I’ve been an early adopter of Nintendo products since the Nintendo Wii. That’s when I was enough into my adulthood where I was working and could afford to put money aside to buy games at launch. Since then, I’ve done so with the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and of course, Switch.
I knew during this console generation for Nintendo that things would be different. And many things are. Nintendo’s handheld is fully functional away from the dock, one of the many things that ailed the Wii U. This also meant that some of the prior policies and features, like multiplayer experiences, would too also evolve. That day has come with Nintendo Switch Online launching on Sept. 18.
What is it?
Nintendo Switch Online is the paid subscription service in order to access features for your Nintendo Switch. Things like online play, cloud storage, and a selection of Nintendo Entertainment System titles can be used once a subscription is purchased. Some of the key features to it include playing games with voice chat through the Nintendo Switch phone app.
What does it cost?
The current pricing for the Nintendo Switch Online service is pretty straightforward. For one month, you’ll pay $3.99, $7.99 for three months, and $19.99 for a year. The family plan will run you $34.99 for up to eight Nintendo Account holders. You can add and remove people from the family group when logging into your Nintendo Account via computer or mobile. However, you cannot currently update the family plan information from the mobile app.
You can purchase your Nintendo Switch Online subscription through the eShop, online, or redeem a card from a brick-and-mortar retailer.
What can you do?
At this point, the online offerings are fairly sparse. You can select to create a cloud storage for a game by hitting the + button and selecting the option. The only game that I have found that this doesn’t work for, surprisingly, is Fortnite. This might be due to the contents mostly being tied to your Epic Games account.
As previously mentioned, voice chat is now support for select Nintendo titles. These games include those in the NES online library, Mario Tennis Aces, Arms, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Splatoon 2. Fortnite, on the other hand, supports voice chat natively.
The NES system features online multiplayer for classic games with friends that also have subscribed to the service. This allows you to play through games like Super Mario Bros. 3, Tecmo Bowl, and Dr. Mario with a friend.
Nintendo Switch Online also promises Special Offers to come. Thus far, the offerings include the NES-themed controllers for $59.99 and Splatoon 2 digital gear. The digital gear comes in the form of the Online Jersey and Online Squidkid V Shoes (akin to something like Xbox Live-themed digital products).
Is it worth it?
The Nintendo Switch Online platform is still growing. I prefaced this article to express that I’ve often chosen to purchase Nintendo products early on. However, in the case of the online service, there is still a lot to be desired. Simple stuff like text chat and a less rigid voice chat option are some things that other services have had standard since day one.
There are a number of games being added to the NES online library from October until the end of the year. Some of the games coming next month include Solomon’s Key and Super Dodge Ball. Coming in November are Mighty Bomb Jack, Metroid, and TwinBee. December sees some heavier hitters with Wario’s Woods and Ninja Gaiden.
I mention this because, at this point, there doesn’t seem to be much to warrant jumping on the subscription. It does, however, put the service in a great position for the holiday season, becoming an easy item to gift for anyone with a Switch.
I’ve run through the entire library of NES titles in the online library. I did not encounter any problems with accessing games, performance, or switching to offline mode in order to play. The backups are a great feature to have with many games being a lot more difficult than I remember. I’m looking at you, Ghosts’n Goblins.
The good thing is that $20 isn’t that big of an investment (for most people anyway) for a year of things to come. If you’ve got the money and want to join up with the rest of the people out there who already have subscriptions to the service, sure, crack open the ol’ wallet and let the Andrew Jackson fly.
At this point, the “service” is the groundwork for the content that will be coming in the years to come, with limited games, and voice chat for select games. There isn’t much else to it at this point.