Nintendo recently released their own paid online service after being many years behind their rivals. All three major consoles now support paid online. Before you get into the old “what a racket” speech please understand that when you play games online the console makers have to pay to a have servers up and running. Let me make this clear, it is not like regular businesses or brick and mortar locations that are closed at some point. This is a 24 hours a day, 365 day a year operation that isn’t cheap. Microsoft and Sony have priced themselves very fairly at between $50 to $60 a year, they even offer you a few free games a month. Nintendo has entered the fray with a much lower price point at a startling $20 bucks a year. So is it worth it? Read on!
So what can one expect for exactly one Andrew Jackson a year? Well the ability to play online for one. If you play Splatoon 2, then this is a necessity otherwise you are left with an oversized SD card that can’t be used and taste like nail polish, so eating it is out of the question. For other games though it comes down to the simple choice of if you play online. For those of you who do, it works exactly the same as when it was free, for better or for worse. You still need friend codes and you still need the smartphone app to chat. Outside of that the online connections are still fairly decent and get the job done. As of this writing Fortnite does not require a subscription but that could always change.
Like its counterparts, Nintendo gives you a few other bonuses for signing up and this is where their online service really shines. For starters you now get cloud backup of your save files. This is huge considering the Switch is a portable console and the likely hood of breaking is significantly increased. I’d have like to seen Nintendo allow the saves go to the SD card but I’ll take it. As a warning though, I had to manually go in and check my saves to make sure they loaded. You can find this in the same place you find all the game card info. Some of mine had to be manually uploaded and some were auto. However I imagine it was mostly due to my large library of games and the console systematically works its way through.
In terms of free games every month the other guys offer you 4 games, they do 2 for their current gen and 2 for their last gen. Microsoft is a little more generous and offers Xbox 360 titles that are backwards compatible only while with Sony you really need to own both consoles. Nintendo has raised the bar with this by forgoing a Virtual Console and offering you an ever-growing collection of classic NES games with your paid subscription. Simply download the Nintendo Online app from the Eshop and you’re good. It’s a free app that anyone can download, it checks your subscription status to see if the profile you’re using is a paid subscriber. If you have multiple profiles and did not pay for the family plan then only one of you are going to have access. I thought it was a little weird at first that I had to download an app, until I opened it up to check it out. The Nintendo Online app works like a NES Classic once inside, clever! It is very responsive and everything loads instantly. Pressing the trigger buttons simultaneously brings up a menu to create saves, load saves, restart your current game or exit back to the game select menu. Speaking of the game select menu they offer a wide array of 20 classic games that are well worth the trip down memory lane, most not found in the NES Classic. Sure they have The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros but they also offer classics like Ice Hockey, Double Dragon, Gradius and my personal favorite River City Ransom. Nintendo will add more games every month so you should end up with quite the collection by the time you subscription is up ensuring that you’ll probably pick up another year.
Most people were upset when Nintendo announced they would do an online service. After all when you are used to free paying for something feels like a rip off. That being said I’d say Nintendo made this a very well worth it package. For those that play online this becomes a necessity. Otherwise you’re going to be meeting up in person with your friends to play together which is still pretty cool and a major advantage the Switch has. The cloud saves are a lifesaver especially if you need to buy a new Switch due to an accident or hardware failure. The real star of the show is the classic games. Nintendo has packed an enormous amount of games into the library and with an ever-growing amount I feel as though there isn’t any Switch owner who shouldn’t sign up. Nintendo has really done a great job with this and if you own a Switch you definitely sign up for this service. It’s well worth the 20 bucks a year!
*All images courtesy of Nintendo.com and BestBuy. Com