If you have a Switch, but haven’t opted for the Nintendo Switch Online service, you’re missing out on what passes for a Virtual Console service these days. Sure, it’s currently limited to a curated selection of 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System games, but it’s an impressive collection of titles that includes some real classics. There are also a few surprises, such as Konami’s rare vertical flight shooter TwinBee and enhanced versions of games like The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Gradius and Dr. Mario that let you bypass the start and get a bunch of power-ups to dive right into a challenge worth of hardcore gamers.
Starting Jan. 16, two more NES games will be available: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link — which takes the classic action-RPG and turns it on its head into a tough 2-D platformer — and Sunsoft’s run-and-gun Metroid-inspired explorer Blaster Master. The update also includes special versions of Ghosts’n Goblins and Ninja Gaiden that skip to the final boss levels.
You can try the Nintendo Switch Online service free for a week. One month costs $3.99, three months cost $7.99 and a year costs $19.99 — but the best value is a family plan that costs $34.99 a year and accommodates eight people with free Nintendo Accounts. If you want to play Switch game online (Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, etc.), you’ll need to sign on with this service anyway.