8bitdo’s retro-inspired SN30 Pro is a versatile mobile gamepad

And wireless gaming comes to the SNES Classic thanks to the SN30

8bitdo has made a name for itself in the video game controller space over the course of a relatively short period of time.

The SN30 Pro and its Famicom-inspired variant, the SF30 Pro, are based on Nintendo’s classic Super Nintendo controllers, but offer modern conveniences and features gamers have come to expect from gamepads in 2017.

8bitdo's SF30 Pro Controller

Along with force feedback vibration — which I actually found a little too intense when I used the SN30 Pro with the Nintendo Switch, the gamepad features two standard joysticks and a set of extra shoulder buttons. Otherwise, the gamepad is nearly identical to the Super Nintendo controller’s retro look, as well as 8bitdo’s cheaper SN30 gamepad.

Other key features are compatibility with a variety of platforms, including the Nintendo Switch, Android devices, Windows and macOS. Unfortunately, the SN30 Pro doesn’t work with iOS due to Apple requiring expensive MFi certification for compatible controllers. For whatever reason, 8bitdo has never opted to support iOS, even with its well-received NES30 Pro.

8bitdo's SN30 and SF30 Pro controller from a side view

I’ve tested the SN30 Pro with the Switch and a variety of different games running on the Pixel 2 XL, complete with the accessory manufacturer’s Xstander Clip (which is surprisingly sturdy). The gamepad worked great with emulators, particularly with those designed to run games from somewhat more recent consoles like the Nintendo 64 or PlayStation.

The connection process with the SN30 Pro and SF30 Pro is also simple, though pressing a different combination for each device does get confusing. This also means that you’ll either want to keep the controller’s manual handy if you plan to switch between multiple devices — either that or get ready to quickly search online before connecting to a new device.

8bitdo Xstander Clip

Along with the SN30 Pro, 8bitdo is also launching the SN30 and SFC30, a gamepad that features identical compatibility when compared to the Pro series, but with the added ability to connect to the NES and SNES Classic thanks to its included wireless dongle.

While the SN30 doesn’t include the same joysticks as the Pro gamepad or the additional shoulder button, given the controller is designed to work with Nintendo’s classic NES and SNES, these additional buttons aren’t necessary. The connection process in terms of the NES classic is simple and only involves plugging in 8Bitdo’s 2.4ghz Retro Receiver, and pressing start on the SN30.

8bitdo's SN30 and SF30 controller

As an added bonus, it’s also possible to navigate to the NES and SNES Classic’s main menu by pressing ‘Select’ and ‘Down.’ Why Nintendo didn’t opt to include a similar feature in the standard SNES controller remains a mystery, but it’s great 8bitdo added this functionality to its wireless gamepad.

The overall design of both controllers will also appeal to anyone born in the 90s that has fond memories of the iconic Super Nintendo. In terms of design, the Famicom-inspired SF30 Pro and SF30 are the more interesting looking gamepads, if only because of their multicoloured designs — I really am a sucker for anything Japanese/European Super Famicom-hued.

In terms of build quality, which is always a concern when it comes to third-party gamepads, the SN30 and SF30 are on par with how the classic gamepad feels that’s included with the SNES Classic. In the case of the Pro series, while the controllers do feel solid, don’t expect an overly premium feel; this isn’t Microsoft’s Xbox One Elite Controller.

The SN30/SF30 Pro is priced at $49 USD (about $63 CAD) plus the cost of shipping with a December 10th release date. The SN30/SF30 on the other hand, are priced at a more reasonable $24 USD (approximately $30 CAD), with a release date of December 10th.

Comments

  • I have the NES 30 Pro. It’s a good, solid controller. Recent updates seemed to have fixed some of my gripes.

    One is that it seems to work best if you turn it on pressing Power+Y for 5 second to connect to the Switch. It makes it hard to hand it to my friend and have it turn on and just work. It sounds like the SN30 Pro and SF30 Pro have similar issues. (More recently it seems to connect almost automatically, but haven’t had a chance to test it to make sure I wasn’t mistaken.)

    Also, I would charge it fully Friday afternoon. Using it Friday evening for an hour or two. A week later the battery is dead. Is it random discharging? Did I leave it on and it was trying to connect all Friday night? I don’t know. Also, once it charges it turns blue. I always worry that it’s actually discharging, which it probably isn’t. But I’m scared to leave it plugged in more than the exact amount of time it takes to charge.

    • Hmm, that’s strange. The only situation where I’ve ever had that happen is with the PS4 (the controller always seems to be dead). In terms of connecting, the SN/SF30 Pro connected pretty easily to the Switch, though I had to go into the settings to get it up and running properly.

    • The Blade

      I own the same controller – purchased it to through The Source (online only) play Roms on my Note5 – I even bought the Extander (sp?). The lack of microSD slot on the Note really hinder my ability to carry many roms.

      Anyway, every time I went to use it – it was dead, but I never had a connection issue. The button configuration to pair it to multiple devices and having to load new firmware made it pretty cumbersome annoying to work with. I finally got the right firmware that swaps A/B X/Y.
      But it’s a beautiful piece of plastic.

  • isBacon

    Off topic – but what screen protector is that on the Pixel 2 XL you guys have in one of the photos??

  • Michael Atmosfera

    What emulator do you use in the pics? Does the controller work with all emulators?