Nintendo Switch Online — the paid subscription service for the Switch console — was originally scheduled to arrive last year before being delayed to its final September release date, but Nintendo has used the extra time to add an often-request feature: Cloud saves.
Subscribing to Nintendo Switch Online will allow you to use Nintendo’s cloud save backup system, which will be usable by “most Nintendo Switch games,” according to a press release.
“This is great for people who want to retrieve their data if they lose, break, or purchase an additional Nintendo Switch system,” Nintendo added in the release.
Though this is an easier option for those with a broken Switch, it is currently possible to do a system transfer between two consoles, provided that your old system has at least some functionality left.
The subscription requirement for cloud saves is similar to what Sony requires on the PlayStation 4 with PlayStation Plus. Microsoft is the only one of the three console manufacturers to not require a paid subscription for cloud saves, nor do users have to remember to manually upload them.
Along with the cloud saves and access to online multiplayer — which will only be open to Nintendo Switch Online members once the program starts — a subscription also includes access to 20 classic NES games at launch. These include Balloon Fight, Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., and Tennis, with 10 more to be announced at a later date. Most of these are already available on the NES Classic console, but the Switch versions include access to competitive and cooperative online multiplayer, as well as a controller-passing feature so you can take turns playing with someone across the globe. You will be able to voice chat with the Switch’s mobile app while playing these games, if you don’t feel like using a simpler program such as Discord or Skype. If you prefer to play the games completely offline, that’s also an option.
Unfortunately, Nintendo seems to be banking on this being the way you play the majority of your retro games on the Switch. Speaking to Kotaku, Nintendo said there are “currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner” on Switch. This doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t see a selection of older games available for sale, but they’ll likely be released as ports rather than emulated versions of the originals.
Nintendo Switch Online memberships will cost $4 for a single month, $8 for three months, and $20 for a full year. A $35 yearly “family membership” is also available, giving up to eight users access to online play across multiple systems.