But this doesn't sound like that at all. Basically sounds like Steam DRM.

Avatar image for Sorrow_316

7 days? That’s generous compared to the always online world we live in. Anyone out longer than seven days could just play a different game, or tether your switch to the internet on your phone real quick to check in.

Avatar image for fecalmatters

@Sorrow_316: What? "Generous" WOW you really suck some d*ck. What if I pay for a year? Still have to check in every 7 days? LOL

Anyone who defends this "service" in any way shape or form is either very young, or plain stupid. Sorry but thats how it is.

Avatar image for Sorrow_316

@fecalmatters: The fact that people are making a big deal about not being able to constantly play some 30 year old games is quite hilarious. Since I guess me having a different opinion than you makes me stupid or young, I wonder what that says about what kind of person you are.

Having access to an ever growing library of classic retro games for less than 5 dollars a year is generous, and a 7 day offline accessibility is also generous for a service Nintendo doesn’t even have to include. Not to mention if you stay offline forever, you’re getting the worse deal as Nintendo plans to add multiple games to the service. It would seem that the gaming community gets greedier by the day if everyone thinks this is a horrible method of DRM, and a bad deal.

Avatar image for fecalmatters

@Sorrow_316: YOU are not reading correctly son. If you pay for a period of service, the products and services required to use that service, are PAID FOR for that period. Having to check in means that you are even getting LESS of a value than what you are paying for. I am NOT talking opinions here, by the way.

AND wtf makes you think this is an "ever growing library?" Nintendo has STATED that the games will eventually be removed and changed. Honestly, do any of you Nintendards read?

You also honestly believe this is DRM? For 30 year old Nintendo games? Where the DRM is more expensive than the games themselves? and for roms that have been publicly available for 20 years for FREE? NO. Its a check-in. Swapping the Nintendo games has ALREADY BEEN DONE (edit: and anyone can do it in seconds). Nintendo literally doesn't understand system security so they realize that this will happen pretty quick, so they go get the easiest to use rom site (Emuparadise) removed, and you have to check-in to make sure you haven't changed games, etc.

7 days, for 20 games that would fit ON A FLOPPY DISK ten times over. Yeah, real generous. You sound like a tryhard pretentious douchebag with your "greedy" comments, when its this crap, that Nintendo is pulling NOW, that is really destroying the games industry.

Enjoy paying 20 dollars for nothing. Free money is free money, and that is all Nintendo cares about.

Avatar image for phirstandlast

@fecalmatters: wow 20 dollars must be a lot to you. then again your mommy probably sent you to school with duct taped shoes and a walmart sack on your head for an umbrella Sorry Kid. You're a dumbass. In your honor, I'll go piss away $20 tonight on beer.

Avatar image for fecalmatters

@phirstandlast: Just give away that money for nothing. You sound like a real smart person, really sound investments. Honestly, anyone who buys this should be beaten with a tack hammer, because they are so stupid.

Avatar image for Sorrow_316

@fecalmatters: too many paragraphs for a comments section. If people want to spend their 4-5 dollars a year on Nintendo (if they group together for a family plan), they should be able to do so without the criticism of others.

Avatar image for fecalmatters

@Sorrow_316: Just give away that money for nothing. You sound like a real smart person, really sound investments. Honestly, anyone who buys this should be beaten with a tack hammer, because they are so stupid.

Avatar image for Richardthe3rd

Honestly, better NES lineup than what's on the NES Classic with the exception of DD2. River City Ransom is the bomb.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

@Richardthe3rd: And Super Dodge Ball next month. I was so excited, but then I had to remind myself... I'd be paying 20 dollars a year every year just to keep access to these games.. Honestly, I'd rather just throw five dollars at Nintendo for a few games I really want just so that I own them.

Avatar image for Sorrow_316

@JustPlainLucas: you could get it for less than 5 dollars a year if you band together with friends and get the family pack. Heck, even 2 people it’s already saving some cash, or you can put aside a nickel a day, everyday for your membership.

Avatar image for Thirdrail1

I would happily buy the online subscription for the year, just because it's so cheap, and I like old NES games, but this is kind of a deal breaker for me. Sometimes I play the Switch every day. Sometimes I play it once a month. It depends on what else I have going on. Sometimes I'm very busy. Sometimes I'm not busy, but I'm engaged in other games on the pc or the ps4. If I pay you for a subscription, my subscription should be "active" until the time I've paid you for runs out.

Vanity Fair and Smithsonian don't come to my house each month to make sure I'm actually reading the magazine. I pay them. They send the magazines. That's subscription. Nintendo's ability to turn something simple into something needlessly complicated (friend codes!) is so freaking annoying.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

@Thirdrail1: "If I pay you for a subscription, my subscription should be "active" until the time I've paid you for runs out."

Yay. Someone else gets it.

Avatar image for rawkstar007

Do you think Nintendo just hears dolphin squeaks when we talk?

I don’t envy Reggie’s job sometimes.

Avatar image for Tiwill44

This affects literally no one, but people will complain anyway.

What kind of knucklehead pays for an online service and then proceeds to play offline for over a week?

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

@Tiwill44: I've had my internet down for more than a week once. It happens. Regardless, this is an asinine decision. You shouldn't need to check in at all just to verify your subscription is still active... because Nintendo should be able to see that on their end with the subscription not being canceled yet.

Avatar image for Tiwill44

@JustPlainLucas: But even if they can see that on their end, they won't be able to do anything about it if your device is offline. Hence the check-in.

The check-in is actually pretty generous because it means you can play the NES games offline for a full week after your subscription has ended, as long as your Switch doesn't connect to the internet.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

@Tiwill44: Why do they need to do ANYTHING about it? Why do they need me to check in with them every seven days to see if my account is still active when they KNOW it's still active, because I'm still a subscriber? What company asks their customers to check in with them every week in order to keep access to services they're PAYING for? Netflix? Your phone or gas company? Your life insurance?

And yeah, it might seem generous of Nintendo to let you play their NES games a week after your sub ends if you don't connect, but the practice itself is anti-consumer regardless. This is a similar ploy that MS tried to enact in 2013, although it was worse because it required a 24 hour check in or it would brick the entire system. Practices such as these are DRM measures because they don't trust their customers, and that's not how you treat your customers.

Oh, and then there's the whole cloud save debacle.... But sure, let's just focus on Nintendo being "generous" letting you play their NES games for an extra week if you stay offline, because they have no way to stop you from playing them otherwise...

Avatar image for Tiwill44

@JustPlainLucas: Because if there was no check-in, you could pay the subscription, then cancel it and never connect to the internet again and keep all the games from the service forever. I don't know why you're comparing this to Netflix when Netflix needs to be always-online to even work in the first place. The Xbox DRM was far worse and had no reason to even exist, because your games weren't tied to a subscription.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

@Tiwill44: Think about this for a second... If you have to check in every seven days or you'd lose access to the NES games, then how does that work? They're set to expire every seven days from the last check in. SO, if I sign up for a sub for a year on 9/18/18, then those games should expire on 9/18/19. NO WEEKLY CHECK IN IS NEEDED. Very simple to understand.

The Netflix comparison wasn't a good one, I admit, because I was just thinking of quick examples, but everything else stands. Think of another one. You pay rent. You don't need to check in with your landlord every seven days in order to access your house. Provided you pay every month, you can still access your home, or you could live somewhere else for a few months, so long as the landlord still gets paid. Stop paying? Then the locks get changed.

And I already said Xbox DRM was worse, but the principle is still the same. You get locked out from features YOU ARE PAYING FOR (as in you bought a system to play games on it) if you don't check in regularly. Xbox DRM was unnecessary, just like this one.

And ONCE AGAIN, beat this into your head, there is no need to check in every week when games are set to expire after a week, because those games can just as easily be set to expire after the end of your subscription.

Avatar image for contejas84

@JustPlainLucas: When they say "Check-In" it just means keeping your system online. You don't have to do anything additional. This probably won't affect anyone too much unless you're traveling without wifi for over a week anyways. I'm just happy they're including this for free with the online service.

Avatar image for Tiwill44

@JustPlainLucas: For that to work, they would need to have a "subscription expiration date" value built into the app itself so that it remembers your expiration date even when it's offline... I'm sure it wouldn't be that hard to do, but it's easier for them to just do an online check to see if your account is still subscribed before it launches the game.

Also, this probably prevents exploits/hacks. I'm sure people would find ways to hack the software/system to change the expiration date to 2099 or something. But now it's more hack-proof because it has to do an online check to even work. That's my guess anyway. I know this all seems silly and excessive for NES games but they'll probably add more stuff to this service later and they don't want to take any chances.

And I mean really, I would understand getting upset if the check-in was every 0-2 days, but this is 7 days and it's part of an online subscription service. You really should have internet at least once every 7 days the majority of the time if you're paying for this.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

@Tiwill44: See, what I'm looking at are some factors that are out of our control that may or may never happen but if they do, they will impact their customers. For instance, let's say I bought a subscription for a year, then lost my job the next week. In order to make ends meet until I find a new job, the first thing that's going to go are the non-essential bills, such as Internet. I could be without internet for weeks, meaning I'm not able to play NES games until I get access to the internet again. Or, the time workers in my area accidentally ripped out cables taking our net down for over a week. Maybe the router fries, but you're on a fixed income and can't get enough money to buy a new router until your next check.

Just because you SHOULD have access to the internet every week doesn't mean everyone won't all the time. Things will come up and customers will be impacted by this, and that's not fair for them considering they're gracious enough to pay Nintendo for this service. Nintendo, just as every other company, should be focusing on inconveniencing their customers as little as possible instead of being so draconian in protecting their legacy titles by treating their customers as potential pirates.

Avatar image for Tiwill44

@JustPlainLucas: You make a fair case, but at the same time, that's kinda the point. Gaming is a luxury. Online gaming even more so. And this thing is being sold as part of an online service. When your internet runs out, you lose access to any online service... not just this one.

Also... if you're suddenly unable to pay for internet, I would think that you would have more pressing matters to attend to than playing games, but regardless, you can still play every other game on the console. You just lose access to things related to Nintendo Online, for obvious reasons.

Avatar image for jose_consuela

@Tiwill44: because if you want to play those NES titles on the bus, in the subway, or on a road trip. The answer is now you can.

Avatar image for fecalmatters

@jose_consuela: Ive been doing it since early to mid 2000s with my phone

Avatar image for Tiwill44

@jose_consuela: I meant having to check-in every 7 days (as opposed to every month) won't prevent anyone from playing these NES games offline.

Like, the hypothetical person who doesn't have any internet connection at all for more than 7 days... they don't exist. And if they do exist, they're not gonna be paying for an online service that won't be of any use to them.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

Every time Nintendo reveals new things they make you baffled at the stupidity. Online "checkins" that exist for NO REASON other than to try and justify their worthless online service.

Avatar image for xxmavr1kxx

Wasnt this what MS was talking about before the X1 release and people went bonkers?

Avatar image for 129260

@xxmavr1kxx: Yup, in fact it was worse because it was only 1 day for them. This is still stupid. Nintendo online is the worst gaming service ever created.

Avatar image for paperwarior17

Nintendo, you could just have them expire at the current end of the membership, like PS+. But I'm sure we need this ultra-DRM for NES games.