Nintendo Switch Online will offer a handful of N64 games starting in late October, and online multiplayer is a big development for the aging system.
Part of the recent Nintendo Direct was used to reveal a new tier of Nintendo Switch Online, which will allow subscribers to play a selection of Nintendo 64 games. These new offerings will be available alongside 14 Sega Genesis games starting in late October, and will bring a new level of functionality never before seen on the likes of the Nintendo 64. The N64 games coming to NSO will support online multiplayer, giving these titles a new potential after the 18 years that the console has been out of production.
After the Super Nintendo supporting only two players, the N64 was the first Nintendo console to allow four players on one system. Many classic games like Mario Party and 007 GoldenEye used this newfound functionality to great success, the former spawning a long-running franchise, and the latter still highly regarded as a pillar of the FPS franchise. Unfortunately, classic N64 party games have become increasingly more difficult to play, since both the console and the games are no longer in production.
2003 saw the official end of the Nintendo 64 generation outside of Japan. Nintendo’s next console, the GameCube, released in North America in late 2001, and by 2003 the N64 was pulled from further production. 18 years later, fewer N64 consoles than ever are functional and accessible. The same can be said for N64 controllers and games. Nintendo 64 multiplayer games are outdated for other reasons than the hardware, of course, but their addition to Nintendo Switch Online offers a chance for them to have a resurgence.
Online Play Could Start An N64 Multiplayer Renaissance
Aside from the fact that Nintendo is charging extra for the N64 and Sega Genesis games, the new online functionality makes them more accessible than ever. Additionally, not needing to be in the same room makes it much easier to get a group together to play, especially for those who grew up with the games and have since moved away from their old friends. Online multiplayer is incredibly prevalent in the modern games industry, but the unique titles from the N64 era never had a chance to reach such a broad audience.
It remains to be seen how reliable the online functionality will be for the N64 games on Nintendo Switch Online, since Nintendo is notorious for its clunky online services. However, even just being able to invite friends to play will help the classic games realize their full potential. Playing online might even finally help settle some decades long rivalries by eliminating screen peeking from the question of who reigns supreme. After 18 years of the Nintendo 64 slowly slipping into irrelevancy, some of its multiplayer games might realize their true potential on the Nintendo Switch.
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