New SNES Controllers Hint That Nintendo Switch Online Could Get Way Better

The mediocre Virtual Console replacement may finally be worth paying for very soon.

Despite its status as one of the most popular video game consoles of all time, Super Nintendo (SNES) games are not legally available to play on Nintendo’s current hybrid console, the Nintendo Switch, even if you pay for Nintendo Switch Online and its library of retro games. But a new FCC filing suggests this might finally change.

On Tuesday, user Link83 on the ResetEra gaming forums shared new FCC filings by Nintendo. While the documents are confidential until 2020, Nintendo has apparently submitted schematics for a SNES-style Bluetooth wireless controller for the Nintendo Switch. (As a brief primer, all wireless products must go through the Federal Communications Commission for approval before going to market.)

Link83 also shared a screenshot of the controller, which you can see in the embed further down. Clearly, the silhouette of the new controller is that of the SNES controller, with the addition of several feature buttons related to the functionality of the Nintendo Switch.

Based on Nintendo’s recent history with a compatible, wireless NES controller and a selection of NES games for the Switch Online subscription service, it’s plausible that Nintendo is primed to introduce SNES games to its current console. This means Nintendo fans may finally play some of the best games in history, like Super Mario World (1990), The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991), Super Metroid (1994), and Donkey Kong Country (1994) all on the go or at home via the Switch.

(And for fun, let me add Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, F-Zero, Mega Man X, Star Fox, EarthBound, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Castlevania IV, The Adventures of Batman & Robin, Shadowrun, Super Mario Kart, Earthworm Jim, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and NBA Jam, because let a guy dream, okay?)

SNES Nintendo Switch Controller
A schematic for a wireless SNES controller for the Switch, filed by Nintendo for the FCC. This image was shared by a user on the ResetEra forums on Tuesday. 

It’s not that Nintendo hasn’t reissued SNES games before. The Virtual Console, which was the branding for digital retro games on the Wii, Wii U, and the Nintendo 3DS, was how Nintendo released its library of retro games for newer consoles.

There was also the highly sought-after NES and SNES Classics, miniaturized consoles compatible to modern high-definition television sets that contained a set selection of the consoles’ respective libraries.

But with the Switch, Nintendo has changed how it rereleases older games; only paying Nintendo Switch Online subscribers can access a separate app packed with older games, almost like a Netflix for Nintendo. (And like Netflix, only a select number of NES titles are available.) Furthermore, the games cannot be downloaded for your console, but they can be played offline if the user had accessed the internet at least once during the week.

Nintendo Switch Street Fighter
Outside of collections released by third-party publishers, classic SNES games like 'Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting' are not available to play on the Nintendo Switch. Yet.

It’s a decent collection, but many of the iconic retro Nintendo games you remember weren’t on NES, they debuted with the SNES. Now, it looks like Nintendo could finally give paying fans what they want: SNES games in their Nintendo Switch Online library.

Oh, and while it wasn’t released on the SNES Classic, I’m still holding out hope that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time will be playable on the Switch eventually too.