Nintendo Switch Online

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This article is for emulation on the Nintendo Switch with Nintendo's official Nintendo Switch Online service. For online play see Connectivity.
Nintendo Switch Online
Nintendo Switch Online.png
Developer(s) NERD
Latest version 6.8.0 (NES)
6.7.0 (FC)
3.8.0 (SNES)
3.6.0 (SFC)
1.6.0 (GB)
2.15.0 (N64 INT)
2.14.0 (N64 JP)
1.0.0 (N64 +18)
1.5.0 (GBA)
1.6.0 (GBA JP)
2.6.0 (GEN)
Active Yes
Platform(s) Nintendo Switch
Architecture(s) ARM
Emulates Various
Compatibility Varies by emulator
Accuracy Varies by emulator
Website American website
Japanese website
BIOS/Keys Varies by emulator

Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) is an official subscription service for the Nintendo Switch. Working pretty much like Xbox LIVE or PlayStation Network, it provides the user with access to online game play (except for free-to-play games, which aren't required), cloud saving, and a compilation of retro games divided into multiple apps. A monthly or annual fee is required, with the prices varying by type of plan, and Nintendo Account type (individual or child). Not every country has access to the service, such as Taiwan.

The retro game apps allow the player to emulate classic systems, offering a selection of titles added by Nintendo on an irregular basis. Some systems are locked onto the more expensive Expansion Pack tier; notably this includes the systems for which the emulators weren't solely developed by NERD.

List of emulators[edit]

All of these were developed primarily, if not entirely, by Nintendo European Research & Development. Any relevant co-developers are mentioned in the description.

L-CLASSICS (Nintendo Entertainment System & Super Nintendo Entertainment System)
Based on the Kachikachi emulator that NERD originally created for the NES Classic dedicated console, with the obvious addition of SNES emulation. It's certainly not the most accurate emulation of either of these systems compared to the many third-party options, but it works well enough for all of the games on offer and the SNES app has a surprisingly top-notch netplay system.
Hiyoko (Game Boy/Game Boy Color)
Unlike most of Switch Online's emulators, Hiyoko seems to have been made from the ground up specifically for the service. It can only run games in Color mode and doesn't support any SGB enhancements, but otherwise it's very accurate and even does a good job of replicating the less common hardware for games that need it (e.g. the gyro sensor for Kirby's Tilt 'n' Tumble).

Expansion Pack only[edit]

Hovercraft (Nintendo 64)
Co-developed with iQue, and even based on iQue's notoriously imperfect N64 emulator for the Wii U, Hovercraft has a rather sour reputation as the most flawed emulator that Switch Online has to offer. Post-release updates have done a lot to improve it, but it's still not ideal and continues to draw unfavorable comparisons (deserved or not) to NST's much-beloved N64 emulator for the Wii.
Sloop (Game Boy Advance)
Co-developed with one of Panasonic's internal software teams, Sloop is accurate enough to pass the AGB Test Cartridge hardware test (something many third-party GBA emulators couldn't do at the time of Sloop's initial release), and can even replicate the rumble feature of the GameCube's Game Boy Player for titles that supported it.
m2engage (Sega Genesis)
Co-developed with the venerable M2, which has a long history of making first-party emulators and retro re-releases, especially for Sega. The Genesis games offered on Switch Online are mostly the same ones you'll find on other widely-available Genesis collections, but the Switch Online app is arguably the best official way to play most of them.

Controllers[edit]

For subscribers, Nintendo sells controllers based on the consoles that are available on the service (except for handheld systems). On Switch, these controllers can be used only for the app corresponding with the system that is played. Some of the general features are:

  • All controllers can be connected to certain devices through Bluetooth (4.0 or higher), some of them can also be used through their USB-C connector and can even be used with common PC games through Steam;
  • Most controllers behave the same as Switch Pro Controller, besides limitations on the number of buttons that are available for each design;
  • All controllers had extra buttons which are exclusive to functions related to the system (HOME, Capture, and Pair / Sync);
  • A maximum of 4 controllers can be sold per Nintendo Account;
  • It can be sold only for selected users who have an active NSO subscription (and an active NSO + Expansion Pack subscription for the systems locked to this tier). These controllers are not available to deliver for every NSO user around the world (Nintendo of America sells them only to users in the US and Canada, but not to Brazil, Mexico, and other countries from the Americas; for Japan, the player must be an actual resident of the country), forcing the user to reach secondary markets for additional controllers and/or variants (e.g.: eBay).
Nintendo Entertainment System Controller
Sold only for users of the NES NSO app. It is based on the original NES controller but behaves like a JoyCon and is always sold in a pair. Can only be charged through the JoyCon rails. Serial numbers: HAC-033 (left, player 1) and HAC-034 (right, player 2);
Family Computer Controller
Sold only in Japan. It is based on the original Famicom controllers and like the NES version, it behaves like a JoyCon and is sold in a pair. The second controller (right JoyCon) also supports the Mic input used on several games (Atlantis no Nazo). Serial numbers: HAC-035 (left, player I) and HAC-036 (right, player II);
Super Nintendo Entertainment System Controller / Super Famicom Controller
Based on the original SNES controllers. All regional variants behave the same. Serial number: HAC-042;
Nintendo 64 Controller
Modeled after the original Nintendo 64 controller. All regional variants behave the same. Unlike the original, it comes with a built-in Rumble function for games that had support for Rumble Pak. Serial number: HAC‐043;
SEGA Genesis Control Pad / SEGA Mega Drive Control Pad
Sold only for users of the Genesis / Mega Drive NSO app. The design is based on the original Control Pad for Genesis / Mega Drive with 3-button support. Serial number: HAC‐045;
SEGA Mega Drive Fighting Pad 6B
Sold only for users of the Mega Drive NSO app in Japan. Its design is based on the Fighting Pad 6B (known as 6 Button Control Pad), although it is based on the original design sold for Japan and Asian countries, which is optimized for smaller hands. Serial number: HAC‐046.

Game Injection[edit]

Currently, this method is only viable for users who have custom firmware installed on their systems (it is unknown if this method works on Switch emulators).

  • CaVE Database Manager: A tool that allows the user to create additional entries from external ROMs stored in the microSD card. It is not recommended to use pre-made packs that cover a whole romset due to the high chance of the app itself crashing (loading too many custom entries at once) and the possibility of duplicated entries through emulator updates (e.g.: Internal entry from the app conflicting with a user-made entry).

Emulation of the service[edit]

Main article: Nintendo Switch emulators#Hardware features and peripherals

There is no preservation project for emulating Nintendo Switch Online private platform server service at the moment, or any kind of implementation on the emulator side to connect official servers. Having said that, emulators of the Nintendo Switch Online service supported by Ryujinx and Yuzu emulators.

See also[edit]

Related articles
Online play on older Nintendo consoles