8BitDo Pro 2 Controller Review – The other pro controller
Manufacturers are packing more and more into controllers, and they’re more comfortable than ever. This even extends to third-party controllers, which punching up and offering a real alternative to first-party options.
8bitdo has been punching above its weight for several years now, and they’ve got a new flagship controller, the 8BitDo Pro 2. It might look very similar to its predecessor, but there are many refinements here, mostly in software making this controller a jack of all trades.
Wondering where you’ve seen the 8bitDo Pro 2 before? That’s because it’s not too dissimilar from its predecessor. It also looks like a grown-up SNES controller with modern grips, thumbs sticks and triggers. From the main body of the controller to the buttons. The Pro 2 is solidly built; there’s not too much to complain about. The shoulder buttons are perfect, the triggers responsive – it’s just the face buttons that feel out of place. Yes, they’re based on the SNES pad, which had glossy buttons, but we’ve evolved a bit since then.
The D-Pad is also a highlight. It’s more precise than Nintendo’s Pro Controller. I tested the D-Pad with Pac-Man 99 as that’s an excellent way to see if the D-Pad is doing what you want. In my hours of vigorous testing, I found that the D-Pad on the Pro 2 had fewer false inputs compared to the Pro Controller. It wasn’t perfect, but miles ahead of the Pro Controller.
The two extra buttons on the bottom of the grips do nothing out of the box. Using the app (more on that later), you can assign them to any other button or a combination of buttons. I used the buttons in Pokemon Snap to move some of the tools off the face buttons. It was easier to throw fruit faster if I didn’t have to pincer the right analogue stick. While it wasn’t a problem for me, I could see how some people who use this controller might accidentally hit these during gameplay.
The Pro 2 also features gyro controls, something missing out of a lot of third party controllers. There’s also rumble, but it’s not “HD Rumble”, so it’s a lot less defined and a bit noisy. Still, it’s good to have it and have the option to turn it off than to have it missing altogether. The 8BitDo Pro 2 also comes with a battery pack included and is chargeable via the included USB-C cable. You can take it out and put in AA batteries if you wanted to – but why? 8BitDo says the controller lasts around 20 hours and takes four hours to charge.
The 8BitDo Pro 2 works with the Nintendo Switch, but it also works with PC, macOS, Android, Steam, and even Raspberry Pi (It can work with iOS but requires some trickery). This level of support isn’t anything new for 8BitDo’s controllers, but this time you’re able to switch between input types with a hardware switch on the back. Before, you’d have to remember certain key combinations to switch between different platforms.
On top of that, you can change between three different profiles by pressing the pill-shaped button on the front. You can have three profiles for each platform. Customising the controller is all done through an app. You can get that app on PC and Mac, as well as Google Play and the App Store. It’s a very in-depth application, and you can adjust almost anything about the controller. From simple things like controller mapping to how the analogue sticks react to making the triggers require less pressure and turning on and off the rumble. There’s also macro button programming to shortcut two or more button presses in games. The Pro 2 also works fine out of the box if none of that sounds like your thing.
Because the 8BitDo Pro 2 contains so many extra features that other third party controllers don’t have, the pricing is starting to become comparable to the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. On a good day, you could get one of them for the same price as this – so why would you go for this?
The Pro 2 is more than just a Switch controller. It works on many different systems, it can remember different profiles for up to three games on those systems, and it’s completely customisable now through a handy app. The 8BitDo Pro 2 is a fantastic controller, 8BitDo know what they’re doing, and the Pro 2 takes what they’ve been working on the last few years and refines it yet again. The only real alternative to Nintendo’s Pro Controller.
The 8BitDo 2 is now available from EB Games, Amazon, JB Hi-Fi, Big W (online only) and The Gamesmen. It was tested on the Nintendo Switch playing New Pokemon Snap, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Pac-Man 99. We also tested it on a NVIDIA Shield, and MacOS.
+ High build quality
+ Works on Switch and so much more
+ Bang for buck
- Can't turn on the Switch from the controller
- No simple way to use on iOS