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January 01, 2019 2 min read
The path to the launch of Nintendo Switch Online was bumpy at best. Nintendo announced the program to some fanfare before adopting a hush-hush attitude about it. For months we really didn’t know what type of changes it would bring. We did know it was cheap, that it enabled cloud saves, and that NES "gems" like Ice Climbers would be coming to it, but the finer details about the program and how it would affect or improve online play were kept quiet. When it did launch, it was with a fizzle and not a bang. The expanding roster of NES titles is clearly the replacement of the oft-neglected Virtual Console program and online play for Nintendo titles hasn’t really improved.
In fact, Nintendo’s online gameplay hasn’t improved all that much since the DS first went online. Last week, after finally caving and buying into the program -- thanks Christmas gift cards -- I was jack’s complete lack of surprise to find Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was about as dependable online as Super Smash Bros. Brawl was for the Wii. Some of my matches played just fine, but others slowed to a fucking crawl, as if somebody used a “Ruin this Game” assist trophy, a trophy I’m imaging is Slippy the Toad.
That kind of shit connection is why I didn’t bother taking anything other than Mario Kart Wii online on that system and it’s why for this year, Nintendo should resolve to finally learn how to make a decent online infrastructure. Also, it should localize Mother 3.
I often feel as though the gaming press uses kid gloves when dealing with Nintendo more often than it does with other publishers. Actually, fans do too. There is a lot of excuse making when it comes to Nintendo. People still imagine them as the underdog in the industry, an image obviously perpetuated by the mountain of “Will this be the year Nintendo goes third party?” articles we had to deal with several years ago. I get liking the company. I do. I enjoy nearly every game it puts out and the Switch is a godsend for me. But as Nintendo veers closer and closer to its competition, we’re going to have to call out the inferior services it offers, especially now that it’s charging us.
Online play, in 2019, should not be as unreliable as it is on Switch. That experience in Smash makes me never want to take it online again, which is fine for that series because I’m cool just playing against AI and that Spirit Board is my new jawn. Same goes for Mario Tennis Aces, a game that is fine with local play but pretty damn cruddy when taking it online. But for something like Splatoon 2, it needs the internet and the fickle nature of online play in that game is unacceptable. I put nearly 200 hours into Overwatch in 2018. Do you think I would have done that if Sony’s online were as poor as Nintendo’s? Hell no.
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