Game Recs

The 14 Best Retro Games on Nintendo Switch Online Right Now

Nostalgia machine.

Originally Published: 
Earthbound cafeteria

In a year that has seen the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and the upcoming release of a new 2D Mario game and Pikmin 4, you would think there would be no need for more games. But one of the best things about the Switch is its ability to play some classic titles from the company’s long history. Name a retro gem and it is probably available on Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack.

With so many titles to choose from, we narrowed down the 14 best games the service has to offer.

14. Banjo-Kazooie

  • Platform: Nintendo 64

The N64 is full of iconic 3D platformers, including the pioneer of the genre: Super Mario 64. But you should play Banjo-Kazooie instead. Developed by Rare (who has another game on this list) Banjo-Kazooie gives you two characters to control with a plethora of interesting abilities as well as clever dialogue between them. In many ways, it surpasses Super Mario 64.

13. Street Fighter II’: Special Champion Edition

  • Platform: Sega Genesis

Even with the incredible improvements to the long-running fighting game franchise that came in the recently released Street Fighter 6, Street Fighter II remains the franchise’s pinnacle. The Sega Genesis port is one of the best console versions of the classic fighter, and a great way to play it on Nintendo Switch.

12. Tetris

  • Platform: Game Boy

The best puzzle game, full stop. We all know Tetris, even if you have never touched it in your life. Those blocks are iconic. So much so that Apple TV+ made an entire movie about the game. The Game Boy version remains iconic thanks to how it helped sell the system, and it continues to play perfectly on Switch Online.

11. Earthbound

  • Platform: SNES

Amongst the ‘90s RPGs on the SNES, Earthbound is unique thanks to its meta-humor and satirical approach to American life as well as video games themselves. To call it a cult hit is an understatement, Earthbound has a massive fanbase for a reason. It is a great RPG thanks to its combat that transcends the rest of the genre thanks to its impeccable wit.

10. Pokémon Snap

  • Platform: Nintendo 64

I can’t be the only one who likes to sit around in Pokémon and just look at all my cool creatures. So, Nintendo made Pokémon Snap, a game all about looking at those cool creatures! This on-rail shooter is a fun photography game that lets you enjoy the pocket monsters in more peaceful manner, and it has a chill vibe all around.

9. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

  • Platform: Sega Genesis

All you need to know is that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the first game with Tails. What other reason do you need? OK fine, it also happens to be an exceptional sequel thanks to the masterful level design that improved upon the original. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is proof of how great it is that Sega games are part of Switch Online.

8. Ninja Gaiden

  • Platform: NES

There have been many great ninja games made over the year, with even Elden Ring developer FromSoftware trying its hand at the genre. Yet one of the best is still one of the oldest. Ninja Gaiden on the NES is legendary and still holds up thanks to its platforming combat.

7. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

  • Platform: Game Boy Advance

There are many more popular Zelda games in the world, some still to come on this list, but The Minish Cap still has its fans. Made in the style of the traditional top-down Zelda games, The Minish Cap has an inventive shrinking mechanic that leads to beautiful world design and inventive puzzles to solve.

6. WarioWare, Inc: Mega Microgame$!

  • Platform: Game Boy Advance

What if a game was made up of just mini-games? That is the idea behind WarioWare, and it is great. If you want to just spend five, 10, or 30 minutes playing hair-trigger mini-games that last less than 5 seconds each you need to pick up WarioWare. It is silly and delightful all at once.

5. Fire Emblem

  • Platform: Game Boy Advance

Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade (often called just Fire Emblem) is actually the seventh entry in the strategy RPG series. However, it was the first in the series to release outside of Japan. To this day it has one of the best stories in the series and delivers the signature chess-like combat that requires players to constantly think several moves ahead.

4. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

  • Platform: Game Boy Advance

Mario has had a lot of side hustles and adventures outside of his typical platforming games. The RPG spinoffs are some of the best, with Superstar Saga on Game Boy Advance being one of the more beginner-friendly ways into the RPG genre thanks to the charming twist that the Nintendo plumbers bring to it.

3. GoldenEye 007

  • Platform: Nintendo 64

Not only is GoldenEye 007 one of the best multiplayer games ever made, it is also one of the best game adaptations of a movie ever made. You could also play it on Xbox but Switch Online has the benefit of including multiplayer, which is half of the reason you want to play the game anyways.

2. Metroid Fusion

  • Platform: Game Boy Advance

Yes, Super Metroid is also available on Switch Online, but everybody knows about that game already. Metroid Fusion makes Samus a fully realized character of her own and is the most important game to play before Metroid Dread, as the 2021 game is a direct sequel to Fusion.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

  • Platform: Nintendo 64

The first 3D Zelda and still one of the best entries in the franchise, period, Ocarina of Time is one of the most important games in the medium’s history. With the shuttering of the 3DS and Wii-U shops, playing the game through Switch Online is also the only legal way to play Ocarina now. Roaming the fields of Hyrule on Epona may not be as gorgeous as Breath of the Wild, but it is just as magical.

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