NSO Expansion Pack

Nintendo Sold Us On Nostalgia, But N64 Fans Are Furious

The new Expansion Pass for NSO is finally here, but Nintendo fans aren't excited about it. What went wrong with the rollout of N64 games on Switch?
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Nintendo announced the NSO Expansion Pack in a Direct presentation in September. At the time, players were cautiously optimistic about the chance to play classic Nintendo 64 games on their Switch systems. Who doesn’t want to take Star Fox 64 on a long plane ride?

Now that the service is live, are Switch owners still excited about it? Not really. Unfortunately, the Expansion Pack has failed to live up to expectations.

Is It Worth the Price?

The first sign of trouble that fans noticed about the service was the indefensible price. The base plan for Nintendo Switch Online only costs $20 per year. For that price, it includes access to online multiplayer and a collection of NES and SNES games.

The Expansion Pack costs more than double that, $50 per year, and includes nine N64 games. Some other bonuses are included, like the upcoming Happy Home Paradise expansion for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and a selection of 14 Sega Genesis titles.

The addition of downloadable content is a nice bonus, but the price doesn’t seem to match what subscribers are getting. Thirty dollars feels like a lot of money for nine games from the 90s, and that’s assuming they even function correctly.

Emulation Issues

The addition of N64 titles to Nintendo Switch Online is the primary draw for the Expansion Pack. However, emulation issues have made the launch of this service a nightmare. Screenshot comparisons reveal that the titles look worse on Switch than the Wii U, which launched in 2012.

Videos on social media show the games performing poorly on Switch hardware. The N64 titles sport bizarrely low framerates and inexplicable crashes. Gamers have also reported experiencing game-breaking latency issues while playing with friends in Mario Kart 64.

Social media users find it hard to believe that games released nearly 25 years ago are struggling to run on hardware from 2017.

Button Mapping

To make matters worse, Nintendo has chosen to offer no options for button remapping on N64 titles. This lack of remapping is a problem because of the vastly different designs of the Switch and N64 controllers.

The awkward solution offered by Nintendo leaves several control schemes available on the N64 inaccessible on Switch. Nintendo’s chosen layout makes muscle memory from N64 games worse than useless, as players relearn how to interact with classic games.

For example, Eurogamer points out that players can’t shoot and move to the right at the same time in Sin and Punishment. 

Wait for Updates

A promo image from Nintendo shows the iniital selection of N64 Games available on Switch

It’s not all bad news for Nintendo, though. The company announced during the September Direct that Paper Mario and Majora’s Mask are joining the Expansion Pack service soon. As they roll out these updates, fans hope that Nintendo will also address the odd decisions that make playing these N64 games such a frustrating user experience.

The new service could be a worthy addition to any Switch player’s gaming rotation if they do. Without some quality-of-life upgrades, however, gamers are better off passing on the NSO Expansion Pack.