As reported by engadget,
The design is a clear evolution of the N30 Arcade Stick, another retro-inspired accessory developed by 8BitDo. It’s also similar to the NES Advantage, an arcade-style controller released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987. Both peripherals slope upwards and have a circular indentation around the black joystick, for instance. If you ever owned Nintendo’s eight-bit system, or have any fondness for that era of video game hardware, these visual nods will fill you with child-like glee.
The visual direction isn’t a huge surprise. 8BitDo’s entire business is built on well-made accessories that reference iconic gaming hardware. Sega Genesis. TurboGrafx-16. Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The company has already proven that it can update classic designs for the modern era.
The 8BitDo Arcade Stick is another brilliant blend of Nintendo heritage and modern video game sensibilities. The peripheral has eight primary buttons, for instance, rather than the two that shipped with the NES Advantage. They’re arranged in a Vewlix layout, which has the first column slightly lower than the other three. The set covers every face button, bumper and trigger normally found on an Xbox or Switch Pro controller. The Arcade Stick also has two extra buttons, P1 and P2, which are primarily used for custom macros.
I like the joystick and buttons that 8BitDo has opted for. They’re not the best that money can buy — fighting game enthusiasts will undoubtedly prefer parts by Happ, Sanwa or Hori. For the average person, though, they’re perfectly respectable. The joystick is large enough to hold with a classic ‘broomstick’ or cradled ‘wine glass’ grip. It feels durable and makes a nice clicking sound when you roll it around the gate hidden beneath the top panel. The buttons, meanwhile, are enormous fun to mash. Sure, they have a gloss finish that won’t be to everyone’s tastes. My fingers never slipped off, though, and every button press was registered correctly, regardless of the game and platform.
The Arcade Stick is heavy, too. That would be a criticism in almost any other product category. A fight stick needs to be hefty, though, so it doesn’t slide around on your lap, desk or table. 8BitDo’s latest accessory weighs 2.1KG, which is only 100 grams lighter than Hori’s Real Arcade Pro V Hayabusa stick, which also supports PC and Switch. It’s narrower than most alternatives including the Mayflash F500, but wide enough that you can balance it comfortably on two legs. The base is also equipped with four rubber feet that give it some extra grip. That means you can be confident that the Stick won’t move while you’re in the middle of a tense Smash Bros. match.
In the top-left hand corner, you’ll find a well-organized panel with two physical switches. The first shifts the controller between its Nintendo Switch and XInput (PC) profiles. When you do this, the red button labels — which are actually LEDs built into the machine — will flip to the correct set. It’s an incredibly stylish feature that’s also helpful for casual players such as my girlfriend, who rarely plays video games and needs to look down to make sure that she’s pressing the correct buttons. The second physical switch tells your console or PC that the joystick is serving as a D-pad, left or right analog stick. That means, if you have patience and seriously nimble fingers, you can play any 3D game that relies on a right stick for camera control.
Next to the switches are three colorful buttons for pairing, going ‘home’ and switching any other button into turbo mode. Below them are dedicated Start and Select buttons, as well as a wireless connectivity toggle. That’s right — 8BitDo’s Arcade Stick can be used wirelessly. Serious players will want to use the detachable 3-meter cable that’s included in the box, given it offers the lowest-latency connection. If you want a cleaner setup, though, the Arcade Stick also supports Bluetooth and a 2.4G wireless receiver that slots into your PC tower, laptop or Nintendo Switch dock. Better yet, there’s a compartment on the back of the Stick for storing the dongle when you’re traveling or using another form of connectivity.
I love having these options. For comparison, Hori’s Real Arcade Pro V Hayabusa stick has zero wireless options and a non-detachable USB cable that lives in a huge compartment at the front of the stick. For many fighting game fans, that’s not a problem — they only want a wired connection anyway. But there are plenty of arcade games that don’t require such precision. You could use the Arcade Stick to play Overcooked, for example, or even a top-down strategy title like Wargroove. In these instances, it’s nice to relax and not worry about whether someone is going to trip over the cable running between your sofa and Switch dock.
Connectivity varies, however, if you start experimenting with platforms that aren’t officially supported. The Stick worked wonderfully with my Android phone, for instance. With a USB-C to USB-A adapter, I was able to plug in the Stick’s dongle and, for a fully wired connection, the included USB cable. The peripheral also appeared in my phone’s Bluetooth settings after I held the pairing button down. So far, so good. If you prefer Apple hardware, though, it’s a different story. The Stick would only connect to my iMac and iPad Pro over Bluetooth — wired and 2.4G wireless were a no-go. I also had no luck using the Arcade Stick with my base PS4.
Still, it’s a versatile little machine. That flexibility is stretched even farther once you start diving into the customization options. With the 8BitDo Ultimate Software, you can remap any of the 10 circular buttons that sit alongside the joystick. The Turbo button can also be configured to act as the Switch’s capture button or a shortcut that quickly swaps two buttons around. The remapping is also mode-specific. If you change B to R3 in the Switch profile, for instance, it won’t affect how that button behaves on PC.
If you want to cheat a little, there’s also a tab that lets you assign macros to the P1 and P2 buttons. Within seconds, I had two shortcuts that let me hurl Hadoukens and Shoryukens in Super Street Fighter II Turbo. (Please don’t judge me.) It’s not a feature that serious fighting game enthusiasts will want to use. But if you know someone that’s struggling with a specific combo, this is a great way to give them a helping hand.