8bitdo FC30 Pro Controller Review

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Will this game controller be a good choice for gamers of both old and new generations?

Game controllers are one of the most memorable things for any video game enthusiasts, especially for those who have played the older generation of gaming consoles. From its classic directional pad and the simplistic input buttons, each gamer has their own share of favorite game controllers, but most will agree that their most favorite was from the Nintendo Entertainment System (or the Family Computer in Asian countries). Not one brand tries to relive those nostalgic controllers and bring it to the modern age, 8bitdo has launched their FC30 Pro and NES30 Pro wireless game controllers, and it has the nostalgic look of classic gamepads, and unlike its original FC30 and NES30 counterparts, it functions more for modern devices and games. But can it really work?

Before we start, let’s take a look at the specs for the FC30 Pro:

  • Width: 132 mm (5.19 inches)
  • Height: 64 mm (2.51 inches)
  • Depth: 15 mm (0.59 inches)
  • Panel: PVC
  • Battery: 480mAh Li-on battery
  • Charge: Micro USB port
  • USB Cable: 1.2 meter
  • Bluetooth 2.1, CPU and Flash
  • Connection: Bluetooth wireless, USB cable wire both support
  • Keys: Full buttons Start, Select, A, B, X, Y, L1, L2, L3(stick click), R1, R2, R3(stick click)

Take note that both the NES30 Pro and FC30 Pro are identical wireless game controllers, with the only difference is the color and design of the faceplate. So for the review, we will be featuring the FC30 Pro.

At the first glance with the FC30 Pro, you will definitely see that its pays a homage to the classic Nintendo Family Computer controller, from its maroon base color up to its gold faceplate, and the best part with the faceplate is that it is not a plain sticker that was just slapped into the controller, but rather it is more of a metallic faceplate to copy the same quality and appearance from the Famicom controller. Instead of having the same appearance that from the Famicom, the FC30 Pro features a modern button layout from current gen consoles unlike its FC30 version; it has the standard directional pad and four input buttons (X, Y, A, B) and the Start & Select button similar with the FC30 gamepad in addition with the twin analog sticks and four shoulder buttons. You will also notice that the FC30 Pro has a different ergonomic shape, which somewhat mimics that of the Nintendo Wii’s Classic controller, and the shape fits well in your hands as your fingers snug very well into the shoulder buttons. The gamepad is quite heavier than its no-Pro counterpart, as the two analog sticks have contributed to the add weight, however the increased weight does not affect your overall experience with the gampad as it actually felt that the gamepad more sturdy.

As for their input buttons, the buttons are very crisp, it feels very similar that from a classic Famicom controller, the Start & Select button are rubbery, just like with the original. The shoulder buttons had a different placement as both two buttons on each side are placed side to side horizontally, as compared to traditional gamepads where the shoulder buttons for each side are stacked one another. The buttons also give out a clicking sound when being pressed but it has a different feel than from the other input buttons. The shoulder buttons may give some users are hard time using them due to the different button placement, but with it is quite fast to get used with the layout in a short time.

The directional pad retains the four direction functions from the classic and it also has a good feel when pressing it. The two analog sticks seemed to look like it is identical that from the PS Vita, and it is also a good thing. It also has a rubber pad on its head to prevent slipping from sweaty thumbs during play sessions and it features input buttons when pressing the analog sticks, like the L3 and R3 buttons from Dual Shock controllers, what it is interesting with the sticks is that when it can register the directional input similar that from arcade sticks where you will notice a clicking noise when turning the stick clockwise or counterclockwise.

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The FC30 Pro has an LED that adds some cool factor to the device, and it lights up different colors depending on its current function, it lights up blue when turned on and will have a breathing effect or a blinking pattern depending on what mode it is set, this helps you determine what current setting it is running. It turns green when charging and red when on low battery, when upgrading its firmware, it will light up a yellow color to notify the user for its current state.

When used for other devices, the FC30 Pro works well on the PC and Mac when plugged as your standard gamepad, it will be initially detected as a standard DirectInput device and it will work in certain games and even emulators, using it as an XInput device will required to activate the gamepad while holding the R1 button and games that supports XInput controllers will now work on the gamepad, however using the XInput will require you to connect the FC30 Pro with a USB, as playing the gamepad wirelessly will only register it as a DirectInput device. Connecting the gamepad for mobile devices such as Android smartphones is pretty much straightforward, you can just turn on the gamepad and pair it with an Android device and it is good to go, or you can toggle it to Emu-Touch mode that lets you play games with virtual gamepads on your FC30 Pro, or even make it work as a Bluetooth keyboard. The gamepad works well on emulation games on the Android however some games, especially the recent ones won’t work properly. As for iOS users, the gamepad won’t work on the latest versions, so it is more of a dead end for iPhone owners who plans to use this for their mobile games. The problem with the FC30 Pro is that you need to remember what certain buttons are needed to be pressed down while turning on the gamepad to make it work, so it would be advisable to bring the user’s manual during your trip.

But aside from the PC and mobile, the FC30 Pro works on the PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U and even for Retron 5 consoles, however it will require a firmware update when using certain platforms, and you will need to change the firmware every now and then whenever you need to use it either for the PS3, Wii/Wii U or back to its original firmware for PC and mobile.

In terms of performance, the FC30 Pro works well in any PC games as it has no noticeable input lags when plugged as a wired controller, we tested the device on some Steam games and it works like a charm. It even works well on wireless mode though XInput is not available when used as a wireless device. As for mobile games, it showed no signs of input lag though only few games aside from emulators will work. As for game consoles, the PlayStation 3 has some issues when navigating the PS3’s XMB (or its main menu) as it has an issue with lag input but once you are inside a game, the gamepad works pretty well though there are times that you may notice some delayed inputs especially when playing fast paced games or fighting games, but the delays are not that bad as from the XMB. The same goes with the Wii and Wii U as it works well either as a Wiimote (without the motion sensors), Classic Controller or the Wii U Pro Controller, but you need to toggle to a certain mode depending on what controller you wish to use.

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Overall the 8bitdo FC30 Pro may have some slight issues in terms of compatibility in some mobile games, its wide range of support consoles and PC makes up for it as a great gamepad either as a novelty item or as your regular gamepad at home or during your trips, though the drawback for more supported devices is the tedious work on changing its firmware or remembering what certain button combinations to activate a certain input mode. But if you are okay with the drawbacks, the gamepad is a great choice for any gamers, as its build quality is almost identical that from 1st party controllers from Nintendo and Sony. It is sturdy, the buttons are crisp, and it has the nostalgic feel of classic consoles if you managed to play those when you are young. The FC30 Pro is a must for any gamers who want to enjoy both retro games and the latest ones.

Good Stuff

  • Nostalgic design
  • Solid build
  • High quality face buttons
  • Compatible to select devices

Bad Stuff

  • Needs to remember certain button combinations to activate the different input modes
  • Changing firmware to make it run to other gaming consoles
  • Lag inputs for certain supported consoles

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You can purchase your own FC30 Pro locally from Long Live Play Philippines by heading to their official Facebook Page.

 

 

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