Last night, Nintendo broke down details about its online service for the Switch, including the introduction of cloud save features as well as its subscription pricing. As part of the service, it will also debut a rotating number of classic games, starting with hits from the Nintendo Entertainment System era, including Super Mario Bros. 3 and more.
While it’s cool that we’ll be able to enjoy old-school hits this way, it turns out that, for the moment, this will be the only way you’ll be able to play them, as Nintendo currently doesn’t have any plans to reintroduce its Virtual Console brand to the Switch.
While speaking with Kotaku, a Nintendo representative confirmed, “There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems.” That means the Nintendo Switch Online would be the only way to enjoy older favorites, save for any Nintendo-branded titles in Hamster’s Arcade Archives program, like Punch-Out!! and Vs. Super Mario Bros. have done.
This is an odd change of pace from Nintendo’s Virtual Console in the past, which were available for the Wii and Wii U (and, to some extent, 3DS models), offering a number of titles from the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64 libraries and more.
Nintendo is apparently leaning more towards making older games available on-demand as part of its Online network. “There are a variety of ways in which classic games from Nintendo and other publishers are made available on Nintendo Switch, such as through Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo eShop or as packaged collections,” the rep explained. “Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online will provide a fun new way to experience classic NES games that will be different from the Virtual Console service, thanks to enhancements such as added online play, voice chat via the Nintendo Switch Online app and the various play modes of Nintendo Switch.”
It’s not exactly panic time just yet, as the Nintendo Switch Online service could introduce other consoles and games later on, including favorites from the SNES, Nintendo 64 and possibly even GameCube. And Nintendo obviously will continue to sell the NES Classic and SNES Classic Edition systems for those that are feeling truly nostalgic.
That said, it does feel like the end of an era if we don’t in fact see Virtual Console resurface. Nintendo could always change its mind in the future. But for now, it will stick with its on-demand approach with Online and see how it fares.
The Nintendo Switch Online service will kick off this September and will cost between $3.99 to $19.99, depending on length of subscription.