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3 retro classics to play on Nintendo Switch Online this weekend (May 3-5)

Kirby and his friends pose in Kirby and the Amazing Mirror art.

With rumors of a new Nintendo console heating up, it’s once again time to accept that the Switch’s long lifespan is coming to its end. 2024 will likely be the system’s last full year before a successor steals its thunder. That’s apparent in Nintendo’s recent first-party offerings, as the system is getting a lot of remasters and niche curveballs this year. As exclusives like Endless Ocean: Luminous underwhelm, you may have found yourself looking for reasons to fire up your Switch.

Thankfully, you have a lot of great excuses to do so if you’re subscribed to Nintendo Switch Online. The service is home to plenty of classic games from the NES up to the Nintendo 64. Even if you’re a game historian, there’s a good chance you haven’t played everything Switch Online has to offer. This weekend, I have three recommendations for anyone looking to fire up some great, old games. These aren’t random picks; I’ve chosen three games that feel spiritually linked to some of this spring’s biggest games.

Kirby and the Amazing Mirror

Kirby flying above another yellow Kirby in Kirby & the Amazing Mirror.

It’s been a killer year for the Metroidvania genre thanks to releases like Tales of Kenzera: Zau, and it’s only about to get better. Next week, publisher Bigmode will release its highly anticipated Animal Well. There are plenty of great Metroid games you can play on Switch online to continue that trend, but I’m going off the beaten path this week to recommend Kirby and the Amazing Mirror.

The Game Boy Advance title is one of the most unusual but inventive games in the entire Kirby series. Players don’t just waltz through simple 2D stages like most Kirby games. Instead, they traverse an interconnected map of stages. Some paths can only be accessed if Kirby returns to them with a specific ability inhaled. It’s a unique twist that doesn’t always work, but it’s a fascinating play for anyone who is interested in the genre’s history right now. Kirby feels surprisingly well-built for a Metroidvania full of locks and keys, and I hope the series gets a chance to continue experimenting with the format some day.

Ecco the Dolphin

Ecoo swims underwater in Ecco the Dolphin.

This week’s biggest Switch release is a surprise one. Endless Ocean: Luminous is a revival of a short-lived Wii ocean exploration series. It’s great to see such a laid-back franchise return, though Luminous‘ lack of meaningful content leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, you don’t need to spend an extra penny to get the best parts of it. Just fire up Switch Online’s Sega Genesis app and dive into Ecco the Dolphin.

The Sega classic has players controlling a dolphin through an underwater adventure. If you’ve never played it before, you’re in for a treat. Ecco the Dolphin boasts a mysterious atmosphere that’ll suck you in, and an incredibly relaxing soundtrack that’s one of the best gaming has to offer. I see a lot of its DNA in Endless Ocean: Luminous, which has a similar approach to aquatic mystery. It’s a perfect companion piece to what could be one of the Switch’s last true exclusives.

Sin and Punishment

While April was a quiet month for big new releases, one game made a big splash: Stellar Blade. The PS5 exclusive impressed critics and fans alike with its stylish combat. While Digital Trends wasn’t as hot on it because of a weak story and dull mission design, it left us hungry for more creative action games that are willing to get a little wild. If you’re in the same boat, you have to check out Sin and Punishment.

Available on Switch Online’s Nintendo 64 app, Sin and Punishment is a hidden gem that deserves your attention. The on-rails arcade shooter has players saving the world from a dystopian monster uprising. It’s full of original creature designs, spectacular action set pieces, and lots of complicated twists. Sound familiar? Games like Sin and Punishment may not be household names, but out-there titles like Stellar Blade owe a lot to them. Sin and Punishment is a daring action game that wasn’t afraid to go off the deep end. That alone makes it worth a revisit this weekend.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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