I Absolutely LOVE Nintendo Switch Online
Nintendo (finally) launched their online service this past Tuesday, September 18th. If this isn’t your first time to one of my blogs, you’d know that I had some very strong thoughts about one aspect of the service before it even came out.
However, the service is now live for a measly $20/year, and it’s focusing around 5 core benefits: Online play, NES games, cloud save backups, smartphone app, and special offers.
I’m going to take a look at these in-depth in the order which I see fit, one week in, and sound off.
Smartphone App: This is the most disappointing aspect of the service, as I’ve noticed nothing different in the app prior to launch. I wasn’t expecting anything different, but I was hopeful for an easier way to do their already convoluted voice chat system, or maybe a way to message your friends. Nothing gained, nothing lost, next topic.
Special Offers: Only slightly less disappointing than the smartphone app are the “special offers” of which I’ve seen none. They even glossed over this as a “to be continued” during the last Nintendo Direct. As a subscriber to Nintendo Switch Online you do currently have access to purchase the NES controllers for their virtual game library, but that’s hardly what I had in mind when they announced “special offers”. This could be more-or-less my fault as I set that expectation myself, however I’ll wait for Nintendo to delight or disappoint before rendering my final verdict.
Online Play: At the core of this service, you’re paying to play online similar to Xbox Live or Playstation Network. In this past week I’ve played a little Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and a little Splatoon 2 noticing no better or worse when it came to connection, lag, and queue times. This is exactly what you expect it to be.
Cloud Saves: I’ve already shared my criticism over the exclusion of certain titles from this program, so I’m not going to dwell on that again. The cloud backup service that Nintendo has built is simple, straightforward, clean, and easy to manage. There was an incredible feeling of relief when I saw my Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 data safely nestled up in cyberspace, knowing I’ve got a Plan B if something catastrophic happened to my Switch. I’d love for all games to eventually be included in this service, but that’s up to Nintendo to get right and I’ll be patient a little while longer.
NES Online: This is an absolute treasure of a service. I literally laughed at the idea of, “who would want to play these old titles online?” Me! There’s always been something incredibly charming about your traditional 8-bit Nintendo games, but being able to play these titles that were once reserved exclusively to couch co-op with friends all over the country is awesome. I’ve played more Techmo Bowl and Hockey online with friends since the launch of Nintendo Switch Online than I’ve played Splatoon 2 (and this weekend was a SplatFest). Nintendo has picked 20 good titles to start, with 9 more on the way this year, and more to come in the future. I hope they build into SNES, N64, and GameCube “apps” in the future with these types of online capabilities, but only time will tell. In the meantime, this blast of nostalgia mixed with modern day internet capability is such a nice addition to the Switch.
And, yes, there’s plenty that we didn’t get. A robust friend system equipped with messaging and voice chat is still glaringly missing. We didn’t get the traditional virtual console that we wanted. There’s plenty out there that we want, but I saw a quote online that put it best, “We got a half assed online service for a third assed price.”
It’s not perfect, but the NES games with online functionality is worth the $20/year on its own.
Am I wrong? No.
I’m starting my week with a little NES nostalgia during lunch today, but until next time — Game On!