I know most of you have said this:
“I’m not paying $20 a year for online NES games!”
Well, first, whatever. I’m sorry your precious on-system voice chat isn’t there (and quite frankly those features were things I never liked in the first place, thanks experience on 360 Live!), or the fact you are now bitching about Cloud Saving despite that being a thing you wanted. I bought Switch Online membership for the year, and so too did Deguello. Why?
Legit online NES multiplayer is pretty fucking awesome.
First off, the NES game app (being stupidly called by some people NESflix please stop), launched with twenty games right out of the gate. A few of them are two player simultaneous while others you take turns. However, we all know Nintendo’s emulation work on their classics for various digital storefronts (disregard Switch) has been spotty at best. The NES App, from my first experience, proves without a doubt that NERD, the Nintendo European Research and Development group, has taken their experience from the Classics plug and play line and applied it to the Switch app, complete with online interaction. Yes, for the first time in years, you now have a legit way to play classic games online with friends without resorting to emulator workarounds.
From a single player standpoint, the NES app is not a rip-off. The emulation for the app is amazing, with great picture quality and the option to change the display from pixel perfect to having a CRT filter. As more games get added, you even have the option to move the box arts around to your liking, which I find to be a neat touch. Menu design is clean, prompt and streamlined.
Now, the games. The app launched with twenty titles, some are no question all-time NES classics and cult favorites. We do know other notable NES classics are on the way, but what we have now is a good launch selection. Easily my favorite single player games are Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend Of Zelda, Gradius and Balloon Fight. The rest are harmless, ranging from eh (Yoshi) to “gee Capcom sure did suck putting their biggest arcade hit into the hands of a now notorious Japanese contract developer who turned everything to shit” (Ghost N Goblins). You can also play the games offline on the go, but you will need to be connected online once a week for updates to occur. You can also save and load states much more quickly compared to the emulation efforts on 3DS and WiiU!
There was a couple of design flaws. Being that I had a launch Switch Pro controller, I found the d-pad to be lame with controlling the games. While the left joy-con button pad doesn’t seem ideal to most people, I actually found it better to control the games with that instead of the Switch Pro controller. Both Deguello and I noticed some slight input lag with Super Mario Bros. 3 when we played online, but it was not overly game breaking, considering we made it to World 3 and then during this playthrough we found out you could turn on low latency and the game become much more smoother. Other times, like with Balloon Fight, it was flawless. Hopefully a future patch fixes this.
In all honesty, if this is how Nintendo will release retro games for the future, I’m down for it. Virtual Console had it’s flaws and detractors from the get-go, and having only to pay $20 a year for a app that will get more games down the road with improved features and performance stomps on Virtual Console in quality. Being able to play NES games Balloon Fight and Mario Bros. with a person online without horrible workarounds was amazing, and there is no doubt Nintendo can bring these types of apps out for the SNES and N64. Just think, online co-op Secret Of Mana. Online Kirby Super Star. The potential is amazing!