Three years after releasing his first arcade stick, 8BitDo is resetting him. The manufacturer is still selling a new version as a retro, but less NES font. It expands the Bluetooth / cable modes to include the 2.4 GHz radio connection. If the price increases significantly, it will remain below the symbolic bar of 100 dollars.
8BitDo is probably not the most famous brand among gamers, but its many retro peripherals have allowed it to gain a good little reputation, especially among retrogaming fans. So we were able to find technically very modern controls, which are inspired here by the design of the SNES pad and there by the design of the Megadrive controller. Without actually adopting the design of the NES Advantage, the NES 30 Arcade Stick was a product inspired by the famous Nintendo console that 8BitDo sold between 2017 and 2019. Stored in the closet, it is now being replaced by the N30 Arcade Stick, a more complete, ambitious model, but also more expensive.
Very heavy, very stable and rather “compact”
Just a few weeks after testing the EGO Arcade Stick signed by Mad Catz, we’re reviewing another of these imposing controllers … Although the N30 Arcade Stick is just not as imposing as you might think. Without being as compact as Horis Fightstick Mini or Mad Catz’s old Alpha Fightstick, it remains “modest” at 30 centimeters in length and 20 centimeters. Such dimensions make it possible to use the stick on the thighs, but also to install it on a desk or a corner of the table without monopolizing too much space.
8BitDo, on the other hand, understood that you shouldn’t skimp on stability, and its new product is even heavier than its NES 30 arcade stick. The 2.76 kilograms of the EGO Arcade Stick are certainly not exceeded, but with 2.1 kg on the scales, the beast stays in place. To achieve such a weight, 8BitDo simply placed a large metal plate at the bottom of the case. It is also very easy to see as we will come back to it and the stick can be opened without much difficulty by removing a set of six Torx-sized screws. Mad Catz is better in terms of usability, but it’s still very playable.
Inside with me
Before we open the animal, we need to describe its exterior. As usual, 8BitDo makes extensive use of plastics, a material that is seldom classified as “noble”, but which has the advantage of significantly reducing costs. The finishes are perfect and at no point do we get the impression of a product with a discount … despite the ultimately very moderate cost of such a product. 8BitDo logically has two rows of four “main” buttons on top of the board: They are red. Two more buttons – P1 and P2 – are in the upper right corner: They are black.
Of course, on the left side of the controller we find the standard height rod for a product of this type – a little less than 6 centimeters – and that ends in a sphere. One small regret, however: 8BitDo does not offer a “pear” to replace the ball if it happens not to be your preference. In particular, the manufacturer has created a specific upper left corner: there is the switch / PC selection switch and a button to select the function of the stick (left stick, right stick or control pad). Well seen.
8BitDo offers a button for pairing the N30 as well as a “Turbo” and a “Home” button. Finally, a series of LEDs materialize the Bluetooth activity, a button enables the selection of the wireless mode (therefore Bluetooth or 2.4 GHz) and things end with the two “Start” / “Select” buttons. Note that wireless is one of the strengths of this product that can work with cable or bluetooth, but also at 2.4GHz for better reactivity on the PC. This is done using a dongle that is stored in the body of the stick. It’s a shame that the cable doesn’t have its own compartment.
Efficient, precise … and easy to modify
Despite this multitude of connections, the N30 Arcade Stick isn’t as versatile: it works great on PCs or switches, but no other console can take advantage of it. The wired connection is obviously not a problem with the key to the X input as well as D input compatibility. There is nothing more to complain about on the Bluetooth or 2.4 GHz side: the pairing takes place almost immediately and we don’t have to regret any premature disconnection or special delays. It works fast and well on all platforms provided by 8BitDo.
A manufacturer that offers configuration software called “Ultimate” apologizes for the modesty that is reserved for Windows users. Equipped with an interface that is as clear as it is functional, you can use the program to configure almost everything you would expect from such a controller. Please note that for this setting the animal must be connected via USB. What is going to be really cool is that you can configure the controls for all operating modes and therefore customize the switch controls without affecting those of the X input mode.
Macros can also be recorded, but be careful, however, there doesn’t seem to be any question of whether multiple profiles can be recorded for the same mode of operation. In any case, we didn’t find anything like it. Beyond the strict software aspect, it is now more than time to deal with the “technical” features of this N30 arcade stick, which obviously cannot be compared with the market leaders in this category. Let’s not forget that the price is less than 100 dollars. In fact, finding Sanwa components inside does not matter.
Between pear and cheese
However, the stick responds perfectly to the requirements of the player. The return to the central position is flawless and there is no dead zone to regret … at least during our three-week trial period. We have a slight preference for pear pencils, but the ball does the job and the square choke gate is hardly an issue. The buttons are a little less cheerful. Again, given the asking price, there’s nothing to cry about, but we would have liked them to be a little more responsive and with more respondents.
However, when 8BitDo is very strong, the N30 Arcade Stick is very easy to modify indeed, as it promises to be. As I said, the opening is quite easy as six Torx screws have to be removed. However, it doesn’t get more complicated than replacing the rod with a Sanwa model, swapping out the ball for a pear, or changing the throttle gate. The same applies to the standard size (30 mm) buttons, which can easily be replaced with models that meet your needs. Of course, the cost of the stick then increases, but the efforts of 8BitDo are noticeable.
A GOOD MARKET BUT NOT A CHEAP STICK
What a very pleasant surprise this N30 arcade stick! Of course, there’s no question about directly comparing it to models that cost two or three times its price, but 8BitDo clearly doesn’t make fun of the world and its controller is great value for money. PC and Swtich compatible, there is no connection issue and we have had no issues during our various games. Of course we can blame a slight lack of “sensations” on the side of the buttons, but here 8BitDo is very strong as its stick is very easily modifiable / repairable. In the end, we just have one real regret that the N30 is not compatible with PlayStation / Xbox.
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