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5 Best Games on Nintendo Switch Online (April 2024)

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Best Games on Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online has been on a roll recently. They’re bringing back old classics you likely have already played before, splashed with a fresh coat of paint for a contemporary audience. Games like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. return to their former glory, sparking deep nostalgia for days. If you want to relive the old days or are curious about the games that stole gamers’ hearts back in the day, check out these best games on Nintendo Switch Online.

5. Donkey Kong


Did you know Donkey Kong marked the beginning of Super Mario? All the Mario games we love today essentially owe their success to Donkey Kong. Some may even go as far as to say that Donkey Kong saved gaming in the 1980s. History lessons aside, though, you’ll want to check out Donkey Kong—no, not Donkey Kong Country, but the original Donkey Kong (1981). He’s done it all: scraped for bananas, stomped on bongos, and originally gave Mario a nasty migraine. The original Donkey Kong game kidnaps the princess, and so, inevitably, he’s forced to face Mario’s rage.

Mario and Donkey Kong have different abilities, which is grand enough to switch up the gameplay a bit. Mario runs, jumps, and climbs ladders in the hopes of rescuing the princess. But the closer you get to the end goal, the more Donkey Kong constantly impedes your progress, tossing barrels at you. The more you play, the more Donkey Kong unleashes more tricks up his sleeve. He starts to throw metal barrels that burst into flames. The flame guy then chases you. It gets worse. If you manage to close the distance to Donkey Kong, he starts to unleash barrels in waves. 

The Donkey Kong series is a timeless platformer. While the titular Donkey Kong, a giant, mighty, rampaging gorilla, always amuses, Mario, too, originally Jumpman, turns the fun up a notch. That’s two of the most iconic mascots in gaming history. How can you say no to that?

4. Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3 - Trailer (Wii U & Nintendo 3DS)

Super Mario Bros. 3 does a splendid job of taking notes from its predecessors and improving its gameplay as a result. You enjoy better graphics and more content, including power-ups. To date, Super Mario Bros. 3 remains one of the better counterparts, with the best Mario universe from the NES. It poses a fair challenge – not too difficult, not too simple. You do need strategy and quick thinking to pull off most stunts. You throw items, climb vines, and even fly, unlike its predecessors. 

With eight kingdoms and eight unique worlds, environments in Super Mario Bros. 3 hardly get bland. What’s more? Each world feels like a distinct experience on its own, with enemies and music mimicking its theme and so on. Of course, the story remains the same, as with most Mario titles. Princess Peach has been kidnapped. Save her. Yadda yadda. Even so, its gameplay does a fantastic job of keeping the experience fresh, whether with variety, a fair challenge, or exciting power-ups to gun for.

3. Star Fox 64

Nintendo 3DS - Star Fox 64 3D E3 Trailer

It might be hard to believe, but even in 1997, when Star Fox 64 came out, the gameplay was so progressive that you could steer your very own spaceship among the stars. Its stunning Lylat setting aside, Star Fox 64 pens down an intriguing story many classics could only dream of achieving. It features unique characters with distinct personalities. Meanwhile, you explore not just space but also land, gradually descending your Arwing to the ground to scoop up eccentric power-ups.

Flying back into space, Star Fox 64 challenges you with traversal techniques. They come in handy when enemies pursue you. You constantly need to shake them off or perform slick ‘barrel rolls’ to deflect enemy fire. You can fire back, too, inducing a chaotic space on-rails shooter to save Lylat from the evil Andross and his minions. While the complete experience is rather short, it’s still fun and addictive enough to make you want to return for more. In a way, its short length motivates re-plays.

2. GoldenEye 007

GoldenEye 007 - Nintendo 64 - Nintendo Switch Online

We owe GoldenEye 007 quite a lot, including linear objective-based mission design. The game features a multiplayer split-screen, allowing for a fantastic gaming experience with friends. Above all, its impeccable synergy between action and campaign makes it an engaging playthrough worth experiencing. Its missions are varied enough, constantly introducing new weapons and abilities. That said, GoldenEye 007 has aged, maintaining striking similarities to the original. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just not the game to play if you’re looking for modern-day espionage.

Still, if you have a soft heart for the classics, GoldenEye 007 is perfect. It still retains the same magic, with rich detail and satisfying gameplay. You may even come down with the Bond flu that makes you want to jump back in for months on end.

1. Super Mario World

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Closely butting heads with Super Mario Bros. 3 is Super Mario World. It adds a new location to the franchise, called Dinosaur Island. Also, it’s the game that introduces Yoshi to the gaming world. Super Mario World’s controls don’t disappoint, with smooth and responsive feedback. You play across 72 levels, some of which are quite tricky to pull off. It also features arguably the best Bowser battle.

The Cape power-up also first made its way to the franchise via Super Mario World. Equipping it transforms Mario and Luigi into their cape forms, allowing them to take to the clouds and fly. Content sprawls over, whether fun secrets to discover or alternate routes to explore. You just don’t get bored playing Super Mario World, not when you also enjoy stunning pixel art and catchy tunes. 

Having been released in 1990, Super Mario World’s vibrant and cheerful personality holds up well today. It runs smoothly and has enhanced ports – any Mario fan will have a blast. 

So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five? What do you think are the best games on Nintendo Switch Online? Let us know in the comments below or over on our socials here!

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.