A few days ago, my colleague A.K. Rahming wrote about the NES collection on Nintendo’s online service. He finds them boring. It’s a well-written piece and one that I agree with wholeheartedly. Outside of Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Tecmo Bowl, and The Legend of Zelda, none of the games grab me. I’ve played through/revisited all of them, and honestly, the quality isn’t great. People hold classic games near and dear to them because of the nostalgia. But let’s be honest, NES games aren’t that good, and Switch Online is a great example why.
I’ve played every game on the launch list of NES games as part of the service when I was a kid. Through rentals at Blockbuster Video and going to my uncle’s house, there was a treasure trove of games for me to play. I spent hours with Mega Man 2, Mega Man 4, Ninja Gaiden, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game, and Ducktales. These games defined my early years, and I loved them so much. I don’t think every retro game is bad because that would be ludicrous. Let’s be honest though—not every game holds up, and that includes plenty of games that are considered classics.
The biggest offenders are the sports games. Those games (outside of Tecmo Bowl) don’t hold up well at all. Although some of my friends love Ice Hockey, I find it to be a tedious experience. Yoshi is an underwhelming game that shouldn’t have been added because of the inclusion of Dr. Mario. For every interesting game, there’s another similar one in the collection. Nintendo could’ve easily put two sports games in the service instead of five. With so many popular NES games that are surprisingly fun (like the ones I listed above), why generic titles have been bundled with Switch Online is beyond me.
Switch Online seems to try to sell itself as being a “good value,” but this quickly turns into feeling like a trick for the sake of gaining access to the online multiplayer functionality. To be fair, there aren’t many Switch games that would make having the service worth it at the moment. Super Mario Party has limited online capabilities, and outside of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, and Mario Tennis, what’s the point at this time? For $20, I was excited to play Super Mario Bros. 3 and Tecmo Bowl. When Nintendo said more games would be added over time, it made me happy. I thought I would get to experience the better side of the NES catalog, but so far, that’s not the case.
The company just added NES Open (another generic sports game), a streamlined version of The Legend of Zelda that ruins the experience, and Solomon’s Key, a mess of a game. Looking at the next two months, we’ll be getting Metroid (which I don’t think is that worthwhile because Super Metroid is far superior), Wario’s Woods (another Tetris-styled game), and Ninja Gaiden, a fantastic addition. There should be more iconic games like Ninja Gaiden added to the service that will highlight why people loved the console in the first place.
The NES has a good legacy, but the games Nintendo chooses to include only tarnish that reputation. Of the 25 games currently offered, I only think seven of them are worth playing. Unfortunately, I think Nintendo is heading down this path instead of bringing back Virtual Console. Think about it. The company can keep adding retro games from its extensive library (even from SNES and Nintendo 64 as well) for the small fee to join the Online service. Honestly, that’s a good deal, but it all depends on the games that are added. Lackluster games would make the perks of being a subscriber useless.
Right now, we’re staring at some bottom-barrel NES games, save for a few of them, and that’s a problem. When I think of NES, my mind gravitates to the games that inspired me to stick with video games as a hobby. Games like Mega Man 2, The Legend of Zelda, G.I. Joe, and Castlevania define the NES. Instead, on Switch we have forgettable games that won’t make me want to launch that app. NES fans deserve better, Switch Online subscribers deserve better, but most importantly, gamers deserve better.
I always screamed from the rooftops that NES was a great console. After all, it’s what got me into gaming in the first place. Now, I’m not too sure. All I see are terrible games that haven’t aged well. From Double Dragon where enemies glitched into walls, to Yoshi‘s generic gameplay (seriously, just play Dr. Mario)—nothing stands out. As someone who writes for Nintendo Enthusiast, I always try to be positive. I rarely write negative articles, but over the past few days, my view of the NES has started to change. It sucks. From a console that opened my eyes to the wonders of gaming, to helping me cope with being an only child, NES has been important to me throughout my entire life. While that remains the same, it’s tough to go back and appreciate those games because decades later—modern gaming has ruined the classics for me.