Editor's take: Nintendo’s new membership plan is launching in late October and ultimately, I suspect it’ll all come down to pricing. If it’s just a couple of bucks more per month, and if Nintendo can keep adding a steady stream of desirable games to the collection, the trip down memory lane will likely be worth it for many.
Nintendo has announced classic Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games will soon be coming to the Nintendo Switch Online service as part of an expansion pack.
Nintendo 64 games joining the family include Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Yoshi’s Story, Star Fox 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, WinBack: Covert Operations, Mario Tennis, Dr. Mario 64 and Sin and Punishment.
Nintendo is also adding more than a dozen Sega Genesis games to its library including Ecco the Dolphin, Gunstar Heroes, Musha, Strider, Streets of Rage 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Shinobi III, Shining Force, Ristar, Phantasy Star IV, Golden Axe, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, Castlevania: Bloodlines and Contra: Hard Corps.
Some N64 games will feature up to four-person multiplayer, both locally and over the Internet.
Nintendo further said it plans to add more titles over time such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, F-Zero X, Mario Golf, Pokémon Snap, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Paper Mario and Banjo-Kazooie.
The Japanese gaming giant is even releasing two retro-styled controllers based on the N64 and Genesis, respectively. These optional controllers aren’t required to play N64 and Genesis games on Nintendo Switch Online, but rather provide a more authentic feel as if you were playing on original hardware. Both wireless models will set you back $49.99 each.
As a retro gaming fan, Nintendo’s approach is bittersweet. Addressing the Sega Genesis side first, all but two of the games that Nintendo will initially launch – Ristar and Musha – are already available on the excellent Genesis Mini all-in-one console.
Nintendo single-handedly created the (quality) mini retro console genre with its NES Classic and followed it up with the equally as intriguing SNES Classic. Sega and Sony soon followed with the Genesis Mini and PlayStation Classic, and an N64 Classic seemed like the next local step in this progression. Instead, Nintendo pivoted and decided to focus on building out its Switch Online service. With N64 games now heading to the Switch Online service, it all but guarantees a permanent void in my mini retro console collection.
Also worth discussion is the fact that N64 and Genesis games are an expansion, meaning they’ll cost extra on top of the base Nintendo Switch Online subscription. The company didn’t say how much more gamers will have to pay to access these “premium” titles, but we'll find out soon enough.
As for the first N64 games out of the gate, Nintendo got it mostly right. It’d be a crime not to include Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Mario Kart 64 and Star Fox 64 are also welcome, but where are other classics like GoldenEye 007, Wave Race 64, Killer Instinct Gold, Turok and Cruis’n USA? GoldenEye 007 is probably tied up in licensing limbo, but what about the others?
What other N64 or Genesis games would you like to see added to the expansion? In addition to the titles mentioned above, I’d also personally welcome Bomberman 64, Pilotwings 64 and Donkey Kong 64, among others.
Masthead credit Pat Moin