I bought this controller with my own money, no sponsorship is involved here.
8BitDo NES30 Pro Controller
Over the last few years, I’ve really struggled to enjoy 2D games on non-portable systems. This is due to a combination of input lag, and inappropriate D-Pads. Sure, the PS4 D-Pad is passable, but requires third party software to work with most games on PC. Nintendo’s D-Pads have always been great, but aren’t very compatible with PC.
After hearing about this controller from many outlets such as NintendoLife, I decided to give this controller a shot. I’ve been wanting a nice controller to play 2D games for a while, and this seemed to be as good a chance as any. The controller features a D-Pad, 4 face buttons, 4 shoulder buttons, 2 analogue sticks, a start and select button, a home/power button, and a sync button. This gives it 12 buttons, a D-Pad, and 2 analogue sticks, leaving you free to play both old-school classics and new games.
My first impressions of the product were positive, as it had a very nice box, and foam innards to protect the controller. The controller also came with a free keychain, which I guess is neat. It has a nice build quality, and sits excellently in the hand.
The controller is easy to set up and incredibly responsive. To use it wired, you simply need to turn the controller on and plug it in. To use it wireless, you need to turn it on, and press the ‘Sync’ button, and it appears as a Bluetooth device. Upon loading the first stage of Sonic CD, I was instantly taken back by the responsiveness of the buttons. I had played Sonic CD and even completed the game with my PlayStation 4 controller, but the quick response time this controller has astounded me. Even when connected with Bluetooth, the controller is more responsive than others I’ve used. The controller can also be used with the Nintendo Switch, which can be useful for 2D platformers or for when you need an extra controller. It actually has better range than the Joy-Con controllers… Go figure.
The controller’s strengths are in it’s ability to play 2D games. The first game I booted up when I received my controller was the Steam port of Sonic CD. The directional controls stunned me. If I wanted to go somewhere, I went there. If I pressed left, I turned left. Something about it seems so much more accurate than the PS4 D-Pad that I’m used to. The face buttons are also a joy to use, with a short travel time. The buttons are quite soft, like Wii U or PS4 face buttons, rather than clicky, like 3DS or Joy-Con face buttons. Emulation is obviously a huge part of playing classic 2D games, and the controller allowed me to play games such as Super Mario Bros 3 in emulators such as Dolphin, NEStopia, or mGBA.
Despite the joy I had playing 2D games, the controller falls short when playing games in a 3D space. I tried the controller out by playing Sonic Adventure 2, and the analogue sticks just aren’t up to the task of navigating a 3D space. They have very little grip, and are more like nubs than actual analogue sticks. They also have a short travel time, making them less accurate. A problem I have when using the controller with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is that it’s very difficult to click a stick in without pushing the analogue stick in a direction. This lead to problems when I was trying to sneak, and will probably affect other games that utilise the L3 and R3 buttons in such a manner.
All in all, the NES30 Pro controller is no replacement for a PS4 or Xbox controller. Most modern games you’d play with these controllers have you exploring 3D worlds, which just isn’t this controllers forte. However, as a cheaper controller for playing 2D platformers and for getting an extra friend into your Mario Kart match, the NES30 Pro controller is an excellent choice.