Old becomes new, yet again

Category:  The Arts
Friday, October 5th, 2018 at 8:36 AM

While it launched less than two weeks ago, Nintendo's new Switch Online service has taken the world (specifically the Switch owning population of it) by storm - for mostly good reasons.

Switch Online, available for a $20 yearly subscription, allows users to play online games like Splatoon 2 and ARMS (while free-to-play titles remain playable regardless of a user’s subscription status), get access to a handful of Nintendo Entertainment System games and the voice chat application for iOS and Android.

Online works as one would expect for a service like this in 2018 - comparable to Playstation Network and Xbox Live, however it definitely gets points for being only a fraction of the price of its competitors. Players can manage friends lists, register frequent players, and save data in a cloud just in case anything happens to a player’s console. These saves last up to three months after a lapsed subscription, allowing users a grace period for their favorite game data.

The biggest draw for Switch Online is the cache of NES games available to users immediately after subscribing. Positioning itself as a Netflix for classic games, the initial collection includes favorites like “Ghosts n’ Goblins,” “Super Mario Brothers,” and “Legend of Zelda,” and all run smoothly - with a special filter enabled to replicate the feeling of playing on an old CRT. New games are being added every month, with October’s lineup including “Super Dodgeball” and “NES Open.” These versions of the classic titles also include traditional emulator features like save states and the ability to enter rest mode, making many of the more difficult titles doable for players of all skill levels.

The voice chat feature, requiring a smartphone, is quite frankly the most baffling system I have encountered, much less used. I understand that this is Nintendo’s way of allowing all of their gamers to connect and talk - rather than requiring extra hardware purchases - but it just doesn’t work particularly well and is, unfortunately, not particularly user-friendly. While this feature, if worked on and streamlined, is nice, users are better off using third party chat options like Discord or Skype to connect with their Splatoon teams.

Ultimately Switch Online doesn’t offer a lot for console owners other than being a required pay-wall to play a handful of games online. The NES classics are a welcome addition to the Switch library, and at a $20 price tag its mileage is entirely dependent on your individual feelings about reliving the glory days of 1986 gaming.

Britton Rozzelle can be reached at @brsomebody.

Tags: arts, arcade

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