Quick Facts:

  • Price: Free
  • On: iOS, Andrioid

Oh, Nintendo…

While Nintendo’s decision to move their online functions to a mobile app was very controversial for a while, it still had some nice potential. We were excited to be able to create lobbies at a whim, inviting our friends in to voice chat with all of our games in our Switch despite the lack of built-in features. What we got, however, was far from convenient. Let’s just say the app is laid out in the most “Nintendo” way possible…

Nintendo has never been keen on staying up-to-date with online features. They like to do things their own way and say “No, if you wanna play online, you’ll play it our way.” That’s not to say they haven’t made any good decisions before; they are very generous with DLC pricing and community sharing options, such as Miiverse. This side of Nintendo definitely shows in the first half of the app. Nintendo Switch Online has two main features: Game-Specific utilities and Voice Chat Lobbies. The former is an excellent way to get the most out of your games.

The first option available for now is Splatnet, compatible with Splatoon 2. Splatnet’s interface is nice and clean. It has tons of nifty features to plan your next play session, including the next 10-12 map rotations, all of your account’s stats, and an exclusive Splatnet shop where you can send gear straight to your game, no hassle required. As long as Nintendo keeps a steady stream of these nifty little apps coming, these game-specific features will likely be very successful and useful in the future.

The other half is… less than decent. Nintendo has always been impartial to voice chat; when they do utilize more modern online features seen in services like Xbox Live, they always “Nintendo-fy” it with overly-complicated and un-needed hassle, avoiding common sense at all costs to keep those poor kiddies safe. In Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo boasts about how it can replace all those “bulky headsets” with their useful lobbies. Their lobbies, however, are absolutely useless. When you are voice-chatting with people, you can only chat with people on your team. Hmm, just a minor inconvenience. But you can’t open anything else either; you can’t even pull down the notification bar or else you’ll be disconnected. That’s… discouraging, but I’m sure I can just set my phone aside in sleep mode while I talk… right? Nope. You can’t even turn off the screen without being kicked out of the app. On top of that, if you want to hear the game chat through the same speakers as the Switch, you’ll need a specially made headset port that’s best described as a nightmare of cords, cables, and dongles. What on Earth is Nintendo hoping to solve by replacing those “bulky headsets” with an even BULKIER solution including a jungle of cords?!

Maybe someday Nintendo will catch up with the times, but for now it seems they’re fully content being stuck in the 90s, land of the tangled cords and serial numbers.

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Pros:

  • Splatnet

Cons:

  • Clunky interface outside of Splatnet
  • Horrendously complicated lobby setup
  • Battery killer
  • Can’t do anything with your phone when the app is on
  • Replaces headsets with even bulkier headsets