Not a week seems to pass without news of yet another new wired or wireless controller for the Switch. We've had SNES-themed ones, Sega-styled ones and even ones that try to offer the perfect platform for one-on-one fighters. There's clearly a demand for a wide range of interface options, and peripheral maker Retro-Bit has stepped into the fold with two of its best efforts yet.
Remember those wired Sega Saturn and Mega Drive / Genesis controllers were reviewed a while back? They were sadly not compatible with Switch, but at the time, Retro-Bit was keen to point out that it was also working on wireless variants than would be. Those variants are now with us, and we're pleased to report they're everything we expected them to be.
Thanks to an official licence it has with Sega itself, Retro-Bit's pads carry the Sega branding and look and feel almost exactly like the real thing. Both have brilliant rolling D-Pads which are perfect for games like Street Fighter and King of Fighters, and (while we're on the topic of brawlers) offer up six face buttons – the perfect layout for those three punch and kick strengths that Capcom titles rely on so heavily. Let's just get this out there right now: both of these pads control like a dream. Pulling off special moves is a breeze and pretty much any game that relies more on digital input than analogue is downright wonderful to play.
Both controllers come with dedicated 'Home' buttons, while 'Start' acts as 'plus' and 'Select' acts as 'minus'. Inside, there's a 550mAh rechargeable battery which offers 20 hours of play on a single charge (a Micro-USB cable is included in the box). Range is advertised as 30 feet / 10m, and, as a bonus, the pads can also be used with your Android device (including Amazon Fire sticks and the like), PS3, Mac and PC (wired and wireless).
When playing on Switch, rumble is supported – it's quite aggressive and causes the pad to vibrate quite loudly, but it gets the job done. A row of four LEDs on the top of the controller show which 'player' it is connected as; pairing the pads with the Switch is a matter of powering it up while holding Start and Y – our review units linked in a matter of seconds.
Given the unorthodox button arrangement, it goes without saying that you may need to re-map buttons in your game of choice. The A, B, X and Y buttons are – surprise! – mapped to the A, B, X and Y commands in-game, but the Z and C buttons are ZL and ZR respectively. The L and R shoulder buttons are mapped to their Switch equivalents, thankfully, so there's not much in the way of tinkering required. Oh, and while the D-Pad mimics the directional button cluster of the Joy-Con, you can toggle it to imitate the left analogue stick by holding L, R and Start for 3 seconds (which means you can use the pad with games like Zelda: Link's Awakening). You can also swap A and B and X and Y by holding down on the controller and Start for 3 seconds, if you so wish.
One of the complaints we had about Retro-Bit's wired pads is that the buttons felt a little off, but we're pleased to report that the issue seems to have been fixed in these newer models. The shoulder buttons click nicely this time around, and the face buttons – while still a little cheap-feeling (as they were on the original pads back in the day, it should be noted) – feel more responsive, at least to us.
It's worth noting that we've covered the Bluetooth controllers here, but 2.4GHz variants are also going to be made available. While we didn't notice a massive amount of lag, the 2.4GHz versions are likely to be less prone to delayed inputs, so if you're a real stickler for speed and precision, you'll want to opt for one of those. The catch is that you'll then have to use the bundled USB receiver in order to play on Switch (the Bluetooth models don't require this). Oh, and it's also worth noting that both the Bluetooth and 2.4GHz pads are compatible with the original Saturn and Mega Drive hardware – the Bluetooth versions require the purchase of a receiver, but this dongle is included in the packaging of the 2.4GHz editions.
While we still love 8BitDo's brand of pads, both of these Sega-themed controllers come highly recommended. They're coming in November and will cost $29.99 each (the 2.4GHz versions are $5 more) – bookmark Retro-Bit's Amazon page to avoid disappointment.