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8BitDo Pro 2 Bluetooth Gamepad Review
Review By @ 03:43pm 05/05/21

Product: 8BitDo SN30 Pro 2 Controller
Type: Wireless Bluetooth Controller
Price: $89.95 RRP
Availability: May 6, 2021

8BitDo has built up a reputation over time, partly due to the quality of its line-up and partly due to the aesthetic it brings to its range. Even though you’re essentially looking at controllers or gamepads compatible with modern PC hardware and consoles, the aesthetic draws on decades of videogame history.

There’s an 8BitDo gamepad to suit your favourite childhood or retro console -- one modelled after the Sega Mega Drive pad, one that looks like a classic SNES controller, and even another that follows the far-from-ergonomic style of the dig-into-your-hands NES pad. The 8BitDo Arcade Stick borrows its design from the 8-bit era too, whilst being sturdier and more robust than the take-home offerings from back in the day. In fact, that’s probably the best way to describe 8BitDo -- retro designs but with an eye towards quality.

After being an online thing for us in Australia for some time, and a go-to name for those deep into the emulation and retro scene, a new partnership with ANZ distributor Bluemouth Interactive sees the 8BitDo range hit our shores. That is, make its way to retail shelves across the country. And it all kicks off with the newest flagship release from 8BitDo -- the 8BitDo Pro 2 Bluetooth Gamepad. Aesthetically it's a mix between Nintendo and Sony (in the best possible way), but in terms of features and build quality -- it’s stacked.

Also, the packaging is awesome -- which is always a great sign.

Grip It

That line about the look being a mix between Nintendo and Sony isn’t simply a fun descriptor, it can be seen and felt across the entire Pro 2 design. No doubt, the designers and engineers over at 8BitDo are something of a group of videogame peripheral historians. So when you see SNES-style flourishes in the L1 and R1 buttons, followed by a PlayStation-feel in the L2 and R2, the result is, yeah, very cool. As is the classic d-pad design and DualShock analogue-stick placement. The result is also supremely comfortable, more so than the SNES and DualShock inspirations the 8BitDo Pro 2 draws on.

Aesthetically it's a mix between Nintendo and Sony (in the best possible way), but in terms of features and build quality -- it’s stacked.

Make no mistake though, the Pro 2 is still a product of its time -- that being now, the year 2021. Programmable back-paddle buttons found underneath add that modern touch, as does the impressive build quality, textured grips, and durable nature of all buttons and sticks.
  • Connectivity: Wireless Bluetooth 4.0, USB-C
  • Compatibility: Switch, Windows(Steam), macOS, Android, Raspberry Pi
  • Battery: 1000mAh Li-on battery, rechargeable
  • Battery-Life: 20 play hours with 4 hour charging time
  • Features: Two back paddle buttons, custom profile switch, mode switch button (Switch, macOS, D-input, X-input), Ultimate Software support (PC and mobile), enhanced grip, modifiable vibration, six axis motion sensor
  • Weight: 228g

As we’re now in the age of official controllers being uniformly great across the board, something that feels cheap or you know, has sticky buttons or a loose analogue stick would not be worth your time. Here everything is, well, great. The sticks are firm and don’t feel like they’d ever break or come loose, and the buttons all have an excellent feel too.

Another feather in the 8BitDo Pro 2 Bluetooth Gamepad cap is its versatility -- where it supports PC, Nintendo Switch, Windows, macOS, and Android. Strangely, no iOS though. Or WiFi over dongle -- which is a shame for those with Bluetooth-free desktop rigs.

Weighing in at 228-grams, the Pro 2 is also light and portable, though the rather short charge cable means that if you wanted to play-and-charge you’d need your own longer USB-C cable. Coupled with software and the ability to switch modes via a button slider, going from laptop to Switch to Phone or to portable Raspberry Pi emulation box connected to a TV is a breeze.

Press Start to Continue

When viewed simply as a pad for the Nintendo Switch, the Pro 2 is excellent if you’re looking for a more PlayStation-style configuration. The only real downside being the lack of HD rumble (the rumble is standard non-HD) and the fact that it can sometimes take a minute to properly sync up.

Another feather in the 8BitDo Pro 2 Bluetooth Gamepad cap is its versatility -- where it supports PC, Nintendo Switch, Windows, macOS, and Android. Strangely, no iOS though.

Again, versatility is key. In my own testing over the past few weeks the 8BitDo Pro 2 Bluetooth Gamepad has become the go-to pad for emulation (SNES, NES, PlayStation) and playing modern third-person games on Steam. In fact having a somewhat retro aesthetic has made playing older titles feel strangely more authentic.

Excellent software support means customisation is relatively easy too, where 8BitDo has gone so far to make it possible to lock in inverted stick settings for the many monsters out there that play inverted. Our very own Stephen Farrelly and Nathan Lawrence fall into this category. In the end it’s hard to not be impressed with the Pro 2, which presents an excellent retro-style gamepad in a modern style. The focus on customisation, comfort, and overall build quality is commendable.
What we liked
Wonderful aesthetic that mixes Nintendo and Sony sensibilities
Excellent build quality that leads to great stick and button feel
Versatile across PC, Switch, and Android
Long-lasting battery
What we didn't like
No iOS support
No HD Rumble (Switch)
Supplied USB-C is short and a little basic
We gave it:
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