Do you want a more old-school way to play classic games on your Switch or PC? Do you really miss the Super Nintendo? Or maybe you simply hate how expensive Nintendo's $70 Pro Controller is?
If you fall into at least one of those camps, 8Bitdo's new SN30 Pro and SF30 Pro controllers ($50 each) are probably for you. These retro gamepads evoke the look and feel of the Super Nintendo and Super Famicom controllers, respectively, while adding in modern amenities like dual analog sticks, triggers and rumble functionality.
The second I picked up my SN30 Pro, I was struck by just how faithfully it replicates the original Super Nintendo controller. Everything just feels the way it should, from the tight d-pad, to the rubbery start and select buttons, to the concave X and Y buttons that sit next to the convex A and B buttons. The SF30 Pro is nearly identical, save for the multicolored ABXY buttons meant to evoke the Super Famicom.
The added analog sticks feel sturdy, have nice textured grips and give a satisfying click when you push them in. The controller's rear triggers feel a bit shallow compared to those of a traditional controller, but that's to be expected given the SN30 Pro's tiny size. The SN30 features home and screenshot buttons for use on Switch, so I didn't feel like I was losing any major functionality in using it.
The SN30 Pro charges over USB-C and can connect to PCs, Macs and Android devices via Bluetooth (no iOS, unfortunately), as well as to the Nintendo Switch. Pairing the controller is a cinch; you'll just have to hold the power button alongside a specific face button, depending on your platform before you sync.
8Bitdo's controller performed well with just about any game I threw at it, though, naturally, retro titles shone the most. Ultra Street Fighter II felt especially right on the SN30 Pro, which allowed me to perform all of my usual combos and special moves with ease thanks to the excellent d-pad. I zoomed through Sonic Mania and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe without skipping a beat, and had no problems smashing bricks in Lego Marvel Superheroes 2.
Where the SN30 Pro stumbles a bit is with modern, dual-thumbstick games. During a heated match of Splatoon 2, my hands felt cramped as I used both sticks to rapidly aim, swim and shoot. It was far from unplayable, but noticeably less comfortable than using my Pro Controller or even the Joy-Cons.
That brings me to my last nitpick: The SN30 just doesn't seem ideal for prolonged use. After a few hours with it, I found myself longing for the more substantial grips of my Pro. Granted, that's not a flaw of the SN30 Pro itself; it's just that my big hands can only spend so long with that classic Super Nintendo form factor.
Overall though, the SN30 Pro is a wonderfully versatile controller that faithfully replicates the classic SNES pad while adding some welcome modern touches. It lacks iOS support and isn't ideal for intense AAA action games, but it's an easy recommendation for anyone who wants a well-built retro pad for their Switch or PC -- especially since it's $20 less than Nintendo's Pro Controller.
Images: Mike Andronico/Tom's Guide