NES30 Control Pad
Pop quiz time. What looks like a NES controller with a few extra buttons and works on a myriad of different devices? The NES30 GamePad from 8BitDo. Ever since I first got my hand on this controller I have literally been raving about it to anybody who will listen.
The NES30 GamePad is part of a lineup of products made by 8BitDo which also includes the FC30 (same thing as the NES30 but designed to look like a Famicom controller), the SNES30 and the Fc30 Arcade Joystick. There also appears to be some sort of crowd-sourcing campaign for something called the FC30 Pro which is a really sleek looking game pad that also features dual analog sticks.
So, the first thing I want to touch on about the NES30 is the looks. 8BitDo has recreated the exact look and feel of the original NES controller, from the dimensions to the colour scheme. It’s a full 1:1 reproduction except it boasts additional X, Y, L & R buttons, and has two small LEDs and a mini usb port on the top. The exact dimensions of the game pad are 123.88mm (4.87″) x 54.5 mm (2.14″) x 16.8 mm (0.66″). Additionally, it features a 480 mAh Lithium-Ion battery that lasts up to 20 hours on a single charge, and can be charged over 1,000 times and an intelligent auto-sleep mode in case you forget to turn it off.
You’ll also notice that the unit has this interesting additional piece of plastic that’s snapped on to the back of the game pad. This is called the Xtander and has grooves cut into it that are designed to hold your phone at a comfortable viewing angle. It snaps on to the controller for easy storage so that you don’t lose it.
Now some of you may have some experience with 3rd party game pads that are designed to look like classic controllers, such as the NES one, either for use with clone systems or with usb connections for PC, and if so, you may know these controllers usually suffer from a somewhat dubious build quality. You’ll be happy to know that the NES30 feels just as solid as the original NES controller… maybe even a little more so because there’s slightly more heft to the unit due to the hardware inside, which is what really makes this little device shine because the circuitry inside is what gives the game pad it’s extensive compatibility options.
This is the part that I’m really excited to talk about, and where you’ll find the NES30 really shows it’s value. This little game pad is by far the most versatile game pad I have ever come across. What makes it so versatile? It’s compatible with almost everything under the sun. This is because the game pad has a firmware-upgradeable CPU inside of it that allows you to switch the gamepad into one of several different modes. These are:
- Bluetooth Joystick (Windows, Android)
- Bluetooth Keyboard (Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android)
- iCade (Android, iOS)
- Emu-Touch Screen (Android, iOS)
- USB Joystick (Windows)
- Wiimote – Yes, you can even use up to 4 NES30 gamepads as Wiimotes for games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii!
And as the firmware is upgradeable, new modes can be added to support additional devices, like the RetroN 5 or some other bluetooth enabled system. It’s also important to mention that the NES30 supports having 2 game pads connected simultaneously on iOS/Android/Windows/Mac OS in Bluetooth Keyboad mode because the gamepad actually has two different keyboard codes. This is particularly interesting because you can’t do this on iOS or Android with any other bluetooth controller, so if you want to play 2 player Contra on your iPad through an emulator, you can!
And that’s still not all. In the list above you probably noticed Emu-Touch Screen and wondered what that is. Well, if you have a jailbroken or rooted device, you can download a special app from 8BitDo that allows you to map the virtual on-screen controls from games that use them to your NES30! This is a super exciting feature, although it would be nice if it didn’t require having a jailbroken or rooted device to use, but I can understand why that would be necessary given what the app needs to do to make it work.
As with most controllers, you can use it on your PC or Mac with games that are keyboard only by using software like Joy2Key or Xpadder, but 8BitDo also has a free download on their site called XPad that allows you to map keyboard keys to the buttons on your NES30. As far as the packaging goes, the unit comes in a well-made box that’s designed to look like an NES. Inside you get the game pad, the Xtander, a USB cable and a special NES30 commemorative pewter keychain.
Now how much does all of this cost? Well, you can purchase them from a variety of retailers online, or directly from http://www.8bitdousa.com/products/8bitdo-nes30-bluetooth-controller. The current price on the game pad through the official site is $39.99 USD, which is marked down from the original $49.99 USD price tag, which makes it even more of a deal than it already was. If you choose to use a different retailer, the prices may vary. A list of other official retailers can be found at http://www.nes30.com/buy.html.
Overall, this unit gets 5 stars from me. It’s the perfect game pad for playing any video game that doesn’t require dual-analog controls, and given the low price point and the variety of devices it can be used with, you will definitely get a lot of use out of it.
P.S. Here are some YouTube videos showing the various features of the NES30 in action! http://www.nes30.com/video.html
The build quality, versatility and excellent battery life make this the go-to gamepad for me for any games that don't require dual-analog sticks. I particularly recommend playing Shovel Knight with this game pad. Kudos to 8BitDo for such a fantastic product!