Nintendo Switch Online updates bring us some retro classics

Although many people would still prefer a Virtual Console-like storefront to selectively purchase and keep retro games on Nintendo Switch, the offerings for the Nintendo Switch Online retro libraries have been gradually (albeit slowly) expanding over time and bringing us some great games to enjoy on a variety of platforms.

The March 2023 update to the service brings us a selection of Game Boy, Super NES and NES games to enjoy, so let’s take a quick look at all of them now, shall we?

Kirby’s Dream Land 2 (Game Boy)

Kirby's Dream Land 2 for Game Boy on Nintendo Switch Online

Following hot on the heels of the first Kirby’s Dream Land — Kirby’s first ever adventure, if you weren’t familiar — comes this Game Boy sequel. It features the same familiar leisurely paced platforming of its predecessor, with the addition of some animal companions who will help Kirby out in various situations.

Unlike the first Kirby’s Dream Land, Kirby’s Dream Land 2 does feature the ability for Kirby to absorb abilities from certain enemies — though not every enemy. The emphasis here is much more on the use of the animal companions to proceed: Rick the hamster runs faster and doesn’t slip on ice; Coo the owl can fly and allows Kirby to inhale while flying, which he cannot normally do; and Kine the sunfish allows the ability to swim through water, even that which has a strong current. With Kine, Kirby can also inhale underwater, which he cannot normally do.

Kirby’s Dream Land 2 isn’t a hugely difficult game to make it to the end of, but it is notoriously one of the most challenging to get 100% completion in. It’s a great addition to the franchise, one of the best games on Game Boy, and definitely worth your time if you have Nintendo Switch Online.

BurgerTime Deluxe (Game Boy)

Burger Time Deluxe for Game Boy on Nintendo Switch Online

One of the interesting things about the Game Boy is that while it played host to numerous arcade ports, the best examples of these were actually complete reimaginings of the games in question that bore the Game Boy’s specific capabilities into account. With a low-resolution dot matrix display that could only display four shades of grey, the original Game Boy was obviously never going to provide the “true” arcade experience — so many developers decided to make custom versions of classic games for the platform.

BurgerTime Deluxe is a great example of this. Not only does it revamp the Data East arcade classic with cutesy graphics and music, but it also smooths out the notoriously sharp difficulty curve seen in both the original arcade version and its excellent NES port. The result is a “best of both worlds” sort of situation: a copy of BurgerTime that has all the enjoyable action of the original, and which doesn’t make you want to throw things at your television.

With the Nintendo Switch Online version, you can choose to play the game in original monochrome style, or with the “colourised” option that the Game Boy Colour and Game Boy Advance systems provided when playing original Game Boy games.

Xevious (NES)

Xevious for NES on Nintendo Switch Online

Namco’s classic vertically scrolling shooter was instrumental in the development of the entire shoot ’em up genre, and remains highly playable to this day. This NES port is an excellent recreation of the arcade original, arguably with a slightly smoother difficulty curve.

For the unfamiliar, Xevious is a vertically scrolling shoot ’em up in which you attack both aerial and ground targets with specific weapons. You can rapid-fire your aerial shots to defeat airborne enemies, while your bombs can be dropped one at a time on top of a floating sight to destroy static installations and mobile armour.

Xevious is simple to get to grips with and offers a firm but fair challenge that still holds up well to this day. While it perhaps isn’t the most exciting and unexpected addition to the library of NES games on Nintendo Switch Online, it’s definitely a a welcome inclusion.

Side Pocket (Super NES)

Side Pocket for Super NES on Nintendo Switch Online

Data East’s Side Pocket is a follow-up to Pocket Gal, which we last covered some time ago in The History of Lewd. It’s an arcade-style billiards game that plays pretty fast and loose with the actual rules of pool in favour of puzzle game-esque scoring, whereby you get big bonuses for potting balls in numerical order and potting multiple in succession without having to take any setup shots in between.

Each stage in the main single-player game tasks you with earning a particular number of points (after bonuses) in order to progress. Along the way, there are also trick shot challenges that can be played as their own standalone minigame, and a couple of two-player modes to round out the package.

While not the most realistic pool game around, both in terms of its implementation of the rules and its often questionable ball physics, Side Pocket is just a great fun game to enjoy either solo or with friends, and a welcome inclusion to the Nintendo Switch Online library.

The Game Boy, NES and Super NES apps are available to all subscribers of Nintendo Switch Online.

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Pete Davison
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