Genesis Big6
Image: Retro-Bit

Back when the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis was first released, it came with a 3-button pad which – in 1988 – felt like the future. It wasn't square and boxy like the NES and Master System controllers but had a rounded, ergonomic shape which was more comfortable to hold, and it had one extra action button. Bliss!

However, by the time the SNES arrived, it was clear that Sega's pad was no longer the cutting edge; with just 3 action buttons, it couldn't offer the same degree of control options, and when Street Fighter II hit the market and changed things forever, Sega had to release a separate pad which had the required number of buttons for the game. That pad was also smaller and boasted an improved D-Pad, and it's the design that Sega has stuck with over the decades (although the Genesis Mini was bundled with the 3-button controller in North America and Europe – Japan got the 6-button variant instead).

However, accessory maker Retro-Bit – which has already collaborated with Sega to produce officially-licenced controllers – feels that the old 3-button pad is worthy of a revision. It's releasing the 'Big6' – an all-new pad which takes the original 1988 design and adds three additional action buttons.

Here's some PR:

We had a long, hard look at the original 3-button control pad that was released alongside the original console. It was wide, comfortable, and sleek with a unique DPad, a Start button, and the classic A-B-C buttons. Its design provided comfortable ergonomics for long play sessions, which SEGA was aiming to do by bringing the arcade experience to homes with the Genesis & Mega Drive.

Our team updated the design by adding additional X-Y-Z buttons while incorporating a Mode shoulder button without changing the overall form of the original. It keeps the same feel and shape of the original adding new features to give players a new way to experience their favourite games. Since revealing it, the response has proven to us that we were definitely on the right path.

Like Retro-Bit's other controllers, the Big6 will come in various guises. There's the wired version intended for use with original Genesis / Mega Drive hardware (ideal for replacing old or broken controllers), as well as a USB wired option, which works on any device with USB input support. Then there's the 2.4GHz wireless option. The USB and 2.4GHz versions are listed as being compatible with Switch when playing in docked mode.

The wired options are expected to become available in late October of this year, while the wireless variants are going to arrive in November.

Will you be picking one up, or are you happy with your Nintendo Switch Online Mega Drive controller? Let us know with a comment.