The Nintendo Switch has its own, paid subscription service which is required for online play.

But, not only does Nintendo Switch Online enable Switch owners to play many games online, it offers a growing selection of free classic games to download, garnered from the heydays of the NES and SNES consoles.

So here's everything you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online, including pricing and what it has to offer.

Do you need Nintendo's online service to play Switch games?

Switch Online is Nintendo's equivalent to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold. It is a paid subscription service that gives you access to online multiplayer play for many games, plus other benefits and features.

You will need to be a Nintendo Switch Online member to play the vast majority of games online. You will still be able to play games such as Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in single-player or local multiplayer, but won't be able to compete against your friends over the internet if you don't have an active Nintendo Switch Online subscription.

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What is included?

As well as online play, you get several other benefits as part of your Nintendo Switch Online subscription:

Classic NES and SNES games

An ever-growing library of Nintendo Entertainment System games are available to play at no extra cost. The library grows often, with classics like Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda all on offer.

Switch Online members also get the chance to play a selection of SNES games. Like the NES library, a large selection of Super Nintendo titles, such as Super Mario World 2 and Mario Kart, are available through a free to download app.

This effectively turns your Nintendo Switch into a NES Classic Mini or SNES Classic Mini.

Nintendo Switch Online free classic games list for UK, EU and US (as of 5 December 2019):

NES

  • Adventures of Lolo
  • Balloon Fight
  • Baseball
  • Blaster Master (+ SP version)
  • City Connection
  • Clu Clu Land
  • Crystalis (coming 12 December)
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong 3
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Double Dragon
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario (+ SP version)
  • Excitebike
  • Ghosts'n Goblins (+ SP version)
  • Gradius (+ SP version)
  • Ice Climber
  • Ice Hockey
  • Journey to Silius (coming 12 December)
  • Kid Icarus (+ SP version)
  • Kirby's Adventure (+ SP version)
  • Kung-Fu Heroes
  • The Legend of Zelda (+ SP version)
  • Mario Bros.
  • Metroid (+ SP version)
  • Mighty Bomb Jack (+ SP version)
  • NES Open Tournament Golf
  • Ninja Gaiden (+ SP version)
  • Pro Wrestling
  • Punch-Out!!
  • River City Ransom
  • Soccer
  • Solomon's Key
  • Star Soldier (+ SP version)
  • Star Tropics
  • Super Dodge Ball
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • Tennis
  • TwinBee (+ SP version)
  • Vice: Project Doom
  • Volleyball
  • Vs. Excitebike
  • Wario's Woods
  • Wrecking Crew
  • Yoshi
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (+ SP version)

SNES

  • Brawl Brothers
  • Breath of Fire
  • Breath of Fire II (coming 12 December)
  • Demon's Crest
  • F-Zero
  • Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics
  • Kirby Super Star (coming 12 December)
  • Kirby's Dream Course
  • Kirby's Dream Land 3
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Pilotwings
  • Star Fox
  • Star Fox 2 (coming 12 December)
  • Stunt Race FX
  • Super E.D.F. Earth Defense Force
  • Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Super Puyo Puyo 2
  • Super Soccer
  • Super Tennis

Cloud saves

Switch Online allows you to store your save games in the cloud, in order to back up your progress. That way, if you do have to wipe your Switch for whatever reason or run out of storage, you will still have a back-up you can download at a later date.

There is a catch though; not all games will save to the cloud. Nintendo blocks some to "ensure fair play", whatever that means.

Nintendo Switch Online app

A Nintendo Switch Online app is available for iOS and Android, and offers voice chat and multiplayer hubs for supported games.

Member offers

Deals and offers are available for members only. As are the occasional free games beyond those for NES and SNES.

One UK offer for members is the option to purchase a two game voucher for £84, thereby saving you cash on Nintendo eShop purchases.

Pricing

The price of Nintendo Switch Online varies depending on whether you like to pay monthly, quarterly or yearly. There is also family membership which includes up to eight Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions. Each different family member can use the full Nintendo Switch Online privileges on different consoles or even the same Switch.

After a one-week free trial period, a Nintendo Switch Online subscription will cost the following:

Individual membership

1 month (30 days): £3.49, €3.99, $3.99

3 months (90 days): £6.99, €7.99, $7.99

12 months (365 days): £17.99, €19.99, $19.99

Family membership

12 months (365 days): £31.49, €34.99, $34.99

How to get Nintendo Switch Online

It's easy to sign up for a Nintendo Switch Online account. Using a web browser, just head here if you are in the UK, or here if you are in the US.

Alternatively, you can sign up on your Switch itself. Head to the eShop icon on the bottom of the main menu screen, open the eShop and you will see "Nintendo Switch Online" as one of the options on the left-hand side. Click on it and it will take you to the membership options screen where you can choose your membership, even start the free trial period.

You will also need a free Nintendo Account though, so if you haven't got one already, head here: my.nintendo.com.