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Is Mario Free on Nintendo Switch?

The iconic Mario franchise and its titular plumber hero have been synonymous with Nintendo game consoles for decades. With the release of the Nintendo Switch in 2017, many gamers wonder if you can play Mario games for free on the hybrid home/portable system. The answer isn‘t straightforward, but there are indeed several ways to enjoy Mario‘s adventures without spending any money on the Nintendo eShop.

What is Nintendo Switch Online?

Nintendo Switch Online is Nintendo‘s online gaming service for the Switch. It costs $3.99 per month, $7.99 for three months, or $19.99 annually for an Individual Membership. There are also Family Memberships covering up to 8 accounts for $34.99/year.

The main benefits of this subscription service are:

  • Online multiplayer gaming
  • Cloud save data backup
  • Access to the Nintendo Switch smartphone app
  • Exclusive offers like Tetris 99 and PAC-MAN 99
  • Growing library of free classic NES and SNES games

It‘s the last point that relates to getting Mario games for free on the Switch.

Is Super Mario Bros Free with Nintendo Switch Online?

Yes, the original 1985 Super Mario Bros. on the NES is one of the free classic games included with a Nintendo Switch Online membership!

Here is the full list of NES and SNES games currently available at no extra cost:

NES Games

  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Dr. Mario
  • …[30 more games]

SNES Games

  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario Kart
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Super Metroid
  • …[26 more games]

So not only can you play the first three Mario games online, you get other classics like Zelda, Metroid, and Donkey Kong too.

How to Get NES and SNES Mario Games on Nintendo Switch

If you subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online, all you need to do is go to the NES or SNES apps on your Switch to download the free games. Just make sure you remain an active member to play them anytime.

Another option is upgrading to the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack plan for $49.99/year. This gives you access to an expanded library of classic games from Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis, including Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, and more Mario titles.

You can also buy many retro Mario games like the Super Mario All-Stars collection and Super Mario World individually on the eShop. However, these will cost you extra, while the NES and SNES apps provide free access to members.

Free-to-Play Mario Games on Nintendo Switch

In addition to the free classics, there are some great free-to-start Mario games on the Nintendo Switch that don‘t require any subscription.

Super Mario Run – This auto-runner mobile game was ported to Switch in 2018 as a free download. You can play the first world for free and then pay $9.99 to unlock the full game.

Mario Kart Tour – Nintendo‘s mobile take on Mario Kart came to Switch in 2019 as a free-to-play game with optional microtransactions.

Dr. Mario World – Match and pop viruses in this free-to-start puzzle game inspired by Dr. Mario. Optional purchases allow you to continue playing.

While not traditional Mario platformers, these free titles allow you to enjoy Mario on Switch without spending anything.

Other Free Games on Nintendo Switch

Beyond Mario, the Nintendo Switch eShop has an extensive collection of free-to-play games spanning many genres. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Fortnite
  • Pokémon Quest
  • Fallout Shelter
  • Warframe
  • Arena of Valor
  • Rocket League Sideswipe
  • Apex Legends
  • MultiVersus

Major free-to-play titles like these regularly top the Switch eShop charts and provide 100s of hours of gameplay with no upfront cost. Just note that some do feature in-app purchases.

Why Are Nintendo Switch Games More Expensive?

First-party Nintendo games rarely go on sale and typically have a higher upfront price than multiplatform titles. Here are the main factors:

  • Nintendo‘s premium brand reputation and popularity
  • Cartridge production costs more than discs
  • Lack of competition on Nintendo platforms
  • Lower frequency of sales/discounts vs. other consoles

For example, here are the typical new prices for first-party Nintendo Switch games:

Game GenreAverage Price
Mario platformer$59.99
Zelda adventure$59.99
Mario Kart racing$59.99
Super Smash Bros fighting$59.99
Pokémon RPG$59.99

Whereas major third-party games usually launch at $59.99 or lower.

Getting Mario and Nintendo Games for Less on Nintendo Switch

While Nintendo games rarely go on sale in the eShop, there are still ways to save:

  • Buy physical copies that sometimes get discounted
  • Buy pre-owned games from retailers
  • Wait for occasional eShop sales (~30% off)
  • Buy download codes from third party sellers
  • Choose free-to-start games
  • Redeem Nintendo Switch reward points

The best way to play Mario for free is through Nintendo Switch Online. But by shopping around you can often get major Nintendo titles for $40-50 even just a few months after release.


Mario fans have plenty of options to enjoy the classic plumber‘s adventures on Nintendo Switch without spending a dime. A Nintendo Switch Online membership provides free access to NES and SNES Mario platformers as part of a growing library of retro games. For modern free-to-play Mario experiences, check out Super Mario Run, Mario Kart Tour, and Dr. Mario World. And while first-party Nintendo games do tend to be pricier compared to other platforms, discounts and deals can help you get the latest Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon games for less. With some savvy shopping, you can stock up on Switch games featuring Nintendo‘s iconic mascots for a reasonable cost.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.