Between its NES and SNES libraries, there are currently around 150 games available to play, at a price of $3.99 a month or $19.99 a year (which works out at $1.67 per month).
Given that these games cost a few bucks each in the Virtual Console days, anyone who plays retro games regularly will find value for money here, and the addition of N64 and Mega Drive / Genesis games to the Expansion Pack tier offers even more choice.
That said, it’s still fair to say that Nintendo has been slow at adding new games, especially to the NES and SNES libraries. This is particularly frustrating because there are still so many great titles on both consoles that have yet to be added.
There are some that will likely never end up on there, of course. Licensed titles will by and large be a no-no because of the costs involved in renewing those licenses.
As such, anyone crossing their fingers for the likes of NBA Jam, The Simpsons: Bart vs the Space Mutants, The Goonies II or Shaq Fu (why?) will be disappointed. Sadly, this also goes for Rare‘s hugely underrated A Nightmare on Elm Street.
It’s also extremely unlikely that games already featured in retro compilations will ever end up on Switch Online. After all, why would the publishers of the Castlevania, Contra, Mega Man and Street Fighter series add games that they’re currently selling in their own collections?
With all this taken into account, we’ve put together a list of 11 NES and SNES titles that we’d not only love to see on Switch Online but, crucially, actually have a reasonable chance of ending up there.
NES games we’d like to see on Switch Online
The NES version of Taito’s classic arcade title Bubble Bobble was one of the best coin-op ports on the console.
Players take control of Bob and Bob, two humans who have been turned into dragons by the evil Baron Von Blubba, as they attempt to rescue their girlfriends.
In order to do so, they have to clear 224 stages of enemies, by trapping them in bubbles then bursting them.
Although it hasn’t yet been released on Switch Online, it was added to the Wii Virtual Console back in the day, so there’s already a precedent there.
Although it is widely believed to be one of the best third-party games on the NES, bionic commando has still never seen a re-release on any virtual console service or switch online.
Playing as Ladd Spencer, a commando with a mechanical arm, the aim is to infiltrate the evil Empire and rescue top commando Super Joe while trying to put a stop to the Empire’s leader.
The main twist in the game is that despite being an action platformer, Spencer can’t actually jump. Instead, he uses his mechanical arm to grapple onto ledges and swing across them.
The only time the original NES version has ever been released was on a Game Boy Advance compilation, so it’s not quite clear why Capcom is so hesitant to bring it back.
Final Fantasy & Dragon Warrior I-IV
In Japan, no two series summed up the Famicom era quite like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.
Square’s Final Fantasy series speaks for itself in the west: it may have taken a while to properly pick up in popularity outside of its native Japan, but these days it goes without saying that it’s one of the most well loved series in the entire medium.
It’s the Dragon Quest games developed by Enix, however, that truly defined the Famicom’s success in Japan, with each entry breaking sales records.
In case its influence isn’t clear, when Japanese magazine Famitsu ran a poll in 2006 asking readers what their favourite games of all time were, six of the top 20 were Dragon Quest games.
All four Famicom Dragon Quest titles were released in North America as Dragon Warrior I-IV, so there would be no localisation needed (at least for English-speaking audiences).
What remains to be seen is whether Square Enix, who now owns both Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, would be willing to provide the original versions on Switch Online, given its long-running habit of selling remastered versions of its classic titles.
Metal Gear is another series that requires no introduction, but before Snake made the series a household name on PlayStation he had already been stealthing it up on 8-bit systems.
In the original Metal Gear, Solid Snake is a rookie member of FOXHOUND. He has to infiltrate Outer Heaven (a small nation on the outskirts of South Africa) and destroy Metal Gear, the “ultimate super weapon”.
Even though it’s practically primitive compared to the cinematic epics today’s Metal Gear Solid games are, the first title still laid out numerous mechanics that would be carried over, including the reliance on stealth and the ability to communicate with colleagues over a transceiver.
It’s a key part of the series’ legacy, but it’s one that hasn’t really been re-released too many times, particularly in recent years. Make it happen, Konami.
Track & Field
While we’re looking at old Konami games, it’s also worth pointing out one of its most iconic ‘80s titles (and one that inspired countless imitators over the years).
Track & Field and its sequel (the cleverly named Track & Field II) gives players a combined total of 19 events to take part in, ranging from the likes of Hurdles, Long Jump and Javelin to more unique ones (set on neither track nor field) such as taekwondo and fencing.
The original arcade version was infamous for making popular the concept of alternately bashing two run buttons to build up speed/power, and while that was slightly changed for the NES (you just batter the A button instead), it’s still a wonder that barely any NES controllers broke as a consequence.
Of course, they don’t make them like they used to, and that counts for both games and hardware. We’re not certain the Switch’s JoyCons will withstand such abuse, but we’re up for giving it a try.
Zoda’s Revenge: StarTropics II
The original StarTropics is already on Switch Online, and is one of the service’s hidden gems.
It was created by Punch-Out!! creator Genyo Takeda as an attempt to make the RPG genre interesting to the western market, and as such is that rarest of beasts: a game that was developed in-house by Nintendo but wasn’t released in Japan.
Zoda’s Revenge follows on from StarTropics’ plot and is a similarly entertaining adventure, involving a time-travel story where the player meets the likes of Cleopatra, Sherlock Holmes and Leonardo da Vinci.
Given that the first StarTropics is already on Switch Online, and that Zoda’s Revenge was released on both the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console, it seems that it’s only a matter of time before it joins the Switch NES line-up.
SNES games we’d like to see on Switch Online
Ask anyone what the best SNES games are and, if they’re a fan of RPGs, there’s a very good chance they’ll mention Square’s Chrono Trigger.
The game’s beautifully intricate storyline and its time-travelling plot made for a thoroughly engaging journey, and its rousing soundtrack only served to make things even more memorable.
Square Enix is currently in the process of developing a remaster of the game’s sequel, Chrono Cross, which will be also coming to Switch.
Not only that, it’ll come with a localised and remastered version of a visual novel that was previously only released on the Satellaview, the Super Famicom’s satellite download service.
There’s really no better time, then, for Square Enix to give the nod and let Nintendo put Chrono Trigger on Switch Online, so players can see where the series began before buying the second game’s remaster.
Final Fight 2 and 3
Capcom has re-released the original Final Fight numerous times over the years (albeit not the SNES version, the superior original arcade version).
The SNES version of Final Fight was sadly lacking, both in terms of the number of characters available (Guy was missing) and the fact that it was single-player only.
This was remedied with Final Fight 2 and Final Fight 3, both of which were exclusive to the SNES and included two-player co-op.
All three games were made available on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console, but there’s no sign of any of them on Switch yet. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see the first Final Fight on Switch, given that the arcade version is part of the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle compilation.
Beat ‘em up fans would no doubt welcome the chance to play its far less well-known sequels on the Switch, though, so we hope one day Capcom decides to open the vault and let them out.
International Superstar Soccer
There are plenty of sports games already in the NES and SNES Switch Online library, but we still don’t have what’s arguably the best of the bunch (at least when it comes to football).
Konami’s International Superstar Soccer (and its update ISS Deluxe) was one of the finest soccer sims of the ‘90s, and savvy players knew it was one of the only games that not only rivalled EA’s FIFA International Soccer, but easily overtook it when it came to the quality of its gameplay.
The ISS series would go on for a number of years before dying out in the GameCube era, as Konami shifted to its ISS Pro spin-off series and turned it into Pro Evolution Soccer.
The original game still has a dedicated following, however, and the fact that it never had any officially licensed team or player names means there should be no issues in resurrecting it for Switch Online.
Incidentally, while we’re at it, we’d love International Superstar Soccer 64 on the N64 library too please, Konami.
Now that Earthbound is on Switch Online, it’s probably accurate to say that the one game most commonly requested to appear on the service is Super Mario RPG.
This collaboration between Square and Nintendo took Mario out of his platforming comfort zone and dumped him in the world of RPG games for the first time.
The game was so well-received in both Japan and North America (it wasn’t released in Europe until it came to Virtual Console) that it would go on to spawn the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series – indeed, the first Paper Mario was originally announced as Super Mario RPG 2.
One would hope that Super Mario RPG’s inclusion on Switch Online is a case of when rather than if, given that the game was previously released on both Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles, as well as the SNES Mini.
Once it does arrive on the service, however, it’ll bring up one question – what will fans moan about not having next?
Finally, here’s a slightly left-field one. This brilliant art package was notable for coming bundled with the SNES Mouse, a peripheral which introduced a lot of players to the concept of using a mouse for the first time.
That may seem ridiculous in today’s day and age, but given that Mario Paint was released a full three years before Windows 95 made PC use significantly more widespread in the home, it’s fair to say that a lot of players (particularly younger ones) had never touched a mouse before until they played Mario Paint.
In recent years, it’s become more well known for its brilliant music composer mode, where players drag icons onto a musical staff and create basic tunes, which are triggered by making Mario run along the top and jump on the notes.
Although it initially appears that replicating the SNES Mouse may be tricky, the gyro controls on the Switch’s Joy-Con have proved accurate enough for moving a cursor in Super Mario Galaxy’s HD re-release and FPS games like Doom.
Given that Nintendo previously released NES Zapper games like Duck Hunt on the Wii U Virtual Console, it clearly has no issue with replacing unconventional control methods with motion controls.
With that in mind, then, we see no reason why a Switch Online version of Mario Paint with Joy-Con motion controls shouldn’t be possible.