The Retro8 Wireless Pro Controller by Retro-Bit. It was first manufactured back in 2012 specifically for use with the NES Classic, Wii, and Wii U. This third-party controller offers plug-and-play functionality, a 2.4 gigahertz wireless connection, and is described as heavy-duty.
First, let’s take a moment to marvel at the fantastic design of the packaging. It has a bright modern colour scheme, with a hint of pixel art scattered throughout. As someone with a design background, I think it’s very visually appealing. It displays the controller very prominently, alongside the little adapter.
On the back of the box is a marketing blurb along the top, and several lists of information about the capabilities of the device. Handily, these are in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German. I’ve included the blurb below:
“Always dreamt of using your NES controller with your favorite NES or Wii and Wii U games? Now you can! Retrofitted by Retro-Bit, this wireless controller is compatible with NES Classic Edition, Wii the Wii U giving you that classic NES feel.”
What’s on the box?
As mentioned previously, the controller has a 2.4 GHz wireless connection. Alongside this, it also has a Micro USB charge cable included. It has a built-in 480 mAh lithium-ion battery that supports up to 10 hours of gameplay. That’s a fairly standard array of features. Interestingly, in the bottom left of the package it does say that a portion of the proceeds generated from the purchase of this item will be donated to the Kids In Need Foundation. That is pretty cool. I assume that means if it was bought directly from the Retro-Bit website. I actually bought the second-hand so I don’t know. Worryingly, it also warns that this product “contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm”. Which is slightly worrying!
As I mentioned before, I did buy the secondhand so I didn’t actually get everything that was meant to be included in this box. More specifically, I didn’t get the micro USB charger. Which is fine, because I have a million and one USB cables anyway.
Once out of the packaging, it’s clear to see that this thing looks very similar to the NES controller. It has the same bulky rectangular design. It feels fairly solid in the hand and I wouldn’t worry too much about dropping it. There are some nice textured areas on the main body too.
A flawed controller
Buttons on the device include a D-Pad, A and B, as well as Start, Select, and Power too. Users familiar with the original NES controller should feel at home fairly quickly. One major difference is that the A and B buttons are not next to each other, rather they are offset from one another. When playing, I found this button layout to be a little awkward. I would much rather them be next to other. Or maybe have the A lower than the B. They also curve outward slightly, rather than inward like the OG controller.
The D-Pad is also not great to use. When playing, I would expect some kind of feedback, whether that be an audible click or just some kind of physical movement. When shifting my thumb from left to down, there isn’t any kind of rocking mechanism beneath the button. This leaves the D-Pad feeling mushy and unresponsive. I found it difficult to know where my thumb was, and what I was pressing. In this regard, it felt cheap.
Despite feeling pretty solid and having some flashy packaging, the layout and quality of the buttons make the Retro8 Wireless Pro Controller a disappointing device to use. With the included dongle only able to interface with specific devices, the usefulness of the device is also pretty limited. Of course, the controller is only marketed for use with a limited amount of consoles, so I guess it does what it says on the box.
It does seem like Retro-Bit has discontinued production on this controller which is understandable. A shame nonetheless though. The Retro8 Wireless Pro Controller isn’t a wholly terrible device. In certain scenarios, it can be a useful thing to have.
If you want to see the video version of this article, check it out below!