8BitDo M30 review: Retro-looks, modern features
The 8BitDo M30 might look familiar to retro gamers, but does the controller still manage to hold up when it comes to playing modern titles?
8BitDo makes some of the best controllers around, and the M30 seeks to ape Sega’s iconic Saturn gamepad. Coming in either Bluetooth or 2.4Ghz flavors, the pad certainly looks the part, but does it have the oomph to handle your favorite retro titles, or even the latest fighting games?
We’ve spent several weeks testing both versions of the controller across a huge number of titles, and we’re a little bit in love. Sometimes, it’s just about the simple things.
- Connectivity: USB-C, Bluetooth / 2.4Ghz
- Battery life: 18 hours
- Weight: 118g
- Features: Six-button layout, 480mAh battery, turbo button
- Price: $29.99
Included in the box: 8BitDo M30, wireless dongle, USB-A to USB-C cable
The 8BitDo M30 we reviewed came with a classic retro gray look, with three colored buttons. The plastic quality here is top-notch, and the shape of the controller is somewhat slimmer than the official Sega model, coming across as a neat blend between a SNES controller and Sega’s six-button classic.
Three lower buttons are larger than their top counterparts, which might have flown in the 90s, but just feels like a misstep thirty years on. There is a dedication to authenticity here, but the smaller top buttons just don’t feel great to use.
The same cannot be said of the eight-way D-pad on the M30, which is one of the finest we have ever tested, outside of the Razer Wolverine V2 Pro.
The smaller overall size of the pad can make it cramp for folks with larger hands, but in our smaller hands, it was absolutely perfect. Shoulder buttons flank the top sides, and they depress with ease, as all buttons are mushy dome switches, giving you that distinct retro feel.
The unique six-button layout of the 8BitDo M30 makes it perfect for playing retro arcade titles like Garou: Mark of the Wolves and arcade classics like Streets of Rage. The turbo button makes playing shooters like Ikaruga a breeze on Steam, to boot.
The wireless connectivity means you get a tangle-free experience, and there’s a whole lot to love with the sheer number of options you have. One thing, however, is that we wished that there was a toggle for wires and wireless modes. This could easily be a competitive fighting game controller, but being locked to sending signals over a wireless connection makes it a no-go for competitive play.
Playing games using the 8BitDo M30 is a dream. Titles like Street Fighter 6 work flawlessly, and having every button accessible straight on the front of the controller is seldom seen outside of specialist controllers. That’s why we wished that the buttons were all of a uniform size, as it can get tricky when you are trying to string together combos.
Thankfully, the D-pad is phenomenal, Almost every input that we tried was perfect, and even all of the corner directions were great to use. The pivot in the middle of the pad makes it clear whichever direction you get, with no accidental jumps in sight. However, it’s very easy to accidentally skip an input when performing half-circle inputs. To remedy this, you could instead employ a microswitch-based solution.
The Verdict: 4/5
The 8BitDo M30 is an utter bargain at $30, especially for those looking to get a retro feel for their controllers. It’s not perfect in every way, but it gets damn close.
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