As September rolled around, Nintendo confirmed once more that their online subscription service, Nintendo Switch Online, was coming this month. On September 18th, like clockwork, the Nintendo Switch console received an update and out came the new service.
So, what is Nintendo Switch Online? It’s Nintendo’s first paid subscription service that offers several things for $24.99 CAD a year. This service includes online gameplay, access to NES games with added online features, and most importantly, cloud save data storage for your games. Members also receive discounts on eShop titles and exclusive access to purchase NES controllers made for the Switch.
If this service is something you’re interested in, there are three ways to get online – Individual memberships are available for $4.99 for one month, $9.99 for three months, and $24.99 for a whole year.
Not a bad deal, right? It’s true that this is a great bargain. While it stings that online pay is now behind a paywall, things have also changed since the console launched in 2017, a time where games for the system were far and few and lacked online modes to dive into. In 2018, we now have big selling games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, ARMs, Splatoon 2, Mario Tennis Aces and more. Nintendo is also the last of the big three to charge for online, and hosting servers isn’t cheap by any means.
At launch for Online, the company released NES classics that can be played online including Dr. Mario, Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda and Pro Wrestling. In total, there are 20 games right now and more are coming in the following months. Revisiting old favourites on the go is especially a welcome addition to the already packed console. Some titles offer two-player couch co-op, others offer online co-op but at the cost of the host only having the required save data to continue. There’s several filters to choose when playing classics, you can overlay to change the graphics.
Most importantly, the Nintendo Switch finally has a way to backup saves on the console. I’ve been really worried about this for some time, and while I love the idea of saving my data to the cloud, I’d also love to be able to plug the console into my PC and pull the data out for peace of mind. I don’t believe this should be included in the service but offered to all those who own the console (Sony offers free cloud storage, as well as Microsoft) with the option to get more space by paying.
Also, not all games support cloud saves. Games like Dark Souls: Remastered, FIFA 19, Pokemon: Let’s Go
Lastly, cloud saves are only available while having a paid subscription and up to six months after your subscription ends. After that, your saves are wiped from the servers.
Also, the required Nintendo Switch Online app is required to talk to people in game. Right now, it only works for four titles, ARMs, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, and Mario Tennis Aces. I found it disorienting I had to use my phone with headphones to communicate with others online. By launching one of the mentioned game, you are asked whether you want to join a chat, and while the voice quality is good, there’s nothing else available. Messaging is non-existent, and if I wanted to send my friend a private message I was out of luck on that front, too. It’s a bit archaic but I hope Nintendo does right by those who paid for the service and rework how chatting works.
All in all, Nintendo Switch Online is a great price for what is offered. The service needs refinement but offers enough to justify the price point. I hope Nintendo releases Nintendo 64 games and GameCube games as well. It’s worth the price alone for cloud saving being offered to the user. From my estimation, this service will replace the Virtual Console platform we’ve seen in the past, and with more time and feedback, Nintendo can very well evolve this service into something special.
[A code was provided by the publisher for review purposes]