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The best games on Nintendo Switch Online

Each major gaming platform has its own subscription service, giving players added bonuses such as access to certain games and other perks for a monthly fee. Xbox has Game Pass, PlayStation has PlayStation Plus, and Nintendo Switch offers the Nintendo Switch Online program.

While Nintendo’s service isn’t on the same level as the other two across PlayStation and Xbox, it does give subscribers access to some of the best retro games of all time — and even more if you have the Expansion Pack upgrade, which includes N64, Sega Genesis, and Game Boy Advance games, along with DLC packs for certain Switch titles. Included with the basic version of the Nintendo Switch Online subscription is the ability to play online, plus access to NES and SNES games.

Whether you’re a basic member or you’ve upgraded to the Expansion Pack, there are plenty of fantastic games to enjoy via Nintendo’s subscription. But which are the best?

These are the best games on Nintendo Switch Online.

Mario Kart 64

Mario Kart 64
82%
E
Platforms
Nintendo 64, Wii, Wii U
Genre
Racing
Developer
Nintendo EAD
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
December 14, 1996
Racing games owe a lot to the Mario Kart series, particularly the Nintendo 64 entry, aptly titled Mario Kart 64. This game expanded upon the formula introduced in the SNES entry, while improving the visuals and controls. The large number of tracks offers plenty of replay value, while the level design is much more detailed than past iterations. Mario Kart 64 brings players together and is approachable, even to those who don’t play games often.
Nintendo 64 Longplay [002] Mario Kart 64

Super Mario Bros. 3 — Nintendo Entertainment System

Super Mario Bros. 3 — Nintendo Entertainment System
89%
E
Platforms
Wii, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, Family Computer
Genre
Platform, Adventure
Developer
Nintendo EAD
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
October 23, 1988
It might seem cliché to throw a Super Mario game on here, but this one is decidedly worthy of our list. To this day, Super Mario Bros. 3 holds up as one of the best platformers of all time, building upon the already excellent mechanics of previous installments. This is one of those games that looks, feels, and sounds timeless, thanks to its impeccable design from Nintendo. The game is famous for many things, but arguably its implementation of an overworld is the most important, redefining how platformers were presented. Beyond that, Super Mario Bros. 3 has some of the best level design of the entire series, defining a genre and creating a legacy that changed video games forever.
Super Mario Bros 3 - Commercial

Streets of Rage 2 — Sega Genesis

Streets of Rage 2 — Sega Genesis
84%
E
Platforms
Linux, Wii, PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Android, iOS, Arcade
Genre
Hack and slash/Beat 'em up, Arcade
Developer
Ancient, MNM Software, Shout! Designworks, H.I.C., Sega
Publisher
Sega, Sega
Release
December 20, 1992
Streets of Rage 2 has it all: incredibly beautiful spritework, a kickin’ rad soundtrack, and beat ’em up gameplay mechanics that were somehow a major improvement from the original. When it comes to games that hold up incredibly well, few Sega Genesis titles are in the same league as Streets of Rage 2. It’s incredibly timely as well, since the beat ’em up genre has gone through somewhat of a renaissance as of late, with titles like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, River City Girls, and even Streets of Rage 4! So if you’ve enjoyed any of those, you absolutely have to play Streets of Rage 2.

Super Mario World — Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Super Mario World — Super Nintendo Entertainment System
93%
E
Platforms
Wii, Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), Wii U, Super Famicom, New Nintendo 3DS
Genre
Platform, Adventure
Developer
Nintendo EAD
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
November 21, 1990
We’re not going to debate which is better between Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, but we will say both are legendary games that deserve praise despite being so different from one another. Super Mario World is known for being littered with secrets throughout its stages, giving players more to do while also featuring stunning visuals that — to some — blew all the previous games out of the water. Much like its predecessor, World is innovative, timeless, and just a joy to play. 
SNES Longplay - Super Mario World

EarthBound — Super Nintendo Entertainment System

EarthBound — Super Nintendo Entertainment System
90%
T
Platforms
Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), Wii U, Super Famicom, New Nintendo 3DS
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Turn-based strategy (TBS), Adventure
Developer
HAL Laboratory, Creatures Inc., Ape
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
August 27, 1994
There truly isn’t anything like Earthbound. This is a turn-based RPG that has so much heart and charm it’s no wonder nothing else has replicated it nearly 30 years later. While many turn-based RPGs are fantasy-based, Earthbound is more relatable because it’s about a group of kids. Instead of swords and bows, this game requires you to use baseball bats, frying pans, and other household items. Though it does have its fair share of ridiculousness, such as an alien invasion, Earthbound’s strength is that it felt different from many other fantasy RPGs at the time. Its writing is witty and hysterical, its visuals are gorgeous, and the game’s story is surprisingly gripping. 
EarthBound Commercial

Super Metroid — Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Super Metroid — Super Nintendo Entertainment System
93%
E
Platforms
Wii, Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, New Nintendo 3DS
Genre
Shooter, Platform, Adventure
Developer
Nintendo, Nintendo R&D1
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
March 19, 1994

There’s a lot Super Metroid does right, from its pacing to its atmosphere, while looking so dang good at the same time. It’s a game that nails stripping you of your abilities while slowly giving them back as you advance, with a satisfying sense of progression that never gets old. There’s so much to do and see, and the game encourages you to explore as much as possible, giving you new upgrades to make things ever-so-slightly easier. The creatures in Super Metroid are bar-none some of the best things about it, along with its overall level design that makes the game so much fun to explore.

SNES Super Metroid Introduction

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask — Nintendo 64

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask — Nintendo 64
87%
E
Platforms
Nintendo 64, Wii, Wii U
Genre
Adventure
Developer
Nintendo EAD
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
April 27, 2000

Sure, Ocarina of Time gets all the love, but we’d argue that Majora’s Mask is better in more ways than one. One thing we love is just how creepy it is, with a slew of weird characters who mostly have incredibly tragic backstories. The entire game has such a horrifying presence due to the moon inching closer and closer to Earth each day, with an overwhelming sense of doom. Beyond that, the time travel mechanics are wild and — when you get the hang of them — are satisfying to play with, offering a unique experience that remains one of the most memorable Zelda games to date.

Majora's Mask Intro [HD]

Banjo-Kazooie — Nintendo 64

Banjo-Kazooie — Nintendo 64
85%
E
Platforms
Nintendo 64
Genre
Platform, Adventure
Developer
Rare
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
June 29, 1998
While Banjo-Kazooie certainly isn’t the first 3D platformer, it definitely was one of the best. It took many queues from Super Mario 64 but added more complexities thanks to the level design and sheer amount to do. With a greater push toward exploration, Banjo-Kazooie is an immersive adventure with wacky characters, tons of collectibles, and plenty of personality that’s fondly remembered to this day.
Banjo-Kazooie - Intro - HD

Tetris

Tetris
82%
E
Platforms
Game Boy, Nintendo 3DS
Genre
Puzzle
Developer
Nintendo
Publisher
Nintendo, Gradiente
Release
May 14, 1989
Tetris is a classic, sure, but it’s also immensely fun to this day. We hesitate to call a video game “perfect,” but Tetris comes extremely close, with gameplay that offers challenge and satisfaction, plus nearly infinite replay value. It’s a game that is appealing to a wide range of players, offering a simple, yet complex mechanic that is easy to understand, but difficult to master. There’s a reason Tetris is so iconic.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
84%
E
Platforms
Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U
Genre
Puzzle, Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer
Capcom Production Studio 1
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
November 04, 2004
One of the lesser-appreciated games in the series, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is secretly among the best. Its main mechanic allows players to shrink down to the size of a Minish, which are a race of tiny creatures no larger than your thumb. It takes many of the cues from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, while doubling down on a more cartoonish art style. Even though it’s more simplistic compared to its 3D counterparts, Minish Cap is still worth your time, especially to enjoy its beautiful music, gameplay, and charm. 
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap - Nintendo eShop Trailer (Wii U)

Metroid Fusion

Metroid Fusion
84%
E
Platforms
Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Shooter, Platform, Puzzle, Adventure
Developer
Nintendo R&D1
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
November 17, 2002
Yet another underrated entry in a famous Nintendo series, Metroid Fusion is excellent, and is essential to the overall Metroid story. It introduces the X parasite, which leads to many twists and turns throughout the game. Of course, Fusion borrows heavily from Super Metroid, but adds a flurry of gameplay improvements (such as better controls), along with crisp visuals that still hold up to this day. Before playing Metroid Dread, you have to play Fusion, which bridges the gap between the latest installments.
Metroid Fusion JPN Trailer

Paper Mario

Paper Mario
88%
E
Platforms
Nintendo 64, Wii, Wii U
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Turn-based strategy (TBS), Adventure
Developer
Intelligent Systems Co., Ltd.
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
August 11, 2000
Released for the N64 in 2001, Paper Mario was a vastly different Mario experience at the time. Instead of the familiar platforming fans had grown to expect, Paper Mario is an RPG that utilizes turn-based battle mechanics. This was interesting enough, but the game is even more appealing thanks to its construction paper aesthetic, which adds far more depth than ever before. This is easily one of the best Mario games out there, and it’s playable on Nintendo Switch.
Paper Mario (N64) - Intro

Editors' Recommendations

Joseph Yaden
Joseph Yaden is a freelance journalist who covers Nintendo, shooters, and horror games. He mostly covers game guides for…
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