Nintendo recently announced the latest slate of free NES and SNES games to come to Nintendo Switch Online, the company’s online subscription service, which include games such as Joe and Mac, Magical Drop II (which looks especially fun), and Spanky’s Question. And, quite naturally/to nobody’s surprise, this led to Earthbound (also known as Mother 2 in Japan) trending on Twitter. As usual.
It feels like Earthbound trends on Twitter at least once a month, either due to fans clamoring for Mother 3 to finally get localized, or due to fans begging Nintendo to at least make the game available on the Nintendo Switch. And, while I can’t blame fans for wanting these games to be made accessible on what could easily become Nintendo’s best selling console of all time, I honestly am starting to feel oddly exhausted by their constant requests.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would love to play Earthbound on the Switch. Part of what’s keeping me from picking it up for my Wii U or simply emulating it is the prospect of being able to play it on handheld mode/on my TV at a moments notice. But there’s something about the way people online react to any new NSO games that simply bums me out.
Taking a look at Nintendo’s YouTube upload that announces these new games, you can see that (approximately 12 hours after it’s been posted), the video has already received more dislikes than likes on it. And while I’m perfectly fine with people speaking their mind about these new releases and (especially as a person whose day job is in tech) think that’s is actually really important that we tell companies how we feel about their product decisions, I also can’t help but roll my eyes at how many of the negative comments on this video/Nintendo’s tweets about the new games are squarely about Earthbound.
Nintendo fans have long been passionate about the company’s IPs. After all, Nintendo has played a huge part in the history of gaming and has, for the most part, remained one of the first things people associate with the industry. But something about the discourse that comes to a boil whenever Nintendo does anything for NSO that isn’t releasing Earthbound for SNES online feels entitled at best, and kinda toxic at worst. It often feels like, anytime someone tries to defend Nintendo’s decision not to re-release the game, they’re often ratio’d in the comments and are repeatedly and, at least a little ironically, referred to as “Nintendrones” that blindly love anything the company does.
I get being passionate about Earthbound and wanting to make sure Nintendo does right by the series, but something about how that’s actually been going in practice just rubs me the wrong way. As I mentioned earlier, I’d actually love to see Earthbound make its way to the Nintendo Switch, either through Nintendo Switch Online or even through a “definitive” rerelease on the eShop that adds a few quality of life improvements and such. It’s one of their seminal games and, poor sales history aside, deserves the same attention that some of Nintendo’s other franchises gets. Point blank, that’s not really up for debate. It’s just that so much of the vitriol that seeps into the Nintendo-fandom anytime Nintendo doesn’t re-release the game comes across as childish and lessens the impact of the genuinely well articulated conversation online about how much people would love to play the game on their Switches.
On top of that, Earthbound isn’t even the the only seminal/iconic game to go without a much-needed re-release. Take Sonic 3 & Knuckles for instance; that game has gone without a meaningful rerelease in what has to be at least 10 years now, due to licensing issues over it’s music. Despite arguably being the best Sonic game and being one of the hallmark/best selling/most important releases on the Sega Genesis, it’s basically been ignored by Sega on any of their recent compilations or mini-consoles. In fact, Sega has only just seemingly gotten their act together about rereleasing the game if rumors of a new Sonic compilation are to be believed. And much like with Sonic 3, which is at least still available via an emulated PC release on Steam, there are at least other ways to play Earthbound, such as on the Wii U or New Nintendo 3DS Virtual Consoles, and via emulation.
I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with being upset about all of these things, but I do draw the line at being a dick about it online, especially when some of us are pretty psyched about some of the games Nintendo is adding to the service. While none of these new games are iconic 90’s classics, by any stretch of the word, I’m actually pretty excited to give Joe and Mac a shot. I’ve heard pretty decent things about it over the years and playing it on my Switch is just the push I needed to actually give it a shot. I also think that Magical Drop II also looks pretty fun, especially because I’ve been on a serious puzzle game spree lately.
I, perhaps naively, look at Nintendo Switch Online’s retro offerings as a bit like going to a restaurant for the first time. I may not be familiar with everything on the menu and may not find the particular dish that I’m looking for, but there are some old standby’s like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Super Mario World available for me when I’m feeling less adventurous, as well as a bunch of more obscure things that I might enjoy if I give them a chance. And much like a restaurant that doesn’t cater to my particular palette or adhere to my dietary restrictions, I’m also free to leave at any time.
At the end of the day, Nintendo really should get to adding Earthbound to the Switch in some way, shape, or form. There’s no denying that and I’ve even joked about it on my post about why the Nintendo Switch is my favorite console of all time. And while I see/understand how frustrated we all are about it, in no small part due to how infuriatingly vocal Twitter gets about it without getting much of any sort of acknowledgement from Nintendo themselves, I just think we should reassess the way we make our feelings heard on the subject. Because what a lot of us are currently doing, which feels more like huffing, puffing, and stopping short of a temper tantrum clearly isn’t working.
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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 tryingto 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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When people ask what console I spend the most time on, I almost always reply by telling them that it’s the Switch. Four years into its lifecycle, it’d be easy to assume that the Nintendo Switch is on its last legs. And, especially with all of the rumors about a Super Nintendo Switch/Nintendo Switch Pro that have been circulating for the past year or two, that may actually be true. But regardless of whether or not the Nintendo Switch feels a little underpowered when compared to the Xbox Series X or Playstation 5, there’s no denying how outright incredible the console and its games itself are.
While I’ve only had my Switch for just under two years now, the console has become a piece of hardware that I can’t live without. In fact, I’d actually go as far as to suggest that the Nintendo Switch is actually my favorite console of all time and consider it as the best value on the market these days for gamers looking to invest in a new console.
So today, I’m going to round up 5 reasons why my Switch is so beloved, as well as why non-Switch owners should consider jumping on the Nintendo Switch bandwagon, regardless of whether or not that’s via the current Nintendo Switch, a Nintendo Switch Lite, or any new-fangled Super-Dooper-Nintendo-Switch-Fami-Pro-Cube-U.
Console Experiences on the Go
For a lot of gamers, the Nintendo Switch signified the moment that portable and home gaming properly converged. It was the first time that gamers could take near-perfect representations of games like Borderlands 2 or Final Fantasy X/X-2 on the go without needing to compromise on the games graphics or performance. That’s not to knock consoles like the PS Vita which had both of those games and, to-date, the most convenient way to play Persona 4 (come on Atlus, bring it to the Switch already), but the Nintendo Switch was the first time that playing those games on the go didn’t feel like a compromised experience.
For the longest time, I always held the belief that taking console experiences on the go was a fairly futile endeavor. I based this opinion off my experiences with playing console games portability as a kid, which came in the form of playing my N64 on the DVD player in my parents childhood van, playing ports of games like Super Mario 64 or Ridge Racer 64 on my Nintendo DS, or playing games that were heavily modeled after their console counterparts such as Star Wars Battlefront Renegade Squadron or Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories on the PSP.
And, honestly, those early experiences with those games tended to always disappoint me. I always ended up wishing I could just play those games on a normal TV or take advantage of the added buttons/form factor of a standard controller. And it was actually because of this that I ended up sleeping on how great the Nintendo DS was for a long time, as those N64 ports were the first and only games I had for the console for a while and I couldn’t shake the feeling that their original releases were more enjoyable.
But that all changed when I got the Nintendo Switch. It’s form factor and ability to migrate between portable and TV play at your own leisure means that I can enjoy the game on a TV whenever I want to. And it also means that I can take that game on the go or play it portably when I want to, for example, passively play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or grind on Final Fantasy VII while I watch Netflix.
While it’s true that multiplatform games, and even titles that are exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, can take a pretty noticeable hit when going from docked to handheld mode, the fact that massive and beloved games like The Witcher 3, the Outerworlds, or Doom Eternal can even run on a handheld is honestly pretty incredible. And while you are trading performance and visuals for these games in order to get them running on the Switch, it’s still pretty awesome that the option of playing them on a hybrid console exists to begin with.
Building off of that, I’m also a huge fan of the fact that nearly any bluetooth or wired controller can be used on the Switch with little fuss. For the controllers that don’t natively work on the Nintendo Switch, such as a PS4 or Xbox One controller, you can also get those connected to your console via an adaptor that you can pick up for relatively cheap online. For guys like me that tend to play a wide variety of games that span multiple generations, being able to use my controller of choice for any given game is a huge win, especially when you bring into account the fact that certain controllers are better optimized for specific types of games.
Take for instance the SN30 line of controllers, which are my go-to controller for playing most NES, SNES or platformer games in general. These controllers have a great cross shaped D-Pad on them that feel perfect for these types of games.
Another great example is my wireless Sega Saturn controller. While unfortunately not bluetooth, the controller pairs with my Switch via a USB dongle just fine and allows me to play stuff off the Sega Genesis collection I have for my switch with slightly more authentic controls. The button mapping isn’t perfect here, but it’s still really fun to play games this way. Plus, it has what has to be the single best DPad I’ve ever used on it and also has a button layout that’s perfectly suited for fighting games.
There’s also the Nintendo Switch Pro controller which is genuinely the most comfortable controller I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. It’s essentially an Xbox One controller, but much lighter and feels so natural for, basically, any 3D game.
And, to round things out, there’s obviously the controller that’s bundled with the console itself, the joycons. While joycons tend to get a bad rap online, due to drift issues and being just a bit too small and un-ergonomic, they’re still a pretty good way to control your games. In fact, I tend to play Tetris 99 for a bit every day and I genuinely think that Joy Cons are the best/most accurate way to control your movement in that game. Outside of Tetris 99 though… yeah, I’d rather have a regular old DPad.
Either way, the fact that I can even choose the type of controller that I’d want to use on my Nintendo Switch to begin with is pretty awesome. And this isn’t even every type of controller you can use on your Switch; there are literally dozens of different controller types out there and different converters and peripherals that allow you to use anything from a Gamecube controller to a real SNES controller on your system. There’s, quite literally, an infinite number of ways you can control your Switch!
The First Party Exclusives
And I haven’t even gotten to the best part of the Switch, which encompasses the rest of the reasons on this list, yet… the actual game library.
The Nintendo Switch has one of the most varied and unique first party lineups that I’ve ever seen in a video game console. If you run down a list of first party Switch games, you’ll see everything from party games like Clubhouse 51 and Mario Party, to wildly creative and joyous platformers like Super Mario Odyssey or Yoshi’s Crafted World, and games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which genuinely belong in it’s own category. Oh, and the Switch also has Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which was the biggest/most important release of 2020 for a ton of gamers in quarantine.
And those don’t even account for all the Switch has to offer, as there are other games on the console like 1-2 Switch, Ringfit Adventure, and Arms, which approach gameplay in a more unique and immersive way than other Switch titles do.
While first party exclusives are important for any console, Switch exclusives feel especially unique. There’s a legacy to a lot of Nintendo’s first party franchises that elevates these games to unforeseen heights. I don’t often find myself drawn to the exclusives found on Microsoft or Sony’s consoles, but I almost always am at least curious about what Nintendo’s cooking up. Even if the game itself doesn’t end up appealing to me or I just don’t pick up the game, I’m still always initially curious about what they’re working on. A great example of this would be Arms. I actually don’t care for the game all that much and have only played it a few times as a trial provided on Nintendo Switch Online, but I remember being intrigued by the premise of the title itself, and totally see its appeal.
And where Nintendo’s first party offerings fall short, there’s always the invaluable presence of third party developers. HoweverI’m not going to dive into the droves of quality third party releases for the console, nor am I going to dive into the untapped depths of indie support that Nintendo’s Switchy-boy has going for it. Instead, I’m going to focus on the number of older generation ports that this console has, and get a little personal and share why I think that’s awesome.
See, I kinda fell out of gaming around 2012 or 2013. I was going through a lot of stuff at the time and didn’t really have any money for an Xbox One or a PS4. And, while I did love my Wii U, I also didn’t exactly get that many games for it outside of Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 8, and Super Mario 3D World. And because of that, I kinda fell out of sync with gaming for a while; I still liked video games and enjoyed playing them, but when I eventually did pick up an Xbox One in 2018, I was pretty confused and underwhelmed with the games I ended up getting for it. Nothing really impressed me on the console and I honestly ended up mostly just playing Halo: The Master Chief Collection and GTA V because of how familiar I was with both of those games already.
So, when I got my Nintendo Switch, I was pretty thrilled to find out that the Switch has a huge library of classic and sometimes forgotten games from previous generations. And for the first eight or so months that I had a Nintendo Switch, these games were what helped me ease back into enjoying gaming. Games like Katamari Damacy Reroll, Final Fantasy IX/VII, Doom, and the droves of retro game compilations that are available on the Switch were just what I needed to help engage with gaming again and helped me feel comfortable enough with gaming again to want to check out other newer games on the Switch and, eventually, my PC and PS5.
And these re-releases aren’t just retro games from the 7th generation and earlier. You can play games like Bulletstorm, Bioshock and Skyrim on your Switch and take advantage of portable mode.
Oh, and there’s also a literal treasure trove of Wii U games that barely anyone got to play that have been moved over to the Switch and made available for a whole new set of players. While it is pretty weak that these re-releases usually go for full retail, there’s no denying the quality of these releases and the fact that they’re worth every penny.
Nintendo Switch Online’s NES and SNES games
Okay, so this last one is a bit of a point of contention amongst Switch owners. For those not in the know, paying $20 a year to subscribe to Nintendo’s online service not only allows you to play your games online, but also grants you access to a library of just under 90 classic Nintendo and Super Nintendo games for you to play at no extra fee. These games include a number of titles for Nintendo’s classic IP’s from each generation, as well as some third party releases from companies that didn’t want to repackage their games themselves to be sold on the eShop separately. On top of that, you also get basic netplay functionality for these games, which allows you to play them with a friend over the internet, and you get some basic emulator functionality such as savestates, rewinding, and the ability to add scanlines to your game.
While some people are unhappy with this service, and how it has basically replaced Nintendo’s Virtual Console on the Switch, I’m actually pretty happy with the service in it’s current state. Much like a number of other fans, while I’d love to see Nintendo do a better job of adding games to NSO, or even other consoles like the Gameboy line of consoles or the N64, I also tend to view this collection of games more as icing on the cake of having a Switch, than I do the cake itself.
It’s a very valid complaint that Nintendo isn’t doing enough here, but I just feel like I could always pick up an RG350 or my modded PSP if I really wanted to play more retro games on a handheld. Plus, at $20 a year, playing the NES and SNES games available here is still much cheaper than it would be to pick up all of these titles on their own, and you get the added benefit of it being on a digital library that you can take anywhere with little fuss.
Again, I recognize that this isn’t perfect, but being able to play Super Metroid and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the go is a lot of fun and I personally found the price point needed to do this to be a great value. Also, it has Kirby’s Dream Course, so of course I’m going to love NSO.
So there you have it, 5 reasons why the Nintendo Switch is my favorite console of all time, as well as why I think it’s a great device to begin with. If I could sum this entire video up in a few words, I’d basically say that the Nintendo Switch does a great job of putting convenience in the hands of its users. It’s not perfect and there are a few glaring ways Nintendo could make this console even more convenient, but the ability to play games that span just about every generation of gaming on it, coupled with the fact that you can use a wide variety of controllers and take this thing on the go with you makes the Nintendo Switch a really unique piece of hardware. Simply put, there’s something for everyone on the Nintendo Switch.
Except for Earthbound. And Netflix.
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