If you’re looking for a good wireless option for your Super Nintendo (SNES) controller compatible system, 8Bitdo has two separate offerings that form a complete solution. The most important offering is the Retro Receiver for SNES, which plugs into an SNES controller port and wirelessly connects PS4, PS3, Wii Remote, Wii U Pro, and all 8Bitdo controllers, including the 8Bitdo SNES30 GamePad, which I’m also reviewing. As a final bonus, the Retro Receiver for SNES is compatible with Windows and MacOS computers via the X-INPUT protocol.
The other offering, the SNES30 GamePad, is a Bluetooth wireless controller styled like the original SNES gamepad. Besides working with the Retro Receiver, it also functions as a Bluetooth joystick, Bluetooth keyboard, in iCade mode, in Emu-Touch Screen mode, in Wii remote mode, in RetroN 5 mode, and as a wired USB controller, with more functions promised. Those additional functions can be added via firmware updates, which is also possible on the Retro Receiver.
In the attractive packaging for the SNES30 GamePad, you get the controller itself, standard USB cable to charge the built-in 480mAh Li-on battery, SNES 30th Anniversary keychain, and paperwork. The packaging for the Retro Receiver is simpler, coming in blister packaging, and includes the controller port dongle and a standard USB cable for connecting to a computer. The instructions are on the back of the packaging insert.
Although both devices offer a tremendous range of functionality, I primarily bought this for use with the amazing Retro Freak (which I reviewed back in 2015), which does not have a wireless option. To use an SNES (and other) controllers with the Retro Freak, you need the Retro Freak Controller Adapter, which comes with the Premium bundle, or is available for purchase separately.
Here’s how I got both the Retro Receiver and SNES30 GamePad to work on the Retro Freak:
- I charged the controller.
- I plugged the adapter into the controller adapter on the Retro Freak.
- I turned the Retro Freak on.
- I pressed the pair buttons on both the adapter and the controller.
- I was almost immediately able to move around in the Retro Freak’s menu system.
- I selected the standard SNES controller setup in each Retro Freak emulation system’s menu.
- I started playing wirelessly like it was a normal SNES controller plugged into the controller port with a wire.
It really is remarkable how seamlessly it all works. While I like the SNES30 GamePad, it’s not quite as nice as the original SNES gamepad. There’s a bit more bounce to the d-pad, for instance. Overall, though, I have no significant complaints, particularly for a third party design. It’s definitely a controller I’ll make regular use of.
The Retro Receiver on the other hand is unequivocally extraordinary. It delivers the holy grail of classic gaming, bringing true wireless capability to legacy hardware (or hardware that uses legacy controller ports) with no perceptible lag and no fuss configuration. It just works, period. That’s why the Retro Receiver for SNES is receiving an Editor’s Choice award for 2016.
8Bitdo SNES30 GamePad
- Lots of functionality
- Excellent packaging
- Doesn’t quite capture the feel of the SNES original
8Bitdo Retro Receiver for SNES
- Wireless for SNES compatible controller ports
- Lots of functionality
- Works out of box
- Powered by controller port