The market is awash with SNES wireless controller replicas that just don’t cut the mustard. The price brackets speak volumes about the reliability, compatibility and lifespan of retro wireless controllers – so if you are serious about your vintage gaming, then you usually have to expect to pay a premium.
Sometimes, I let my nostalgia take over my wallet, but I have to say – I was pleasantly surprised at the price of the SN30 controller.
8BitDo have kind of done things differently. Not only are their NES and SNES controllers as accurate as possible, they are also competitively priced.
Retro Looks. Retro Feel?
We took a look at the SNES SN30 controller, which is both compatible with the SNES Classic and NES Classic consoles. The major advantage here is the wireless operation, and the SN30 is faithfully designed based on the original SNES controller. One of the critical features for me personally is – does it feel right?
Speaking from personal experience only, I have had several SNES controllers in the past, both wired and wireless. The one thing I thought was different immediately was the feel of the controller. Comparing them side by side with the original controller, you can feel a difference in weight, in the stiffness of the buttons, or even how tensile the cable was.
With that said, I certainly wanted to find out if the controllers had that nostalgic feel to them, and take some popular opinion into consideration as well.
The usual tests – compatibility, reliability, ease of use etc. – would not be overlooked, but as a retro gamer, I have my own agenda, of course.
8BitDo SN30 2.4ghz SNES Wireless Controller
Look & Feel
The SN30 is very impressive as far as look and feel. This is the best replica of a Super NES controller I have seen. The controller is grey, of course, with regular four face buttons – A, B, X and Y. The four-way D-pad is perfect, too and feels robust & responsive. The shoulder buttons (L & R) are perfectly recreated and feel familiar and intuitive. Nintendo did a great job with these controllers, because not only are they comfortable for kids, they are fine for adults prolonged, sweaty use as well. 8BitDo have been as faithful to this controller as you could expect.
The button colors are different, naturally, and the periwinkle X and Y buttons are convex, whereas the purple A and B buttons are convex. They sit up perfectly, and there’s no rattle in the mounts.
The main difference is there’s no cord (duh) and a micro USB slot resides on the top edge for charging.
The wireless adapter is a smart little fella, compatible with both the SNES and NES controller port. The slotted design has a NES throwback feel, which is nice. A blue LED on the front of the adapter will flash when seeking a controller and glows steadily when it is connected.
Quite honestly – the best look & feel replica you could hope for. Feels like home.
Compatibility & Ease of Use
The SN30 is compatible with a range of platforms, so you are not just stuck with using it on your SNES Classic.
Gamepad supports many devices and platforms thanks to the multiple modes. It can switch between Android, MAC, PC, Smart phone, iPad, Notebook, Windows. Wireless compatibility: SNES & NES Classic8BitDo
You will, of course, need a wired connection for some of these platforms, but the wireless compatibility is a breeze for the SNES or NES Classic editions.
When hooking the SN30 up to a SNES Classice, you will need to press the reset button on the console, taking you back to the main menu in a game. If you press Select and down on the D-pad at the same time, this will take you back to the main menu so you can change games from the comfort of your chair.
The SN30 serves as a wired controller for other platforms, as stated, and the ease of use just gets better and better here. When connected over a USB cable, holding the Start button and A, B, or X buttons for three seconds will enable the X-input mode for Windows PC, D-input mode for Android devices, or even a MacOS compatible mode. This versatility for the emulation crowd makes it easily the best in class. As a side note, the SN30 instruction manual is extremely easy to follow, and guides you through these processes.
One of the awesome features that is not often talked about is the Raspberry Pi compatibility. There is extensive information for all SN30 RetroPie users, and DIY enthusiasts.
If you want to get crazy, you could use it with 3DSenVR and go all 3D with your NES games. Just a thought…
8bitdo advise that the SN30 will last for up to 25 hours of gameplay using the 180mAh battery, and will fully charge in just 60 minutes. My own testing came in at around 26.5hrs of playing a myriad of games on the SNES classic. Impressive stuff.
Unboxing & Review
This unboxing is courtesy of Lon.TV Extras YouTube channel.
The SN30 2.4Ghz wireless controller is as close to perfection as you can get. Not only is it faithful to the original, but it is versatile in so many ways that it just cannot be compared to generic controllers at half the price on eBay or Amazon.
8BitDo are a superb company for customer service, and are available to you if you have any problems with compatibility, or a DIY question you can’t get answered.
You can purchase the SN30 from all major online retailers including Amazon.
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