Why the Nintendo Switch Online Service is Terrible

A few days ago, Nintendo revealed various additional details about the Nintendo Switch Online service. Including various features like voice chat, save backups and video game subscriptions, the service is meant to bring Nintendo’s online infrastructure into the 21st century, as well as offer something comparable to Microsoft and Sony’s affairs in the same space.

It’s an ambitious task for sure, but have Nintendo succeeded?

Is the Switch’s online service finally on par with Sony or Microsoft’s? Or heck, even something people will actually want to pay for?

No. No it isn’t.

In fact, the service feels exactly like we feared it would: the same old crap as before, made worse and stuck behind a paywall.

And the Direct made that pretty obvious within the first five minutes of the presentation for the feature, with the first item on the list. Why?

Because said item was ‘this lets you play games with people around the world’. Yeah, pretty self-explanatory really.

Which is evidence Nintendo never really had enough selling points to market this service. Why advertise the obvious like this? Why promote the obvious? It’s like promoting Amazon with the words ‘you can buy stuff’ or marketing Google because it searches for websites. Yes it does. That’s the point. It’s not gonna make the service stand out from others.

And the Switch online fiasco continues even after that. Namely, with the last item on the list, the one about exclusive deals for the service.

Which in turn doesn’t actually offer any examples of said deals. Hmm, okay. Feels like another ‘feature’ meant to pad out a list, not a priority of the service.

Still, the Switch online setup does offer some new things, so it’s not quite as pathetic as it could have been. Cloud save backups are a nice include, as are the NES games you get access to through the service.

Unfortunately, like with most things Nintendo do, these promising inclusions aren’t done anywhere near as well as they could be.

For instance, cloud backups don’t actually work with every game. Instead, anything multiplayer focused (Splatoon 2, Pokémon Let’s Go games, etc) disables the feature for ‘security’ reasons. In other words? Cause Nintendo is so paranoid about cheating, your save data is put on the line. It’s pretty sad really.

And it’s indicative of how old fashioned Nintendo’s attitude is in general. Things like cloud saving or screenshots should not be ‘game specific’ things that devs can disable, they should be across the board OS ones. For instance, imagine if Windows let programs disable print screen, or the clipboard, or keyboard use or saving to certain directories. It’d be seen as rightly ridiculous.

Yet Nintendo allows just that. It’s proof of their very old fashioned/very Japanese salaryman sequel attitude that you can only use their products one way, and to sod off if you disagree.

But the cloud backup woes don’t end there. Nope, if your subscription runs out… well your cloud saves are toast. Gone. Kaput. Unrecoverable.

That means you’d better make sure your card is set up right and what not, otherwise you’re stuck up a creek without a paddle. It’s very consumer unfriendly, and jarring given how other systems give you a certain amount of leeway here (or keep your data save until you renew access/say you’ll leave).

Then there’s the NES games. When you subscribe to Switch Online, you get access to a set of NES games you can play ‘free’ as part of the deal. In theory, that’s a decent enough deal. You’ve got some classic games, and they’ve been fixed up a bit to have online multiplayer and what not.
Problem is… well they’re the same games we’ve seen a million times already. Seriously, imagine being a Nintendo fan who buys their NES games every time they’re released. How many copies of these games might you have by now?

  1. The originals on NES/Famicom
  2. Nintendo e-Reader card versions
  3. NES Classic GBA versions
  4. Wii Virtual Console versions
  5. 3DS Virtual Console versions
  6. Wii U Virtual Console versions
  7. The ones on the NES Classic
  8. And now the new ones available on the Nintendo Switch Online service.
Mario Bros e-reader Cards
Granted, most people probably didn’t buy an e-Reader/these cards

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Nintendo Reveals Details About Nintendo Switch Online Service

Given the other major announcements made in last weeks’ Nintendo Direct, it can be pretty easy to forget that the Nintendo Switch Online Service was also discussed in the presentation. After all, this was also the event which revealed Luigi’s Mansion 3 to the world, showed that Final Fantasy 7 was heading to Nintendo Switch and mentioned Animal Crossing was coming to the console in 2019, right after a newcomer trailer for one of its main characters. For almost every Nintendo fan in existence, there are was just something more interesting included to shift their focus to.

But Nintendo did indeed release more information regarding the service none the less, in the form of this short presentation about its features:

Which is… about on the level you’d expect from a Nintendo presentation talking about online multiplayer functionality. You’ve got the usual Nintendo cluelessness about online play over there, a few non features hyped to hell here and some bad decisions hurting legitimately interesting ones all mixed into one announcement.

Still, while we’ll go over the service’s drawbacks and issues in a future article, for now, here’s a short summary of the points raised in the trailer:

1. Online Play

You can play games online with people around the world.

Yes, we know that’s what online service is meant to do, and yes, we also know it’s not really a feature by any normal usage of the world.

But hey, Nintendo made it a key point in their marketing, so it’s mentioned here none the less.

2. Nintendo Entertainment System

You also get access to a library of free NES games, which have the usual Virtual Console esque additions (like suspend saving/save states), as well as upgraded multiplayer components (like the ability to play said games online).

There are quite a few of these games, though the video prominently shows the following ones:

  • Dodge Ball
  • Donkey Kong
  • Double Dragon
  • Dr Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Ghosts n Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Ice Hockey
  • Mario Bros
  • Metroid
  • Mighty Bomb Jack
  • NES Open Golf
  • Pro Wrestling
  • River City Ransom
  • Soccer
  • Solomon’s Key

There are obviously more included, but we’ll need to wait for details on those.

3. Save Data Cloud

The system also lets you back up your save files to Nintendo’s data cloud, which lets you restore them in case things go wrong. Like say, a Thwomp smashing your Nintendo System, or someone trying to use your Switch to deflect a Guardian laser in place of a pot lid.

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Switch getting NES Controllers

 

To play the classic online games, you can get these two NES controllers for your Switch. They’ll come in packs of two and will cost $60 and will apparently only be available to people with paid Nintendo online accounts.

Pikachu And Eevee Switch Bundles

Nintendo wants to make sure you fully enjoy the upcoming game, Pokémon: Let’s Go by releasing this yellowish bundle above.

There are two bundles for fans to enjoy, one each for the Pikachu and Eevee versions of the game. Each comes with a download code, a brown and yellow Joy-Con, decal decorated Switch dock, and the Poké Ball Plus peripheral that lets you pretend to capture Pokémon as if you were a real trainer. That last bit is $50 on its own, bringing the total price of the bundles to $400 USD.

 

 

Final Fantasy coming to Switch

Final Fantasy is getting a new home on the Switch as several titles will be releasing on the console hybrid in the coming years. The classics that are coming back include Final Fantasy 7, 9, 10, 10-2 and 12 will grace the Switch soon, which sadly 8 is MIA.

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition will be coming to the console as well, but only as a digital download. Along with it will include Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edtion HD and World of Final Fantasy Maxima plus Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon Every Buddy!

 

So much Final Fantasy! Will other titles come as well? Let us know below or on the Gaming Latest forums of your thoughts.