Everything you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online

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It took more than a year after launch, but the Nintendo Switch received its online service in September 2018. Nintendo Switch Online is comparable to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live in that its primary function is to grant access to online multiplayer. A subscription to the service also gets you a library of classic NES and SNES games. But Nintendo isn’t looking to fully replicate its competitors when it comes to the Switch’s online service. Here’s everything you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online.

Individual/Family subscription models

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Nintendo Switch Online comes in two subscription types: individual and family. An individual subscription covers one user, and a family subscription covers up to eight. A one-year individual subscription costs $ 20. One month and three-month subscriptions are also available for $ 4 and $ 8, respectively. It’s obviously cost-efficient to purchase a year out of the gate.

Family subscriptions, meanwhile, cost $ 35 per year. To take advantage of this bulk subscription you need to be linked in a family group. You can create a family group on the Nintendo Account website. Essentially, you and seven friends can get access to all Nintendo Switch Online features for less than five bucks apiece.

Both subscription types are available for purchase on the Nintendo Switch eShop. Nintendo Switch Online is located on the orange navigational menu when you first open the storefront.

Keep in mind that subscriptions automatically renew unless you opt out in the eShop menu.

Nintendo Switch Online is (mostly) required for online multiplayer

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Before Switch Online launched, Nintendo offered free online multiplayer for games like Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8. Now you have to have a subscription to utilize the online features of first-party Nintendo games and most third-party games. The one major exception is Fortnite, which can be played online without a subscription.

You need to use the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app to chat

If you want to talk to your friends while playing online games, you need the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app. The free app is available on iOS and Android. Yes, it’s annoying to have to use two devices to have a traditional online multiplayer experience, but we don’t make the rules. Fortnite, again, is the exception to this rule, as it includes native voice chat right there on your console.

Includes the power of the cloud saves

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One of the biggest knocks on the Switch since launch was that there was no method for backing up your saves. If your console died, well, you were out of luck. With a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, you can backup your saves to the cloud, ensuring that you won’t lose progress even if your console breaks.

Cloud saves work with most Switch games, but there are a few outliers. For instance, Pokémon Let’s Go, Splatoon 2, Dark Souls Remastered, and Dead Cells do not support cloud saves. Nintendo has said that this is to maintain competitive balance in games like Let’s Go and Splatoon 2. Nintendo doesn’t want cloud saves to disrupt competitive rankings.

Cloud saves can disappear after your subscription lapses

As a feature exclusive for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, it makes sense that cloud saves don’t last forever if you cancel your subscription. Once your subscription lapses, you won’t be able to access your cloud saves. After six months, though, your cloud saves will be permanently deleted.

Subscribers get access to classic NES and SNES games

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One of the major perks of the Nintendo Switch Online program is the free classic games. For the first year of the service, Nintendo gave subscribers a steadily growing library of NES games. Nintendo sweetened the pot at the start of year two, adding SNES games to the program.

The games included save states and multiple display settings (4:3, Pixel Perfect, and CRT Filter). Some of these games even have multiplayer, both local and online.

Though by default you can only play these games with an internet connection, you can download them to play offline for up to seven days at a time. If your subscription lapses, you’ll lose access to these games, just like you would with PlayStation Plus and Games with Gold offerings.

Here’s the current list of 20 SNES games included with Nintendo Switch Online. Nintendo plans to add more SNES games to the program in the future, but there is no set schedule for new additions to the SNES library.

Brawl Brothers Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island Stunt Race FX
Demon Crest Super Puyo Puyo 2 Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics Super Tennis Super Mario World
Kirby’s Dream Land 3 Breath of Fire Super Metroid
Star Fox F-ZERO Super Soccer
Super Earth Defense Force Kirby’s Dream Course The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Super Mario Kart Pilotwings

Here’s the list of NES games. Nintendo added multiple NES games per month during the first year of service. Now that SNES games have arrived, the monthly updates are no more. Nintendo confirmed to Business Insider that more NES games will come to the program, just not on a monthly schedule. So, we’ll get them when we get them.

Metroid NES Open Tournament Golf River City Ransom Solomon’s Key Clu Clu Land
Tennis Mighty Bomb Jack Pro Wrestling Ninja Gaiden Wrecking Crew
Balloon Fight Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream Baseball Wario’s Woods Donkey Kong 3
Dr. Mario Zelda II: The Adventure of Link Soccer Blaster Master Volleyball
Tecmo Bowl Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels Super Mario Bros. Kirby’s Adventure City Connection
Yoshi The Legend of Zelda Double Dragon StarTropics Donkey Kong
Gradius Adventures of Lolo Super Dodge Ball Kid Icarus
Ice Hockey Super Mario Bros. 2 Ghosts’n Goblins Star Soldier
TwinBee Super Mario Bros. 3 Excitebike Donkey Kong Jr.
Mario Bros. Double Dragon II: The Revenge  Ice Climber Vs. Excitebike

Tetris 99 is exclusive to Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online subscribers also gain exclusive access to Tetris 99, an absolutely wild battle royale version of the classic puzzle game. If you’re a Tetris fan, playing this 99-person iteration is arguably worth the subscription price alone.

Exclusive NES and SNES wireless controllers

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If you want to play the NES games with a traditional NES controller rather than the Joy-Con or Pro controller, Nintendo has an option for you. You can buy a pair of wireless NES controllers from Nintendo’s website for $ 60. To buy the NES controllers, you have to be a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber.

With the arrival of Super Nintendo games, Nintendo will also be selling a wireless SNES controller for $ 30 a pop. Like the NES controllers, the SNES pad is exclusive to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. Nintendo has yet to reveal a release date for the controller, but it’s “coming soon.”

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