8Bitdo Pro 2 Review

The 8Bitdo SN30 Pro+ identified itself as one of the most versatile and valuable gamepads on the market two years ago. It was compatible with a variety of systems, including the PC and Nintendo Switch, offered a plethora of adjustment choices for button mapping and analog stick sensitivity, and came in a variety of retro color schemes. The 8Bitdo Pro 2 does away with the SN30 portion of the name (the SN30 Pro+ was a larger variant of the Super NES-inspired SN30 Pro with more pronounced grips) and introduces additional features including programmable rear buttons and various profiles. It provides almost everything you might like in a Windows or Switch controller for $49.99, and it feels fantastic in your palm. The 8Bitdo Pro 2 is a less costly and more customizable option to the Switch Pro Controller, earning it our Editors’ Choice for gamepads.

Traditional Style

At first glance, the Pro 2 seems to be the same as the SN30 Pro+. It comes in all black, a Game Boy-style beige-gray with burgundy keys, or a two-tone gray with black face buttons that have colored letters that mimic the shapes on DualShock controls. The controller is designed around a dog bone-shaped face, with dual analog sticks integrated into the bottom.

Many of the usual controls are present, including a plus-shaped direction pad on the left, four face buttons in an Xbox-style A/B/X/Y configuration on the right, two smaller rubber Start and Select buttons in the centre, and the aforementioned twin analog sticks positioned parallel as on a DualShock controller below them both. To the left and right of the analog sticks are tiny, circular buttons that correspond to Home and Capture on the Nintendo Switch controllers. Two long grips stretch from the bottom-left and bottom-right regions of the face, curving backward and evoking the grips of the DualShocks. Finally, between the analog sticks are a profile button and three LEDs. The profile button is the first hint that this isn’t a carbon copy of the SN30 Pro+.

The controller’s back side contains the two other major clues. The same shoulder bumpers and springy analog controls can be found on the gamepad’s top lip, while another pair of buttons can be found just inside the handles. This are the programmable P1 and P2 keys, which can be configured to any other input.

A four-way sliding switch with the letters S, A, D, and X is located between the P1 and P2 keys. This toggle toggles the controller between Transfer, Mac (Apple), Android (DirectInput), and Windows (XInput) modes. This is a minor but welcome improvement over previous 8Bitdo controllers, such as the SN30 Pro+, which involved keeping one of the face buttons while pressing start to switch between modes.

The included 1,000mAh rechargeable battery is housed in a battery door on the rear, between the triggers. The battery can last up to 20 hours between charges (when used wirelessly), and it takes four hours to completely charge, according to 8Bitdo. If you choose to use AA batteries, the battery compartment will carry two of them.

The 8Bitdo Pro 2 communicates with the various systems using Bluetooth. The Switch gamepad lacks HD Rumble, the ability to check Amiibos, and the ability to wake the device from sleep, as do the Joy-Cons and Switch Pro controller. Having said that, it does respect motion sensors. 8Bitdo provides an extra smartphone clip that fits with the Pro 2 for use with Android smartphones.

Customization Software for 8Bitdo Pro 2

8Bitdo’s Ultimate Software for Windows is a free download that allows your Pro 2 the customization of an Xbox Elite Wireless Controller. The customization must be done over a wired network, but once the controller is synced, the tweaks would operate wirelessly.

To begin, you can remap all of the digital buttons, with the exception of Start and Choose, to any other input. You may change the sensitivity of the analog sticks and analog triggers, as well as set dead zones and switch the sticks with each other or the direction pad. Only in Windows mode can you change the trigger sensitivity, but in Switch mode you can adjust the stick sensitivity and swap the triggers. You may also adjust the speed of the vibration motors on the controller’s left and right sides.

The app also allows you to configure macros, which are pre-programmed button sequences that can be assigned to any of the interactive keys. You may control the pacing of the macros, including inserting delays between inputs.

This are all options for customizing the SN30 Pro+ with the 8Bitdo Ultimate Software (though without the programmable P1 and P2 buttons, of course). Another feature of the Pro 2 is the ability to switch between different profiles. You will save the changes to one of three controller profiles by clicking the Profile button between the analog sticks. This allows you to create custom templates for particular games or save a “new” profile to which you can return if you don’t need to use some macros or remapped inputs. Since the profiles are exclusive to and device mode, you should hold different sets of profiles for your Switch and PC games.

Playing video games With the 8Bitdo Pro 2

I put the Pro 2 through its paces on a Windows 10 PC and a Nintendo Switch, and it performed admirably on both. It quickly matched with both devices and automatically reconnected when I moved between them. I had no trouble programming the gamepad for both modes using the 8Bitdo Ultimate Software.

On my PC, I played Shovel Knight, and the Pro 2 performed without any setup. The direction pad and face buttons both felt great and responded quickly to my movements. The direction pad was especially fine, repeatedly hitting both directions without causing unintended direction changes (a slight problem my Switch Pro Controller has if my thumb tilts slightly when I press the down direction).

I have played a lot of Monster Hunter Rise with the Pro 2, and it worked well. The analog sticks were as sensitive as the direction pad, with firm motion that felt as fine as the Switch Pro Controller. The bumpers and triggers operated almost as well as the keys, and although I didn’t need them, I loved the flexibility to adjust the sensitivity curves of the triggers (though a physical trigger stop like on the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller would have been a nice addition).

I made tiny macros of A+X and ZL+X to trigger my silkbind assault and turn axe special step by pressing the P1 and P2 keys, respectively. Since the order is only a double button click, the A+X macro for my switch axe’s elemental assault performed as anticipated. Silkbind assaults, on the other hand, include keeping the ZL trigger down and then pressing X or A; the two cannot be pressed at the same time. Unfortunately, I was unable to create a macro that keeps down one button and then, after a brief delay, presses another when the first is already holding down. It’s a fairly specific example, so it’s a shame there isn’t more variety in macro programming.

Motion sensors performed well with the Pro+ as well. When I activated gyroscope camera controls in Monster Hunter Rise, I could easily rotate the camera by tilting the controller. Though Monster Hunter Rise has no vibration, the vibration function on the controller operated well with Super Mario 3D World.

I have played a lot of Monster Hunter Rise with the Pro 2, and it worked well. The analog sticks were as sensitive as the direction pad, with firm motion that felt as fine as the Switch Pro Controller. The bumpers and triggers operated almost as well as the keys, and although I didn’t need them, I loved the flexibility to adjust the sensitivity curves of the triggers.

I made tiny macros of A+X and ZL+X to trigger my silkbind assault and turn axe special step by pressing the P1 and P2 keys, respectively. Since the order is only a double button click, the A+X macro for my switch axe’s elemental assault performed as anticipated. Silkbind assaults, on the other hand, include keeping the ZL trigger down and then pressing X or A; the two cannot be pressed at the same time. Unfortunately, I was unable to create a macro that keeps down one button and then, after a brief delay, presses another when the first is already holding down. It’s a fairly specific example, so it’s a shame there isn’t more variety in macro programming.

Motion sensors performed well with the Pro+ as well. When I activated gyroscope camera controls in Monster Hunter Rise, I could easily rotate the camera by tilting the controller. Though Monster Hunter Rise has no vibration, the vibration function on the controller operated well with Super Mario 3D World.

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