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Hands On With SnakeByte's Wireless Retro Controller

Posted by Damien McFerran

Mine's a snakebyte and black!

For those of you that don’t know SnakeByte is a European peripheral manufacturer that is making some serious waves at the moment. The company has unleashed a whole host of Wii-related controllers, including their own version of the Wii Remote – which is quite a significant product as you’ll remember that Nintendo has been notoriously protective of its controllers and for a while wouldn’t allow 3rd party variants to get to the market.

The SnakeByte Retro Controller is, as you might expect, the firm's version of the official Nintendo Classic Controller. We’ve already reviewed Nintendo’s option and found it to be an almost invaluable addition to any Virtual Console user’s arsenal, so why should you be interested in what SnakeByte has to offer? One word – wireless.

Yes, SnakeByte’s take on the classic controller is completely free of wires. A dongle is provided that plugs into the base of your Wiimote and as soon as you chuck a couple of batteries into the pad, you’re away. This is literally the one thing that stopped Nintendo’s controller from being perfect.

The thing is, SnakeByte is rather late to the party with this concept as we’ve already seen other 3rd party manufacturers release their own wireless controllers.

In terms of design SnakeByte’s pad is a very close match to Nintendo’s (but quite as close as Datel’s wireless pad, which we reviewed a while back). The button placement is practically identical (although we must confess that it seemed a little harder to reach the awkwardly-placed ZL and ZR buttons). What we did like about the shape of the pad is that it features more pronounced prongs which improve grip and make it look a little more like the classic Playstation pad design. The analogue sticks are also good, and feel astonishingly close to the ones on the official Classic Controller.

Of course, when it comes to using such a controller on the Virtual Console it’s the D-pad that matters most, and for the most part the one seen here is decent. It feels a little larger than Nintendo’s version, which is a good thing for people with larger hands, but it sits rather low in the casing and could probably have done with possessing a little more ‘travel’. If we were to compare it to another Nintendo D-pad then we’d say it was quite similar to the one found on the N64 pad or the Game Boy Advance SP. The shallow design may not suit everyone’s tastes but at least it’s responsive.

Because this is a 3rd party pad the build quality isn’t quite up to the high standards showcased on Nintendo’s own Classic Controller. While the plastic looks and feels the same the way in which letters and markings are printed onto the surface looks cheap. Considering the retail price of £29.99 this is a little disappointing – especially when you take into account the fact that Datel’s wireless pad sells for the half the price in the UK.

Even more puzzling is the fact that SnakeByte are also offering a wired variant of the pad, but it sells for £5 more than Nintendo’s version (£19.99 compared to £14.99). Quite why this is the case we’re not sure - it obvious that given the choice, most gamers will pick official peripherals over 3rd party ones – especially when the 3rd party option is more expensive.

Befuddling price points aside, all in all this is a thoroughly decent pad and while it’s not the first wireless retro controller we’ve seen, it’s still a vital selling point. We’d say that in terms of design and comfort of use Nintendo’s own Classic Controller still has the edge, but if you’ve tried Datel’s attempt at a wireless solution and found it wanting (and don’t mind spending a bit more cash), then this is worth investigation.

UPDATE: We've been told by SnakeByte that the price of both the wireless and standard versions of the retro controller have been reduced. The wireless version is now £24.99 and the wired £14.99 - which keen mathematicians will notice is a drop of exactly £5 in each case, making these peripherals that little bit more attractive.

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User Comments (42)

LinktotheFuture

#3

LinktotheFuture said:

I guess there are still people out there who prefer 3rd party controllers, even though they are all inferior.

LinktotheFuture

#5

LinktotheFuture said:

Aren't 3rd party controllers supposed to be cheaper? If they don't lower the price, this won't be very popular (it probably won't be popular either way).

Ricardo91

#6

Ricardo91 said:

For the last time, I'm NOT BUYING THESE 3RD PARTY RETRO CONTROLLERS!! What part of that do these companies not understand!? :P

manson77

#7

manson77 said:

Nice one. But I have the original nintendo classic controller. that`s enough ;)

Ski_Deuce

#8

Ski_Deuce said:

This controller doesn't do anything to solve any of the problems the original classic controller has. It's just an alternative. That, to me, is disappointing.

BulbasaurusRex

#9

BulbasaurusRex said:

The Wavebird is still the only wireless controller that plays GC games, so nothing else beats it. Besides, I use the analog stick to play my VC games (other than NES games of course) like normal people, so what do I care about the D-Pad?

GodsUncle

#13

GodsUncle said:

Look how underground Will is. Hes a ninja and doesn't need your mediocre controller, SnakeByte.

Chunky_Droid

#14

Chunky_Droid said:

I found no issues with the N64 pad, but I have two controllers from launch of the console so I don't know if they changed the D-Pad at all but it felt just like the SNES one.

Anyway! Back on topic, I won't be buying this, the wire connected to the Wii Remote doesn't bother me in the least and I don't know why it would bother anyone....

And I'm a Bad Ass Kirby and I don't need your controller either :P

CanisWolfred

#16

CanisWolfred said:

Meh, closer than the last one. I'm still happy with Nintendo's classic controller; I don't mind the wire, nor the lack of grips, so there's really no reason for me to get this.

Pass.

2D_Dreamer

#17

2D_Dreamer said:

I'm in the market for an additional classic controller. I like the fact that the d-pad on this controller is said to feel tighter than the official one and is more akin to the N64 d-pad. It looks like it fits a bit better in the hands as well. However, I'm a bit reticent about buying third party controllers for reasons of build quality/reliability so I'll probably end up buying another official one for two player VC battles. I've never been bothered about the wire either. Whichever I buy, the days of being the second player on Guilty Gear Core using the remote and nunchuck are coming to an end. Its worse than playing SF2:SCE with the MD 3-button pad!

Ark

#18

Ark said:

Eh...not really interested in this. If there was one like the Datel one but it didn't mess up on certain games, I'd get that. Until then though, I'm content with my Classic Controller and Gamecube controllers.

Hero10x

#19

Hero10x said:

does anyone know if you have to use batteries in the controller?
if so thats really lame, really lame.

Iggy

#21

Iggy said:

@hero
propally uses batteries but just go and buy some rechargable ones not that big of a deal.

Big_A2

#23

Big_A2 said:

Playing with 3rd party controllers makes me feel dirty on the inside. Even if it is wirless.

Twilight_Crow

#24

Twilight_Crow said:

Personally, I really like the official Classic Controler, I play most of my VC games with it, and I use my GC controller for my N64 games, except for Sin & Punishment, I want a CC with shoulder buttons instead of triggers to play that one, and that's the only feature that will make me buy a 3rd party CC.

cr00mz

#25

cr00mz said:

make a retro controller shape/modell but with GC compatible and wireless and i'm sold!

Chunky_Droid

#26

Chunky_Droid said:

You know when Nintendo first announced the CC I could have sworn they said it'd work with Gamecube games. And when I bought one and it had analog triggers for L and R I was ecstatic!

Then I put 1080 Avalanche on and nothing happened :P

GamerWho

#27

GamerWho said:

I'd imagine it'd be pretty easy to rewire an original classic controller into a megadrive / snes / turbo grafx etc controller. Could just get old ones from ebay. Then the button configs can be set up for each contoller for maximum authenitcity.

Bristol_Red

#28

Bristol_Red said:

I wouldn't buy a 3rd party controller over a geuine Nintendo product if it was cheaper, so why would anyone pay more? It's wireless, yes, but if you want a wireless controller for VC games, it has to be Nintendo's very own Wavebird. No contest.

Surgical_Precision

#29

Surgical_Precision said:

@GamerWho

There actually are already numerous websites out there where people have done the work for you...

But seeing as for me the NGC controller was basically an improved version of the N64's pad, The original NES & SNES pads are the only things I would end up using...

And Nintendo's Classic Controller does a perfect job filling both those roles IM0...

My only grip with the CC is it should fill every role I need it too... There should be no reason at all that I still need a NGC pad other then out of preference...

So for me grips are a much desired improvement... (Though this thing looks way to cheap)

CC support in NGC games is vary desirable as well... In fact all one really would need for it (Seeing as Nintendo's not interested in adding it through fermware updates) is a optional cable to hook it into the NGC control ports instead of the back of the Wiimote...

Luigison

#30

Luigison said:

I'd love to see WiiWare World or VC Reviews do a side by side comparison/review of all the currently available wireless classic controllers.

Quimby

#31

Quimby said:

So... it sends the signal wirelessly to the wiimote, which then in turn sends the data wirelessly to the wii. So you still need to touch the wiimote before playing your VC games wirelessly... Then who gives a crap if the classic controller is wired. Chances are that when you turn the wii on and pick your favourite gaming gem, that you will place the wiimote down well within the range of the cord anyway.
Also: Its UGLY!

Viral

#32

Viral said:

Right...sounds kinda shady to me... I'm going to have to pass on this. I did just order a wireless nunchuk so I'll judge that (if only Nintendo made wireless Nunchuks)....

Cthuloops

#34

Cthuloops said:

Waste of money. I'd rather get Hori's GC look-a-like turbo controller or Nintendo's classic controller long before I got this.

gameking23

#35

gameking23 said:

Why make this controller when there are cheaper ones? Some companies seem to think that buyers never price compare. :P

GodsUncle

#36

GodsUncle said:

gameking23, thats like asking why make games that suck royal ass when every game can be Super Mario Bros 3? As long as theres a market bollox will be flooding it, only some companies actually care about you, the rest wanna kick you in the nuts and leave you on the ground bleedin for the vultures to get. Its a crazy world out there stay with your mack 11 at all times.

Steviis_Father

#37

Steviis_Father said:

now it's time for Nintendo to answer all these 3rd party controllers back with a classic controller outfitted with a camera... or at least a means to sync your DSi to your Wii.

Viral

#39

Viral said:

DSi needs to incorporate the usage of Virtual Console games, via SD card. Download Super Ghouls N Ghosts? Why not play it on the travel too? DSi would be the perfect opportunity to do so...if only they'd emulate all games on it...if they did, I'd buy it instantly.

Shadow

#42

Shadow said:

Only white if you want wireless? :( The black looks really nice. Oh well.

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