Do you remember the golden days of home arcade gaming? Gathered around a small television, flicking the antenna adapter from the VCR to Game? Many of us spent hours on Mario and Street Fighter with the classic NES and SNES controllers firmly gripped in our hands.
Thanks to emulators on computers and apps on smartphones these days can be re-lived, however without that hard plastic controller nestled in your hands, it never feels the same. The team at 8Bitdo agree and have produced a line of fantastic wireless controllers with a classic, familiar look and feel. They are great to use and make for ideal birthday or Christmas gifts for anyone of a certain age. Lets take a look at some of the most popular models.
Please Note : Whilst these devices have excellent support, note that at time of press these controllers do not work with iOS devices.
These Nintendo style controllers are potentially the only wireless gaming controllers you will need. Not only will it connect wirelessly to your PC, laptop (including Mac OS) and your Android phone, it is also compatible with the Nintendo switch! Modern Bluetooth technology means their latency isn’t far off of a wired controller.
The 8Bitdo devices are designed with versatility in mind. They support Xinput (and Directinput) over bluetooth for maximum compatibility, eg. for games that support them, it can ‘simulate an xbox controller’ on a pc without any extra drivers. You can even use them as wired USB controllers with the included USB cable. The firmware for many of the models has recently been updated with new system compatibility including Nintendo’s Switch and the Raspberry Pi.
8Bitdo SN30/SF30 Pro Bluetooth Gaming Controller
These are probably our favourite retro controllers of the moment and the best controller 8Bitdo have made to date. On-top of the standard retro pad’s inputs of start/select, d-pad and X/Y/A/B, these controllers feature analogue stick inputs, extra trigger buttons on the shoulders as well as star and home buttons.
More importantly they add force feedback thanks to a rumble vibration motor (albeit without HD rumble support), a Turbo function and Motion Control! The later employing a gryo inside the pad to offer an experience similar to the switch pro controller, allowing you to tilt to look around and slap the pad down for games like Mario. The rumble vibration is surprisingly strong for such a small pad but if it isn’t too your liking you can disable/re-enable it with L+R+SELECT.
These pads use USB-C for both charging and connectivity thus can be used as wired controllers (a USB-C to USB-A cable is included). They are also compatible with the retro receivers should you want to play your original NES with this wireless pad.
The analogue sticks feature knurled edges, are sensitive with less distance-to-move than say a Playstation unit, you will have to be controlled to produce fine in-game movements. The trigger buttons are a welcome addition but these are digital buttons, not like the analogue ones found on the back of an xBox controller, thus not really suitable for driving games.
The star button the left can be pressed in conjunction with another button to put it into Turbo mode. The home button on the right is useful when the device is paired with an android phone.
You can expect around 16 hours playtime from a 2 hour charge but be sure to avoid using high-output fast chargers. It will enter a power saving sleep mode after a minute of no bluetooth connection, or 15 minutes if you leave it connected but don’t interact with it (you just need to press start to wake it up).
Although the hardware is nearly identical, the pad is available in three different retro-inspired finishes.
8Bitdo SF30 Pro
UK Nintendo fans will be most familiar with this ‘Super Famicon’ colourway with its convex buttons. The XY, AB buttons in Blue, Green, Red and Yellow respectively, sat on a mid-grey surround. All of the X/Y A/B buttons have round convex tops and all the typography mirrors the original SNES look.
8Bitdo SN30 Pro
This edition follows the north american Super Nintendo colourway. It has a slightly bluey/purple tint to the housing plastics and has a dark finish to the d-pad, select/start and analogue sticks. The Y and X buttons have a concave surface and a lighter violet colour whilst the A and B buttons have the more familiar convex top and are finished in dark purple.
8Bitdo SN30 Pro G
Finally this G-edition is gameboy themed with maroon buttons, grey plastics and a custom texture d-pad to mimic the original gameboy handheld console.
8Bitdo Phone Holder
If you find yourself gaming on the move a lot, we suggest picking up the mobile holder. A clasp latches around the body of the controller whilst a second piece clips in to hold your smartphone, canted at an angle away from the transmitter.
The phone receiver piece extends out to 90mm and features rubber on the top and bottom to firmly clamp the device in place. Its ideal for use on the bus or train or if you are tired of propping up your phone on a table with your wallet/drink. The mobile holder is available for both the N30 controllers and the SN30 controllers.
Make sure your controller is in bluetooth mode (B+START) and paired up before attaching the holder as it does cover the pairing button. We found that we had to run some phones a little off-centre as they interfered with the buttons on the sides.
8Bitdo SN30/SF30 Controllers
Whilst these lack the extras inputs of the pro model, they are still a fantastic buy and arguably ‘truer’ to the original pad. They still feature rumble vibration and motion control but do not have the extra shoulder buttons of the pro edition. Note that they also feature a micro-USB port with included cable.
Despite being made out of plastic, these controllers have great build quality and a fantastic finish. They are thicker than the original Nintendo units but we feel they are a bit easier to hold as a result.
Aside from their fantastic retro controllers, 8Bitdo also produce receivers that plug into classic consoles allowing not only their gamepads, but also other big-name pads to be used on them!
As mentioned before, we offer the retro receiver for the NES as a bundle with the NES30 Classic Gaming Controller. You can play your NES/SNES/SFC Classic Edition, wirelessly with any 8BitDo Bluetooth controller (not the 2.4Ghz wifi ones) as well as next-gen controllers like the xbox or playstation units.
Alternatively you can pick up the SNES edition (pictured above), again as a bundle but this time with a SF30 Retro Gaming Controller, which will allow you to control your SNES with the bluetooth and next-gen controllers. These slimline adaptors include a USB cable for future firmware updates and are powered directly by the console thus require no battery.
8BitDo Wireless USB Adapter
And on the flip side, 8Bitdo also offer a USB wireless receiver. This pocket sized adapter weighs under 50g and thus can travel wherever you do.
It will enable you to use not only your 8BitDo Controllers, but also your Nintendo Switch Pro, Switch Joy-cons, Xbox One S/X Bluetooth controller, PS4, PS3, Wii Mote, Wii U Pro and more, wirelessly, on Windows PCs, Macs, Raspberry Pi, laptops and even Switch.
8Bitdo N30 Arcade Stick Set
Leaving the compact solutions behind, finally we have the ultimate arcade cabinet experience, the N30 Arcade Stick. At 30x22x11cm in size, its not particularly portable, but it does include a 480mAh battery onboard with a claimed 18hr playtime from a 2hour charge. As with the other 8Bitdo controllers it can be used with the supplied (3m long) USB cable as a wired controller for a PC or Laptop.
The retro looking chunky controller features turbo and d-pad/joystick modes. It was designed with fighting games in mind, offering a full-size arcade-cabinet style input system for acing round afte round of Street Fighter. As you can see from the photos, the buttons and stick are chunky tactile inputs, designed for the abuse a beat-em-up calls for. This final beast of an 8Bitdo controller is available from our webstore here.
RC Geeks – Retro Gaming Fans
You can browse our complete selection of 8Bitdo controllers and accessories on our webstore here. Reasonably priced, the pads make for great gifts, and don’t forget the other 8Bitdo products like the USB hub that would pair well as a set. We will be adding to our collection of 8Bitdo pads in the near future so keep your eyes on our site.
If you are interested in gaming then check out our new gaming section with controllers for iPhones/iPads, mini arcade cabinets, fully-fledged gaming devices and more. Brands to look for include Gamevice, My Arcade, MSI Entertainment and many more, just check our gadgets section.
If you are a fan of real retro gaming, check out our blog on Tiny Arcade. These pocket-sized fully-playable reproductions of arcade machines allow you to play Pac-man, Space Invaders or Galaxian in the palm of you hand.
In this article
- 8bitdo controllers
- 8bitdo sn30 pro
- android phone
- gaming controller
- n30 arcade stick
- nintendo switch
- raspberry pi
- retro gaming
- rumble vibration
- street fighter
- usb cable
- wired controller
- xbox controller