Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack is officially here and the new tier for subscribers that was announced in September comes with games from the Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis libraries. Are these additional goodies worth your money? That depends on what you want from the collection but unfortunately, it doesn’t like it. I was ecstatic to hear that we’d be getting new consoles added to the subscription service and years of hearing about a Nintendo 64 mini had left me hopeful we’d see it — then this reveal comes along and I feel like it wasn’t what fans wanted. It certainly wasn’t what I wanted.
As it stands, if you want to subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online in Canada, it’ll run you $4.99 for 30 days, $9.99 for 90 days, $24.99 for a year for an individual membership. A family plan runs you $44.99 for 12 months and allows for four family members to share an account.
With the addition of the Expansion Pack, prices jump more than double with an individual membership now retailing for $63.99 and a family membership now costing $99.99. The only change between the membership tiers is the addition of the Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis libraries. That’s all you’re getting for the bump in price. If you have an active subscription, then your account gets a prorated rate depending on how much time is left at a rate of $0.06/1 day.
Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack has a lot to prove
I’ve spoken about Nintendo Switch Online previously and it is less expensive than Sony and Microsoft’s online services, but it’s convoluted, too. Online multiplayer for a handful of titles are tied to the service, so are cloud saves, and a decent library of classic games on NES and SNES. Without the subscription, if you lose your saves, you pretty much have no way of having an online backup available.
Given the price more than doubles, you should want more than what is being offered and I’m disappointed this is all we’re being offered. Aside from the Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis libraries, Nintendo is also including access to the Animal Crossing: New Horizons: Happy Home Paradise expansion for subscribers. This content gives access to new islands where you work with your resident to build their dream home. If you enjoyed this aspect of New Horizons then this is certainly catered to you. However, if your subscription lapses and you decide you don’t want to stay subscribed for the Expansion Pack, then you lose access to said content. Some features will be available but the majority of the content will be locked away until you resubscribe or purchase the content outright.
The Nintendo 64 games offered are:
Dr. Mario 64
Mario Kart 64
Sin and Punishment
Star Fox 64
Super Mario 64
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
WinBack: Covert Operations
Nintendo says we’ll get more titles later on including Pokémon Snap, Paper Mario, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Mario Golf, F-Zero X, and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. We don’t know when these games will join the service, however.
How does the library hold up on the Nintendo Switch? Well, the Nintendo 64 collection isn’t doing too hot and it’s been documented. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time should run well but on the Switch, the game suffers from input lag and certain animations and effects seem broken. There’s nothing wrong with the games themselves but when the games run worse on the Switch than the Wii U, we have a problem. Yoshi’s Story has a similar issue with weird artifacts and it is noticeable when playing on a television screen.
My biggest disappointment is the lack of controller mapping. I don’t have the Nintendo 64 controller due to being sold out into 2022 but I’ve confirmed that you can’t remap the controller and trying to remember the N64 button is mapped to the corresponding Switch button can be a hassle.
The Sega Genesis games offered are:
Contra: Hard Corps
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
Ecco the Dolphin
Phantasy Star 4: The End of the Millennium
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Streets of Rage 2
Adding Sega Genesis to the service is a great idea but it wasn’t executed well. Why the Genesis over the Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, or GameCube? Just like the NES/NES library, you can play in offline mode, online mode, check out the options screen that allows players to pick from 4:3, pixel-perfect, and CRT filter aspects. Weirdly enough, this isn’t the best way to enjoy the Genesis library given that basically every game included is part of the Sega Ages series and each game can be bought individually for less. At this point, Sega’s collection has been thrown on every console and the novelty of having Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on anything has run its course.
If Nintendo decided to add the Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis titles to the existing subscription tier at no extra cost, I’d say yes, pick the subscription up. Right now, it’s more than double the cost and with no real incentive to stick around.
Nintendo makes some of the best games in the industry but its offering outside of the need to be improved. Its infrastructure online is serviceable at best and it doesn’t offer enough value for its subscription service. PlayStation and Xbox offer monthly titles to their subscriber base, but I’d take a more consistent stream of retro titles each month. On top of the price hike, you can already emulate the same games on the Wii U virtual console for a fraction of the price.
As much as I enjoy playing retro games on the Switch, I also love not throwing money away for something so readily available elsewhere. What this boils down to is whether you think you’ll play enough of the older titles and New New Horizons DLC to get your money’s worth. If you’re someone who prefers playing older games then yes, this is clearly catered to you. Anyone else should think hard before subscribing — in its current state, I wouldn’t recommend the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack.
[A code was provided by the publisher for review purposes]