8BitDo Pro 2 Review

At first glance the 8BitDo Pro 2 may look nearly identical to the SN30 Pro+ controller that came before it. While it shares the same design, the new model has some meaningful improvements both physically and with its optional software. With more of an emphasis on “pro” than ever before, this is the definitive 8BitDo controller to own for retro enthusiasts and modern gamers alike.8BitDo Pro 2 Review

8BitDo Pro 2 – Design and Features

Drawing inspiration from the SNES controller, the 8BitDo Pro 2 has an immediate nostalgic feel, albeit with contemporary features like dual analog sticks, vibration, and more. The controller has great ergonomics, so it feels comfortable to hold. It’s very comparable to PlayStation’s DualShock 4 controller in both size and weight – with the Pro 2 weighing just 18 grams more than Sony’s controller. Even the “enhanced grip” on the back of both controllers feels the same. The major difference is that the stems are a bit straighter on the 8BitDo, while the DualShock 4 extends at more of an angle.

As far as compatibility goes, the Pro 2 can be used with Nintendo Switch, Windows PCs, macOS computers, Android smartphones and tablets, and Raspberry Pi. It supports Bluetooth 4.0 on all compatible devices, as well as a wired mode, if you prefer.

8BitDo has nearly perfected the modern D-pad, reproducing something that feels like the best version of what appeared on the SNES controller while maintaining the original size, shape, and feel. Opposite the D-pad are four face buttons (laid out in Nintendo’s A/B/X/Y style) which have a satisfying click when pressed. They are slightly taller than the buttons found on modern controllers like the DualShock, DualSense, and Xbox Series X/S controllers – but the point at which the button registers a press feels roughly the same.

The analog sticks sit below the pill-shaped Start and Select buttons and are spaced out just a tad more than the DualShock 4’s analog sticks. The sticks themselves feel a bit stiff, but very responsive, snapping back to the default position almost instantly. Both have a distinct click when pressed in and a comfortable groove for your thumbs.

On top, the L and R buttons are similar to what you’d find on a SNES controller as well. They are both long, narrow buttons that curve with the controller and are easy to press. Further back, the L2 and R2 buttons feel great. They are easy to press down, but have a bit of tension to them. In fact, these are analog triggers, meaning they can distinguish how far they are being pressed for games that support it.

Also on the front of the controller are 8BitDo’s two signature buttons: Star and Heart, each on opposite sides of the controller. These buttons function as the screenshot and home buttons on Nintendo Switch, respectively, but can be mapped to whatever you like on any platform. There’s also a button in the center that allows you to quickly toggle between three preset profiles that you can customize.

On the back are two “pro” back paddle buttons. These low-profile buttons are nestled comfortably into the natural curvature of the grips and make an audible click when pressed. This is one of the new features on the Pro 2, and is a nice touch for those looking to optimize their inputs. Another new feature is a small toggle switch on the back that allows you to select between four devices to connect to: Switch, macOS, Android, and Windows. This is a welcome improvement over previous 8BitDo controllers which required holding the Start button and one of the face buttons simultaneously in order to change the paired device.

There’s also a battery door that houses 8BitDo’s removable 1000mAh lithium-ion battery pack, allowing you to replace it if necessary without buying a new controller. The battery lasts for around 20 hours on a single charge and can be recharged in roughly four hours via the USB-C port on top of the controller. Wired modes are supported for playing and charging simultaneously, however, you’ll likely want to pick up another USB-C cable as the one provided is only about three feet long.

8BitDo Pro 2 – Software

8BitDo’s Ultimate Software tool is the bread and butter of its modern controllers. By plugging in to your PC or Mac, you can customize just about every aspect of the controller to suit your playstyle.

What sets the Pro 2 apart is that it can now be configured with either an iOS or Android device via a companion app. This is an absolute game changer, as it allows even casual gamers to begin tinkering with their controller and easily remap the buttons to their liking. The UI is easy to navigate, and changes sync instantly over Bluetooth. My only complaint is that while the controller can be customized on iOS via the app, it can’t actually be used on iPhone or iPad to play mobile games, which feels like an odd omission.

Within the customization software/app, you can adjust the active and inactive areas of both the left and right analog stick, as well as invert the axes for one or both sticks. The rear triggers can also be customized, allowing you to determine how far down each one needs to be pressed. Vibration levels can be tweaked for both sides of the controller, as well. Even more, Ultimate Software allows you to create your own macros, allowing a series of commands with a single button press.

The customization software, either on PC/Mac or iOS/Android, is also the only way to configure the pro back paddle buttons, as they aren’t assigned out of the box. While having a way to configure these rear paddles directly from the controller would’ve been nice, the fact that you no longer need a computer for customization is a welcome addition and something I hope to see in all future 8BitDo controllers.

Every customization you make can be saved to one of three custom profiles that can then be toggled between by pressing the button on the middle of the controller. What’s great is it actually saves three profiles per platform, meaning you could have separate profiles for different Switch games that don’t interfere with configurations you have for certain PC games.

8BitDo Pro 2 – Gaming

Swapping between games on Nintendo Switch and PC is a breeze on the Pro 2, thanks to the platform toggle on the back. Once you’ve paired the controller initially it remembers the device for each input mode, allowing you to use a single controller across multiple platforms with ease.

On Switch, I spent time playing Super Mario 3D World where movement felt tight and responsive from the analog sticks. Having built-in rumble was also a nice touch, as many third party controllers lack this crucial feature. During my gameplay, I had no noticeable input delay, and all buttons responded as expected. The only drawback is that it can’t wake the Switch up from sleep, which is a minor inconvenience.

After finishing my search for green stars, I popped over to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where I dug into customizing profiles. Because I was able to configure them so easily through my smartphone, I made custom configurations for different characters that made playing them much easier. For instance, I created a macro for one of the rear paddles that let me quickly swap between Pyra and Mythra instead of pressing down and B simultaneously. While this may not seem substantial, the fact that you can essentially bind entire moves to a single button press had me genuinely excited.

I also played through a handful of retro games on SNES Online to really put the D-pad through its paces. I’m pleased to report that 8BitDo still makes a fantastic D-pad that actually feels good to use, unlike the last few Xbox controllers, and many other 3rd-party controllers I’ve used. Movement was precise and platforming in the various Mario games felt as good as ever. I even spent some time with Spelunky 2 on my gaming PC, a game that requires the utmost precision, and was not let down a single time by the D-pad, or the controller itself.Best PC Controller

Purchasing Guide

8BitDo Pro 2 is available on Amazon for $49.99.


The 8BitDo Pro 2 improves an already good controller with new features such as customizable rear paddles, a better grip, and an easy way to swap between custom profiles on the fly. Its biggest upgrade, though, is compatibility with the new Ultimate Software app for smartphones, allowing virtually anyone to personalize their controller with relative ease right out of the box.

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