The removal of the pesky joypad cable has to rank as one of the most important advances in video game tech. For far too long were we resigned to dealing with tangled wires that shackled us to our games consoles, forcing us to sit within a range dictated by the length of the cable itself (Super Famicom owners will feel this pain acutely, as the lead on its controllers was super short).
Thankfully, in recent generations we've seen pads physically disconnect from their consoles and allow you to sit where you want in the room and not have to fight a jungle of wires whenever a friend comes over for some local multiplayer. The trade-off is that these pads now require their own power source, but hey - that's progress for you.
This technological leap has now been retrofitted to vintage hardware. 8Bitdo and Analogue - two companies committed to keeping old-school gaming alive - previously worked together on a Bluetooth adapter for the NES, and they've now produced something which is arguably even more exciting - a receiver which works on the 16-bit successor to that machine, the SNES.
The SNES Retro Receiver is a diminutive little device about the same size as the joypad plug on your traditional wired SNES controller. In the packaging you get the unit itself and a USB cable, which can be used to turn the device into a Bluetooth dongle you can use with your PC. This small cable will also be used to apply firmware updates to the device in the future, should they be forthcoming.
As you might expect, the Retro Receiver plugs into one of the joypad slots on your machine (for two player action you'll need a second receiver). Pushing a button on the front of the unit triggers the pairing mode, allowing you to connect a wide range of compatible pads. While 8Bitdo encourages you to use its excellent range of controllers - the SFC30 is our choice, for obvious reasons - you can pair pretty much any Bluetooth pad; we managed to get the Wii U Pro Controller connected in seconds and that functions perfectly.
It's an odd experience being able to play a SNES game without any wires getting in the way; your brain sort of freaks out, desperate to feel that familiar tug of the cable when you move the pad around. While your memories might require some realignment, you'll never look back after using one of these devices with your SNES. It of course helps that 8Bitdo's controllers are of incredible high quality so the experience is perfect, but naturally your own enjoyment may vary depending on what Bluetooth pads you have to hand. Dig one out that has decent build quality and you're unlikely to find any reason to grumble.
As is the case with the NES version of this device, we can foresee the SNES Retro Receiver becoming a near-essential purchase for retro gaming fans. Just remember to buy two if you're keen on local multiplayer - anyone you play with is sure to get jealous if they're forced to use a wired pad.