The Nintendo Switch Online service has just launched, and along with it, we finally now know how Nintendo will distribute the NES games that come included with the service. It turns out there will be a free piece of software you can download for free from the eShop simply titled "Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online" and from within that, you can find all 20 of the previously announced NES games. The app itself can not be opened unless the user has a Nintendo Switch Online paid membership and the console will always check to make sure the membership is valid before opening.

The emulator itself is very sleek and to the point. On the left is a toolbar used to toggle Singleplayer and Multiplayer mode, along with the Online functionality, and a settings tab that lets you cycle through 4:3, Perfect Pixel, and CRT Filter viewing modes. Onto the main screen, all 20 games are displayed featuring their original NES box art. The games can also be rearranged to be presented in any order you want. I decided to go with the 6 Mario games on the top row, the 7 other stylized boxes in the middle row, and the remaining 7 black box games at the bottom.

Pressing X while highlighting any of the NES games will let you view the details of that game which includes a paragraph description, the developer behind the game, the year it was released, the number of players supported, and your total play time. Interestingly enough, the Switch itself records playtime by ever 5 minutes played while the NES app displays all minutes played.

It takes the app a millisecond to load up each individual game, getting you right to playing. While in game, you can press ZL and ZR at the same time to open up the overlay menu, which lets you create or load restore points, reset the game, or return to the menu. The whole experience feels as clean and fluid as the Switch OS itself. The games look and feel amazing. Losing the Wii U's dull emulator, the Switch much more clearly resembles that of the NES Classic Edition, and I would not doubt that code used for the NES Classic was re-purposed here.

Overall, I would say this is a great way to present the NES library on the Switch. Having all of these games in one convenient form-factor that both plays and looks as well as it does is more than welcome on my console, and easily justifies the $20 yearly subscription fee.

9 / 10