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8Bitdo M30 Bluetooth Gamepad Review


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The Sega Genesis controller has a few tricks up its sleeve.

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When the Sega Genesis reigned, it was a simpler time. The fourth generation of home consoles boasted 16-bit microprocessors, colorful sprites, and wonky-as-hell controllers. While the Sega Genesis controller was far from the weirdest of the bunch (that dubious honor goes to Turbografx-16 Controller), by the time the Dreamcast rolled around, the six-button layout vanished.

But there’s something quirky and lovable about the controller, so 8BitDo has wisely brought it back from the brink with some enhancements. The $30 M30 (See it on Amazon) boasts triggers, top-level menu buttons, USB-C charging, and some ill-defined (but incredibly welcome) button remapping.

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8Bitdo M30 – Design and Features

The M30 resembles the classic Genesis 6-Button Controller, albeit with less sharp handles. Both the D-pad and the buttons sit in circular hollows in the controller, which your fingers rest on comfortably. Besides a small line of branding on the controller, I love its understated aesthetic. It doesn’t look so as much like a goofy relic as, say, an N64 controller—mostly because it’s sleek and black, but also because it’s more shapeless, more pebble-like than most controllers.

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The M30 feels slightly lighter than the original Genesis 6-button controller, but either way, I enjoy the M30’s weight. Whereas many third-party controllers feel hollow, the M30 feels sturdy and “full.” The buttons do rattle when the controller moves, but thankfully it doesn’t affect their punchiness.

The M30’s battery is rated for 18 hours of gameplay and can connect to just about anything. It works with Windows, macOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch. (I tested it primarily on the Nintendo Switch.) By default, the buttons don’t match up with the Switch’s. The button labeled “B” functions as an “A” button, while the “C” button triggers the “R” button, and the “Z” button fires the “L” button. The left and right triggers function as ZL and ZR, respectively. It’s an all-around weird layout—and frankly it only really works with Sega games.

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But there is a remapping trick, which is inconveniently listed nowhere in the instructions. By holding the Minus button and down on the d-pad, you can instantly remap the buttons so that they match up with the Switch’s. There’s a similar trick for the D-pad. By default, the radial D-pad functions as a thumbstick, not a D-pad. But by holding Minus and Up on the d-pad for five seconds, you can remap it to function as a four-way directional input. On-the-fly remapping is hugely helpful, but you’d be forgiven if you never knew it existed.

8Bitdo M30 – Gaming

As I mentioned above, the controller is indeed a strange beast and its undeniably most useful for Sega games. Fortunately, those abound in spades. I raced Sonic through the Green Hill Zone, beat up some dudes in Streets of Rage, and threw down in Golden Axe III. These games felt exceptional on the M30. The buttons and D-pad all had a pleasing click and the triggers offer decent resistance. But more than anything, the M30 adds a charming nostalgia to every Sega throwback I played. 8BitDo also makes a $20 Bluetooth adapter for the Sega Genesis, which allow you to use the M30 on the classic console.

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Taking the M30 to more contemporary games is unfortunately not a fantastic experience. Assigning L and R to face buttons makes for a goofy experience all around. Trying to hit A + Z a the same time is basically impossible, and trying to remember that C + ZL does is basically a Mensa quiz. But I can’t really fault the controller for this—it’s designed for a different library of games.

Across Switch, Android, and Mac, I never had connection problems, and pairing was a cinch all three times. I also didn’t experience any noticeable latency, and the battery lasted for ages—and charged quickly with the included USB-C cable.

Purchasing Guide

The 8Bitdo M30 Bluetooth Game Controller has an MSRP of $29.99 and it’s the same price online.

The Verdict

While its use case is limited to the classic Sega games you have in your library, the 8bitdo M30 gamepad makes those pretty wonderful. Being able to remap the buttons and D-Pad is a great feature that massively increases the controller’s versatility.


This article was originally published by IGN.COM

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