Why is Retro Gaming on the Nintendo Switch Such a Hit?

Nintendo Switch Online NES controller

Nintendo is banking hard on the nostalgia of mature players with Nintendo Switch Online.

Nintendo Switch Online popular titles
Image Credit: Nintendo.com

In 2017, Nintendo made yet another resounding splash in the video game world by releasing a large catalog of previously inaccessible NES and SNES games through Nintendo Switch Online. For roughly the cost of a cup of coffee per month (or just $19.99 for an entire year), fans of these industry classics can play such beloved titles as Yoshi’s Island, Kid Icarus, Super Metroid, Donkey Kong, and many others with the unlimited Virtual Console, and can even play with their friends via online and local multiplayer features.

This was a huge success for the company, adding draw to the already-attractive Switch console, and was another fine selling point for the release of the Switch Lite in September of last year. But why would they decide to bring back all of these old titles on the Switch when they’re already available through revamped consoles such as the NES Classic? What makes these games so compelling, to the point that Nintendo is even now releasing more games from its library to the Switch?

For many people, according to Business Insider, it’s a matter of intense nostalgia. Gamers who grew up with Link love playing Breath of the Wild for its new interpretation of the character, but nothing can beat playing the original, 8-bit Legend of Zelda. Games like that, or Super Mario or Metroid or many of the others, having grown into such successful franchises with such loving fanbases, have enormous sentimental value to millions of adults in the gaming world.

Nintendo Switch Online May updates
May’s updates to the Switch Online library

Releasing those classics on the Switch saves the customer having to buy an entirely new system (which they’re unlikely to do for one game) and gives them easy access to their favorite games on the newest platform, without any changes or rebooting. This is a surefire way to bring back the fondest memories of late-night marathon gaming sessions from summers and weekends that, now more than ever, are sorely missed in a confusing, complicated, and downright upsetting adult world.

It’s also an excellent way of preserving important parts of the history of video games. Adults who grew up with these classic games can introduce them to their children, who might otherwise never have had a chance to play them (as Nintendo isn’t known for having the best backward compatibility, and original copies of these games are not at all cheap).

New fans can now join in on the joy of playing the original games in a series they may have come late to, and understand in-jokes from original players that still circulate on the Internet (this way they don’t have to go alone, which we all know is dangerous).

Whether you’re a new fan or an old one, it’s a wonderful thing to get to appreciate the hard work that went into these classic games and to understand why they became pioneers in the industry. It lets you see firsthand the growth of the series, from shaky first iterations to masterful works of modern technology, and allows for a deeper enjoyment of the culture of gaming as a whole.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go try to beat Super Mario Bros again.

Cat Webling

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