I’m always on the lookout for a great new gamepad. After gaming nonstop for more than 30 years, it’s one of the few things I feel like I’m an expert in. And I’ve learned that a decent third-party peripheral is rare. That’s changing, however, due to 8BitDo and devices like its new SN30 Pro+.
This is a modern-style gamepad that has all of the buttons, analog sticks, and D-pad that you would find on a DualShock 4. But unlike its standard SN30 Pro, which has all the same buttons, it has substantial handles to make it easier to hold.
The 8BitDo SN30 Pro+ also comes with the 8BitDo Ultimate Software that empowers players to customize the behavior of the controller. You can remap buttons, create macros, and more.
The device is shipping this month for $50, and you can preorder it on Amazon.
What you will like
Despite all my experience with gamepads, I still can’t look at one and tell you if it’s comfortable or not. Just based on its appearance, I would guess that the SN30 Pro+ is awkward to hold. But that isn’t the case at all. It’s really comfortable.
Those long handles that dip down deep into the palm of your hands is a big reason for that. I don’t need to strain my ring and pinky fingers to comfortably grip it. Instead, I can just relax my hands around its shape, and it stays into place without much effort.
This makes the SN30 Pro+ wonderful to use for hours at a time.
Great D-pad and analog sticks
This is probably my new favorite D-pad on an affordable controller. I like the Xbox One gamepad’s D-pad a lot, and this is right in line with that. Unsurprisingly, it is very similar to 8BitDo’s SN30Pro (non-plus), which I said had the best D-pad for the Nintendo Switch. This feels just as good.
It isn’t too squishy. Directional control is also very precise. A problem with some of Nintendo’s Switch Pro controllers is that it’ll register false inputs. If you are trying to run to the right you may also accidentally start crouching if you tilt the right side of the D-pad down too much. That defeats the purpose of having a cross-style directional input.
The 8BitDo doesn’t register those inputs until you want it to.
You will also get some really great analog sticks with the Pro+. They felt awesome on the standard Pro, but it was slightly more difficult to use them because of the Super Nintendo-style body of the gamepad. It’s more challenging to get leverage on the analog sticks when you are squeezing a smaller controller into place with your other fingers.
So the Pro+ enables what were already great sticks to really shine.
I’ve had no issues playing D-pad games like Dead Cells and Bloodstained. And the same is true for analog-stick games like Splatoon 2. And yes, this is by far my new favorite controller for Super Mario Maker 2.
Finally, the gamepad also has 6-axis gyro controls, a battery pack, and the option to turn on turbo buttons. And it is compatible with Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Raspberry Pi.
Easy-to-use Ultimate Software for customization
One of the big features of the Pro+ is its customization options, and the Ultimate Software is at the center of that. This free tool enables you to adjust the nearly everything about the Pro+. You can remap buttons so that the controller always behaves as you want it to. You can also adjust the sensitivity of the analog sticks and shoulder triggers. And you can control the vibration and set macros to perform a certain set of inputs by hitting a simpler button combination.
All of this is simple to set up exactly how you like. The interface is clean and easy to parse. And if you don’t need it, it’s just as easy to ignore.
What you won’t like
Rumble is subpar
The only major problem I’ve had with the SN30 Pro+ so far is that it has had some bugs that led to it vibrating endlessly until I turned it off. But it’s easy to update the device by plugging it into a PC with the Ultimate Software. So I’m hoping 8BitDo finds and addresses that issue soon — but it also hasn’t happened again since I rebooted the gamepad.
But even when the rumble is working, it doesn’t feel as nice as the Switch Joy-Cons or pro controller. I’ve grown used to the subtle shake that my Switch does when I pick up a coin in Super Mario Maker 2. With the Pro+, those subtle and precise vibrations come across as just any other vibration motor spinning away inside the device. It’s slightly distracting, but it’s also not an issue in most games — and you can always turn it off.
I love the 8BitDo SN30 Pro+. At $50, it’s more affordable than a Switch Pro controller or even an Xbox One gamepad or DualShock 4 for use on the PC. But it’s also right up there in terms of quality. And then you have the Ultimate Software customization on top of that.
This is my new go-to recommendation for people looking for a controller for the Switch. And I would definitely bring it up in the conversation for use as a dedicated PC gamepad.
The 8BitDo SN30 Pro+ and Ultimate Software are shipping this month. The Pro+ is $50, and the software is free. 8BitDo sent us a sample unit for the purpose of this review.