The Nintendo Switch Online Service (opens in new tab) has finally gone live, but there seems to be a problem with its NES games library that's really freaking people out. Some users who play the NES games using the "CRT Filter" setting - which tries to emulate the original effect of playing on an old, fuzzy television - are seeing some odd display artifacts that persist for a while even after they stop playing.
The issue doesn't seem to be affecting everyone who plays using the CRT filter option, but it can affect your screen(s) regardless of whether you're in docked or handheld mode. Here's one image that shows the issue quite well on Nintendo Switch's built-in screen. See how you can plainly make out a sorta-shadow-thing of Yoshi's interface? The Switch lock screen is supposed to have a flat background, so that definitely isn't right.
So um, I've never played Yoshi, and it was a bit addicting, but it left a burn-in of the game on screen, wut? Glad I paid extra subscription fees for this. @NintendoAmerica ? pic.twitter.com/kh0Tbi632rSeptember 19, 2018
And here's another user who noticed the same problem with their Switch docked and plugged into a monitor.
hey I'm back for a sec to say be careful of using the #nintendoswitch #NES CRT filter because I'm pretty sure it just straight-up broke my desktop monitorThis is after switching it back to my PC. that's SMB3's status bar at the bottom. screen just a bit more than a year old pic.twitter.com/XYHtZ259jWSeptember 19, 2018
The first Tweet calls the issue "burn-in," referring to the problem of an image (or part of an image) leaving a permanent mark on a screen if it's left in place too long. This is a common problem for games with static user interfaces, or if they don't automatically dim or shut down if left on a pause screen. But that doesn't seem to actually be the cause of the issue here, since users are reporting the screen artifacts even after relatively brief play sessions with the CRT filter on.
ResetEra (opens in new tab) forum user Robin64 theorized that it's actually image retention being caused by the CRT filter's fuzzy shimmering effect. Certain pixels on the screen - most noticeably around the edges of user interface elements - are made to swap between two states so quickly and for so long that it takes a while for them to cool back down and start behaving like the other pixels around them again. That's the best explanation I've found for the cause of the issue yet.
It doesn't seem like it's causing permanent damage to displays so far but it is definitely worrying. You can avoid the whole thing by just steering clear of the CRT filter setting. If your screen is already looking messed up, your best bet is to just let it display something else with a lot of movement for a while until the afflicted pixels return to normal. Hopefully Nintendo will resolve this whole issue with an update soon-ish since the whole thing's supposed to be online anyway.
Looking for something a little more contemporary to play? Check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch games (opens in new tab).