Feature Article

8BitDo SN30 Pro Plus: A Programmable Switch And PC Controller With Retro Flair

Now you're in control.

Over the past few years 8BitDo has released numerous Bluetooth controllers that work with retro console adapters, computers, Android OS devices, and Nintendo Switch. Build quality and variety have helped the company stand out from the competition, and as evidenced by last year's M30 controllers designed for use with your Sega Genesis, 8Bitdo's craft continues to improve. Its latest product, the SN30 Pro Plus Bluetooth Gamepad, looks comparable to other Super Nintendo-inspired controllers from 8Bitdo (albeit with prominent handles) but it is actually one of the most advanced controller options for Switch owners. Though it doesn't feature the official Pro controller's HD Rumble or a motion-detecting gyroscope, the SN30 Pro Plus' distinguishing capabilities make it easy to overlook these arguably minor deficits.

A quick look at the SN30 Pro Plus reveals a familiar button layout, with four face buttons, four shoulder buttons (two of which are triggers), a directional pad, and start, select, home, and capture buttons. 8Bitdo sent us the model colored to look like the classic "DMG" Game Boy color scheme; it's generally on point, though a slight red tint isolated to the applique on the face of the controller does stand out against the more desaturated plastic that surrounds it. Otherwise, the overall build quality is solid, with mixed materials and good-feeling buttons lending a high-quality feel throughout. Most buttons relay a satisfying tactile response when pressed, and the triggers offer a notable amount of resistance, which is good to have in general but even more important when you consider the ways in which you can adjust their sensitivity.

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With the SN30 Pro Plus connected to your PC (or Mac, once the upcoming software is released) 8bitdo's Ultimate Software tool lets you dive into the deep end of configurability. The first option you'll see is button remapping, with individual profiles for the controller's two operating modes dialed in for Switch or the Windows-centric X-Input API. Like every setting we'll discuss here, the Ultimate Software's user interface is clear, organized, and very easy to use, leaving little room for guesswork. Simply look to the panel on the right, find the button you want to change in the left-hand column, then pick which input you want to reassign to that button and hit the big purple 'Sync to Controller' button to commit your changes. If you ever need a visual reference, the image of the controller on the left of the Mapping tab will reflect your new settings.

This sort of visual feedback is helpful for button remapping, but it's essential for the next two options: adjusting the active area of the analog sticks and trigger shoulder buttons. In each case, you are given a real-time look at the components in question. Being able to set the dead zone for these inputs can make a big difference to the right player and game, and the fact that you can both test and visualize these settings in real time, with your controller in hand and the Ultimate Software reflecting your actions, greatly streamlines the trial and error process. Beyond dialing in the sensitivity, you also have settings for inverting the axis of your analog sticks, or swapping their relative functions entirely.

Though less critical, you can also adjust the intensity of the controller's basic vibration functionality (again, not proper HD rumble), with feedback coming from the controller as you dial in your preference.

The SN30 Pro+ ''G Classic Edition
The SN30 Pro+ ''G Classic Edition" closely matches the classic Game Boy color scheme, but the layer of plastic around the buttons has a different tone then the rest of the controller.

8BitDo's Ultimate Software can also be used to manually assign macros (a series of inputs) to a single button press. This is useful in a number of scenarios like, say, creating an automatic Hadoken button for Street Fighter or a quick build-rearm process for Fortnite. Rather than record your inputs directly from the controller during the macro creation process, you manually assign buttons by picking them from a palatte within the software--up to 18 inputs per macro, which will also correspond to a flashing light around the home button when activated. Macros are definitely questionable in the context of competitive multiplayer games, but that fact doesn't detract from the benefit of having the option on the SN30 Pro Plus, should it prove useful in other scenarios.

8BitDo claims that the rechargeable battery driving the controller in wireless mode can last for 20 hours, but unlike its previous controllers the battery in the SN30 Pro Plus is removable via a simple hatch, and you can even put two AA batteries in its place for the same 20 hours of playtime. This flexibility is greatly appreciated, more so because you won't be stuck with a dead controller once the lifespan of included battery (like all batteries) eventually dries up.

In nearly every respect, the SN30 Pro Plus is an impressive product that goes above and beyond 8BitDo's previous offerings, and most competitors' as well. About the only thing you could wish for was the independence to remap buttons or create macros without the use of 8BitDo's software. That's only worth pointing out because it adds a requirement to the process, but in general using the tool is, like playing with the controller, a pleasant experience overall. In the SN30 Pro Plus, 8BitDo has delivered one of the best third-party controller options for Switch owners and a formidable option for PC users who have far more options to choose from. At only $50, it's also competitively priced in a market that tends to favor high prices for feature-rich peripherals.

The SN30 Pro Plus is available in the US for $50 on Amazon, and interested EU customers can pre-order on Amazon UK for £42.99, where it will start shipping on September 27.

BUY 8BITDO SN30 PRO+ >>

Amazon | Amazon UK

Some links to supporting retailers are automatically made into affiliate links, and GameSpot may receive a small share of those sales.

Editors note: 8BitDo sent GameSpot a complimentary review sample of the SN30 Pro+ controller for review.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

doc-brown

Peter Brown

Peter is Managing Editor at GameSpot, and when he's not covering the latest games, he's desperately trying to recapture his youth by playing the classics that made him happy as a kid.

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14 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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jkh0208

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Did you do any research or even use the controller before writing this article? This controller does have gyro. Based on the comments below, you already dissuaded one person from this controller with that false piece of information.

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scurriloustommy

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Edited By scurriloustommy

I'm confused.

Are "6-axis motion controls" and "gyro-aiming" not the same thing? Because every other outlet, as well as 8BitDo's own website, claim that it does have the ability to use motion controls in the same way as the Switch Pro. Is this review incorrect in regards to this specific detail, or am I being stupid?

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SIMOMEGA

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@scurriloustommy: It does have motion controls, just not HD Rumble.

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Richardthe3rd

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I like it a lot, will get one when I need a controller next.

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sakaiXx

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sakaiXx  Online

I like the controller designs but if they want to copy the Dual Shock controllers at least copy the D pad. its the best dpad for everything,

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squishytia

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@sakaixx: Uhhhh. No. The dual shock D-Pads are the absolute worst for pretty much everything outside of tasks like using Path of Exile's potions. It's incredibly difficult to complete semi or fully circular motions because the non-cardinal directions are so hard to engage, and it makes platformers excessively difficult as well. There's a reason the SNES D-Pads (especially those on the ASCIIPads) were regarded as the best of them all. They were easy to get diagonals with, but not easy to accidentally do so like would often happen with the Genesis D-Pads.

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sakaiXx

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@squishytia: there is a reason why plenty of pro gamer uses the ps4 dpad in evo. Cause its really good.

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GirlUSoCrazy

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Edited By GirlUSoCrazy

If they had a 6 button version I'd definitely get it, with the option of either remapping L+R (or even L3+R3 or whatever else) to the other 2 face buttons or letting them act independently an an ABC/XYZ setup

I've bought their stuff before and like it a lot

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GusBR

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8bitdo controllers are very good. I own a couple of the super nintendo with analogs and one M30. if only they release a M30 with analogs...

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faramir77

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No gyroscope pretty much is a dealbreaker for me. Gyro aiming is pretty much the only type of motion control that I can say absolutely made gaming better.

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SIMOMEGA

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@faramir77: It does have motion controls, just not HD Rumble, the article is wrong.

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GirlUSoCrazy

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Edited By GirlUSoCrazy

@faramir77: Yeah that would be nice!

PS4 controller works for that with the 8bitdo USB wireless adapter

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squishytia

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I'm not all that thrilled about the location of the home button. It's WAY too easy to hit that accidentally if you have the wrong sized hands and/or you hold it a certain way. That button should have been moved up top, not next to primary buttons.

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SkyHighGam3r

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Edited By SkyHighGam3r

8BitDo does some amazing work, but no matter how you spin it (and someone always tries to argue here) these controllers are 2 buttons short of a full setup. "What's a full setup?" This:

ABC/XYZ
Start/Select
L1/2/3
R1/2/3
D-Pad
L/R Sticks

Those 2 little buttons (Z & C) are pretty important, and not just for Sega consoles. There's a whole bunch of 3 and 6 button controller consoles out there - The N64 is a great example that no one ever seems to think of oddly enough.

They did the M30 pad and it was phenomenal - just like their SN30 and the SN30-Pro that modernized the Super Nintendo setup... With that in mind it's so beyond time for 8BitDo to make an M30-Pro, or really for ANY company to do a full setup; because as it stands you are shoehorning inputs where they don't belong (Z & C are not shoulder buttons FFS), and all it would take is those 2 little already established buttons to fix that issue.

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