Nintendo has been slowly but surely adding to their online catalogue of games on the Switch. Along with a few other key features, Nintendo Switch’s online subscription includes a selection of retro games that players can access. To date, the collection contains approximately 58 NES and 46 SNES games. This includes old-school Super Mario Bros., Kirby, Donkey Kong Country, Star Fox, Pilotwings, and Super Metroid. Despite the impressive list, there are still some pretty famous titles that have not yet made it (I’m looking at you, Super Mario RPG).
Should Nintendo expand further?
As a gamer whose first console was the N64, my answer would be a hard yes. Aside from my nostalgic bias, I do believe N64 and early GameCube games could be a fantastic addition to the online library.
The N64 contains classics that people still talk about today such as Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Snowboard Kids, Donkey Kong 64, OG Pokemon Stadium, Starfox 64, and Wave Race 64. Sadly, we would probably miss out on a few titles due to licensing or the fact some have already been ported or remade. For example, it would be a dream if Nintendo could work out an agreement with Microsoft to include old Rare games like Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Banjo Kazooie, GoldenEye 007, and Jet Force Gemini, but that’s a sizable challenge that I’m not confident will come to fruition.
On the flip side, Doom 64 and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter already have ports to the Switch. If Nintendo wants to add classic N64 titles to the online subscription, how would they justify making a game available there versus creating a port for players to purchase? I’m sure fans wouldn’t be too happy to learn they double-dipped by paying for a port, then seeing Nintendo Switch online adding it to their library.
Currently with the GameCube, Super Mario Sunshine received a port to the Switch via Super Mario 3D All-stars. Fans are also waiting to see what Nintendo will do with Zelda’s 35th anniversary. Will there be a port or collection that contains The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess? Maybe. Major IPs aside, the GameCube has such an impressive collection of titles, it would only make sense to most of them available on the Switch.
How would Nintendo operationalize this? As I mentioned above, the line gets muddied when there are ports and remakes that get released. When would the company chose to add an older game to the online subscription versus selling the game with slightly polished graphics or other updates? I’m sure finance would play a major role in that.
Regardless of some of these unknowns, I firmly believe many of the N64 and GameCube games should be backwards compatible on the Switch, and it may very well happen if/when Nintendo strengthens their online presence.
As much as I’m a Nintendo fan, most would agree it pales to their competitive counterparts: Xbox Live Gold and Playstation Plus. With the rumblings of the Switch Pro growing louder, many hope for a virtual console. This would be a smart move on Nintendo’s part to remain competitive and relevant in the current market. With the concept of a virtual console, this blasts the doors wide open for games that were released on previous generations of Nintendo’s consoles.
Should N64 and GameCube games be accessible on the Nintendo Switch Online? Absolutely. If done right, Nintendo will have little risk and much to gain from the generation that is growing older with fond memories of those two consoles. It’s just a matter of how and when, with a lot hinging on whether we see a virtual console, or at least an upgrade to the current online subscription. For now, we will make do with the NES and SNES additions. If there’s one thing we know about Nintendo, they love to really test things out before a full implementation to ensure success. Perhaps this slow burn with adding NES and SNES games is a pilot to expanding across multiple consoles.
Coincidentally, this week’s episode of Nintendo Pow Block touches on this during the FamiNews section. Give it a listen. It’s a great episode, including E3 predictions!
Should N64 and GameCube games be available on Nintendo Switch online? How do you think that would operate and when could this happen? We’d love to travel down that rabbit hole with you on Discord!