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Can the Nintendo Switch play games from Nintendo’s other consoles?

This is disappointing.

person holding a nintendo switch console in well-lighted room
Image: Unsplash

If you’ve just bought a Nintendo Switch, you’ll no doubt be on the lookout for some games to play. While you could pick one of the many games created for the Nintendo Switch, what if you wanted to play something from an earlier console?

You might be aware that Nintendo has a good track record with other consoles being able to play games from earlier generations, especially with its handheld devices, and the Nintendo Switch should follow that pattern, right?

I mean, the WiiU played Wii games, the Wii played GameCube games, both had virtual consoles for multiple older generations of console games. Nintendo’s other handheld consoles are all back-compatible with prior generations. The 3DS plays DS games, the DS plays GameBoy Advance cartridges, as well as Game Boy and GameBoy Color cartridges stretching back to the ’80s… Did Nintendo continue the trend with the Nintendo Switch?

So, can the Nintendo Switch play any games from earlier consoles?

Short answer: Kind of

The biggest misstep from Nintendo with the Switch console concerns back-compatibility. Rather, the lack of it. For Nintendo’s most powerful console to not have a Virtual Console, with games from prior generations ported to run on it is almost negligent of Nintendo.

Why Nintendo hasn’t brought virtual console to the Nintendo Switch by now is beyond me. Instead, the company offers a select list of retro games for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. With this, gamers get access to a smallish catalog of NES and SNES games.

It’s a shame, really. It’s not like the console can’t handle it, but Nintendo seems content to port NES and SNES games to give away to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, instead of porting their entire back catalog. How cool it would be to play N64 games on the go, without resorting to Android emulators?

While you’re here, go enter our giveaway and you might win your own Nintendo Switch console.

What do you think? Surprised that Nintendo doesn’t offer more classic games from past consoles? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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