These new 8bitdo wireless gamepads give retro feels to your Nintendo Switch or Mac

Let's face it. Whatever your current console preference, Nintendo's old consoles are a thing of nostalgic beauty. And with its latest wireless controller, 8Bitdo has perfectly captured the essence of the past for modern gamers.

It's something of a jack of all trades, and while it won't work with the iPhone or iPad, folks gaming on a Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC or Android mobile device can use this one controller on them all.

It's called the SF30 Pro (or the SN30 Pro, more on that in a moment), and it is magnificent.

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SF30 Pro and SN30 Pro: What's the difference?

8Bitdo Pro controller

There is only one difference between the two, and that's the paint job. The SN30 Pro is the same grey and shades of purple combination as the North American Super Nintendo, while the SF30 Pro has the multi-colored buttons found on European and Japanese versions of the same console.

No offence North America, but the colorful one is clearly best.

One controller, multiple devices

8Bitdo Pro controller

While this controller lacks MFi support, because it's a simple Bluetooth affair it's good for pretty much everything else. It's a shame you can't use it with an iPhone, though, because there's a really nice, sturdy phone clip also available for playing your mobile games on the go.

If you're prone to playing on a Mac or PC, though, or the Nintendo Switch in particular, then you're golden. Given its price, too, it's a very strong alternative to the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller or the wired alternatives.

Switching between devices requires reading the instructions at least once. Using it with a Switch, for example, requires a different button combination to turn the controller on. It's actually very nifty, and isn't particularly complicated. You just need to know which button combination to press, and if you forget there's always the very small reminder on the rear. From there on out it's as easy as connecting any other Bluetooth device.

So many retro feels

8Bitdo Pro controller

Ergonomically, the old SNES controller probably isn't the greatest. But it's an iconic design many of us used growing up and picking one up again feels... right. 8Bitdo has modernized the classic controller for 2017 gaming by adding a pair of triggers and a pair of analog sticks along with the classic SNES button layout.

It feels great to use as well. Because it's so small, all the buttons are comfortably within reach even for the kids, and the analog sticks feel good. They're only a hair smaller in diameter than those found on a Sony PS4 controller, about the same height and feel almost identical to use.

The added triggers have surprisingly good travel given the size and design of the controller and all the buttons have an authentic clickyness to them. If anything the buttons feel a little better on this than on the SNES Classic controller.

And because it's wireless you can easily pack it in a bag and enjoy it anywhere you want. It charges using USB-C, which is outstanding, and from 1-2 hours charging you can expect up to 14 hours of play time. I've not had them that long but it seems like a claim easily backed up

The bottom line

8Bitdo Pro controller

8bitdo pro controller (Image credit: iMore)

Retro is big business and that's why products like the SF30 Pro and SN30 Pro exist. Nostalgia is what hooks people in, but the truth is that they're also extremely good controllers at an excellent price.

The design isn't as ergonomic as modern controllers from Sony or Microsoft, but it's small, lightweight and can be used with a multitude of devices. Playing Switch games in particular with this thing is superb. It charges from the same charger as the Switch, too, which is handy.

The build quality is excellent and it's a truly wonderful product to use and enjoy. 8Bitdo has done a fantastic job here, and the only real decision to make is which color you get (hint: The SF30 Pro, you know it makes sense).

Both will be shipping from December 10 and can be ordered through Amazon right now for $49.99.

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Richard Devine

Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy. Follow him on Twitter and Google+