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While there are absolutely Nintendo Switch games worth playing online, it’s not a major selling point of the system in the same way it is for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Perhaps that’s why Nintendo doesn’t charge nearly as much for its online service as Sony and Microsoft do for theres. Even better, Nintendo sweetens the pot with a collection of NES and SNES games for subscribers.
If you’ve browsed through the games, you’ve no doubt seen classics like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario World, and Star Fox, but if you’re interested in them, you’ve probably played them already. Instead of rounding up what you already know, we’ve gathered some great games that you may not immediately recognize.
What if The Legend of Zelda was more linear, set in (then) modern times, and had a yo-yo for a weapon instead of a sword? What you’d get wouldn’t quite be StarTropics, but it would be close. This top-down action-adventure even has some slight RPG elements, making it feel somewhat more like an SNES game, albeit one that looks like an NES game.
Unlike StarTropics, which is only kinda-sorta an RPG, Crystalis is much more of a full-fledged action RPG. While the SNK-developed game wasn’t a hit when it was released, it has since become a cult classic of sorts.
3. Ninja Gaiden
The idea may seem less-than-original now, but when Ninja Gaiden was released for the NES, its mix of platforming and beat ’em up action was relatively novel. Yes, it’s a little like Castlevania in some ways, but did Castlevania have ninjas? No. It didn’t.
Vice: Project Doom is the stuffed-crust pizza of video games, at least for its time. It took gameplay remarkably similar to Ninja Gaiden, but not content to stick with that, added Spy Hunter-style driving and even Wild Guns-style shooting-gallery gameplay. Instead of clashing, this various gameplay styles work together surprisingly well.
5. Balloon Fight
Okay, so yes, Balloon Fight is pretty much just a straight rip-off of the arcade hit Joust. You know what? It doesn’t matter, because even almost three decades later, the game still holds up. This version even includes an adventure mode that is worth trying out at least once.
6. Demon’s Crest
Somewhat bizarrely, Demon’s Crest is not just a spin-off from the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series, but the third in the series of spinoffs. Like the series that it spun off from, Demon’s Crest has moments of absolutely brutal difficulty, but the slight RPG elements do give you somewhat of a chance.
7. Panel de Pon
If you’re not at all familiar with the name Panel de Pon, you’re not alone, but you may know the game under its other name, Tetris Attack. While the name change is likely due to license issues, it makes sense because although this is a fantastic puzzle game, it bears almost zero resemblance to Tetris as you know it.
8. Pop’n TwinBee
Between the NES and SNES portions of the Switch Online library, there are only a handful of decent shoot ’em ups, and two of them are TwinBee games. Both are great, but Pop’n TwinBee is the one on this list mainly for the more colorful graphics.
9. Breath of Fire 2
Both Breath of Fire and Breath of Fire 2 are available in the Switch Online SNES library, and both are great, but if you only play one, play the sequel. The story is more fleshed out, the battle system has greater strategic depth. And it’s just overall a more complete RPG>
10. Super Puyo Puyo 2
Another puzzle gem, the Puyo Puyo name is better known now than when this game was first released. This game actually didn’t come out in the west until 2016 when it was released for the Nintendo 3DS before finally coming to the Switch Online Service. It’s not translated from its Japanese release, but you should be able to guess your way through the menus just fine.
Newer Games Can Capture That Retro Feel
If you’ve got an extensive history with earlier consoles like the NES and SNES, even the games on this list may be old hat to you. If that’s the case, you’ll either need to start buying old consoles and collection games or find some newer games to satisfy your retro gaming urge. While collecting old consoles and games is fun, it’s also not cheap.
Getting into indie games is far less expensive, and it can still carry some of that retro charm. For some examples, take a look at our favorite modern retro games on the Nintendo Switch.