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Nintendo Switch Online: Price, Release Date, NES Games and More

  • Nintendo's premium online service launching on Sept. 18th for $20 a year.
  • Provides access to online play, voice chat and cloud saves.
  • Also includes a compilation of 20 classic NES games at launch, including Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda.

Nintendo's online service for the Switch is here. Launching in September, for $20 a year, Nintendo Switch Online will let you play games online, access classic Nintendo games and exclusive discounts, and chat with your friends in-game (well, if you have a special smartphone app).

It's a heck of a lot cheaper than what Sony and Microsoft offer, but is it worth the money? Let's dive in.

Editor's Note: Wondering if Nintendo's new online service is worth paying for? Check out our full Nintendo Switch Online review.

What's the price and release date for Nintendo Switch Online?

Nintendo Switch Online is available now. The service costs $4 per month, $8 for 3 months, or $20 for a full year. You can also get a 12-month family membership for $34.99, which allows up to eight different users to access Switch Online, even if they're on different Switch consoles.

If you've been collecting My Nintendo Gold Points, they can be used to purchase a Switch Online membership, according to this Nintendo Support page. This documentation also specifies that the points "cannot be used for auto-renewal."

Will there be a free trial?

Yes. According to Nintendo, you'll be able to try Switch online for seven days at no cost.

What does Nintendo Switch Online get you?

Photo: Shaun Lucas / Tom's Guide

Photo: Shaun Lucas / Tom's Guide

You need Nintendo Switch Online to play games such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2 and Arms online. However, you can still play Fortnite without the service.

You'll also need Switch Online to chat with your Switch pals online... using a separate mobile app (more on that later).

Additionally, Nintendo Switch Online finally brings cloud saves to the Switch, allowing you to back your saves up online "for most Nintendo Switch games," according to Nintendo. That could come in handy if you break your Switch, or decide to buy a second one.

Switch Online will also get you exclusive discounts, similar to what you'd see on Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus. Oh yeah, and there's one more big thing...

Which classic NES games are coming to Switch Online?

Credit: Nintendo

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Switch Online will also get you access to a compilation of classic NES games dubbed "NES - Nintendo Switch Online" (yes, that's the actual name). The service will include 20 games at launch, with more to be added over time. These retro titles will feature online functionality, including competitive and co-op play as well as the ability to virtually "pass the controller" to an online friend.

Here are the 20 games available at launch:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Dr. Mario
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Mario Bros.
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Baseball
  • Ice Hocket
  • Donkey Kong
  • Dr. Mario
  • Ice Climber
  • Gradius
  • Excitebike
  • River City Ransom
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • Pro Wrestling
  • Yoshi

And here are some games coming soon:

  • Solomon's Key (October)
  • NES Open Tournament Golf (October)
  • Super Dodge Ball (October)
  • Metroid (November)
  • Mighty Bomb Jack (November)
  • TwinBee (November)
  • Wario's Woods (December)
  • Ninja Gaiden (December)
  • Adventures of Lolo (December)

What about those NES controllers?

If you're dead set on playing Switch Online's NES games, you can pick up a pair of Switch-compatible NES controllers for $60. However, the controllers are exclusive to Switch Online members, and you can only purchase one per membership.

How do Nintendo Switch cloud saves work?

Switch Online includes cloud save functionality, which allows you to back up your save files to the Internet and keep them safe in the event something happens to your console. Your game saves will back up to the cloud automatically as long as you're online, so you won't have to worry about manually uploading anything.

Credit: Nintendo

(Image credit: Nintendo )

However, there is a catch. As discovered by Game Informer, certain games, such as Splatoon 2, Dark Souls Remastered and NBA 2K19 won't support cloud save functionality. Nintendo told the publication that this feature is disabled for multiplayer titles in which you could potentially cheat by manipulating your saves, but it's still a bummer for folks who simply want to keep their data secure for those games.

How does the Switch mobile app work?

Image: Nintendo

Image: Nintendo

The Nintendo Switch Online app is allows you to chat with your friends while playing Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Arms, Mario Tennis Aces and the system's classic NES library. It also offers game-specific services, such as the ability to check stats and order gear in Splatoon 2. The app is still a bit barebones and cumbersome (you can't message friends, and can only set up a chat session while playing one of the aforementioned games), but we're eager to see how it evolves throughout Switch Online's lifespan.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored and was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.