Last week, Nintendo revealed new details about the upcoming online capabilities for the Switch. This was a noticeable change from their initial announcement of the Switch’s online features, which wasn’t well received. As per Nintendo’s usual method, vagueness was the name of the game. Very little light was shed, aside from the promise that each month Switch owners would be granted access to a free classic Nintendo game. Furthermore, this title would be available for the length of the month, where it would then be replaced by the next month’s featured game…yay.
Nintendo’s recent update was much more substantial. Their, now $20 a year, online service will include a variety of classic games for Switch owners to enjoy; granted their subscription is active. This holds some similarities to the services of their counterparts, and rests under the umbrella of a very competitive price to boot. There are a few details that have yet to be uncovered, pertaining to the span of platforms, number of titles, and the length of availability. The big difference to account for is that the classic games seem like they will follow a Netflix format, where games may not be guaranteed to hold a permanent spot in the library. Though there are some exciting prospects to having easy access to a bunch of retro games, the netflix-ish catch doesn’t seem completely ideal.
This feature isn’t meant to replace their virtual console, which should still account for the Nintendo games that can be purchased for most of the previous consoles. Rather, it seems closer to the well received NES classic, delivering instant-gratification to gamers wanting to play Balloon Fight on the go. It has the capacity to be an entertaining perk, but when you consider more substantial games, such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, some reservations come to mind. Are these types of savable games just going to disappear from the lineup one day? If that happens, what of our save data? My hope is that this will mediate the behavior of Nintendo’s current virtual console, where 20-30 year old games are lying in wait with $10 price tags. Another possibility is that you will be able to retain your save files, but would be forced to purchase the expired game from the virtual console to continue playing.
If the primary purpose of the classic library is in favor of instant gratification titles, then I can still locate the value in it. Though a stronger lineup of Switch games should still be leading the charge for this to be a passable addition. I would also expect more from the virtual console than what I have seen recently. Seriously, $10 for Bomberman 64? Stop it.
How are you feeling about Nintendo’s newest announcement? Does this bode well for their plans with the Switch?