When Nintendo first announced the Nintendo Switch Online service, it needed something special to draw customers. There simply weren't many games worth playing online at the time, so Nintendo's solution was to offer a selection of NES games to subscribers.
As it turned out, gamers loved it and it became a hit—so Nintendo took another step forward and offered more in the form of SNES games, along with the occasional free game like Tetris 99. Now Nintendo has decided to move even further in that direction, but not for free.
Enter, the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. What exactly is it and what are the benefits for you? Is it worth paying the extra money Nintendo is asking for? Or should you stick with the base only?
What Is the Switch Online Expansion Pack?
As the name hints, the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack is an add-on for Nintendo's online service for Switch gamers. You don't get any additional online capabilities, so if all you want to do is play Switch games online, you're fine with just the base subscription.
The main attraction of the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack is the extra retro games that become available—specifically, a selection of games for the beloved Nintendo 64, including a few titles that have always been fan favorites. That's not all, though.
In a strange move, the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack also includes games from... the Sega Genesis? Yes, that's right! And if this interests you, read on to find out which Genesis games.
Finally, the strangest part of the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack is the Happy Home Paradise DLC for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. But you only get the DLC if you already own the game, making it an extra benefit for only certain subscribers.
Switch Online Expansion Pack: Pricing
The pricing of the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack have been somewhat confusing. Before we dive into details, let's clear that up.
The base price for a Nintendo Switch Online subscription is $19.99 per year for one person. A family subscription, which supports up to eight people, costs $34.99 per year. That's without the Expansion Pack.
With the Expansion Pack, the subscription price goes up to $49.99 per year for one person. That includes everything in the base subscription, meaning it's only an extra $30 per year. A family subscription costs $79.99 per year, which is an extra $45 per year.
Which Nintendo 64 Games Are Included?
At the time of this writing, there are only a handful of Nintendo 64 games available via the Expansion Pack. The list is below:
- Dr. Mario 64
- Mario Kart 64
- Mario Tennis
- Sin & Punishment
- Star Fox 64
- Super Mario 64
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- WIN BACK: COVERT OPERATIONS
- Yoshi's Story
Nintendo has promised to continue adding games in the future. So far, the company has announced fewer than 10 games that will be coming down the road. Those games are below:
- F-Zero X
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
- Mario Golf
- Paper Mario
- Pokemon Snap
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Which Sega Genesis Games Are Included?
The initial list of Sega Genesis games is larger than the number Nintendo 64 games at launch of the Expansion Pack. The list is below:
- Castlevania: Bloodlines
- Contra: Hard Corps
- Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
- Ecco the Dolphin
- Golden Axe
- Gunstar Heroes
- Phantasy Star 4: The End of the Millennium
- Shining Force
- Shinobi 3
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2
- Streets of Rage 2
While Nintendo has promised to keep the Genesis games coming as well, it hasn't named any specific games for the future yet.
Note: Most of these games are already available on the Switch via the SEGA Genesis Classics collection and a few other collections. It's a nice benefit, but certainly puzzling on Nintendo's part.
Beware: There Are Emulation Issues
Early players of the Nintendo 64 games included in the Expansion Pack haven't been having a particularly great time. Some players have reported more frames of input lag than the Virtual Console versions of the same games on the Nintendo Wii U.
Nintendo also appears to have been a little lazy with the emulation. For example, you can't save in certain games. You also can't remap buttons within games, which makes some Nintendo 64 games tricky to play without changing your Nintendo Switch's default button mapping.
If you're just looking for a brief trip of nostalgia, this may not be a problem. If you're interested in getting all you can out of these games, it is.
The Future of Switch Online Is Uncertain
Despite fan loyalty from many gamers, Nintendo has never treated its older treasures with the respect they deserve. Sure, the company has sold us Mario remakes and remasters here and there, but vast portions of the company's back catalog have remained untouched for decades.
Even recently, Nintendo seems to have lost interest in the NES and SNES catalogs available via Switch Online. Neither has seen much in the way of updates in some time, leaving us to wonder if a similar fate awaits the games in the Expansion Pack library.
Of course, Nintendo has made a number of moves that have upset fans recently. With this in mind, the company may decide to ramp up support this time around—then again, it's Nintendo we're talking about here.
Recent data mining suggests there are more Nintendo 64 and Genesis games on the way. Once that happens, a Switch Online + Expansion Pack might make more sense. For now, it's difficult to recommend.