Whether you are looking for a reasonably priced controller to use with your Nintendo Switch, that feels right when playing classic games on your computer, or you want something that will work perfectly with that RetroPie console you built, The 8Bitdo N3 Pro 2 may be the perfect fit.
Bottom Line: The 8Bitdo N30 may not be a perfect controller for all complex modern games but it's still one heck of a little controller and is perfect for retro gaming.
- Works with many different platforms
- Awesome D-pad
- Good battery life
- Shoulder button config can be a bit awkward
- Analog sticks a bit slick
What's the deal?
8bitdo is a company that wisely saw a market that was not being catered to and filled the void. From DIY kits to mod vintage controllers to work with modern consoles, to awesome retro style controllers that work right out of the box, 8bitdo is doing great work.
I recently spent a great deal of time with the N3 Pro controller and I have to say that I love it. Coming in a multitude of styles which give nods to various consoles of yesteryear, the N3 Pro is a classic style controller with modern amenities. Aside from a button layout that Super Nintendo lovers will find familiar, you also get dual analog sticks and an extra set of shoulder buttons. As if that weren't enough you also get some sweet LED bars on the side.
However, quite possibly the best part of the controller is Bluetooth connectivity. It works with Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Android, and Raspberry Pi. I was only able to test the controller with Switch, Windows, and my RetroPie system and it was simple to connect and worked as advertised.
But how does it feel?
This is one of the very best retro styled controllers I have had the opportunity to use. Even after testing the controller for review purposes, I can honestly say that I will continue to use this little monster. The construction feels totally solid, unlike some other retro controllers I have bought blindly of Amazon. One of the things that I love the most about this controller is the D-pad. In a world where hardware creators seem as if they are throwing any old plastic cross on a controller as an afterthought, the N30 Pro has an incredibly satisfying D-pad.
In extended gaming sessions, my hand never seemed to cramp and I have big, meaty gorilla paws. One downside is the positioning of the shoulder buttons. While it is great that they managed to get four shoulder buttons on such a diminutive frame, they did have to make some concessions in order to make it happen. Rather than having two buttons stacked on top of each other like so many thicker controllers, they had to put them side to side across the back. This, unfortunately, makes for some awkward finger yoga when you need to hit those secondary buttons.
While the dual analog sticks are bound not to be quite as amazing as some other big name chunkier controllers, I actually quite like the feel of them. The only negative I would throw in on the dual analog front is that despite having a bit of texture, I found the tops to be a bit slick for my taste. Then again, that could just be my meaty gorilla paws.
The aforementioned sweet LED bars are set across the front of the controller facing you. I never found their glow to be as distracting as some I've experienced though. These LED bars also serve a purpose. When you are connected to your system via Bluetooth they will provide a slow blue pulse when your controller needs to be charged it will pulse red, and when it is plugged in via USB for charging, it will glow green when fully charged.
What about that battery life though?
The N30 Pro has a pretty impressive battery life. I managed to get upwards of 18 hours of play time when my controller was fully charged. Charging time is also not very demanding. You can have it topped off in about an hour or maybe two.
But what can I use it for?
Let's be frank here. This controller was designed with retro style gaming in mind. While you totally could play modern games with it, you may run into a bit of difficulty with games that require a ton of unique inputs. That being said, there are a ton of games on the Switch that this controller would be more than perfect for. And when you consider the price of the N30 Pro against something like the Nintendo Pro controller, I am sure there are a few people that would be happy to go with the 8bitdo. It also doesn't hurt that the N30 is small, light, and easy to toss in a bag next to your Switch.
While I totally enjoyed using it with my Switch and will continue to do so, this controller is a beast when it comes to classic gaming. I have been using it with my RetroPie console and it is an absolute pleasure.
If you are looking for a reasonably priced Bluetooth controller that can do it all and doesn't take up a lot of space the 8Bitdo N30 Pro very well may be the perfect controller for you. I love mine and I think you will love it too.
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