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Thank You Nintendo—Dreams Do Come True

Game Boy emulator on the Nintendo Switch, from the Nintendo Direct

When, during the February 8th Nintendo Direct, they teased an announcement regarding Nintendo Switch Online, I muttered a quick wish. “Please be GameCube or Game Boy games!” I attempted to say. “Attempted” because I completely fell over my words and then lost my shit when a Game Boy did, indeed, appear on-screen. My greatest wish came true. As of this moment, right now, Game Boy and Game Boy Color games are now available for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers.

But wait, there’s more! If you have a Nintendo Switch Online+ account, you can also get Game Boy Advance games. What the hell!? Does god exist after all? Or am I just that much of a Nintendo fangirl?

You see, for a while now, I have had two secret desires. One was to play a port of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Switch, which would require either a GameCube emulator or a straight-up remastered version. (For the record, Nintendo, I’d prefer the latter. Thank you!) My other great desire was to play either Pokémon Red / Blue / Yellow or Pokémon Gold / Sliver on a Game Boy emulator on the Switch. Before the Direct, I thought both were equally possible and implausible, all at once. I can’t believe I could be getting one of my wishes.

What games are available?

For both emulators, the launch titles are on point. For the Game Boy, you have Tetris (don’t laugh, Tetris is awesome), Super Mario Land 2 – 6 Golden Coins, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX, Gargoyle’s Quest, Game and Watch Gallery 3, Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare, Metroid 2: Return of Samus, Wario Land 3, and Kirby’s Dream Land. So, so excitingly, the next waves of titles have been announced as well, and they will contain The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons / Ages and Pokémon Trading Card Game.

While I have no specific nostalgic attachment to Pokémon Trading Card Game, it does give me hope they could add one of my super niche dream titles: Pokémon Pinball. I specifically remember going out to eat with my parents and burying myself in my teal Game Boy Color, playing Pokémon Pinball and not looking at anyone. Good times.

No mainline Pokémon games are announced yet, but I think that it’s definitely a question of “when,” not “if,” they’ll be released.

Amazingly, you can change your screen filter to emulate the Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket, or Game Boy Color for any of these games. Let your nostalgia run wild.

Meanwhile, if you have a Nintendo Switch Online + account, you can play some Game Boy Advance games as well. Critically, one of the launch titles is The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. Although I have never played it because I never owned a Game Boy Advance, I just borrowed the manga version from my friend and was planning on starting it this very night! What a coincidence!

The other Game Boy Advance launch titles are Super Mario Bros. Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$, Kuru Kuru Kuruin, MarioKart Super Circuit, and Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga. Future titles include Metroid Fusion and the original Fire Emblem. I’m especially excited about the latter considering my newfound obsession with Fire Emblem Engage.

What’s Nintendo Switch Online again?

Nintendo Switch Online is a subscription service that costs either $3.99 a month or $19.99 a year. It allows you to play games online and save your data in a cloud. Both of those are very nice. But, increasingly, the best features are the emulators. In addition to the new Game Boy library, subscribers can also play an impressive library of NES and SNES games.

As the “+” might suggest, the Nintendo Switch Online+ subscription is more expensive, at $49.99 a year. But I’d actually argue it’s worth it if you have a big library of first-party Switch games. Nintendo regularly adds DLCs to this subscription, including ones for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Interestingly, the Splatoon 3 DLC announced during this same Direct will not be added to this subscription.

Importantly, the Online+ subscription has N64 and Sega Genesis game libraries, in addition to the new Game Boy Advance one. This is “important” because you can play Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Basically, at this point, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess are very nearly the only Zelda games you can’t play on the Switch. I’m glad for my newfound wealth, but … it would sure be nice.

(Featured image: Nintendo)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a musician, audio person, writer, and nerd. When not talking about One Piece or Zelda (among other anime and games), she's finding surprising ways to play the guitar.