In October 2021, Nintendo announced an additional online membership option with the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pass. This comes with online games available for free with membership from the Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis consoles and DLC for games like Animal Crossing, in addition to the NES and SNES games that come with the base membership.
However, the upgrade can be pricey — $50 per year for an individual membership and $80 per year for a family one. To help you decide if the upgrade is worth it, here’s a list of all the games included.
This dynamic duo made a big comeback by entering Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but you can take it back to where it all began with Banjo-Kazooie.
In this 3D adventure platformer, Banjo’s sister has been kidnapped and it’s up to him and his bird pal Kazooie to save her and defeat the witch. Players run around nine different worlds collecting music notes and Jiggies to move on to the next area. There isn’t a specific order you have to collect them in so you can explore the world somewhat freely. The characters’ unique abilities, along with somewhat open exploration, make this great journey you experience on land and even in the air.
Dr. Mario 64
Mario is back to helping the Mushroom Kingdom, but with a twist. In this somewhat Tetris-like puzzle game, Mario is now Dr. Mario, and he’s working to use Megavitamins to help heal the Mushroom Kingdom. The medicine bottle is filled with viruses of multiple colors and to clear out the virus, you must match it with half of a capsule of the same color. When you get four or more, the capsule piece and the viruses disappear. If it gets backed up and you can’t drop any more capsules, you lose the level.
One thing that makes this stand out from Tetris is the story you can enjoy along the way. As you’re battling the computer players, you’re fighting off Wario from being able to take the Megavitamins to use them for profit. There are six different modes for solo play, and it’s also possible to play multiplayer in Classic, Flash, or Score Attack modes with up to four players.
Mario Kart 64
The popular racing series lives on, and not just in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe either. Mario Kart 64 was the first 3D Mario racing game, and some of the most iconic tracks that have made their way back to modern Mario Kart games came from the N64 version. Now you can play it with the expansion pass.
Choose from a variety of Mushroom Kingdom characters with different speeds and acceleration skills. While you make your way around the track trying to beat your opponents across the finish line, don’t be afraid to use Koopa Shells, Bob-ombs, and other items to give you the advantage. On top of the obvious Grand Prix mode, there are three other modes to enjoy: time trials, versus, and battle modes.
Did you know that Waluigi made his very first appearance on the tennis court in this N64 title? Here he appears in a very tense rivalry with Luigi, but you can go head-to-head with other Mario characters and try to win the ultimate tennis tournament.
As you play, you unlock new courts decorated with the Mario Tennis characters. There are six different tournament types, and the cup you choose determines the difficulty of your matches. You can also choose to play double and single matches, although you will play both throughout the story mode. But this isn’t as simple as pressing A in a rhythm to hit a ball back and forth. There are different swing types to learn and try out and the computer players will have you running all over the court.
Paper Mario introduced a new twist to the famous Mario series. It’s a comedic game that plays on the fact that it’s set in a paper world, so it has a unique art style. Instead of the traditional adventure platformer style, this is more like an RPG, with turn-based battles and interactions with NPCs to move forward.
One thing that hasn’t changed here is that Mario is still trying to save Princess Peach from Bowser. Along the way, familiar faces join Mario’s party, and they can aid him in battles and in completing puzzles with their special abilities.
Sin and Punishment
In this arcade-style shooter, Ruffians have gotten out of control and you are part of the armed volunteers ready to defend Japan. The player goes through the levels automatically as they shoot enemies and dodge attacks until time runs out.
This title was ahead of its time in a lot of ways. For one, it provided a lot of action compared to other games of its time. It’s fast-paced, with a lot of enemies to target. Players can choose between free aiming mode and lock-on mode at any time. While most N64 games focused a lot on the right of the controller, this one added in more mechanics for the left side.
Star Fox 64
This shooter takes you to the skies. Fox, Slippy, Falco, and Peppy are on a mission to defeat Andross who almost destroyed the planet, killed Fox McCloud’s dad, and was banished to Venom. He has now struck again and it’s up to this team to stop him.
As you’re propelled through the levels, you try to collect power-ups, dodge shots from other airships, and keep your team together. There is also the Landmaster and the Blue Marine, taking this beyond air and expanding it to the land and sea.
Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 is a long time fan favorite. Bowser has yet again kidnapped Princess Peach, and Mario has to collect stars to get her back. Make your way through 15 courses to gather them all.
This was the first Super Mario game to be in 3D, and as such, players can explore Princess Peach’s castle freely, choosing which levels to play as long as they have enough stars to unlock the level. Some stars are earned as each course is completed and some are hidden rewards for other tasks within the level.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Another household Nintendo name is the Legend of Zelda series featuring the silent hero, Link. Hyrule has been taken over by Ganondorf and Link plans to stop him in the classic Ocarina of Time.
It starts with Link and Zelda as children, seeing Ganondorf’s evil intentions. You also play as Link years later, ready to take the Master Sword and bring down Ganondorf. But first, he must help the temple sages so they can unite to seal this Big Bad away.
WINBACK: COVERT OPERATIONS
Choose your moment wisely! You play as an agent whose mission is to stop Crying Lions from using a laser weapon. Throughout the game, you must duck and cover, taking the perfect moment to peer out and shoot your shot. The cover aspect has been taken on by many other third-person shooters since.
Choose to have your weapon lock-on or aim freely with your laser sight. To master it, you will need a combination of patience, perfect timing, and skill. As you take on your enemies, your success and your actions affect the overall story. There are two possible endings, which one will you end up with?
So much more than just Mario’s sidekick. This adorable game features Yoshi as the main character and really plays on the “Story” part of the game name, displaying levels on pages in a book. But the adorable aesthetic doesn’t stop there. You can even choose your own color of Yoshi.
It’s a side-scrolling platformer that plays very similarly to a traditional Mario game. You go through levels surviving the surroundings and solving puzzles while you try to collect enough fruit to fill the Fruit Frame all while protecting baby Mario from baby Bowser.
In this arcade-styled, beat ’em up Sega classic, Zeus’s daughter Athena is in trouble and has sent you to save her. You side-scroll across levels, you fight your way through the monsters in Ancient Greece.
The name Altered Beast comes into play with the special power-ups, which let you take on wolf, golden wolf, bear, tiger, and dragon forms and give you some new abilities to defeat your enemies with.
Since it’s 1914, Dracula is gone… or is he? Castlevania: Bloodlines is an intense platformer where you slash your way through vampires as you travel across Europe tring to prevent the monster’s ressurection. Although this Castlevania game has different characters than those before it, it’s still the same gameplay you know and love.
Contra: Hard Corps
Civilians are under attack and it’s your job to protect them. Run through the levels and take down everyone in your path.
Unique to the Contra games, your decisions throughout the game can change your path to to the end. What made Hard crops so unique when it came out was that it had cutscene stories and gave you four new playable characters to choose from.
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
Similar to Dr. Mario, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is another Tetris-style puzzle game that has a bit of a story, although his one is from Sega. Sonic’s Dr. Robotnik has taken the people of Beanville and turned them into robots for him to use for evil. You have to save Beanville by beating the computer in puzzle battles. Match four or more beans of each color to drop the beans down. Unlike other games of this type, the beans don’t have to be in a row; they just have to be touching. The screen that fills up first loses.
Headdy is a puppet who really uses his head — to attack that is. King Dark Demon has come in and is stealing all the puppets of the world to do his bidding. Headdy now has to fight the King and his army.
Throw Headdy’s head in any direction to attack as you go through this platform world. Collect power-ups to give it different abilities.
Ecco the Dolphin
This game is beautiful and oddly peaceful, even if it’s sad. Ecco is a bottlenose dolphin who found himself suddenly alone when his bay was stripped of all living things except him. On his journey to find a new dolphin pod, he meets a lot of new marine creatures.
The sea isn’t full of just friends though. Fight enemies, talk with other animals in the sea, and use objects in the area to help you. Don’t forget to come up for air.
Three warriors have a vendetta against Death Adder, who has killed somebody close to each of them. Battle your way through to him so you can get your revenge.
The main developer of Altered Beast created this game and they work very similarly. The level side scrolls and you fight through enemies and obstacles as the world moves beneath you. You can even steal the animals your enemies are riding for yourself.
An empire is coming for powerful gems, and you have to stop them. Jump, maneuver, and fire to keep them from getting away with it!
There are seven total levels, and the first four can be played in any order. Try a variety of weapons with fixed or free shooting. Play around with the options to see what works for you!
It’s 2290 and Earth is under attack. Terri and her M.U.S.H.A. weapon are out to destroy Dire 51 before it destroys us.
In this side scroller, you will come across many enemies on your way to the main boss. Power up your weapon with Power Chips, and collect special weapons as you get closer. To add to the experience, make sure your volume is up so you can hear the awesome heavy metal soundtrack.
Phantasy Star 4: The End of the Millennium
The last in a series of RPGs, Phantasy Star 4 has turn-based battles, magic, and a party of characters with different strengths in battle. Motavia went from lush and beautiful to a barren desert, and the people who live there are struggling. Biomonsters are terrorizing everyone, and you and your party set out to make it stop.
As you play, your characters gain levels and new abilities. What sets this game apart from is predecessors are the visuals. The story sections look like a manga, and it really adds to the visual experience.
Another platformer on Nintendo Switch Online you might not have heard of is Ristar. Much like Mario or Sonic, you run through a 2D world and complete puzzles to get to the end of the level. However, with Ristar you have super stretchy arms. Attack, grab, and climb while you reach in eight different directions.
Ristar is a shooting star in the Valdi System. Kaiser Greedy has the system’s planet leaders under his command with mind control. It’s up to this stretchy star to defeat the pirate and bring peace back to the system.
This popular title has been re-released quite a few times since its initial 1992 release, and has become a fan favorite. Shining Force is a tactical RPG that takes place in a kingdom where you and your party will battle Runefaust lead by Kane. Like in other tactical RPGs, the game takes place on a grid. Your units are only allowed to move a certain amount of spaces per turn. After they move they can perform an action. Each unit type has apecial abilities depending on their class.
Play as Shinobi Joe Musashi as he uses his ninjitsu moves to take down Neo Zeed, and luckily he has quite a few good ones. In addition to the melee attacks you’d come to expect, you also get to throw shurikens and use magic. Take on the bosses along the way and get through all seven levels to win.
In each level you can use one ninjitsu move until you find a bonus. Explore each round carefully to find them and become more powerful.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
In Sonic’s second adventure, we meet Tails for the first time. Dr. Robotnik is taking the Chaos Emeralds again and this duo is ready to stop him. Play solo as either Sonic or Tails, or play with a friend and have both!
In this platformer you will run, jump, and maybe even fly through the levels, collecting rings and emeralds to keep them from Dr. Robotnik. Take on bosses at the end of each level until you get to the evil doctor himself. You can also choose to race a friend in competitive mode!
Streets of Rage 2
Choose from one of four characters and make your way through the streets fighting your enemies in this classic beat ’em up. Gather weapons and items that change up your abilities and attacks as you progress. Use your special attack to do extra damage!
Criminals are out in the street raiding the city. Axel, Blaze, Thunder, and Skate are ready to take on criminal leader, Mr. X, who has taken Skate’s brother, Adam. Get through his gangs and get Adam back.
This big arcade game was an award winner when it was initially released. When it was brought to the Sega Genesis, it did not disappoint in staying true to the original.
Strider is a hack-and-slash title where you play as ninja Strider Hiryu. The Grandmaster has control of the world in 2048. Strider Hiryu has the sole responsibility to take him out. To get to him, you must take on the other bosses first. Using his Cypher, dodge and attack your enemies through five challenging stages.
Sword of Vermilion
You are the son of Erik, the King of Excalabria. King Tsarkon took in rings of evil and turned on his friend, your father, and invaded the kingdom. Now that you are old enough, it is your mission to get revenge.
This RPG uses a few views depending on what you’re doing, which was very different from other RPGs of the time. It has an attention-grabbing story, and the active combat where you get to try out your weapons to defeat your enemies make this adventure a must play.
Thunder Force 2
In Thunder Force 2, you fly your ship through the galaxy trying to find and destroy enemy bases. Obtain new weapons and CRAW add-ons to improve your ship’s abilities. However, get ready to do your best to keep up with the speed and number of enemy ships!
ToeJam & Earl
This co-op classic follows alien rappers ToeJam & Earl after they crash-land their spaceship on Earth. When they crashed, the pieces of the ship have scattered, so the duo must find them to leave. Help them explore the landscape and avoid conflict as they try to gather what they need.
While you can play singl- player, the game is definitely best played as a pair. The characters have a special dialogue that you only see when you’re playing together. This dialogue was a big draw to the game and is what gives the game its trademark humor. This is a great family option as you don’t battle enemies; you can largely avoid them unless you have the temporary tomato throw power up.
Play old favorites in a new way
The N64 and Sega Genesis had a lot of classic games that have been long standing favorites in the video game community. Now the whole family can enjoy these titles any time and anywhere with the Nintendo Switch and the Online + Expansion Pass membership. As you get ready to enjoy them on the go, make sure you have the best accessories for your Nintendo Switch to keep it safe and keep you comfortable.