“The Nintendo Switch Online app sure is a thing that exists,” I often thought to myself. Since its September 2018 launch, the companion application to the Switch’s online service amounted to little more than mobile software fodder, what with Nintendo’s own afterthought-like support of the feature. The underwhelming app touted an unnecessarily complex and tacked-on voice chat feature as its main selling point, something fans can already accomplish on their own with simpler workarounds through the likes of Skype and Discord. It’s always left much to be desired.
Last night, however, everything changed with the formal announcement of Version 3.0 for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and our first look at the supplementary “Smash World” feature for the NSOnline app. I’m happy to say that, with Nintendo’s familiar approach for additional support behind their fastest and highest-grossing Switch title, the app might finally be worth downloading on our mobile devices at last!
Now, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t the first compatible Switch title to receive special features through the Nintendo Switch Online app, preceded by Splatoon 2 and its companion “Splat2Net.” By itself, Splat2Net is a fun little optional app that enhances the Splatoon 2 experience by allowing players to track their battle stats, order special gear, see how much ink they splatted compared to the size of real-world monuments, and then some. The main problem is that Splat2Net was all by its lonesome in the first place, carrying the Nintendo Switch Online app as its only special feature for a single specific Switch title, thereby offering very little incentive for players to bother downloading the app.
That changes with Smash World. Backed by the staggering popularity and wide-spanning appeal of Smash, Smash World may be just the thing to make players sing a different tune. One word came to my mind as yesterday’s deep dive into Version 3.0 spoke of Smash World, and that word was “Miiverse.”
Miiverse was a fun and immersive Nintendo-centric social app that was criminally held back by the Wii U’s niche appeal and short shelf life. Nonetheless, the now defunct social network was a welcome addition to the two Super Smash Bros. games at the time. With Miiverse, players were able to share and download pictures and recorded videos from brawls, their own Mii Fighters, and custom stages. Plus they could follow other users and “Yeah!” each others’ content. Naturally, this all came to an unfortunate end as Miiverse shuttered in November 2017, but Smash World is picking up right where Miiverse left off for Smash players and then some.
All of these old features have returned, but the best part is that you can now take advantage of the same features on the go from the convenience of your mobile device. When last night’s presentation revealed that I can even queue downloads for custom stages right from the app, I could not help but gawk in disbelief, realization, and then excitement. The gimmick in creating new Spirit teams from your phone is also a fun perk, but one I feel might not be as utilized in light of the overhauled social capabilities backing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, starting later tonight.
Smash World is bringing exactly what the Nintendo Switch Online app was missing, something I wanted so much without knowing it until I received it: social networking à la Miiverse to further enhance the NSOnline experience. I can concede that it may be unrealistic for every single Switch release, especially given the exponential number of games releasing on this system, but at the very least the app should strongly support Nintendo’s own online multiplayer games in a similar capacity to Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
For example, the Miiverse-like integration in Ultimate demonstrates that certain re-releases and sequels from the last generation can regain these features thought long gone. Mario Kart TV could return to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, once again giving players a proper platform to share their highlight reels and best races. A similar feature could easily be applied to Mario Tennis Aces, ARMS, and Nintendo Entertainment System NSOnline, each with their own unique flair and special features to further compliment the basic experience like dedicated tournament setups.
Hell, if Smash World will allow players to share their own unique stages, there is absolutely no way that Super Mario Maker 2 won’t do the same later this year with its own NSOnline mini-app. If anything, Super Mario Maker 2 could be the best thing that will happen to the mobile app when it comes to integrating special features. It could allow players to upvote their favorite levels, upload their own creations and download others, and comment on other users’ levels both within the game and from the comfort of the app.
In fact, why limit NSOnline to just a mobile phone app? Ease of accessibility will only lead to a wider appeal, after all, as Miiverse took further advantage of your browser with its own website — a given since it was its own little social media network. There is no reason why the complementary features within NSOnline should be limited to just an app! How much more convenient would it be if we could order special gear via Splat2Net, queue custom stage downloads via Smash World, and follow our favorite Mario Makers via a dedicated Super Mario Maker 2 mini-app all from the convenience of our computers?
Let’s be honest, we only subscribed to Nintendo Switch Online out of necessity so that we could keep playing online multiplayer games with friends. The fact that the online service itself didn’t even improve since we started paying for it only left a bad taste in our mouths, which makes the likes of Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus much more appealing in spite of their higher price points. Selective save data backups, few special offers, NES NSOnline replacing the Virtual Console, still no special game discounts, and an underwhelming smartphone app only soured that taste further.
As of tonight, however? Things might finally be taking a turn for the better. Nintendo Switch Online is finally starting to draw some appeal thanks to the inclusion of the service-exclusive Tetris 99, and from where I stand, the companion app has begun scratching the surface of its full potential at last by using Miiverse as its inspiration, and we have Smash World to thank for it. Hopefully, this momentum will carry forward into the future with NSO both as a service and as a portal continuing to improve.
But sheesh, it took them long enough!
We asked before what you thought of Nintendo Switch Online back with the service’s launch, but has your perspective on it changed in recent times? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!