N64 games are coming to the Switch with the new Expansion Pack

There’s been some buzz about this for the past few months, but Nintendo has dropped a video about this just a few days ago so it’s time to take a look at it. They’re releasing what’s called an “Expansion Pack” to Nintendo Online, their online subscription service (not to be confused with the 8MB N64 memory Expansion Pak) that will give a few more features on top of the normal service.

What’s included in the Switch Online Expansion Pack

To do a little bit of recap, let’s look at what the vanilla Nintendo Switch Online lets you do:

  • Play games online Without it, games like Splatoon and Mario Kart are offline-only.
  • Play emulated NES
  • Play emulated SNES games
  • Cloud storage backup
  • Mobile app
  • Special offers

Now, there is an expansion pack that gives a few more features:

  • Play emulated N64 games
  • Play emulated Genesis / Mega Drive games
  • Animal Crossing DLC

There’s no official list of games as far as I know, but these are the N64 games they showed in the preview:

  • Super Mario 64
  • Mario Kart 64
  • Star Fox 64 / Lylat wars
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • F-Zero X
  • Banjo Kazooie
  • Sin and Punishment
  • Mario Golf
  • Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
  • Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
  • Paper Mario
  • Pokémon Snap
  • Mario Tennis
  • Yoshi’s Story
  • WinBack: Covert Operations
  • Dr Mario 64

That’s 16 games, which is the same amount of games that I had growing up on the Nintendo 64, so the quantity is pretty good. The selection itself is also superb, these are some of the top games on the system. The only one that stands out to me is WinBack since it’s not really a game that you think of when talking about the N64. Sin and Punishment is the only other game not made by Nintendo (maybe also Banjo Kazooie, but Nintendo still published it), but it’s widely considered to be the best Japan-exclusive game on the system.

They did mention that there will be more to come, but it’s unclear as to whether they’re referring to new games besides the above or that they’re going to release these games in batches.

Pricing

The basic Switch Online costs $20 per year and if you include the Expansion Pack, it becomes $50. If you get it on a family plan it becomes $35 for basic and $80 including the Expansion Pack.

Conclusion

The idea is great. Much like the Wii U before it, the Switch is going to let us play N64 games in glorious polygon HD. The selection of games is great so there’s bound to be something for everyone.

However the price point is pretty steep. The upgrade from basic to expansion is about as much as a fully-priced switch game. Which is great, if you really love the N64 and plan on playing some games to completion. If you’re just going to browse and play a few games here and there, it’s probably not going to be worth it, to be honest.

For example, I played Rygar on the NES for the first time on Switch Online and it was great. But all the other games I just play for a few minutes and ignore. Unless you really want to play these games for a long period of time, it’s probably not worth it.

A cool bit that I like is that you can play with up to four players locally or online. Though it probably means that you can only play with friends who also have a subscription, and I really doubt that they integrated online lobbies into this feature.

They also mention that you can play these games “wherever and whenever you’d like”, but from my experience, you can only play NES and SNES games from Nintendo Online if you’re connected to wifi. You probably won’t be able to play them if you’re in a train or something.

I personally won’t be buying this since I already have all these games on the original console, so I’d only get the convenience of playing on a portable console and getting HD graphics. This is just making the output resolution better, in-game textures and sprites are still going to look the same.

People aren’t really liking this, the price is over double the original for a lot of games that most people won’t pay for. The video has over 50% dislikes at the time of writing this. I think this user summarised everyone’s opinions with this:

Last week, I would have said that there was no way you could screw up something as cool as Majora’s Mask, Paper Mario and Banjo-Kazooie on Switch. Glad Nintendo pulled me back to the reality that they totally could.

Ostian Owl

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16 classic N64 games are coming to Nintendo Switch Online with the new Expansion Pack, but is it worth the higher price?
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