The 14 best retro games on Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack

Nintendo Switch Online, which was launched in 2008, allows users to emulate their favorite Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System titles. Players can now also check out the Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64 games from the 1990s and 2000s with the Expansion Pack.

We’ve looked through all the libraries and compiled a list of the top 14 games available across all four retro consoles. Some of these games are historically significant, while others may be hidden gems you’ve never played.

These are the top retro games that you can play on Nintendo Switch Online + Expandsion Pack.

Donkey Kong (NES).

Mario battles Donkey Kong in the original Donkey Kong arcade game, ported to NES

Image: Nintendo via Polygon

Original Donkey KongIt is the epitome of a classic. It’s the MarioOrigin story and, unlike many of the other NES games on the Nintendo Switch online service, not in a curated pack like Super Mario All-Stars or Super Mario 3D All-Stars. It’s a tone-downed look from the Mario you know, trading side-scrolling levels for a single climb toward Donkey Kong and the lady he’s kidnapped, Pauline (whom you may recognize from Super Mario Odyssey).

Donkey Kong Timing and sound are important, which makes it easy to use and reduces stress. Even on Switch, your hands tighten around the controller just before you leap over one of Donkey Kong’s barrels. And it’s that feeling — the sigh of relief as you wipe your sweaty palms on your jeans the second you reach Donkey Kong — that’s kept us coming back for decades.

Blaster Master (NES).

The Blaster Master ship delves into the earth in Blaster Master

Image: Inti Creates, Sunsoft via Polygon

Blaster masterThis is one of few games from the NES Nintendo Switch Online Collection that feels a little modern. The whole hook of the 2D side-scroller is that you’ve got a high tech, super powerful car at your disposal that you can jump in and out of at will. While you’re in the car, you’ve got outstanding mobility and firepower, but you’ll frequently have to leave it behind to explore smaller caves and underground dungeons filled with monsters (whereupon the game turns into a top-down shooter).

This is back-and forth, mixed with some gear-gating, creates Blaster masterIt feels a world ahead of its time. As an added bonus, if you find yourself smitten by the game, it’s worth noting that a new trilogy, starting with 2017’s Blaster Master ZeroThe series has been reimagined successfully by, over the course of the last few decades. —Russ Frushtick

Super Mario All-Stars (SNES)

The select screen hovers on Super Mario Bros 3 in Super Mario All-Stars

Image: Nintendo via Polygon

Super Mario All-Stars This list is a little cheat because it collects the greatest NES games ever in one SNES collection. All-StarsRemasters of classic NES games and feature versions Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2And Super Mario Bros. 3.

Some of the versions look and sound a bit different — and The Lost Levels even received some difficulty tuning — but the spirit and the levels are the same. It’s the perfect way to experience the Mario classics in a slightly more modern package, with 16-bit instead of 8-bit graphics. All of these games can be played outside of Japan. Super Mario All-Stars on the NES emulator, you can always compare for yourself after you’ve run left to right through this Super Mario Bros. history.

Super Mario World (SNES)

Mario, riding Yoshi, jumps through a cave in Super Mario World

Image: Nintendo via Polygon

Super Mario WorldIt is the most iconic Mario game. This Mario game was created using the Super Nintendo’s powerful technology. Even decades later, its colorful graphics still make the Mushroom Kingdom stand out.

Super Mario WorldThe name is instantly recognisable, and it’s full of personality. It’s got secrets hidden around the map, and unique boss fights like Bowser’s clown car. The Tanooki Suit is traded. World’s famous cape, allowing skilled players to fly about levels and reach new areas. What’s more, Mario gets a second life with Yoshi’s help, adding new dimensions to each level. It’s set the standard for every 2D Mario game that followed.

The Legend of Zelda – A Link to The Past (SNES).

Link claims his sword in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Image: Nintendo via Polygon

The Legend of Zelda – A link to the PastThe game is widely recognized as being one of best ever. The modern Zelda strategy was created by it. Zelda followed this formula for years, asking Link to travel from dungeons to dungeons collecting new items and rescue sages. It’s possibly the most influential game on a list full of influential games.

The SNES collection has it all The Past as a Link This game is still very popular as the inspiration for Zelda’s future. It also serves as an excellent, difficult-to-find masterpiece for modern players. Anyone with Switch Online should take a look at it.

Super Metroid (SNES)

Samus jumps through a hallway in Super Metroid

Image: Nintendo via Polygon

Super Metroid helped spawn one of the world’s most popular genres: the Metroidvania. This is Samus’ Super Nintendo turn, which takes her into the bowels of a new planet to find a host of new upgrades.

Super Metroid is arguably Samus’ most iconic adventure, and the one that secured the Metroid legacy. It added plenty of new tools for players to experiment with, but it’s the game’s emphasis on exploring a sprawling world — the Super Bomb through the glass hallway, the animals teaching you to wall jump — that makes the entry so innovative, and keeps it fresh in players’ minds.

Kirby Super Star (SNES).

Players select from numerous different game modes in Kirby Super Star

Image: Nintendo via Polygon

Kirby Super StarIt’s the ultimate Kirby game. Or rather, it’s nine perfect Kirby games. It’s not a single, contained adventure. Super StarThere are multiple game modes, story campaigns and multiplayer options. The players can replay the game or race King Dedede in order to get some food.

Super Star highlights the best part of Kirby — that he’s an everyman. All of these modes are different, but Kirby’s mechanics rarely change. He’s still the same puffball with copycat powers, and he just does what he does best through almost every game mode here. It’s an endlessly playable delight filled with a wide variety of content.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest (SNES)

Dixie Kong swirls through the air in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Image: Nintendo via Polygon

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong QuestThis is why it’s the Donkey Kong Country’s best game. It has a bizarre name, which you must read five times in order to understand. Dixie Kong appears in it, and her ponytail allows her glide through different levels. This gives her more control.

Donkey Kong Country has a wide range of platformers that feature unique artwork, animals, vehicles and imaginative environments. But Donkey Kong Country 2. does it better than the rest, and that makes it the one to play on the Nintendo Switch Online service — even if it is missing the titular Donkey Kong.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64).

Link opens a chest in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Image: Nintendo via Polygon

It is The Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of TimeWhat is the most popular game for Nintendo 64? It is the greatest 3D Zelda title? Answer to those two questions is yes. Ocarinas of TimeDid Zelda say what? Mario 64’s 3D outing did for Mario, but in a far more complex package — and one that holds up better in 2021.

Ocarinas of TimeLink is able to jump between timelines in order to capture the Triforce and defeat Ganondorf. You will find a vast array of iconic gadgets and incredible dungeons in this world. While the Nintendo 64 version isn’t as user-friendly as the 3DS release from 2011, this game is still a must play for every Switch owner.

Star Fox 64 (Nintendo 64)

Fox and Falco fly through a secret waterfall in Star Fox 64

Image: Nintendo via Polygon

Star Fox 64Fox McCloud leads his team of animal pilots in a battle across the galaxy against an animatronic, giant space monkey. The Arwings are used to fight on different tracks, shooting enemy ships down and fighting in 3D space.

What is the secret to success? Star Fox 64The variety of routes available to players is so unique and inventive. The first level offers a quick puzzle that allows players to move on to levels with tanks and submarines. It’s easy to replay over and over again, looking for a new level or boss fight each time. And it’s filled with enough secrets and routes to keep any player busy for a Saturday afternoon.

Mario Kart 64 (Nintendo 64)

Bowser races on the streets in Mario Kart 64

Image: Nintendo via Polygon

Mario Kart 64 is the first game in the series to let players drive with an analogue stick, and it’s better for it. It’s fast-paced, easy to control, and houses some fan-favorite courses. The real reason you should pick it up is Mario Kart 64Switch Online offers the battle mode.

Battle modes Mario Kart 64They are extremely brutal and each player is given a set of balloons to signify their hit points. Players can win by driving through the arena and throwing shells, other weapons and at each other. It’s an excellent party mode, and pairs well with the stellar racing.

Sin and Punishment, (Nintendo 64).

The player shoots at training dummies in Sin & Punishment

Image: Treasure/Nintendo via Polygon

It is different from its counterparts on the list Sin & Punishment The nostalgia crutch is gone. To newcomers without rose-tinted glasses, it’ll look like a blocky shooter and, when compared to modern shooters, will feel fussy. This game is not easy to like, but it’s worth the effort. Sin & PunishmentJapan’s stores carried the item.

Treasure, a co-developer of the console, was undoubtedly one of the best creators and performers in action for video games. He shipped iconics such as Gunstar Heroes and Guardians Heroes. Radiant Silvergun. Bagai-OWithin a span of seven years. At this point, they’d partnered with Nintendo to create a 3D on-rails shooter (think Rez Star Fox and merged with it) would bring you the excitement of an anime blockbuster. They did just that — within the limitations of the N64 hardware. Perhaps that’s the best way to appreciate Sin & PunishmentIn 2021, it is a game that plays as if it were a contemporary videogame with all of the art and style packed into an N64 cartridge. —Chris Plante

Streets of Rage 2 – Sega Genesis

Players brawl through the street in Streets of Rage 2

Image: Ancient Corp./Sega via Polygon

Streets of Rage 2. is a side-scrolling beat-’em-up where players dress up in jeans and roll through the streets crushing dudes with their rage. A variety of characters can be found in the game. Streets of Rage 2., from the original Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding to the newly added Max Thunder and Eddie “Skate” Hunter.

Streets of Rage has always been beloved, but the sequel is often thought of as the series’ high point. From new mechanics to better graphics, it’s one of the definitive games for the Genesis, and a great starting point for Nintendo kids to get their feet wet with Sega.

Gunstar Heroes (Sega Genesis)

The hero runs through the environment and under a treehouse in Gunstar Heroes

Image: Treasure/Sega via Polygon

Gunstar HeroesTreasure’s first game, which you may recognize as a developer from The Treasurers. Sin & PunishmentEnter above. It’s a side-scrolling shooter, similar to Contra or Metal Slug, where players control a duo called the Gunstars, combining weapons to make their way through the story.

This is a game many players — whether they owned a Genesis or not — may not have heard of. It highlights the great thing about Nintendo Switch Online and the Expansion Pack. Nintendo can bring many old games to an entirely new audience through curation. Gunstar Heroes is a great Genesis grab for anyone, regardless of whether they’re new to the platform.

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