Tetris 99 and Pac-Man 99 are worth the price of admission for a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.
There, I said it. For the longest time, whenever someone would state that the only game they played on Nintendo’s ill-received online service was Tetris 99 (and now the newly released Pac-man variant), I’d roll my eyes somewhat dismissively. Those statements have always struck me as a little sensationalist, a little butt-hurt, or simply exaggerated; it’s as if the player were stating that there weren’t any other good online experiences to be had on Nintendo’s hybrid console, or as if $20 a year was simply too much for what we got.
Personally, I’ve never subscribed to that idea. In fact, I believe that NSO has a great value proposition for its price point. The ability to play dozens of classic NES and SNES games anywhere I want, while also offering the ability to play modern Nintendo staples like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and Splatoon 2 with friends over the internet? How is that not worth a measly $20 a year?
But recently, I’ve begun to view this rhetoric a bit differently. I haven’t changed my position on the value of Nintendo Switch Online though. In fact, I’d say that newer Switch releases like the hugely successful Monster Hunter Rise, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, and the recent port of Apex Legends raise the value of that $20 subscription greatly. What I guess I’m saying though is that I’m beginning to view this statement as less a condemnation of Nintendo Switch Online and more as a compliment towards the service’s free/retro themed Battle Royale games. I’m sure that many of the people saying this do intend this to be a statement made to the detriment of Nintendo Switch Online, but from where I stand, having a Nintendo Switch and paying $20 a year with the specific intention of accessing the current pair of 99 games is actually a good use of that money.
What I’ve found is that both of these games offer a seemingly endless amount of fun within their, admittedly simple, premises and remain constantly engaging over a long period of time. While I use my Nintendo Switch for a lot more than just these two games, or the now delisted Super Mario Bros 35, I also find myself putting a solid hour or so into either of these games almost every night. It’s actually a bit of a ritual for me to boil myself a strong cup of tea, grab some pretzels or popcorn, and put on a comforting show like The Office or Scrubs to listen to while I play Tetris 99. And, ever since Pac-Man 99 hit the scene, that game has also become a staple for that ritual. I’ve spent countless hours trying to win at these games lately and personally find the experience greatly satisfying, even though I’m awful at both of these of these games. And I honestly don’t see that changing anytime soon, as. these games have an extremely simple and addictive gameplay loop.
Nintendo Switch Online gets a lot of flack for not offering a lot of the features found on Xbox Live or the Playstation Network, and a lot of the criticism it gets is valid. It’s library of bundled games are limited to title that are almost at least 30 years old, it doesn’t get many free games added to it’s library, and the service itself doesn’t offer standard features like voice chat or messaging outside of its companion mobile app that even Nintendo seems to have forgotten even exists in the first place. But at $20, is that really that big of a deal? It’s definitely backwards of Nintendo to still be this hesitant to go all in on this whole internet fad thing, but doesn’t the relatively low price offset how bare bones this is?
I’m all for asking Nintendo to do better, but does the service really not fit the charge? If many of us can agree that the value of a game isn’t decided by the amount of content there is on it or how long the game takes to beat, why are we trying to argue that getting a subscription service to play its killer app is a bad thing? Didn’t the original Xbox only really take off due to the monumental success of Halo? And didn’t many of us or at least someone we know pick up a Wii to play Wii Sports? How is this any different? If anything, due to the amount of tender being exchanged here, this is more like paying for a subscription service like Netflix or Hulu to watch one of our favorites shows than it is spending several hundred dollars on a piece of hardware to play a single game. At the very least, it’s at least similar to the dozens of people I went to high school with who had paid for Xbox Live to seemingly only play Call of Duty or Halo multiplayer with their subscription.
I guess the point I was trying to convey with this article is that there isn’t anything wrong with only having NSO to play either Tetris 99 or Pac-Man 99. So long as you’re having a good time with the software, who cares if it’s attached to Nintendo Switch Online or any other online service? Content is a very subjective thing, so while you may think it’s somewhat bogus to pay $20 a year to play these two games, others may find that it’s actually a great bargain. You do also get access to additional goodies by being a subscriber, so if you’re concerned about whether or not it’s worth the price tag, you could always try playing some of the free retro games Nintendo gives you, or try playing some of your other Switch games online.
If someone held a gun to my head and told me that I had to choose between getting rid of my NSO subscription or continue to stay subscribed but only be allowed to access Tetris 99 and Pac-Man 99 with it, I’d honestly be fine with that. I’d be confused why this guy had a gun to my head, sure, but I wouldn’t be that frustrated about only being allowed to play those games.
Granted, I would also miss being able to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s multiplayer and Panel De Pon.
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