Just last week, Nintendo’s long-awaited Expansion Pack for its Switch console’s online services went live, much to the nostalgia-fueled joy of the iconic studio’s lifelong fans. Along with immediate access to a handful of games originally released for the Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis consoles — two of the video game industry’s most beloved systems from the 1990s — subscribers to the service will also gain access to the Happy Home Paradise DLC for the Animal Crossing: New Horizons title when the downloadable content goes live on November 5th.
While Nintendo announced that it plans to gradually release more titles for the service in the future, its initial release came out swinging with access to classic games like Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Mario Kart 64, Streets of Rage, Starfox 64, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. For those gamers who grew up with these titles, the service’s price tag of $50/year seems more than reasonable.
History, however, tends to repeat itself. And in the video game industry, this historical repetition points towards the plethora of bugs that routinely come whenever any new title (or freshly-ported older title) is released.
Mere hours after the Switch console’s Expansion Pack service went live, gamers began flocking to the internet to point out several technical issues that, coupled with an apparent lack of support from Nintendo’s online services, were all but impossible to ignore.
For instance, one Twitter user by the nametag of @stopskeletons posted several screenshots of the same location in Ocarina of Time as seen in the classic Nintendo 64 version, the Wii Virtual Console, and the Switch’s online Expansion Pack. Upon first glance, it’s apparently clear that there are extreme differences in water and fog textures, as well as draw distance (i.e., how far away an object can be rendered by the game) that unsurprisingly have more than a handful of players upset.
Other issues have been reported that plague more classic titles on the new online service, as well. Stuttering frame rates and input lag have been noted in Super Mario 64 as well as Ocarina of Time, and the latter issue has left many fans of Mario Kart 64 — another famed title available on the service — deeming the game as “unplayable” while online. Because this title, in particular, is one meant to be played with multiple others using the service’s online capabilities, frequent stuttering and input lag can leave every player in a specific match unable to rely on skill alone to play successfully.
According to Gamespot, one of the most common issues reported with the service, “across the board is the inability to remap controls for the games on the service.” Though this would normally not be an issue with classic games ported from their original console program to a newer version (such as porting a game from the Wii to the Switch), most of the games on the Expansion Pack were designed to play on the Nintendo 64 console; the controller for which had 6 buttons on its right-hand side, whereas the Switch only has 4. For many games currently available on the service, this means that they, too, are virtually “unplayable” without the purchase of a Nintendo 64 controller designed specifically for use with the Switch console.
With the Switch’s redesigned N64 controller running players another $50 — on top of the $50/year price tag simply for subscribing to the service and the current radio silence from Nintendo’s customer support — it’s little surprise that many players are unapologetically bashing the producer’s Expansion Pack service. Unfortunately, for now, at least, all we can do is wait and cross our fingers that Nintendo takes their customers’ feedback seriously and begins implementing fixes to the array of issues that have already been reported.