Wednesday, May 31, 2017

8bitdo NES30 Pro Review (for Switch use)

Wow, this blog still exists? I thought it'd be gone for sure after 4-5 years of inactivity. Looks like some of the old pictures didn't make it, though... Anyway, on to the new stuff!

After hearing that 8Bitdo pushed out a firmware update for most of their controllers to make them compatible with the Nintendo Switch and still not having a Switch Pro controller of my own, I decided to pick one up. It arrived today and now that I've played with it for a little bit, here's my review!

First impressions:

I got this controller for $42, a Switch Pro controller is $70, that's a $28 difference (an extra game's worth of savings!) It came in a very nice box with a slipcover and a foam cutout inside holding the controller. The box also had a section under the foam that holds a manual sheet, the included USB cable, and a nice metal key chain in separate pull-out boxes.

The controller itself was much smaller than I was expecting and the sticks are tiny!


Updating the firmware (required for Switch use) was pretty easy, the PC app that comes with the firmware update tells you everything you need to know to get it done. Initial setup/pairing isn't terrible if you read up on it first, but can be overly complicated. You will need to download an updated manual to go along with the new firmware, the included sheet is for the base firmware only and doesn't have info on the Switch mode. The Switch OS identifies it as an official Pro controller once synced.

All of the face buttons and D-pad feel really good, they're almost identical to the ones found on the original NES controller. The shoulder buttons are side-by-side, but it's not as bad as it looks/sounds. My finger sits on them in a way that I can hit the inside one with the tip of my finger and the outside one with the middle of my finger without issue.

My Switch stopped responding to button presses a couple times after sleeping the console, might have to re-pair the controller after sleep mode for a proper connection if this happens. Also, DO NOT try to use Amiibo with it, it doesn't have the NFC reader and locked up Zelda when I accidentally triggered a scan. After the lockup, I couldn't get the NES30 Pro to reconnect or re-pair until I rebooted my Switch.


I feel like the 8Bitdo NES30 Pro isn't as good as a Pro controller if you're only getting it as a main docked controller for the Switch, but would make a great 2nd/3rd/4th controller for multiplayer games. It also has many more uses other than a Switch controller, including PC/MacOS, Android, and (with the right firmware) PS3, Wii/Wii U, and Retron5 connectivity.

If I had to rate it overall just on Switch usage, I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 because of the setup/pairing ritual and no NFC.