Best NES and SNES games on Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online Nes Games
Nintendo Switch Online Nes Games (Image credit: Nintendo)

A subscription to Nintendo Switch Online is necessary if you want to take full advantage of the multiplayer functions in some of the best Nintendo Switch games, but the service also provides plenty of other perks. Along with letting you keep your save data safe with cloud backups, it provides access to more than 80 NES and SNES games. The selection has been regularly updated since the service launched with 20 NES titles. If you want to make the most out of your membership, these are the best NES and SNES games on Nintendo Switch Online.

Donkey Kong Country

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Donkey Kong Country

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Donkey Kong Country (Image credit: iMore)

Donkey Kong was Mario's nemesis in the arcade classic, but he gets to be the hero in this excellent platformer that was one of the bestselling SNES games. Recover Kong's bananas from King K. Rool and defeat his Kremling minions across 40 levels.

The game has plenty of hidden rewards and items to collect. The best are Kong's animal buddies, who will help make even the most challenging sections fun and easy. You can sail through the water while stabbing enemies on the back of Enguarde the swordfish or charge through foes with Rambi the rhinoceros.

You'll want to play with sound on to enjoy the game's excellent music. While it's fun to play solo, it's even better with a friend taking on the role of Donkey Kong's agile nephew Diddy Kong. You can play completely cooperatively in tag team mode or race to see who can complete a level the fastest.

Super Mario Bros. 3

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Super Mario Bros

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Super Mario Bros (Image credit: iMore)

One of the greatest video games of all time, Super Mario Bros. 3, built on the mechanics of the previous games in the franchise by giving Mario a wide variety of suits to grant him special powers like flying, ground pounding, and the ability to chuck hammers. The game also added the ability to slide down slopes, climb vines, and chuck blocks, establishing many of the elements found in more modern entries in the franchise.

Play as either Mario or Luigi, or take turns if you're teaming up with a friend. Regardless, you'll be traveling through the Mushroom World fighting Bowser's children to recover stolen wands and rescue Princess Toadstool. Every world features an exciting boss fight on an airship.

Each zone has fun themes like a desert world full of quicksand and Sky Land, where you'll run along the clouds. There's also plenty of mini-games and bonuses to unlock to earn extra lives and power-ups. Just don't dawdle too long since the levels have time limits.

Super Metroid

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Super Metroid

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Super Metroid (Image credit: iMore)

The third installment of the Metroid series takes Samus Aran back to the planet Zebes, where she must rescue a Metroid larva stolen by Space Pirates. To do that, she'll need to explore the large, open world, searching for power-ups, and then backtrack to access areas previously blocked off. It's a classic in its own right, but particularly worth playing to understand the origins of the Metroidvania genre.

Samus will need to enhance her armor and weapons and collect special abilities like planting bombs or running so fast she can smash through enemies and barriers. You can also fire in all directions to defeat enemies, including shooting while moonwalking backward.

Super Metroid's graphics and sound were state-of-the-art when it was released in 1994, using 16-bit versions of music from previous games. It's a popular choice for speedrunning since you get the best of three possible endings if you can complete it in under three hours.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past (Image credit: iMore)

The third game in The Legend of Zelda series is considered one of the best games of all time and has been ported across numerous Nintendo platforms starting with the Game Boy Advance. Link must rescue Princess Zelda from an evil wizard trying to release his dark master.

The game is a prequel to The Legend of Zelda and establishes the idea of parallel worlds that became a trademark of the action-adventure series. It ditches the side-scrolling style of Zelda II to return to a top-down perspective while allowing Link to walk diagonally and swing his sword sideways instead of just forward.

Link must rescue descendants of the Seven Sages from dungeons in the Dark World, a dying version of Hyrule created by Ganon's corruption. He'll use a Magic Mirror to travel to them from corresponding versions in the Light World, solving puzzles that let him get to areas that he otherwise couldn't access.

Kirby's Adventure

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Kirbys Adventure

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Kirbys Adventure (Image credit: iMore)

Devour your enemies and steal their abilities in one of the best NES games. The sequel to Kirby's Dream Land has the titular character trying to repair the Star Rod by recovering pieces from the minions of King Dedede, which are scattered across seven worlds.

The game has 41 levels plus minigames that let you collect extra lives, special powers, bonus health, and the ability to mimic boss abilities. Its cute graphics and relatively easy mechanics make it perfect for kids, though there's still some strategy to when to use your special abilities like inflating yourself to fly and exhaling to defeat enemies and smash blocks.

This is also the first game that actually showed Kirby as pink since he originally appeared in black and white on Game Boy. If you've ever enjoyed eating your opponents in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, you should take advantage of the chance to play through Kirby's story.

Star Fox

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Star Fox

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Star Fox (Image credit: iMore)

Lead an elite crew of mercenaries in a battle of good versus evil in this rail shooter that kicked off the Star Fox franchise. You'll play Fox McCloud, an anthropomorphic fox accompanied by a crew of other animal people who will help you fight enemies but will also ask you for help. Bailing them out will improve your score, but if you ignore them, they can be shot down, and you won't see them for the rest of the game.

Star Wars fans will recognize your ship, an Arwing, is based on an X-Wing. You'll use rockets and thrusters to control your speed as you try to avoid enemies and obstacles. Taking damage will erode your shield and could eventually result in your craft being destroyed.

Star Fox has a high amount of replay value since the difficulty isn't just chosen at the start of each game. Instead, you can choose between three routes with their own levels with different challenges.

Dr. Mario

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Dr Mario

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Dr Mario (Image credit: iMore)

Mario's a man of many talents, and while he normally works as a plumber, he's a doctor dispensing medicine to cure viruses in this Tetris-like puzzle game. Dr. Mario is so popular and loved that a version of it has appeared on every Nintendo system since the NES.

Complete levels by flipping capsules to align with viruses of the same color to clear them from the board. If the pieces overflow to the bottle's neck, you'll lose. The amount of viruses you need to clear is determined by the level and game speed. You can also choose your musical accompaniment from the game's great soundtrack.

You can compete against another player on two separate game fields, racing to see who can clear their viruses first. If you chain together enough viruses, you'll dump additional capsules on their board. If you're a fan of Tetris 99, it's worth checking out Dr. Mario to see how the genre has evolved.

Super Mario Kart

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Super Mario Kart

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games Super Mario Kart (Image credit: iMore)

If you love Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, you should check out where the franchise began. The SNES game lets you play one of eight characters from the Mario series, each with their own special ability. You can race against AI opponents or take on other players. Try to get the best time or mess with your opponents by using power-ups.

The game's 20 tracks and the obstacles on them are inspired by Super Mario World, as are the power-ups such as coins that increase your speed and shells you can throw at your enemies. It will test your reflexes and situational awareness as you zip around tight turns trying to maintain your speed.

Along with establishing the kart-racing genre, Super Mario Kart also was the first non-platformer Mario game. While the series has added new mechanics and characters over time, all of the core elements are here.


Best Nintendo Switch Online Games F Zero

Best Nintendo Switch Online Games F Zero (Image credit: iMore)

Travel to the year 2560 and take on the role of a hovercar driver racing to the finish line while avoiding land mines, magnets, and other hazards. Inspired by Formula One races, the SNES launch title is often listed among the best video games ever because it helped define the entire racing game genre.

The game has 15 tracks and four difficulty levels, so you'll need plenty of practice to master them. You'll need to complete five laps at increasing speeds, grabbing speed boosts and launching yourself into the air to improve your time. While there's no multiplayer mode, you can choose from Grand Prix, where you'll race against AI vehicles in your league, or Practice mode, which will just let you get to know the tracks with less pressure.

What are your favorite Nintendo Switch online games?

You can always trust iMore. Our team of Apple experts have years of experience testing all kinds of tech and gadgets, so you can be sure our recommendations and criticisms are accurate and helpful. Find out more about how we test.

Let us know the best NES and SNES games you've played using your membership and keep checking back with iMore and the service as Nintendo continues to add even more great games from its extensive library of early classics.

Samantha Nelson

Samantha Nelson writes about gaming and electronics for iMore, Windows Central and Android Central while also covering nerd culture for publications including IGN and Polygon. She loves superheroes, RPGs, cooking, and spending time outside with her dog. You can follow her on Twitter @samanthanelson1.

With contributions from