8bitdo put nostalgia to practical use with the SF30 Pro and SN30 Pro, two controllers that are modeled after those of the Super Famicom and Super Nintendo. By adding modern touches, these controllers make for fully functional gamepads for the Nintendo Switch. Both connect via Bluetooth and are also compatible with Windows PC, MacOS, Android, and Raspberry Pi devices.
One controller retails for $50 USD, but you get a fully featured gamepad; even though it's modeled after the SNES pad, you get two bumpers (L, R), two triggers (L2, R2), dual analog sticks that click downward, and the home and screenshot buttons you see on Switch controllers. The SF30 Pro and SN30 Pro have motion controls as well, which is extremely important for games like Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2.
Pairing either controller is seamless for the Nintendo Switch, but you should note that it only connects wirelessly. Your PC need to be able to pick up Bluetooth in order to function, and it will be recognized as a Nintendo Pro Controller. However, it does sport a USB-C port to charge, and a USB-C-to-USB 2.0 cable comes in the package. Battery life is said to last up to 16 hours after charging for around two hours; with the SF30 Pro fully charged, I never had to plug it back in after my five hours using it on the Switch.
As far as the buttons go, they all feel responsive and great to use. The classic design of these controllers do make them a bit tough to grip, but as long as you clamp the controller tightly enough on the sides, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. These aren't going to stand up to the precision and ergonomics of the official Pro Controller, but the SF30 Pro and SN30 Pro make the throwback design work surprisingly well.
By playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I got a feel for how these hold up in a full-fledged game. I didn't have any issues with how they function, and it was novel playing a 2017 game with a throwback gamepad. I also played a bunch of the recently ported Rocket League on Switch to get a feel for a fast-paced competitive game. Again, there were no issues playing or nailing down shots on goal. Admittedly, a Pro Controller is more comfortable for these situations, and high-level players will want the more precise triggers and analog sticks.
There is one annoyance with both controllers, however. When they vibrate, they make a high-pitched squealing sound. If you have headphones on or you're playing games in a loud room, it's not much of an issue. But the noise really picks up in a quiet setting. You can hear an audio clip of the actual sound in the video above.
Overall, the SF30 Pro and SN30 Pro are ergonomically sound and don't skimp out on any features or functions you'd want from a controller. They're not going to hold up to the design of the Nintendo Pro controller and the vibration sound is quite annoying, but this modern take on classic controllers from 8bitdo is wonderful.
Both the SF30 Pro and SN30 Pro are set to launch on December 10 for $50. Pre-orders are now live on Amazon.