Nostalgia can be a very powerful thing. A familiar sight, sound, or scent can transport you back to a time long passed. If you are, like me, a lifelong gamer and a child of the 80’s, the NES30 Bluetooth Gamepad is likely to do just that. This is a device designed with one specific audience in mind, and if you are a part of that particular audience, you’re bound to be a bit smitten with the NES30 at first sight.
Although Hong Kong-based developer 8Bitdo’s NES30 is designed to look like the beloved old NES controller, it’s button layout is actually that of the Super NES, making for a double-shot of nostalgia. It’s definitely not the most ergonomic thing in the world, being basically just a sharp-edged block, but certainly those looking for that authentic NES feel wouldn’t have it any other way.
For the most part, setup on the NES30 is simple, although I did have trouble originally getting it connected to my Nexus 5. After extensive testing, however, it turned out to be a conflict with Glass/the MyGlass app, so Explorers beware (and possibly users of other Bluetooth-tethered wearables, as well). Other than that, the NES30 was able to connect to all my Android and Windows-based devices with no issue.
The NES30 definitely feels in the hand like an original NES controller, with the exception of the added shoulder buttons. They are nearly flush with the controller, though, so they don’t do much to alter the experience, other than to just give you a couple much-welcomed additional buttons. Also, on my unit at least, the D-pad seemed just a little loose, which occasionally resulted in my clicking down/forward instead of just down, which makes quite a bit of difference in games like Contra or Sonic.
Being designed primarily with smartphones/tablets in mind, the NES30 includes a very handy detachable mobile-device stand snapped around the back of the unit. This stand worked great on both my Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 for propping up the device to an angle more suitable for gaming, and the fact that it snaps easily around the back of the NES30 for storage is a huge plus for gamers on the go.
Although most games on Android still do not feature gamepad support, there are many that do, and hopefully with Android TV and its game controller on the way, many more devs will begin to support the feature. And if you’re into the emulation scene on Windows, Android, or iOS, the NES30 will definitely make a worthy companion, as the best emulators on all three platforms include full re-mappable controller support compatible with the NES30.
As stated above, the NES30 is a controller designed with one particular audience in mind. This is a rather large audience, however, considering the popularity of the NES in its time (and to this day). If you count yourself among this group, I think you’ll find the nostalgia induced by the NES30 to be well worth the $39.99 price of admission.