Nintendo thrilled Switch owners today with hard details about its new Switch Online service, which includes NES games that can be played for free and feature modern elements, such as online play and voice chat.

We've known that retro games would form some part of the mooted online package for a while, but many were hopeful that the Virtual Console service - which launched on the Wii over a decade ago - would be included somehow. Through the Virtual Console platform, players have been able to gain access to some of the greatest games ever made for a reasonable fee, some of which are either exclusive to Japan or incredibly hard to obtain in their original form these days.

Sadly, Nintendo has confirmed to Kotaku that the service will not be coming to Switch in the near future:

There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems.

It would therefore seem that the vast majority of the retro content supplied via the Switch Online service will be part of your yearly fee - which, if that ends up being the case, more than makes up for the fact that the Virtual Console is effectively no more. 

While we might not see all of the games that had previously launched across Wii, Wii U and 3DS under the Virtual Console banner, the notion of a flat yearly fee for online play and cloud saves which also gives access to some of Nintendo's best titles from the past few decades as a bonus can't be bad.

The Nintendo spokesperson added:

There are a variety of ways in which classic games from Nintendo and other publishers are made available on Nintendo Switch, such as through Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo eShop or as packaged collections. Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online will provide a fun new way to experience classic NES games that will be different from the Virtual Console service, thanks to enhancements such as added online play, voice chat via the Nintendo Switch Online app and the various play modes of Nintendo Switch.

They also refused to give any information regarding future platforms appearing on the Switch Online service, such as SNES and GameCube. However, we'd be amazed if Nintendo didn't add more machines to the service in the future.

[via kotaku.com]