The official Pro Controller for the Nintendo switch is generally a very useful accessory, but it has its problems: The D-pad is unreliable and doesn’t actually offer any “pro-level” functionality. The latest 8BitDo controller improves both issues by coming at a lower price.
8BitDo Pro 2 is an upgraded version of the SN30Pro Plus, already a well-considered switching controller. Uses Bluetooth and also works with personal computers and mobile devices; has physical control to switch between Switch, X-input, D-input and Mac. You can also use it as a wired controller with a USB-C cable. I tried to use it with my computer, but I feel it makes more sense in the Switch, due to the location of the Japanese-style buttons with B at the bottom and A at the right. Or maybe I̵
Aesthetically, it looks like a cross between an SNES pad and a PlayStation controller, with a tablet-shaped body, two handles and symmetrically aligned analog rods. The device I have is decorated in a gray color inspired by the PlayStation, although it also has an all-black option and a beige model that resembles the original Game Boy.
It’s not a huge controller, but it feels comfortable in my big hands, with easy access to all the buttons and triggers. Equally important to me, the D-pad is good. It feels more or less like an SNES pad and its location above the left analog stick makes it more suitable for games where this is the main input option. I’d rather use Pro 2 than Nintendo’s Pro Controller for almost any Switch 2D game.
The main feature of the Pro 2 in front of its predecessor is the customizable back buttons, which you can press with the middle finger. These are a common element of enthusiast-focused controllers today, from Microsoft’s Elite controllers to third-party offerings such as the Astro C40 for PS4. Sony has also released an attachment that carries similar functionality to DualShock 4.
These buttons are useful because they allow you to enter commands without taking your thumbs off the sticks. Most first-person shooters, for example, assign a face button to jump, which means it can be awkward to activate while aiming at the same time. With controllers like the Pro 2, you can set the back button to work in the same way as a face button, freeing you to design more flexible control schemes. Pro 2 makes it much easier to manipulate the camera in the middle of The Rise of the Monster Hunter a battle that can only be worth the asking price.
The Pro 2’s back buttons are responsive and snap, activated by light pressing. You can assign them through the Ultimate Software app on 8BitDo, which is now available for Pro 2 for iOS and Android, as well as for PCs. It’s not as simple as some professional controller settings that allow you to reset the buttons directly on the controller itself, but it supports multiple profiles and works well enough. In addition to button assignments, the application can also be used to change the vibration strength of the controller and the sensitivity of the stick.
You miss some of the features of the Switch Pro Controller with 8BitDo Pro 2. Although the rumble is solid, it doesn’t feel as accurate as Nintendo’s HD Rumble in supported games. The Pro 2 also lacks an NFC reader, so it won’t work with Amiibo figurines. And it can’t be used to power a Switch, which is typical of most third-party controllers on different platforms.
For $ 49.99, however, these omissions are understandable. That’s $ 20 less than Nintendo’s equivalent option, not to mention the professional controllers you’d find for an Xbox or PlayStation in the $ 180 to $ 200 range. And considering everything, I would take 8BitDo Pro 2 through the official Nintendo controller most days of the week.
8BitDo Pro 2 will start shipping on April 12.