The 13 NES Games We Want On Nintendo Switch Online
By Chris Reed and Matt Espineli and Kevin Knezevic and Dave Klein on
After nearly a year and a half since the Switch's launch, Nintendo has finally rolled out the console-hybrid's online service. While it now requires players to pay for online play, you do at least get some nice perks. The most noteworthy among them is access to a library of Nintendo Entertainment System games. What's more: each game now supports online multiplayer functionality, so you won't need a second player to be in the same room with you. Even games that didn't originally come with multiplayer support have been given light multiplayer functionality via the addition of a cursor system where your second player can point at the screen and even applaud.
The release of Nintendo Switch Online's NES library got us thinking about all the games we want to be added in the future. After all, more are slated to release in the months ahead. We have our own ideas as to what should appear on the service. In this feature, we've highlighted 13 games we'd love to see appear on the service and talk about how each would benefit from the added online functionality. For your reference, check out our comprehensive list containing all the games in service's NES game library.
Like its competitors, Nintendo Switch Online can be purchased in different tiers. A single month costs $4/£3.50; three months costs $8/£7; and a whole year costs $20 / £18. Of course, if you have multiple people in your house who want their own accounts, you can purchase a family plan, which costs $35/£26 per year and allows up to eight people to play online. On top of online play and access to NES games, the service also allows for save data cloud save backup and access to special offers, such as the ability to pre-order Switch-compatible NES controllers.
Which NES games do you want to appear on Nintendo Switch Online? Let us know in the comments below.
Iron Tank is a strange game that's evocative of its era. It’s not the kind of game you see anymore, and an idea that only seems feasible when costs for games were low and the industry was more experimental. Players control a tank from a bird's-eye perspective, while they slowly progress up a map shooting missiles and their turret at other tanks and enemy vehicles, or running over infantry, which is kind of hilarious. In many ways, the game resembles vertical scrolling shooter games like Legendary Wings or 1942 with various power-ups the tank can collect, but with the action slowed down and multiple paths the tank can traverse (plus the lack of scrolling) this game is its own unique beast. While multiplayer was never implemented into the game, it feels like the perfect game to get a boost from the experience. Adding a 2-player option with two tanks on screen would be an absolute blast in this game, especially with some of the bosses and later missions getting especially challenging. The main gameplay experience is fun to begin with, but an NSO multiplayer boost would be a blast to see. | Dave Klein
Cooperative NES games are an obvious choice to highlight the Switch's added online play, and Bubble Bobble offers one of the best co-op experiences of the era. You and a partner play as adorable dragons who blow bubbles to encase enemies--and then pop them. Each stage is a single-screen, and eliminating all the enemies lets you progress to the next one. You can get the standard ending by playing alone, but to reach the real final boss and truly beat the game, you'll need to play with a friend. Oh, and the music is an endlessly looping earworm so catchy it might get lodged in your head forever. | Chris Reed
Castlevania is the type of hard-as-nails action-platformer that warrants multiple players working together to complete it. Unfortunately, it was exclusively a single-player affair, meaning that any willing second players were forced to sit on the sidelines. While it would be great to see Castlevania brought to NSO's NES games library for posterity's sake, it would be even better if it included the ability for two players to play the game together and switch off play after death. This would benefit the experience as a whole because let's be real: Castlevania is demoralizingly difficult, so a competitive dynamic between two players would be a great way to keep things going. Those pesky medusa heads and stiff platforming are enough as it is to deal with on your own, so to have a shared bond in that suffering would really elevate the experience. It's a small tweak that shouldn't demand too much effort to implement, and it's one we firmly believe could make this classic vampire hunting adventure even better on NSO. | Matt Espineli
When people mention Contra these days, it's usually in reference to the 30-lives code the game popularized. But the reason people remember the code in the first place is because the game is so much fun to play--and replay, and play again. The controls are tight, with running, jumping, and shooting mechanics that feel pixel-perfect. You can equip a nice selection of weapons that help you defeat the alien threat, and each of the eight stages has a unique look and feel to it. Better yet, you can blast through the entire game with two players on screen the whole time, making it an ideal title to bring to the Switch's collection of newly online games. | Chris Reed
Gauntlet is probably remembered best by fans for its various entries on arcades. However, the series' first entry saw an NES port that became one of publisher Tengen’s most popular games. The game itself is a birds-eye view action game, with players stuck in a dungeon they’re trying to progress and get out of as hordes of enemies attack them. In true arcade fashion, every monster killed results in the player gaining a number of points, and dungeons themselves are sprinkled treasure for you to pick up. Monsters have items on the screen which spawn them, and in most dungeons, players are required to kill these monster spawns in order to truly progress. While this is all fun to do for the sake of seeing how far you can get, where the game truly shines is in its multiplayer. Players pick from one of four different characters to control, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. The arcade version supported up to four, while the NES port had to drop this down to two players. Nintendo Switch Online would be perfectly suited for this game, but Nintendo really wanted to up the ante, re-implementing four-player multiplayer into the NES port would be an amazing way to improve the game for the service and allow NES players an experience they've only dreamed of. | Dave Klein
The loveable pink puffball first debuted on the Game Boy back in 1992 with Kirby’s Dreamland, but it was 1993’s Kirby’s Adventure that would truly turn Kirby into the icon he is today. While Kirby’s Dreamland set the stage, Kirby’s Adventure would first introduce Kirby’s copy ability. The game has a nice, laid back pace to it and which also makes it a great candidate for NSO’s multiplayer, as it’s one of the few NES platform games that doesn’t really heavily on fast-twitch reflexes. If multiplayer were implemented, a second player could control a cret that floats around and drops explosive coconuts on enemies--only with limited ammo. Or, to get really wild, and in the territory of probably not going to happen, the game could take a page out of “Kirby Super Star” and allow a second player helper to be created by the first player. | Dave Klein
Legendary Wings is one of the earlier games from the vertical scrolling shooting genre of games. However, unlike most of the time, it also contains horizontal scrolling shooting segments, making it somewhat of a hybrid. While the gameplay is fairly simplistic--shoot all of the enemies as you come across them without getting hit--it’s that simplicity that makes Legendary Wings such a blast to play, with various power-ups you can get to help along the way. And it's perfectly suited for NSO’s multiplayer features since it technically includes multiplayer. While it’s a fun game to see how far you can get by yourself, we imagine it'd be even better to play with friends online. | Dave Klein
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
With Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 already included in Nintendo Switch's NES library, it's only a matter of time before the western version of Super Mario Bros. 2 is also added to the lineup. But while that game is most commonly accepted as Mario's second adventure, the original Super Mario Bros. 2--known outside of Japan as The Lost Levels due to how long it took to release in other regions--also deserves a spot in the library.
On the surface, The Lost Levels looks and feels very much like the original Super Mario Bros., albeit with a few notable distinctions. For one, the title only supports a single-player; rather than being able to take turns playing as Mario and Luigi, you'll have to choose one of the plumbers at the outset, and they each now have their own distinct characteristics. The biggest difference, however, is its sheer difficulty. The Lost Levels is much more challenging than any of Mario's other NES adventures; environmental hazards are more plentiful, and hidden blocks are placed fiendishly around certain levels to knock you into a pit when you least expect it.
It's this difficulty that would make The Lost Levels such a great addition to Switch's NES lineup. Despite its lack of multiplayer, you can still virtually pass control of Mario or Luigi between each other after the other player loses a life, making it fun to attempt the game cooperatively. You can also simply watch a friend struggle (likely in vain) to make it to the end. As they say, misery loves company. | Kevin Knezevic
Mega Man (2 & 3)
While we’ve had our fair share of Mega Man ports recently with Legacy Collections 1 & 2, Mega Man is such a classic it’s hard to imagine an NES collection without it. Mega Man 3 actually had 2-player capabilities with the 2nd player being able to give the first player various abilities, such as a super jump. Bringing this back for Mega Man 3--and introducing it to Mega Man 2--would be a fun way to allow a second player to cooperate in an organic way or to totally screw with the first player. Regardless, these are timeless classics that deserve to be seen on the service, and there would be some fun ways to utilize Nintendo Switch Online’s multiplayer functionality to add more value to these already highly recirculated games. | Dave Klein
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II
Beat-'em-ups ruled the roost in the early days of co-op gaming, and one of the best examples of the genre on NES remains Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, the home console port of the 1989 arcade game. Unlike Konami's first (and notoriously difficult) stab at the license, TMNT II is a straightforward brawler, trading its predecessor's overworld segments and clumsy platforming for pure, side-scrolling action. At the start of the adventure, players choose one of the four turtles and fight their way through a series of stages filled with waves of Foot Soldiers, Mousers, and other familiar enemies, each culminating in a boss fight against one of Shredder's tougher minions.
While TMNT II is certainly enjoyable solo thanks to its snappy action and catchy soundtrack, like most other beat-'em-ups, the game is at its best when another player jumps in and fights alongside you, which would make it an ideal title to add to Nintendo Switch Online's NES library. Whether or not Konami will ever bring it to the service remains to be seen--there are undoubtedly some licensing hurdles that would need to be cleared before the game could be released on Switch--but TMNT II remains one of the turtles' better video game outings and would be a great title to play online with a friend. | Kevin Knezevic
EarthBound--known as Mother 2 in Japan--is often considered one of the best JRPGs on the Super Nintendo, thanks in part to its modern day setting and quirky sense of humor. However, the series had its humble beginnings on the Famicom with its first entry. The game is infamous for having been fully localized for release in the United States but being dropped due in large part to the upcoming release of the Super Nintendo. Mother was eventually released in western territories for Wii U as EarthBound Beginnings. While it’s not the best RPG out there, it would be great if the game was re-released on Switch's NES game library. Despite not having multiplayer functionality, it would still be a great addition for posterity's sake, and with enough support, it might just even lead to the release of Mother 3 on the service when Nintendo inevitably adds SNES games to the service. Keep the dream alive! | Dave Klein
Cocoron is a much more obscure game on our list, in part because it was never brought to the States. The game is another NES platformer, this time with players having the ability to customize the main character’s look before playing the game, which also affects what abilities they’ll have. Players can decide the order in which the tackle the levels, and for defeating bosses, will be able to create new allies they can play as. While it sounds like any other platform game, it was actually created by Akira Kitamura, the main designer of Mega Man. Not only that, but composer Takashi Tateishi, who composed music for Mega Man 2 also worked on the project.
It would be great to see games that never came to the states get a release via Nintendo Switch Online's NES library. A game like Cocoron would be a fantastic start, as it would require little translation work. And wIth the multiplayer functionality, it would be great if two players could each create their own characters and take turns playing after one player dies. While only a minor tweak, it would enhance an already amazing game that has for the most part gone unplayed by western audiences. | Dave Klein
Punch-Out!! Is an absolute NES classic, and one of the defining games of the console, with Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! being a major selling point for the system in America. While the game hasn’t received many sequels, in part due to its simplistic gameplay being hard to adapt into a more intricate game, the original still stands the test of time with its basic reactionary gameplay holding up to this day. While it’s hard to imagine multiplayer in the game, there are some ways to get creative with it. On a basic level, a 2nd player could cheer along whenever Lil Mac knocks out their opponent. But a versus mode could be added with players attempting to knock each other out. If they’re playing online, they could still both get the same perspective from their boxer’s back. Imagine if players could choose different boxers from the game to play as. Of course, all of that sounds like a dream, but Mr. Dream is a part of the Punch-Out!! Series, so we’re going to go with it. | Dave Klein