Updated thoughts at the end of article from October 26th.
Nintendo has been behind the times with a huge amount of things when it comes to system features and their online services. Some of these things include themes for the Switch, achievements for games, folders, and an improved eShop. On the plus side, they recently added Bluetooth audio to the system, so that’s a plus. Nintendo Switch Online is $19.99 per year for individual or $34.99 for a family membership that has 8 people. Nintendo Switch Online has had some decent value as it allows you access to online play with friends and other people who also have the online service. There are positives for this service and also negative, but that can be said about a huge amount of services in the world. Compared to the $59.99 MSRP of the other systems, it’s not as bad as it could be since it is only 1/3 of that price.
One thing that it does, is offer Cloud Saves which is an awesome thing and is very helpful when it comes to having backups of your save data; however, local backups aren’t possible which is the downside. They also have over 100 games from the NES and the SNES era and there is a good amount of variety to these games; however, these are becoming very slim pickings in recent times and these games I don’t care very much about. One of the other plus sides of things is that they offer special games like Tetris 99 and Pac-Man 99 which are cool battle royals since they offer a different take on the genre. Another thing that they offer are special deals and game trials. Nintendo gives you access to full games for 1 week and there are even some bigger titles mixed in there. You don’t get to keep them unlike with PS+ or Xbox Live Gold, which is not great; but at only $20 for the year, price point, I get it. There are also special offers like exclusive access to buy things from the Nintendo Store and also some in game items. All of this is good, but…
The way in which you voice chat with others isn’t baked in the system like the PlayStation and the Xbox systems. In order to voice chat with your friends while playing games, is through a phone app. The Nintendo Switch Online App is honestly one of the worst things that Nintendo did because most people will not really use it. A lot of games don’t even support the app overall, and some games have voice chat baked into the system NATIVELY. No app is required, so we know it is possible, Nintendo just doesn’t want to do it. Everyone who I personally know does not use the voice chat system on the app, rather they just use things like Discord to chat with their friends.
For $20 per year, it’s honestly not horrible since they do indeed offer a little bit of value; however, now they are introducing the Expansion Pack. The extra content in this expansion include more games….. and that’s it. They are adding two more classic systems to the online service; which are Nintendo 64 and the Sega Genesis. Personally, I didn’t grow up on the Genesis so I honestly don’t have a huge amount to say about this, but I did grow up on the N64. They are adding a good amount of games to the service for both of the systems in the initial release wave. They also have announced more titles that are being planned to release on the N64 after the first release. They also said Genesis will be getting more games added in the future as well.
Some of the games that are included in both of these systems offer online play. I mean, come on, dogfights in Star Fox 64, racing others in Mario Kart 64, and playing one of the, if not the, best Mario Tennis games online with other people, yeah that’s awesome. They are also adding Sin and Punishment to the online service, which to my knowledge has never actually be localized officially from Nintendo themselves, so that is really cool. They are also bringing over one of my absolute favorite games from back in the day with a future release; Banjo Kazooie is finally coming back to a Nintendo platform. Others that are coming later include Mario Golf, the original Pokemon Snap, Kirby 64, Paper Mario, F-Zero X, and something that I have honestly never finished, Majora’s Mask. There may even be more than just these few that have been announced so far; more Rareware anyone?
The last thing that will be included is the recently announced Animal Crossing Happy Home Paradise which is basically a paid DLC pack for Animal Crossing: New Horizons where you design different buildings and areas for new residents. This is normally a $25 expansion for the base game but it’s included in the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack service. If you stop paying for the service after you start this expansion, you don’t have access to the DLC anymore unless you buy it again separately or resubscribe. Not actually surprising if I am honest. It’s like PS+ where you lose your games that you claimed if you decide to cancel. This was announced during the Animal Crossing Direct that was shown on October 15th, and it actually now raises questions for the future. I kind of wonder if there will be more expansions for more games in the future that would become part of the online service, because this came out from nowhere. The new service costs a total of $50.00 per year for the individual membership, or $80 for the family membership with up to 8 people.
Some people think that the $50 is way too high for this expansion. Some people also think that it is indeed fair. Here’s the thing that I do appreciate Nintendo doing. They are not forcing you to upgrade to the new plan, it is just an option if you want to do it. I feel like they are actually trying to get a lot of N64 games that otherwise wouldn’t, most likely, come to the Switch; such as Banjo Kazooie. Looking at this as a whole, if you really look at it, you are still paying on $20.00 a year for the absolute basic online portion with cloud saves, access to 100+ games from NES and SNES, and ability to play games online. Then it’s only an additional price of $30 for the N64 games, Genesis games, and also the DLC for ACNH. $30 for a huge amount of games from the N64 which is one of my favorite systems, plus an expansion to a game that has become a huge seller, is not that bad. There may even be more to the expansion that they aren’t ready to announce just yet so maybe it will become even more worth it later down the line with things like longer game trials for these members or more expansions for games. Do I personally think that the price is good? Will I be getting the Expansion Pack? It really all depends on how much you like what they are offering. With all of the games and content that they are adding to it, I am going to pay $50 for the year and see what happens throughout the year. The actual online portion of the Switch will still be horrible, but I personally can’t stay away from the N64 classic games I grew up on.
UPDATE: OCTOBER 26TH, 2021 – After looking at all of the data that has been out there about the expansion and the way in which the N64 emulator works on the system, I have decided to not purchase the expansion pack upgrade for a few reasons. One of these is the quality of work in the emulator does not match what I thought it would possibly be for $50 a year. There are lots of issues that have come up including a large input delay, fog not being very strong when a lot of games were built using it, and even more reasons. The second one is, since I don’t care about the Genesis games or the ACNH DLC really at all, the selection of titles that hold it together on N64 is actually not very good and I would wait for a more expansive collection. The last is, maybe, it will be improved overtime and the quantity of games and also the quality of the emulation will become stronger so I am currently not entirely against the idea of the service, but the pros are not as strong as the cons at the moment so I am delaying my purchase indefinately at the moment.