8BitDo NeoGeo controller review: Clicky button heaven

Rebecca Hills-Duty
8BitDo NeoGeo controller King of the Fighters 97 edition header

8BitDo has created a brilliant premium controller with microswitches which is ideal for retro gaming on the go.

8BitDo partnered with SNK to create a faithful recreation of the NeoGeo controller of the 16-bit era. 8BitDo has a reputation for quality that is preserved with this delightful controller, which provides superb retro gaming quality.

The controller is in essence a complete recreation of the controller for the NeoGeo CD, which was originally released in 1994. Though the NeoGeo console was a rarity in many areas due to its high price point, it is similar enough in shape and layout to an SNES controller to feel comfortable and familiar to many users. And a range of modern features such as Bluetooth connectivity and a rechargeable battery make it appealing for retro gaming on the go.

Key Specs

  • Connectivity: USB-C, 2.4GHz, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 30 hours
  • Weight: 115g
  • Compatibility: Windows, Android, NeoGeo Mini, Raspberry Pi
  • Features: Microswitch joystick, Turbo button

Included in the box: Gamepad, USB-C cable, 2.4G adapter


Beautiful King of the Fighters ‘97 character art decorates the outside, adding to the feeling of quality given by the high-quality textured plastic and solid construction. The device is thinner and lighter than most modern controllers, it’s a nice fit for someone like me with smaller hands.

8BitDo NeoGeo controller King of the Fighters 97 edition

The only real difficulty was the slightly awkward placement of the start and select buttons, which are stacked on top of each other in a way that doesn’t feel comfortable to press. This might be accurate to the original controller, but a slight consideration of modern design could have been an advantage here. This is a very minor gripe, though. The face buttons are in SNES-like bright colors of Green, Blue, Red, and Yellow, and also feel great to press, with no signs of wobbling or sticking.


Back in the 80s and 90s, microswitches were the absolute best when it came to controllers of all stripes, and people were prepared to pay the premium price for that quality in joysticks. Time is a flat circle, so of course microswitches have seen a resurgence in popularity, notably for keyboards, but also for controllers like this one.

Indeed, the microswitches on the digital pad absolutely steal the show. The clicking is very pleasing and gives excellent tactile feedback so you know without a doubt that you’ve hit that combo correctly. The D-pad is a digital pad with eight-directional travel, despite it looking and feeling a lot like an analog stick.

8BitDo NeoGeo controller King of the Fighters 97 edition back

In terms of compatibility, the controller works with Windows PCs, Android devices, and the Neo Geo Mini. It can be wired up via USB, or connected wirelessly using Bluetooth or the included 2.4GHz dongle. This function is controlled by a small switch on the rear of the controller. The USB-C port on the top also provides power to recharge the battery.

Speaking of battery, the play time on a single charge is upwards of 30 hours, and it seems to take just over an hour to fill back up to full charge. The long battery life and lightweight of this controller make it a good option for playing retro titles on a smartphone or tablet, as Bluetooth pairs easily with most Android devices.


Lag is pretty much imperceptible in 2.4GHz mode, and even in Bluetooth mode, the effect of input lag is hard to pinpoint at all, even in games that require quick reaction time.

Testing was performed on a combination of a PC and a Raspberry Pi running Emulation Station, and both machines swiftly recognized the controller, though the Raspberry Pi needed a small amount of configuration to account for the slightly different button configuration compared to modern controllers.

When running games from the 8 and 16-bit eras, the controller performed almost flawlessly, with the only real issues being during sustained running for platformers such as Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which could be due to the short travel distance of the pad.

The 8BitDo NeoGeo performs excellently in many retro games. 2D retro fighters like Fatal Fury, or King of Fighters ‘94 are extremely pleasing to play on this device. The controller has only four face buttons, which puts it at a minor disadvantage compared to arcade fighting sticks or modern versions of the SEGA Saturn controller, but it still performs brilliantly.

One of the downsides, however, is the lack of a second analog stick and only two shoulder buttons, which rules out any modern game that relies on these buttons. Anything up to the PS1 era can be played, with some occasional tinkering with controller configuration, but anything released after that tends to be either difficult or impossible.

Should you buy it?

The 8BitDo SNK NeoGeo controller is a fantastic controller for retro gaming, the extremely pleasing clicky microswitch D-pad provides excellent precision and feedback, especially when compared to common wireless controllers like the Xbox 360-style controllers.

The long battery life and comfortable form factor make it ideal for younger players or those with smaller hands, as well as for taking your gaming out and about – for playing some Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters on the train, for instance.

That said, the controller does run into significant limitations, as any game that needs two analog sticks or four shoulder buttons is out of reach, which rules out the vast majority of modern games.

The verdict: 4/5

This is a controller for retro gaming fans who want a high-quality experience and who appreciate microswitches. If that’s you, the quality and price point make it almost a must-buy. For modern gamers, it just doesn’t meet the requirements, despite its other great features.

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About The Author

Rebecca is a Tech Writer at Dexerto, specializing in PC components, VR, AMD, Nvidia and Intel. She has previously written for UploadVR and The Escapist, hosts a weekly show on RadioSEGA and has an obsession with retro gaming. Get in touch at rebecca.hillsduty@dexerto.com