Skip to content

Your Complete Guide to Nintendo Switch Online: Price, Games, Features, and More

Hi there! If you‘re a Nintendo Switch owner like me, you‘re probably curious what Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) has to offer. Well, you‘ve come to the right place. I‘ve been an NSO subscriber for years, and I‘m going to walk you through everything you need to know about this online service.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore NSO‘s pricing, features, game libraries, public reception, and what the future may hold. I‘ll also give you my personal take as a long-time subscriber.

Let‘s dive in!

An Overview of Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online provides online multiplayer, cloud saving, access to retro games, and other benefits. Here are the key facts about this subscription service:

  • Launched in September 2018, almost 2 years after the Switch console
  • Required for online play and cloud backups
  • Offers classic NES and SNES games to subscribers
  • Two membership tiers: Individual and Family
  • Costs $3.99-$19.99 for Individual plans
  • Costs $34.99/year for a Family plan with up to 8 accounts

NSO isn‘t mandatory, but I highly recommend it for the perks alone. The peace of mind from cloud saves is worth it!

Pricing Breakdown: Individual vs. Family Plans

NSO offers decent flexibility in pricing and plans. Let‘s compare the Individual and Family options.

Individual Membership

The individual plan is designed for solo gamers who only need membership on one Switch.

  • 1 month – $3.99
  • 3 months – $7.99
  • 12 months – $19.99 (best value at $1.67/month)

Based on my experience, the 12-month plan is the way to go. Why pay almost $4 a month when you can lock in a full year for only $20?

You can even try out a 7-day free trial of individual membership first. This let me kick the tires before committing.

Family Membership

Households with multiple Switch consoles should consider the family plan.

  • 12 months – $34.99

Up to 8 Nintendo accounts across multiple Switch systems can share one family plan while retaining their own save data and gameplay progress.

This allowed my family to save over subscribing individually. It‘s a great deal if you have roommates or kids with their own Switch too.

Purchasing and Redeeming Membership

I typically purchase my NSO membership directly through the Nintendo eShop with my credit card info on file. It takes under a minute!

Of course, you can also grab membership cards at retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc. if you prefer. These make thoughtful gifts too.

Once activated, your NSO membership will auto-renew by default when it expires. You can cancel anytime though.

NSO Features and Perks: The Need-to-Know Details

Let‘s explore what features and perks you actually get with a standard Nintendo Switch Online membership:

Online Multiplayer Gaming

By far, my favorite NSO benefit is being able to play games like Mario Kart 8, Smash Bros, and Animal Crossing online.

NSO is required for online multiplayer, co-op, battles, races, and other social gaming modes. Party on!

Over 2,500+ Switch games are playable online with NSO. This list is constantly growing too.

Cloud Save Backups

Another essential NSO feature is cloud saves. I can seamlessly transfer my save files between my Switch and Switch Lite thanks to the cloud!

NSO members get up to 6GB of cloud storage per account. Your saves automatically sync when connected online.

So if I ever lose my Switch or it gets damaged, my save data is already securely backed up online. This gives me peace of mind.

Classic NES and SNES Libraries

Reliving my childhood NES and SNES favorites is an awesome nostalgia trip and my favorite NSO benefit.

The classic game libraries now contain over 100 titles including Mario, Zelda, Kirby, Donkey Kong Country, and more iconic Nintendo games.

New games get added every month, although slowly. I‘d love to see a faster cadence of releases!

Exclusive Member Deals

Another nice perk is discounts and exclusive offers for NSO members.

For example, Tetris 99 is a wildly addicting battle royale Tetris game that is free…but only for Nintendo Online subscribers!

Smartphone App and Voice Chat

You can download the NSO smartphone app for iOS and Android to enable voice chat during online play.

I will say Nintendo could improve here though. Voice chat should be built-in without needing a separate app.

Expansion Pack: N64, Genesis, and DLC

Looking for more? The NSO Expansion Pack membership unlocks even more benefits.

For Individuals, it costs $49.99/year (just $4.17 a month). For families it‘s $79.99 annually.

Here‘s what you get with the Expansion Pack:

Classic N64 and Genesis Games

Relive your childhood with instant access to 50+ classic N64 and Genesis games!

Some favorites available include:

  • Super Mario 64
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Star Fox 64
  • Mario Kart 64
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • GoldenEye 007
  • Streets of Rage 2

And many more! Nintendo will be adding more over time.

Animal Crossing and Mario Kart DLC

Expansion Pack members also get the Happy Home Paradise DLC for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Booster Course Pass DLC for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe included!

That‘s a combined value of over $60 in DLC unlocked. Major savings!

Game Libraries: The Must-Play Classics

Now let‘s dive into the standout hits in the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, and Genesis game vaults. These are some of my personal favorites and top recommendations:

NES Games (60+ titles)

The 8-bit NES library spans many classic franchises. Don‘t miss these gems!

  • Super Mario Bros. 3 – Many consider this the best Mario game ever.
  • The Legend of Zelda – The game that started it all. Still great.
  • Metroid – Atmospheric sci-fi action holds up incredibly well.
  • Kirby‘s Adventure – Vibrant platforming at its finest.
  • Dr. Mario – Tetris-style puzzler with infectious music.

Nintendo adds 1-2 new NES games per month typically.

SNES Games (30+ titles)

The 16-bit SNES library contains genre-defining classics.

  • Super Mario World – Mario‘s best outing, and my favorite 2D platformer.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – Quintessential top-down Zelda.
  • Super Metroid – A dark, moody, explorable alien world.
  • Star Fox – Redefined 3D visuals in its day.
  • Super Mario Kart – Launched the beloved kart racing series.

SNES titles are still trickling in slowly. Fingers crossed for more soon!

Nintendo 64 Games (25+ titles)

N64 changed 3D gaming forever. Relive these groundbreaking titles:

  • Super Mario 64 – Mario‘s first foray into 3D was a revelation.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Perhaps the greatest Zelda adventure ever created.
  • Mario Kart 64 – Quintessential multiplayer racing at its best.
  • Star Fox 64 – Cinematic 3D rail shooter with branching paths.
  • Paper Mario – Mario‘s paper-thin RPG debut. Just as charming today as ever.

I‘d love to see more flagship N64 games like Donkey Kong 64 added over time.

Sega Genesis Games (30+ titles)

Beyond Nintendo, Genesis defined the 16-bit era. Must-plays include:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Up there with the best 2D Sonic games ever made.
  • Streets of Rage 2 – The pinnacle of this beat ‘em up series.
  • Gunstar Heroes – Frantic run-and-gun shooter with awesome boss fights.
  • Castlevania: Bloodlines – A great Castlevania entry.
  • Contra Hard Corps – Hardcore run-and-gun action perfected.

There are so many iconic Genesis games that should eventually make it into the lineup.

Public Reception: The Good and Bad

Nintendo Switch Online has received mixed reviews from gamers and critics alike. Here‘s what fans praise and criticize based on my research:


  • Affordable pricing, especially compared to Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus
  • Fun nostalgia trip replaying NES and SNES classics
  • Cloud saves provide peace of mind and convenience
  • Playing retro games online in 2022 is really cool


  • Online multiplayer and cloud saves locked behind a subscription
  • No built-in voice chat (requires smartphone app)
  • Slow trickle of new classic games being added
  • Nintendo 64 catalog is still quite limited
  • Missing major legacy platforms like Game Boy Advance

Overall, at just $20 annually, most agree there‘s decent value here for casual Nintendo fans thanks to the retro games and cloud saves.

But critical areas like voice chat, legacy content, and online infrastructure need improvement for NSO to compete with Xbox Live and PSN.

Is a Nintendo Switch Online Membership Worth It? My Take

For me, Nintendo Switch Online is absolutely worth the minimal $20 yearly investment as a casual Nintendo fan. Here‘s why I think it‘s worth it for most gamers:

Cloud Saves – My #1 reason to subscribe. Having automatic cloud backups gives me peace of mind that my progress is secure if anything happens to my Switch.

Online Multiplayer – Access to online play opens up the true potential of games like Mario Kart, Smash Bros, Splatoon, and Animal Crossing for me.

Nostalgia Trip – Revisiting childhood NES and SNES favorites like Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong Country never gets old. Feels like my own mini retro console.

Affordability – At $1.67 a month for individual membership, the value here for me outweighs the cost by a long shot.

For casual gameplay, NSO hits the sweet spot. I don‘t need top-tier online infrastructure. And revisiting retro gems like A Link to the Past makes the price totally worthwhile.

Hardcore online gamers may want more robust offerings like Xbox Live and PSN provide. But for me, NSO gives me the core features I need for an affordable rate.

The Future: What‘s Next for Nintendo Switch Online?

Nintendo Switch Online launched in 2018 with basic features but has expanded steadily since. Here are some potential updates I foresee down the road based on official announcements, rumors, and community feedback:

  • Growing catalogs of N64, Genesis, SNES and NES games
  • Possible additions of Game Boy, Game Boy Color, GameCube, or other legacy platforms
  • Improved online features like built-in voice chat, parties, and dedicated servers
  • Permanent access to Tetris 99 and other special member offers
  • Game or console betas and demos for members
  • Temporary free access for non-members to promote sales

As the Switch audience continues to boom (over 111+ million units sold), Nintendo has plenty of incentive to enhance NSO. I‘m excited to see what they add next! Fingers crossed for Game Boy Advance or GameCube additions.

The Bottom Line

For me, the cloud saves, online multiplayer, and instant access to 100+ NES, SNES, N64 and Genesis classics make Nintendo Switch Online well worth the $20 yearly fee. It could certainly improve, but the price and nostalgia trip can‘t be beat!

If you love Nintendo classics or want security for your save files, I highly recommend you give NSO a shot. And if you want to play N64 or Genesis games, the Expansion Pack upgrade is a no-brainer.

Well, that covers everything you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online! Let me know if you have any other questions. Enjoy reliving some retro magic. Game on!