The NES Classic Edition is a wonderful micro-sized retro-gaming machine; availability issues aside its hard to find much fault with, it apart from the rather short controller cable which comes with the otherwise excellent replica of the original NES controller.
At just 30 inches the cable that joins the pad to the console itself is far too small, forcing you to sit right in front of the TV in order to play. You can use the HDMI cable to move the system away from the television and therefore gain some additional distance, but all told there aren't any particularly ideal solutions with the core system.
As always third-party controller manufacturers step in, and have come to the rescue with wireless controllers so you never need to get tangled up with cables ever again. Let's see how the 8Bitdo NES30 fares against the Nyko Miniboss in this showdown in the world of NES Mini wireless controllers.
NES30 Classic Edition Set
The 8Bitdo NES30 bluetooth controller has been around for a while now; it's very popular for emulation and can also be used with iOS and Android games. It's now been repackaged with a NES Mini adaptor, and it's easy to pair by pressing the sync button on the receiver. Its internal battery holds a decent charge and it can be topped up via the included micro USB cable.
Aesthetically the NES30 apes the looks of the NES original and is identical in size, however it's got additional X, Y, L and R buttons due to its legacy in emulation. While these extra buttons are superfluous, the L and R buttons act as rapid fire A and B buttons, which is nice touch.
In our tests the NES30 works perfectly with the NES Mini, with no notable lag or drop-outs. The D-pad is pretty much the same as the NES Mini wired controller and is very responsive. The buttons are very similar to the original and are concaved also; the only difference is that B and A on the NES30 are in a SNES-like configuration. It only takes a moment to get used to this and we found it works great.
You can access the NES Mini menu to change games by pressing down on the D-pad in conjunction with the Select button; this overcomes the biggest problem with using cable extenders with the original NES Mini controller.
We love the faux retro packaging with the Nyko Miniboss, boasting "space-age cordless technology". We tried out two variations of this controller. The micro USB rechargeable version is pretty much the same dimensions as the NES original and the 3x AAA battery powered version is about 1/3 fatter, which does not feel great in the hands as a result. Compared to the NES30, the Miniboss also has a cheaper plastic feel.
In terms of looks the Miniboss is nothing to write home about, however we like that there are no redundant extra buttons. There is a power button, however; this is something the NES30 sidesteps by turning on and off with a 3 second press of the Start button. We liked that the Miniboss has slightly rounded corners which don't dig into your hands during extended play, which is more similar to a classic Famicom controller.
Synching the Miniboss controller with the receiver is easy. The rechargable controller boasts 15 hours battery life, but you'll need to provide your own micro USB cable to top it up. The fatter AAA version should give you 35 hours of playtime.
Unfortunately the D-pad on the Miniboss is its key flaw; at times it can be a little unresponsive in games which require you to change direction quickly, such as Pac-Man. It feels stiff, ultimately, and that's a problem when it's such a vital part of the NES experience. It's not a deal-breaker, necessarily, but it's not up to the standard set by the NES original or 8Bitdo's also excellent D-pad. The B and A buttons are fine, however, and it uses convex-style buttons like a Game Boy, which some people might prefer. They are offset ever so slightly compared to the NES original, but this works fine in practice.
Entering the NES Mini menu to change games is also easy - simply tap the power button.
We also tested out Nyko's extension cable, which adds an extra 6ft of length to the NES controller packaged with the NES Classic Edition. This might be the best way to go for some people, although you will be out of reach of the reset button on the console for changing games.
The winner, for us, is 8Bitdo's NES30 Classic Edition Set. It faithfully replicates the feel of the original NES controller, though it would have been nice to have had a hardware revision without the extra buttons. The key advantage it holds is the D-Pad, which is so integral to NES gaming and needs to be top-notch; for the Nyko Miniboss, that is it's downfall.
The NES30 Classic Edition Set is twice the price of the slightly less stellar Nyko Miniboss, however, so the latter might be a good choice for that Player 2 in your life over whom you want an advantage in multiplayer!