Nintendo has finally rolled out its online program for the Switch and it's only $20 for a year-long subscription. That's almost nothing for most console owners which makes the offer seem like a real steal, but is Nintendo Switch Online actually worth $20? I'm honestly not sure that it is, at least not right now.
At this point, there are two major components that make up the online program, the first is online multiplayer, which, while being free up until this week, is now behind a paywall that requires players to pay to continue playing games like Splatoon 2 or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe online. While it's certainly infuriating to now have to pay for a service that was free a couple days ago, if online multiplayer is your thing, there's ultimately not much you can do. If you're seriously into Splatoon then you pay your money to keep covering things with ink. If you're looking forward to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, then maybe you forego paying for Nintendo Switch Online until that game comes out, but if you want to play online, there's no other option.
However, if you're not into multiplayer gaming, the only reason to pay for Nintendo Switch Online, at least today, is for the collection of old school games that are available to play. Right now, that's a collection of 20 NES titles, and several of them I would call classics, the others not so much. It's fun to be able to play Double Dragon again and I very well might play the original Legend of Zelda at some point, (I never did beat the second quest), but beyond that, there's little get excited about. Four of the games are nothing more than the simple sports titles that were the first available on the NES and none of them are the best sports games of their type that were made for the system. The fact that we actually got Tecmo Bowl instead of 10-Yard-Fight feels like Nintendo throwing us a bone.
I absolutely loved some of these games when I was a kid, playing Pro Wrestling until my fingers hurt and beating Zelda and Super Mario. Bros. are some of my earliest gaming memories, but I found myself only playing some of these games for a few minutes before I got bored. I can see myself maybe playing through Tecmo Bowl or Double Dragon while on an airplane, but then forgetting about the games entirely once I land.
Once upon a time, Xbox Live didn't offer much more than simply online play and it cost a great deal more than Nintendo Switch Online. However, today we expect more from these subscription services. While most gamers will never miss $20 a year, and thus the cost here won't be that big a deal, what's being offered in so minimal it doesn't feel worth it. Are you really going to play nine innings of Nintendo Baseball?
Perhaps if the library grows to an exceptionally large level, and begins to include other Nintendo consoles' titles. If Nintendo isn't going to sell everything on a Virtual Console, then the company should make pretty much everything available here. I want to play every Mario game from Mario Bros. to Super Mario Sunshine on my Switch.
Ultimately, Switch Online will certainly change and evolve over time and thus it will likely become a more useful service, but right now, if you don't need to play competitive Splatoon 2, you can probably wait until it is.