Is The Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack Worth It Now?

When it was first announced later last year, the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack rightfully inspired quite a bit of ire among Switch users. For fifty dollars a year, Nintendo was offering a handful of N64 games, a smattering of Sega Genesis games, online functionality for those games and a piece of DLC for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. While all those things are nice, they just weren’t enough to justify what amounted to a massive price hike for online service, optional though it was. Over the past year, though, Nintendo has been steadily adding to the game libraries for both the N64 and Genesis, and the online works better than expected. Is that enough, though?

There are currently 21 N64 games and 36 Sega Genesis games available as part of the Expansion Pack. That might not seems like a lot, especially when it comes to the N64 and the continued absence of certain popular titles like Donkey Kong 64, but that’s still less than a dollar a game when it comes down to it. So right there one could say that that justifies the fifty dollar annual subscription fee. That’s only if the user actually likes both systems and most of the games though, which likely won’t be the case for most.

There are also quality-of-life features to consider too, though, primarily the ability to create save states at will and suspend games whenever one wants. As easy as it’s always been to just pick up and play these sorts of games, there’s no denying that these new features do indeed make it easier than ever. This is especially true for the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and its somewhat unforgiving save system. This and the HD upscaling applied to all these titles does add to the value of the service, though again that depends entirely on how many of these games one wants to play and how much time they intend to spend on them.

Aside from the games themselves, the newly-added online multiplayer features are perhaps the most compelling reason for signing up for the Expansion Pack. Mario Party, Mario Tennis, Mario Kart 64 and Star Fox 64 all offer multiplayer experiences that are still tons of fun today, but it can be difficult to get everyone in the same room to enjoy them like back in the good old days. Taking these classic games online, and making that online experience mostly functional is a huge service for those who still want to play these old games with their buddies.

The online still suffers somewhat from Nintendo’s typical ineptitude when it comes to anything involving the internet, but it does work well enough to make the experience both playable and enjoyable. Even at one, two or even at an apparent zero bars of connectivity, the games still don’t slow down too much, and inputs are still mostly registered in real time. Improving this would still go a long way towards justifying the fifty dollar price point, but at least it works well enough to be playable.

NSO - Mario Party 2 - Western Land
So while the jump from twenty to fifty dollars for a seemingly small handful of games is still jarring, the Expansion Pack may just be worth it for more than a few gamers out there. For those that both like and want to play these games, it’s probably a no-brainer. Those that want to play their old favorites online with their friends will likely feel like they’re getting their money’s worth too. For those who are only interested in a couple of the games on offer and who don’t particularly care about online functionality, then the Expansion Pass likely isn’t going to be all that appealing.

Let’s face it, fifty dollars just to play Super Mario 64 (again) or The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is just too much. Perhaps Nintendo will consider meeting people halfway someday and offer a mid-tier plan that includes the most popular games that most fans will want to pay. That way, eventually everyone can win and not just Nintendo and a small portion of the die-hard fan base.