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Donkey Kong Jr. and others join Nintendo Switch Online roster

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Three new additions bring the total number of NES games offered on the service to over 40.

Nintendo this week announced the latest three additions to its affordable but generally unpopular Nintendo Switch Online service which, among other things, lets gamers play online-enabled versions of NES games. The newest arrivals are Donkey Kong Jr., Clu Clu Land and VS. Excitebike.

Nintendo Switch Online, available for $20 a year, lets players save their game data to the cloud, and play online with friends and enemies who also subscribe to the service. Each month since the service launched, Nintendo has added 2 or 3 titles, so that soon there will be more than 40 options.

Players don't "own" the games and will lose access to them the minute they let subscriptions lapse, since Nintendo seems committed to never again offering a Virtual Console service similar to the one consumers enjoyed on Wii and Wii U, but those players can pay the fees and return at any time to enjoy a swelling library that at this point rivals the lineup offered on the ridiculously popular NES Classic Mini console (and at a much lower cost). Many consumers feel this represents a bad value, because... reasons?

In any event, this month's three additions probably aren't going to thrill anyone, though I'm happy enough to see them join the list. Nintendo also promises additional titles in coming months, so perhaps those will offer broader appeal.

The official descriptions of each inbound game from the press release are reasonably solid, marketing speak aside, so here they are in all their glory:

Donkey Kong Jr. – Based on the popular arcade game, Donkey Kong Jr. is the sequel to the immensely successful Donkey Kong game. Play as Donkey Kong's son, and rescue your dad who has been kidnapped and imprisoned in a cage by Mario. Use jumping and climbing abilities to clamber up vines and chains, gather vital fruit and keys, and open the cage to free your father. Make sure you avoid the pesky birds, nasty electric sparks and creepy chompers. Four different worlds filled with numerous climbing and jumping puzzles await you in this timeless classic.

VS. Excitebike – Fans love the Excitebike game for its frenetic races, high stakes and sweet jumps. With this game, you can take it to the next level with the Famicom disk version of VS. Excitebike – complete with two-player split screen. Create tracks from 20 classic Excitebike track parts, and go for a best time or take on friends. Racing is even more exciting when the rivalries are real. You can also try out the single-player mode in VS. Excitebike. It adds tracks, music and the ability to save your high score.

Clu Clu Land – The greedy Sea Urchins have stolen all of Clu Clu Land's gold bars and buried them in a series of mazes. As Bubbles, a brave bubble fish, you'll set out to uncover all of the gold bars in each maze. With 20 stages to complete and increasingly complex conditions (like having to pass over the gold bars twice to uncover them), you might just want to bring along a friend for help.

The three new games will be available starting one week from today, on May 15. If you're not into the idea of playing yesteryear's classics, you might also enjoy playing the surprise hit, Tetris 99, which lets 100 players compete in Tetris matches to see who will be the last one standing.

Nintendo Switch Online is available in configurations for a single player or an entire family, and also offers members the opportunity to spend $60 ordering physical NES-style controllers they can use to play NES classics on the Switch. Have you subscribed?

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Staff article by Jason Venter (May 08, 2019)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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hastypixels posted May 22, 2019:

My immediate thought goes to the SNES games we're not getting, but I see what Nintendo is trying to do. They're looking at games that haven't gotten the attention they perhaps deserve, or are less appreciated.

...though that could well be because they're overplayed, underwhelming and not actually good games in their own right.

It's a losing battle, I'm afraid, considering the sort of functionality Nintendo is painstakingly baking into these games for addition to their Online service. A lot of work potentially wasted, and certainly overshadowed by the popularity of mobile gaming in competing markets.
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bwv_639 posted May 28, 2019:

Many consumers feel this represents a bad value, because... reasons?

I surmise that even for people who are going to be ever subscribed (let alone the others), owning the content is reassuring, not owning it the contrary.
In light of Steam's success, most Steam users do probably skirt it to read the conditions of purchase upon getting Steam games.
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honestgamer posted May 28, 2019:

For the record, I would much rather own the games than not, even in digital form. In fact I already do own most or all of the titles, because I've purchased every NES game available on the Wii/Wii U versions of the Virtual Console on top of owning carts of very nearly all of them. But $20/year to have access to almost 50 NES games, as just one part of the overall service, seems really very fair (it's less than $2.00 per month) and is heading toward the "Netflix for gaming" that so many claim to want. Admittedly, the pricing looks bad compared to "Free, because I pirated everything," which is how too many people now determine retro game value, but Nintendo's model seems to be quite reasonably priced, especially considering having access to a little over half that content would have cost as much as 3 or 4 years of membership. And also looking at the online functionality being added so that you can play games with friends. I really need to play through Super Mario Bros. 3 with some of you, actually, now that it's so easy to do so...

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