I’ll be honest, when it comes to gaming accessories I’m a bit of a “snob”. As early as I can remember, I’ve always looked at third-party game controllers as cheap. The 90’s for example had a lot of those translucent coloured Playstation controllers. But because of copyright reasons, the design of the controller was slightly different as well as the shapes on the buttons.
Call me boring but I didn’t like this. If I’ve bought a new controller in the past it had to be the officially licensed product. However we don’t see as many third party controllers on the market anymore, unless they’re partnered with either Xbox, Playstation or Nintendo.
However, my beliefs have recently changed after using 8BitDo’s newest and most versatile Bluetooth controller, the SN30 Pro 2. This controller quickly became my new favourite for multiple reasons. And after roughly 30 hours of use, it’s surpassed all expectations when it comes to third party accessories.
The launch of the SN30 Pro 2 also coincided with the launch of the 8BitDo range of gaming accessories in Australia. And so far, this has been a good start with my trust in the brand. The SN30 Pro 2 is described as a premium product, which I highly agree with.
As the predecessor of the original SN30 Pro which launched in 2017, the Pro 2 has evolved from the OG design. The SNES controller aesthetic has been transformed with inspiration from Sony Playstation’s controllers. I never got hands on with the original SN30 Pro but my hands aren’t made for retro controllers anymore.
The sizing of the Pro 2 is perfect for my hands, making for a comfortable experience. The thumb sticks are also surprisingly comfortable and have some decent grip to them too. Out of the box, the SN30 Pro 2 felt sturdy with just enough weight to it. Some of which comes from it’s rechargeable battery pack, which gets you 20 of use from a single charge.
In all honesty, the SN30 Pro 2 feels sturdier than the official Nintendo Switch wireless controller I already own. Already I’m extremely impressed. 8BitDo definitely weren’t lying about making a premium product.
The SN30 Pro 2 comes in generic colour variations such as black and gray, but it was the G Classic design that I gravitated towards. Its off-white and maroon colour scheme screams retro, reminding me of the Famicom and original Gameboy.
It isn’t just “Pro” by name either as it’s built similarly to other pro controllers with two back pro buttons found on the underside of the controller. I’ve never sought out a controller just for back buttons/paddles. However I’m actually happy that this is a feature, which I’ll explain why later.
Why this controller is so impressive though isn’t because of how it looks from the outside. It’s because of what it’s capable of from the inside. This isn’t just your basic spare controller.
The SN30 Pro 2 is Bluetooth compatible with Mac/iOS, Android, PC and the Nintendo Switch. Swapping between all four systems is almost as easy as flicking the switch on the back. I say almost because I still need help remembering which mode is for what platform. They could have labeled them a little better than A, S, D & X, IMO.
Apart from that, not much else is required in regards to pairing the controller to your desired device. I also had a much smoother experience than the last time I tried pairing a controller to an Android device. However I can’t say I’ll be using the SN30 Pro 2 much for mobile gaming. I’d having a cradle attachment that also holds my phone instead of awkwardly trying to lean it against something. But in saying that, the controller definitely works a treat with mobile platformers.
The standout features of the SN30 Pro 2 are much more versatile than its multi-platform compatibility. It’s also capable of being customized to meet most user comforts and needs via 8BitDo’s Ultimate Software.
The Ultimate Software app is where to go to make the most of the SN30 Pro 2 with the simplest of ease. Here you can change button mapping, vibration settings, trigger/thumb stick sensitivity and create macros. Most of which have been both useful and interesting features, but there are a couple that I personally wouldn’t get much use out of.
Features such as thumb stick sensitivity and a turbo function have never been something I’ve needed to tinker with. And trigger sensitivity would function better for first-person shooters, which I don’t play on any of the compatible systems.
However I did find use in the SN30 Pro 2’s other features. I played around with the vibrations settings a little bit early on, but it’s nothing I’d worry too much about in the long run. The idea of setting one side to vibrate and no vibration on the other is cool but I’ll stick to dual-sided low level vibrations.
Button mapping was a setting I didn’t think I’d need at first as I was mostly using the controller for the Nintendo Switch. And both sets of controller layouts are identical to each other. That was until I played a game on Steam and it started reading the buttons as if I was using an Xbox controller. Which, as someone who’s constantly jumping from one system to the other, was almost headache inducing.
The other standout feature for me was the button macro creation. Which I was initially worried about not being able to test out. I don’t own any fighting games on Steam or Nintendo Switch, which is the main genre this feature would work best for. But the gaming gods came to the rescue with a game that contained button combo moves. We won’t talk about this game yet though.
All I’ll say is that button macros are a god send. I’ve used macros in the past for Final Fantasy XIV Online but that’s a totally different kettle of chips. I genuinely suck at fighting games and the like which have pages of different moves that require multiple button combinations. But programming half a dozen button presses into one button via Ultimate Software helped out so much!
This is also where my use for the back pro buttons came in. Since every other button has a vital role in the game, I only had the 2 back buttons and 2 triggers spare. Which doesn’t leave much space for an entire catalogue of moves. That’s not to say it makes this feature any less useful though. But personally, I’d save them for the better yet complicate move sets.
All of these features can be saved on 3 separate profiles per platform and tinkered with anywhere and anytime. Ultimate Software can be downloaded onto iOS and Android devices as well as Windows 10 and Mac. This just adds on even more versatility for gamers on the go.
The SN30 Pro 2 definitely gets my tick of approval as one of the best controllers I’ve come across. If you’re in need of a new controller, particularly for the Nintendo Switch or PC, than this is your best choice. It’s roughly the same price point as other licensed controllers on the market but is packed with plenty more features.