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Our First Impressions of Nintendo Switch Online

Sep 21, 2018

By: Max Cannon

Nintendo Switch Online is here and we've spent a bit of time with it, here are our earliest impressions after checking out the new service's features for ourselves. There's some good, some not so good, but for such an affordable price it's pretty easy to overlook the blemishes. 

Nintendo Switch's NES library is small but sets a good standard for what's to come.Nintendo Switch's NES library is small but sets a good standard for what's to come.Courtesy of Nintendo

The Good

Nintendo Switch Online will cost you $19.99 for a year of access to the service, or $34.99 for a family plan that gives access to up to 8 account holders. The cost of using PlayStation Network or Xbox Live Gold for a year is triple that at $59.99 so that makes it a bit easier to sign up for the service guilt free. You'll need access to Nintendo Switch Online to play most online games, which we'll talk about a bit later, but the big hook of NSO is certainly the library of retro games which are currently limited to 20 NES titles. Playing Super Mario Bros. 3 or Donkey Kong on the Switch is perfect for a quick gameplay session, especially if you have a little downtime and want to play handheld mode out in the wild.

Nintendo Switch Online – Overview Trailer

The games also support online play which is a surprising first for these titles that are ancient by today's standards. There's also a low latency option that seems unnecessary right now, the games run smoothly enough as is, but it could help as the servers fill up with more and more players. It's also worth pointing out how clean the menus appear when scrolling through the 20 currently available NES games but I'm definitely looking forward to more modern consoles being thrown into the mix. 

The Not So Good

It's probably impossible to be excited about online play with Nintendo Switch Online considering that we've been playing online for free for over a year now. Though the above video is cute and well-made, it can't hide the fact that you'll be paying for a service that you've been getting for free. The odd aura surrounding online doesn't stop there, Nintendo is also offering cloud saves with a bit of a catch. Cloud saving means that your Switch will upload your game's save data to a server and if you lose your Switch you'll be able to redownload the data. However, Nintendo is blocking cloud saving on certain games supposedly in an effort to stop cheating, which hasn't been seen as a substantial problem on PlayStation or Xbox's cloud saving service.

The lineup of available NES games through Nintendo Switch Online.The lineup of available NES games through Nintendo Switch Online.Courtesy of CNET

Finally, the lineup of games is a bit disappointing especially considering that this is the most exciting new feature. The NES games feel as old as they look, there are some gems in there like Super Mario Bros. 3  but I feel like a larger library should've been included and, at this moment, I hope that SNES games are hopefully well on their way. Luckily, these problems seem small, silly, and most important, easily solvable. At this point, it's just on Nintendo to make sure things keep getting better.

Give us your opinion!

What do you think of Nintendo Switch Online? Are you happy with the pricing and features or would you hope for change? Share your thoughts below in the comments!