If you’ve signed up for Nintendo Switch Online, you get quite a few benefits with one of them being access to a collection of classic Nintendo games. While the service launched with only 20 titles, Nintendo has promised that new games will be added regularly. The titles included here are special Switch versions that will have specially developed online play for the first time. With this in mind, I spent a good while thinking about which NES titles with multiplayer could best make use of this feature. Here’s the what I came up with.
9. Super Mario Bros. 3
The best Mario game for the NES needs little explanation. It gave us the biggest video game adventure of the time. Through it, we saw brand new transformations such as the Frog, Raccoon, Hammer, and Tanooki which gave Mario never before seen abilities. For the first time, Mario had an over world map and after beating a level, players could choose their next destination. While not necessarily a game famous for its co-op play, it did have a fun expanded battle mode in the Super Mario All-Stars version of the game that pit Mario and Luigi against each other.
With a special Switch Online release, I could see both the battle mode and regular adventure mode being a lot of fun to play with your friends.
Battletoads is a series unlike any other. It’s essentially a side-scrolling beat-em up game but it always contained a ton of weird levels that switched up the gameplay making it very unique among the beat-em up genre. I’ve got one of the most memorable levels pictured above. You basically ride hoverbikes through what looks like the inside of a giant intestinal tract and random walls appear smashing your face in! Battletoads was incredibly challenging and hilarious to play with a friend. Definitely a good candidate for Switch Online play.
7. Smash TV
Never heard of Smash TV? Here’s a summary: two contestants stuck on an insanely violent TV show have to survive while hordes of bad guys run in and try to kill them. Sounds crazy right? Players can pick up different weapon power-ups on the floor such as a triple-shot gun, a shot gun of sorts, and a variety of other weapons. The game was fast-paced and very challenging. A great game to play online with your friends to see how far you can get.
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game
Man I loved TMNT as a kid and played every single TMNT game that was released for the NES/SNES, including the little known 2D fighter – TMNT: Tournament Fighters. This particular entry into the series was pretty impressive for the times. Each of the turtles had different strengths and weaknesses which players would have to consider when deciding who to pick. Enemy foot soldier enemies were color-coded based on the type of their attacks. All in all, a very smart 2D side scrolling beat-em up and truly deserving of a Switch port.
Gauntlet is the original hack’n’slash NES game. Players can choose between 4 characters: Valkyrie, Elf, Warrior, and Wizard. Their roles were even more defined than in “TMNT 2” forcing players to think carefully about which two characters could off-set each others’ weaknesses. A lot of the ideas present in this game are staple concepts of games we see today. For those that have never played Gauntlet, a Switch Online version would be a great way to see where a lot of familiar gaming concepts got their start.
4. Double Dragons II: The Revenge
The hit game that spawned an awesome ’90s cartoon. Billy Lee and Jimmy Lee battle tons of enemies in yet another 2D side-scrolling beat-em up that makes this list. Unlike some of the other titles on this list, Double Dragons II featured interactive background objects such as barrels, crates, and boxes that players could lift up and hurl at enemies. It also had weapons like the nunchaku, shovels, and more that could also be picked up and used against enemies. It was a great game and would still be a lot of fun to play with a friend today.
Another game on this list that should need no introduction – Contra is the quintessential 2D side-scrolling shooter. It had tons of weapons and powerups, special maps that changed the gameplay perspective, and a huge variety of crazy bosses. This game was insanely hard back in the day and in my opinion, would be even harder for today’s gamers to beat. Maybe because I’m an old guy, I just don’t feel they make games as difficult as they used to. Releasing Contra on Switch Online would be an awesome way for today’s gamers to test their mettle.
2. Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers
“Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers” is one of those games which actually seemed to be designed with the specific intent to make the game accessible to young players. It’s co-op mode had made features that allowed one player to carry another player through some of the more difficult content. In this way, you get a front-row seat to a “how-to-play” 2D platformers tutorial. Have a kid or younger siblings? This is a great way to teach them the basics. Please Nintendo, let’s see this on Switch Online!
1. River City Ransom
Given my list, it’s pretty obvious I’ve got a thing for classic 2D beat-em up games so it should come as no surprise that the number 1 pick for a Switch Online port happens to be another one. Sort of. River City Ransom IS a beat-em up game, however it happens to have some RPG elements making it one of the most unique games on the NES. When defeating enemies, players earn money which can be spent in a variety of different ways to upgrade your character. You can also use the money to buy specific health recovering items as well as new moves! When it comes to 2D beat-em up games, River City Ransom is definitely the cream of the crop and the game I’d most want to be playing right now on Switch Online.
Featured Image Credits: The Verge