If you take your video game controllers seriously, then chances are you won't need any introduction to 8bitdo. This peripheral maker has been crafting superb pads and accessories for some time now, many of which take more than a little inspiration from Nintendo's own controllers. Over the years we've seen excellent replications of the NES, Famicom and SNES pads, all so well made that you'd swear they were first-party products. Now, the company is back with what promises to be its most accomplished pad yet.
8bitdo's NES30 and SNES30 pads have already been updated to support Switch, but both of those lacked key features, such as motion control and rumble. Now the firm has released the SN30 and SF30 Pro, which remedy this situation whilst adding dual analogue sticks, a Home button and a screenshot button. The only thing missing here is an NFC touchpoint for amiibo figures, but you can't have everything.
As you can see from the photos on this page, the controller is based on the iconic SNES pad. In terms of build and construction, it's an amazingly close match to the real thing - right down to the precise D-pad and responsive buttons. The big change is the twin sticks (they're also a joy to use, it should be stated), which have forced a slight design change on the rear of the controller - there are two "bumps" where the sticks are housed, but they don't really impact the usability of the pad. The shoulder triggers are also altered slightly; the L and R buttons are thinner than usual and next to them we have the ZL and ZR triggers, which are sculpted so your fingers instinctively rest on them, just like the triggers on the official Joy-Con.
Pairing the SN30 Pro is easy thanks to a familiar four-LED indicator which denotes which player is assigned to which pad. The pads are compatible with Switch right out of the box, so there's no need to update the firmware - although 8bitdo will no doubt release new firmware in the future to iron out any kinks present.
Speaking of which, we noticed that when using two or more 8bitdo pads at once there was a noticeable degree of lag, at least in our setup (given how many devices output wireless signals in the average household these days, it's hard to be sure that it's the product and not the environment that is at fault). We nevertheless raised this issue with 8bitdo - which has already improved the performance of its previous pads via firmware updates - and were assured that if a problem did exist, it would be patched in a future update.
The controller's motion controls work as you'd expect, while an internal motor provides some force feedback to accompany the on-screen action. It's not anywhere near as subtle as Nintendo's HD Rumble, and our video guru Alex thought it was noisier, too - but your own milage may vary. It's certainly no worse than other rumble controllers we've used in the past.
Of course, being an 8bitdo product, this pad isn't simply limited to the Switch - it supports Android, MacOS, Windows, Steam and (in the near future) Raspberry Pi-based systems and the Hyperkin Retron 5. There's even a clip which allows you to bolt the controller onto your smartphone, if you're that way inclined. The internal rechargeable battery offers around 16 hours of use of a single 2 hour charge, and the unit has a USB Type-C port (and cable) so it's future-proof - for the next few years, at least.
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So, is the SN30 Pro really the best Pro Controller option for Switch? At $50 it's cheaper than Nintendo's official pad but lacks NFC support; that may be a deal-breaker for you, or it may be of no real consequence. In its favour, the SN30 Pro is smaller and boasts an iconic design which will make it very appealing to seasoned Nintendo fans, or those who have just taken stock of the lovely SNES Classic Edition.