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Japan is getting the six button Mega Drive controller for Nintendo Switch Online

Three button original for everywhere else.

As revealed during last night's Nintendo Direct, N64 and Mega Drive games are finally heading to Nintendo Switch Online, and they'll be accompanied by physical controllers inspired by both platforms. Over in Japan, Nintendo also confirmed Mega Drive's much-loved six button pad variant will be available for purchase, but only in Japan.

Mega Drive's six button controller released back in 1993 to coincide with the launch of Street Fighter 2: Special Champion Edition and would eventually be supported by over 60 games. Yet despite its enduring popularity around the world - especially among fighting game fans - Sega and Nintendo have opted to make Switch's rendition of the six button pad exclusive to Japan. Everywhere else gets the three button original.

This isn't the first time Sega has denied western audience six-button Mega Drive goodness, of course; exactly the same thing happened with the release of its dinky Mega Drive Mini back 2019 to the disappointment of some, with everywhere but Japan having to make do with the three-button pad - Sega presumably reckoning (both then and now) the original offered the most nostalgia value for the majority of western Mega Drive fans.

The Japan-only six button controller for Switch Online.

Nintendo's newly announced retro controllers, which will be available to purchase at £39.99/€49.99/$49.99 apiece, are intended to offer a more authentic playing experience when N64 and Mega Drive games come to Switch as part of a new premium Nintendo Switch Online subscription tier arriving in October.

Nine N64 games will be offered at launch - Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Star Fox 64, Yoshi's Story, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario Tennis, Dr Mario 6, WinBack: Covert Operations, and Sin & Punishment - with certain titles set to include online play. There's some concern these may be the inferior 50Hz editions over here based on last night's Europe-focused Nintendo Direct, but Nintendo currently isn't saying either way.

Over on the Mega Drive side, launch will bring 14 titles to Switch Online, including Ecco the Dolphin, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage 2, Shining Force, Shinobi 3, Gunstar Heroes, Ristar, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, with more to follow. And if it's any consolation, none of the currently announced Mega Drive titles originally supported the six button controller anyway.

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Matt Wales

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Matt Wales is a writer and gambolling summer child who won't even pretend to live a busily impressive life of dynamic go-getting for the purposes of this bio. He is the sole and founding member of the Birdo for President of Everything Society.