Chinese firm 8bitdo is on a roll when it comes to making Bluetooth controllers which look and feel like classic Nintendo pads. We've already had the NES30 and the FC30 Pro - the former taking inspiration from the classic 8-bit console and the latter sporting design cues lifted from the Japanese edition of the NES, the Famicom - and now the company is back with the SNES30, a modern-day take on one of the best joypad designs of all time (and one which is a quarter of a century old this year).
Available in two forms - the North American-themed SNES30 and the Japanese / European-focused SFC30 - this pad is essentially the same as its forerunners, the key difference being that it is based on the Super Nintendo's legendary pad. It has the four familiar face buttons, two shoulder buttons and Start and Select keys, as well as that gloriously ergonomic, rounded design. While the controller is a wee bit thicker than the original, in practically every other regard it's a convincing copy; the D-Pad actually feels better and more solid - although this could be because the Super Famicom pad we have for comparison has been through 25 years of hard knocks and perhaps isn't quite as spritely as it used to be. The same can be said of the buttons - they're responsive and firm, mercifully lacking the sponginess which tends to accompany such pads.
Despite the Nintendo-centric design, the target audience for these controllers is smartphone and tablet owners who want to experience their games with physical controls. There are plenty of iOS and Android titles out there which do just that, and once you've paired the pad with your device it's a pretty pain-free experience. However, playing "standard" games is just one side of the story - if you're an Android user then you'll no doubt be aware of the vast number of retro emulators available on the Google Play store, and it is with these apps that the SNES30 really comes in handy (being a Bluetooth pad, it will also connect happily to your PC, Mac or Android-based Micro-console, too).
Most emulators will auto-detect the pad and assign buttons sensibly, but you can re-map if you run into issues. Needless to say, when playing SNES games on your Android device, this pad is an absolute delight. While there's no substitute for playing retro games on the original hardware, this is certainly the next best thing, especially as the controller feels so authentic in the hand.
As with previous 8bitdo products, connectivity with the Wii is suggested in the instructions, but not mentioned on the packaging or any promotional materials. There's a good reason for this - it's utterly broken. Getting the device to connect is a Herculean task, and even when you do, actually using it is painful. If you want to use the pad as player one, then you have to keep disconnecting your Wii Remote by removing and inserting batteries in order to navigate through screens, as the SNES30 naturally lacks an IR pointer for on-screen interaction - a process which gets old very quickly. Our advice? Don't purchase this thinking it will replace your Classic Controller.
An internal 480mAh battery gives around 20 hours of play time and can be recharged using the bundled Micro USB cable - which also doubles as a means of updating the pad's firmware, ensuring that it's future-proof, to a degree. Pricing is reasonable - you can pick up the SNES30 (or, if like us you prefer a more colourful controller, the SFC30) for $34.99, which is less than both the NES30 and FC30 retailed for when they first launched. It's certainly an attractive deal and the pad comes highly recommended - as you'd expect, taking into account that it is inspired by one of the best in the business.
Thanks to Supreme Equipment Company for supplying the SNES30 and SFC30 featured in this review.