20 classic titles available almost immediately after long-awaited surprise announcement, retro controllers on the way too.

Barring the actual days of the 16-bit era, demand for 16-bit-era games has never been higher. Credit the resurgence to mature adults wanting to scratch that nostalgia itch and younger gamers discovering what all the fuss was about in games with hand-drawn aesthetics, genuine challenge, simple-but-fun-focused play mechanics, and a complete lack of loot boxes, DLC, or any other “the game you just paid 60 bucks for isn’t really the compete version”-style shenanigans.

So it’s been ironic that Nintendo, which is sitting on the largest, most respected library of 16-bit games due to its control of the Super NES/Super Famicom library, hasn’t given long-time/would-be fans a way to play most of them in years, due to the company’s refusal to sell classic titles in digital download format. But that’s about to change in a big way, with the sudden, though long hoped-for, announcement that Super NES/Super Famicom games are coming to the Nintendo Switch Online service!

The announcement came as part of the most recent Nintendo Direct flurry of reveals, with the extra happy shock that the service will be debuting the very next day, September 6. Initially, 20 games will be available, with an identical lineup for both Japanese and overseas regions.

The games are:

Brawl Brothers (tiled Rushing Beat Ran in Japan)
● Breath of Fire
● Demon’s Crest
● F-Zero
● Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics (Joe & Mac 3 in PAL regions)
● Kirby’s Dream Course
● Kirby’s Dream Land 3
● The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
● Pilotwings
● Starfox
● Stunt Race FX
● Super E.D.F.
● Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
● Super Mario Kart
● Super Mario World
● Super Metroid
● Super Puyo Puyo 2
● Super Soccer
● Super Tennis
● Yoshi’s Island

Gaming historians and newcomers alike can rejoice at the inclusion of a number of groundbreaking, influential works that are as fun to play today as they ever were, like Super Mario World, A Link to the Past, and Super Metroid. It’s a bit more puzzling why some of the others made the cut, though. Brawl Brothers/Rushing Beat Ran was a middle-of-the-road beat-em-up even when it came out in 1992/1993, and has a Super NES sequel that’s generally regarded as better in every way. Super E.D.F. is another game more likely to elicit reactions of “Oh yeah, that existed” than anything else, and likely doesn’t have a ravenous fanbase that’s been waiting to play it again. The biggest head-scratcher is Stunt Race FX, Nintendo’s ballyhooed FX-chip enhanced racing game that tried to match the success of Starfox, but had such a jittery framerate and clunky controls that it was as likely to convince people they needed to start saving up to buy a PlayStation or Saturn.

For the complete retro feel, Nintendo is also releasing new Switch controllers styled after those of the original Super NES and Super Famicom, but with a few modern upgrades.

In addition to being wireless, they also include a second set of shoulder buttons, which take the place of the standard Switch controllers’ ZL and ZR triggers.

Of course, the original 16-bit console controllers didn’t have ZL/ZR triggers, so these will primarily be used for system menu navigation, but they’re also how you’ll access the Switch Online Super NES/Super Famicom games’ built-in rewind function, as a concession to the fact that video games in general have gotten easier and less prone to forcing players to replay long sections after dying in the 25-odd years since these games were new. Another modern convenience: each title provides for multiple suspend-state save slots, so you can stop playing whenever you like and pick up right where you left off.

▼ Trust me, you’ll be using the rewind function a lot in Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

Getting back to the controllers, the Super Famicom version is priced at 3,218 yen (US$30) and is on sale now, with shipping scheduled for September 25 in Japan. Pricing and shipping dates remain undisclosed for the Super NES version, though both models will be sold exclusively to Nintendo Switch Online members.

With 20 games available for no additional cost over the regular Nintendo Switch Online subscription (which starts at just 300 yen a month in Japan and US$3.99 in the U.S.), the 20 Super NES/Super Famicom titles represent a great value, especially since the subscription also gets you access to the growing catalog of Nintendo Switch Online 8-bit NES/Famicom games. The big question, though, will be whether or not the 16-bit lineup will convince non-members to sign up for Nintendo Switch Online despite having a lot of overlap in games with the Super NES Classic Edition/ Nintendo Classic Mini Super Famicom that so many old-school game fans snatched up upon release in 2017, meaning they’ve already been able to play F-Zero, Kirby’s Dream Course, Link to the Past, Star Fox, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island, and Super Metroid.

Still, four bucks is a bargain to play Pilotwings (which was tragically left out of the mini consoles), and with Nintendo promising the addition of more games in the future, odds are plenty of old and new fans will be happy to dive into the deep 16-bit Nintendo sea.

Source: Nintendo (1, 2)
Top image: Nintendo
Insert images: Nintendo (1, 2, 3, 4)
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