The following lyrics are sung to the tune of “I’m a Believer:”
I thought good 3rd party controllers were only fairy tales
Meant for younger siblings (meaning me),
All my fingers and hands only felt pain
Being Player 2 drove me insane
Then came 8BitDo
Now I’m a believer!
As my original song lyrics suggests, my formative years both at home and at my friends’ houses got me familiar with cheap and weird 3rd party controllers. MadCatz was the mediocre bane of my existence. Naturally with the Joycons having no true D-Pad and the Pro Controller being bonkers expensive, cheaper alternative controllers have flocked to the Switch. I could feel the childhood angst and disappointment seeping through their Amazon listings.
But one controller stood out above the rest, one that even the YouTubers I followed seemed to like. I couldn’t ignore it. 8BitDo’s SN30 Pro controller promised full compatibility not only with the Switch, but with PC and Android devices. I’m going to start sending my Joycons in for drift repair, so I figured now would be a good time to get one.
Let’s start with ergonomics. The SN30 Pro+ is one of the most comfortable controllers I’ve ever held. The feel is in-between a SNES controller and a PS4 Dualshock. The D-Pad might feel a tad loose to some, but it’s still tight enough to respond immediately to my thumb’s movements. The buttons have a good clickiness to them, and the analog sticks move soothly, though since they’re taller than the Joycons’ sticks, they might take a bit to get used to.
Just like 8bitdo says, the SN30 Pro+ can connect to a Nintendo Switch, Windows, MacOS, and Android devices. It can also pair with a number of mini consoles with an adapter. It connected to my Switch perfectly, though it sadly can’t ever wake up the console by itself. The Android device also paired up quickly, though I had to tell my games and
emulators to recognize the gamepad, and even then not every game supported it.
My Mac is notorious for not playing nice with controllers, but the SN30 actually paired with the thing! It worked with Itch.io flawlessly, and after teaching my
emulators how to recognize it, it worked fine there. For a while, though, I couldn’t get it to work on Steam. It wasn’t until I put it into Switch mode and had both my Mac and Steam recognize it as a Switch Pro Controller that I finally got it to work.
8BitDo also has free downloadable software that allows you to customize the controller — from remapping buttons, to stick and trigger sensitivity, to even emulating an Android touchscreen! It’s a bit superfluous for me, but I appreciate the attention all the same.
As the D-Pad is the defining feature of the SN30 Pro+, you’ll likely find yourself using this gamepad for many 2D games. Shovel Knight played much better on this, as did the Switch’s NES and SNES games. I found, however, that the sticks were good enough to work well for 3D games, too. Smash Bros. Ultimate played flawlessly, as did Astral Chain and Super Mario Odyssey. The controller even comes with gyro / motion support, so Splatoon 2 also worked without a hitch.
My only complaint is that the name of this thing rivals the Pokemon Go Plus Plus.
In a stunning turn of events, the SN30 Pro+ not only met my expectations, but its versatility with other platforms offered a compelling reason to use it over the official controllers. I’m not going to throw out my Joycons any time soon (for one thing, I need them to turn my Switch on), but it definitely earned its keep as a quality 3rd party Switch controller and my #1 PC conroller.