The best controller for retro gaming

These days, there’s only just one controller which is usually hooked up to my Computer. It is not an Xbox pad, or a PlayStation controller both. No, it truly is the 8BitDo Professional 2, a high quality third-bash controller that is effective on my Computer, phone, and Nintendo Switch.

Confident, you could seem at your Xbox 360 pad and surprise why you need to have a different Bluetooth-enabled controller in your existence, even for only $50. But when modern-day controllers are terrific for modern-day games, the 8BitDo Pro 2 is a considerably improved choice for retro gaming across distinctive platforms. In fact, it could possibly be superior than the OGs that encouraged it.

Enter may well obtain a portion of gross sales if you purchase a product or service through a connection in this article. We only include items that have been independently chosen by Input’s editorial group.

Why D-pads matter

I will stage with you: I’m a massive retro gamer. Around the earlier six months, I’ve invested extra time participating in Contra: Difficult Corps and a number of common Castlevanias via emulation than any sport produced this year, with the exception of Elden Ring. And whilst present-day fare like the PlayStation 5’s DualSense and the Xbox Sequence X controller function actually perfectly for modern video games, they’re absolutely not the ideal possibility for yesterday’s classics.

It’s tricky to overstate the relevance of a superior D-pad for retro gaming. From the NES to even early PlayStation, the controls for older games are designed for the flat, solitary-input surface of a electronic pad, not the subtle dead zones of an analog adhere. Yes, just about every Xbox and PlayStation controller technically incorporates a D-pad, but they’re normally much more for deciding upon guns or dialogue choices than really steering a character around.

It really is not the flashiest controller all over, but I do like its understated aesthetic.Steven Wright / Input

If you’ve got ever actually tried to fumble your way via a demanding 2D motion sport like Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins on an Xbox 360 controller’s D-pad, you know that it truly is surely not ideal for large-level engage in. (Fantastic luck applying any analog adhere for that just one, by the way.) The DualSense’s D-pad is drastically better than all those on preceding PlayStation controllers, but it really is however not quite up to the amount you want for a stiff outdated-faculty obstacle. Also, Sony has stubbornly trapped to the segmented design and style of D-pad rather than the classic cross, which I vastly favor myself. (Some could possibly disagree, of class.)

Retro isn’t really just retro

But when there are fairly a handful of third-bash solutions out there that improve on the disappointing D-pads presented by modern-day controllers, they normally design on their own after the true old-school styles of the SNES or Genesis pad. In fact, if you might be in the marketplace for a duplicate SNES pad, 8BitDo’s SN30 is a good solution, with a Professional design for all those who want analog sticks. Sticking to the experimented with and correct is wonderful for purists (or collectors), but it finally limitations the flexibility of the controller to actual retro gaming on your own.

There are a good deal of retro-design indie video games on the sector these days, from Shovel Knight to The Messenger, and most of them are very damn demanding. Ahead of I bought my 8BitDo Pro 2, I used to enjoy these online games with a low-cost USB SNES controller, which was the only Pc controller I experienced with a respectable D-pad. Over time, the pad’s smaller dimension and absence of assistance handles started off to give me persistent wrist pressure, and I ended up switching to my outdated Xbox 360 controller to complete the first Shovel Knight again in the day.

The 8BitDo Professional 2’s sticks have a marginally larger sized radius than other controllers, and it suits big palms effectively.Steven Wright / Enter

This is precisely why I say that the 8BitDo Pro 2 is the best all-purpose retro controller out there. Even though you may possibly favor a specialised controller for your beloved console of decision, I have performed everything from Atari 2600 online games to Crash Bandicoot on it, and I’ve been happy with the results. It also will work nicely with my retro box and my Switch (nevertheless not my PS4 or Xbox), which is helpful for very long sofa sessions of Stardew Valley.

Nailing the principles

That is not to say that the 8BitDo Pro 2 is just a retro gaming pad. It arrives with all the bells and whistles you assume from a high quality controller, such as rumble assistance, very good battery lifetime (8BitDo advertises up to 20 several hours), and wireless guidance. It prices as a result of a wired USB-C twine (will come provided), and its Bluetooth relationship has a variety of about 16 toes. I was in a position to get the controller’s rumble performing on N64 and PS1 RetroArch online games without far too much difficulty, but your mileage may well fluctuate. Once more, as it is a Bluetooth device, it functions with your mobile phone, pill, or Nintendo Swap, not just your Computer.

If you actually want to make the most of the 8BitDo Pro 2, you must down load its software program applet. This makes it possible for you to not only manually remap the controller’s buttons, but to also create profiles so you can swap your controls on the fly. It truly is useful for those people couch-bound move-the-controller classes.

I typically use my 8BitDo Pro 2 for not-so-retro gaming, as I like the experience of its shoulder buttons additional than my Xbox 360 controller, which came in useful all through my various Elden Ring playthroughs. Compared to an Xbox pad, the 8BitDo Pro 2 has a significantly broader profile, which might existing a dilemma to all those with more compact palms. I myself have alternatively ordinary-sized palms, and I prefer its ergonomics about that of my other controllers for prolonged gaming sessions. It is really comparable in fat to a DualSense or Xbox 1 controller, but it just feels better to me. The 8BitDo Pro 2 also has the edge of two paddle buttons, which are rather helpful for retro video games this sort of as Contra 3 that call for you to hold down various experience buttons at the exact same time.

Did I mention that this controller is only $50? That may possibly appear to be like a ton for a third-social gathering controller, but I feel it truly is legitimately on the stage of a first-celebration controller like the DualSense, which commences at $70. The 8BitDo Pro 2 also will come in 3 diverse colors — I desire the G Common.

The 8BitDo Pro 2’s profile swap characteristic permits you rebind its buttons speedily, which is wonderful for multiplayer games.Steven Wright / Input

Search, let us be genuine: video clip activity controllers are truly great these days. We’ve come a extensive way from the confusing button layouts, one-function triggers, and non-existent analog sticks of the pre-64-bit era. Though you could possibly assume it is high-quality to enjoy retro online games with modern day controllers, the moment you pilot Mario via the Mushroom Kingdom with a respectable D-pad, you can know what you are missing. Plus, you will need a second Pc controller for when you have a close friend about in any case. If you enjoy emulation, I imagine the 8BitDo Pro 2 is the finest controller you can get, and you can set that on the box.