Nintendo Switch Online was announced very early. Before the console even came out we were promised a paid online where we would get some bonuses. They promised discounts and some old games. Not many really cared about the NES games on offer themselves. The biggest anyone gave a thought to, Nintendo trying a Netflix model, was intriguing enough on its own. The promise of SNES in the future hooked them even further.
The future is now, as they say, and we have been sitting with SNES games for quite a comfortable while now. Which is basically all Nintendo Switch Online offers. Look at Xbox Live Gold, or PS+. Many have said the same thing before, “NSO just has these dumb S/NES games,” and give the same tired arguments as to why the service is bad.
Xbox Live Gold offers free games every month. PS+ offers exclusive discounts, and some free stuff too. Nintendo Switch Online offers the most basic of basics. You get access to cloud saves, and the S/NES Online apps. Very similar to what PS+ nets you. In fact, one of PS+’s big hits is the cloud saving. Xbox Live Gold, and PlayStation + are offered for $60 a year. Nintendo Switch Online is $20 a year.
The first thing many will point to as a criticism is the lackluster online itself. They throw Smash, and Mario Kart 8 as examples as to why it isn’t worth it. Just because the games have bad online multiplayer. To each their own, I suppose. The Switch does have games with awful online multiplayer, but it also has a lot with great online. Splatoon 2 is the shining example, everyone, points at. I don’t think it’s fair to compare NSO to the other two services in this way, but that’s not the most important thing here. People are right to ask a question, but I believe they are asking the wrong question.
Why does NSO “suck” so much compared to the other two? Well, what is always the thing you hear for Games with Gold? With each new set of sales on PS+? “Our monthly games with gold,” “this months sale”. I believe the biggest problem with NSO is its irregular intervals of updates. Which is so mind-boggling, up until SNES games were added, because they had monthly game additions.
The games weren’t always exciting, and many ignored them. The importance was seeing them there. Seeing that this service was being upheld, being supported. Without regular updates, people feel like they’re being ignored. People feel like the service isn’t worth its value, even if all was get are bimonthly titles available on the Wii U eShop for years, people would be more accepting of it.
People wait every month to look at Games with Gold. They get hyped up, they know they probably won’t care about what’s new, and they desperately wait to try out whatever is new. The games offered with Gold are usually over 2 years old. It frequents about a decade and a half. That’s a very long time, especially in gaming. Games with Gold usually gives them a chance to replay a classic or try something new. That’s an absolute perfect ideology, dare I say a “gold standard” because it’s a constant cycle. Every month, 2 or 3 games forever, rinse and repeat.
Nintendo stayed away from paid online for so long that they had no choice in the outcome. They weren’t going to make everyone happy, it’s impossible to, there were going to be people with an unswaying opinion before even trying the service. Those who thought it awful because it is paid, but reluctantly adopt it for online play, and those who think it is the best in the industry because it is Nintendo. It is on us to form a deeper opinion after using it, and if we don’t use it, think long and hard about why.
Nintendo has stuck themselves in a corner where they are no longer giving us new games each month. Leaving many starving for new games on the service. For a decently long while too. It doesn’t help that NSO, as of this time, is missing important classics such as the Donkey Kong Country trilogy, Earthbound, and Mario RPG. Fans of these legacy titles, and those wishing to try them out for the first time, are dying to know when they’ll get their hands on them.
The Switch Online catalog, in particular, is very smart. It introduces a new generation to a whole host of classic titles they’d otherwise never play. Not every kid will be interested in the originals. People like me are rare, but they are out there. People who want to play these games desperately, without emulation. Or those without the means to emulate. If Nintendo could capitalize on this potential the service, with lots of time and revision, could become the best. I doubt that day will come however.
Kids have had little room to experiment with retro titles in the past. When they have, they’ve had the NES. The audience this retro stuff has gripped is the adult 30+ range. The type who grew up on NES and SNES titles. Many kids have tried Mario, Zelda, and Kirby. I’d bet a few younger Smash fans gave Metroid, and Kid Icarus ago. Not much further.
SNES games, especially provided for cheap, are important as an offer to the younger generations. NES games are stiff and slow. SNES games are fluid and flashy. Much more like the modern indies, they are familiar with. They’ll enjoy SNES games in the exact opposite way adults enjoy indies. Indies remind adults of the classics, the classics remind kids of the indie.
All of that said while ignoring the poor state of cloud saving on the Switch. You get to back up a surprising amount of data. Reinstating cloud saves is super simple as well. The first couple of times I had to I found myself pleased with the experience all around. The issue is Nintendo is locking some games out of the cloud save service. Most notably Splatoon 2, and Pokemon titles.
I completely understand why. It prevents item cloning and potential online cheating. I don’t think these features would be abused too often. Of course, they would be, since the door would be wide open, but not to the extent Nintendo worries about. Multiple cloning bugs exist in the 3DS Pokemon games, and those seemed to do well off! This clause in the cloud saves stings to a lot of people. Especially when they lose every bit of saved data, as I did. I haven’t even returned to Splatoon for this reason.
Many are dissatisfied with NSO, I’m one of them, but it truly is up to us to decide what is better. The best way to vote is with your wallet. So the issue comes back around, “is this worth it?” Are these described issues bad enough to stop you from enjoying the service? I don’t think so myself, I absolutely my time with the Switch. I think everyone should be open to criticizing it. The question you should ask yourself is “is it worth trading good cloud saves, for games from 20 years ago?” “Is this service worth it with how little it offers me in return?” As long as you keep those questions on your mind, you will be making the best decision, because it is an informed decision.