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Best Controller for Retro Gaming

Retro gaming is a thing of the past—except when you’re playing on your phone.

Whether you’re trying to relive the glory days of your youth, or just want to see what all the fuss was about, there’s nothing like playing some classic games on your phone. But if you’re looking for an experience that feels just like the original, there’s no better way than with a controller.

Best Overall Retro Controller: 8Bitdo Pro 2


Price: $59.99

Pros: More comfortable than the majority of retro controllers, rumble support, back-paddle buttons, custom profiles

Cons: A confused mixture of different controller designs

  • The 8Bitdo Pro 2 is the best controller for retro gaming because it has all of the controls for retro gaming up to the modern 3D era when analog sticks came onto the scene. This makes it compatible with Switch, PC, macOS, Android, Steam, and Raspberry Pi.
  • Wireless Bluetooth: Control your favorite games in style using wireless Bluetooth technology
  • Rumble Vibration: Feel like you’re in control of your competition by feeling every hit and explosion with this built-in rumble feature
  • Motion Controls: Play all your favorite motion-based games on this console controller!
  • USB Type-C Connector: This new USB Type-C connector allows you to charge and play while plugged into any computer or charger with a USB port (including MacBooks).
  • 20-Hour Rechargeable Battery Life – Charge once and use your controller for up to 20 hours per charge

Best Budget-Friendly Retro Controller: 8Bitdo SN30


Price: $29.99

Pros: Wirelessly compatible with original SNES, the old-school semi-transparent plastic is a great addition

Cons: No Bluetooth connection, lacks the analog sticks, rumble, and additional shoulder buttons

  • The 8Bitdo SN30 is a great choice for those who want to play retro games on their computer or mobile device but don’t want to spend too much money. It’s a highly affordable controller that comes with everything you could need; two analog sticks, four face buttons, and start/select buttons.
  • The SN30 lacks the additional shoulder buttons of its bigger brother (the SN30 Pro), so it doesn’t feel as complete as some other options out there, but you can still play any classic game with it without any issue thanks to lag-free 2.4Ghz wireless connectivity.
  • This controller also works with most computers, and mobile devices including Android phones and tablets and even Nintendo Switch consoles via Bluetooth support.

Best Wired Retro Controller: Retro-Bit Sega Saturn USB


Price: $19.99

Pros:  Works with almost anything with a USB port, six-button layout makes it perfect for retro fighting games

Cons: Does not work with original Genesis or Saturn

  • Retro-Bit Sega Saturn USB Controller is compatible with the Retro-Bit RetroDuo Portable system. The generous cord length allows you to use the controller in your lap if desired, and the cord itself is sturdy and tangle-resistant.
  • The Xinput and Dinput modes work perfectly on Windows 10 machines, as well as any emulator that supports these inputs. It should also work with almost anything with a USB port, including game consoles like Xbox 360/One (through its Xinput mode), PlayStation 3/4 (through its DualShock 4 mode), and Nintendo Switch (through Bluetooth).
  • This official SEGA licensed controller is constructed of original-grade quality plastics so it feels just like an authentic Sega Saturn gamepad

Best NES-Style Controller: ​​8Bitdo N30 Bluetooth + 8Bitdo Wireless USB Adapter


Price: $29.99 / $19.99

Pros: Turbo function, access the Switch HOME menu wirelessly

Cons: Requires additional dongles to work with PC, Raspberry Pi, or original NES

  • The 8Bitdo N30 Bluetooth gamepad is one of the best modern NES controllers, taking the iconic design and improving it. It’s designed specifically for use with the Nintendo Switch, but it should work with any Bluetooth device that supports Switch controllers, like Nintendo’s own SNES Classic Edition console.
  • The N30 should work with any Bluetooth device that supports Switch controllers, but you’ll need the additional dongle for flawless compatibility with PC and Raspberry Pic (which doesn’t have an onboard wireless module)

Best SNES-Style Controller: 8Bitdo SN30 Pro


Price: $44.99

Pros: Wireless compatibility with the original SNES (With a separate adapter)

Cons: Requires additional dongle to work with original SNES

  • The 8Bitdo SN30 Pro is a wireless controller with the features of an original SNES gamepad. It’s compatible with Switch, PC, Mac OS, and Android devices. The SN30 Pro mimics the classic design of the Super Nintendo controllers by including four face buttons (A B X Y), a d-pad button, and start/select buttons on top.
  • The controller has been updated to include improved analog sticks that are more responsive than those of its predecessors. There are also two shoulder buttons located under each joy-con grip; these can be programmed to perform other functions such as turbo or even used as select/back buttons if desired!
  • The 8Bitdo SN30 Pro is a stellar option for any gamer looking to play retro games on the Nintendo Switch. This controller has all of the features you’d expect from a quality gamepad, like dual analog sticks and shoulder buttons, but what sets it apart is its d-pad: it’s just as good as the one found on Super Nintendo controllers.
  • With wireless compatibility for both PC and Mac OS X devices, this controller can be used with your favorite emulators or emulated games right out of the box if you need it to be. You’ll also get additional shoulder buttons that mimic those found on the original SNES model—and they’re even customizable via Bluetooth

Best Genesis-Style Controller: Retro-Bit Sega Saturn



Pros: Includes SEGA Saturn Port receiver

Cons: Not compatible with the original Genesis, only Genesis Mini

  • The Retro-Bit Sega Saturn Wireless Controller features home and select buttons, as well as X-input/D-input modes. It has eight buttons, six face buttons, and a D-Pad that works with both Genesis and Saturn games.
  • The controller comes with its USB adapter that can be plugged into your PC (or phone or tablet) via cable to receive power. The wireless technology used is proprietary 2.4Ghz so it’s not compatible with most other devices on the market—but it also means you don’t have to deal with batteries or cables at all!
  • The Sega Saturn design is preferable for playing Genesis and Saturn games because of its larger size which allows for more comfortable play sessions due to less hand cramping than smaller controllers often have; however if you’re looking for something else then there are plenty of options available here too such as Atari 2600 style controllers or even Nintendo NES style ones too if you prefer those types of designs instead

What controllers work with emulators?

If you’re interested in replaying some of your favorite retro games, you’ll probably have to look into using an emulator. Emulators are programs that allow you to play games from old systems on your PC. The most common emulators are those for the NES, SNES, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance consoles. However, there are other emulators available for older systems as well as more modern ones such as the Playstation 1 and even the Nintendo 64.

Most emulators support a variety of controllers including keyboard or mouse controls. However, they all allow you to save your progress and restart at any point in a game so it’s worth it to try out different setups until you find one that works best for you.

What controller do pro gamers use?

There are many different types of video game controllers available, but the type you choose is your personal preference.

  • Joystick: A joystick controller is an analog stick that has two wheels that allow for left-to-right and forward-and-back movements. This allows you to control movement while playing a game with ease.
  • Pad: The pad controller uses four buttons plus one direction button on each corner of its square shape. It was originally designed for home consoles like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, but it can be used with any system today
  • Analog stick: An analog stick another kind of directional pad located at the top right side of the controller. This type allows players more freedom in their movements than the other types do because they move more fluidly than using just one button at a time, you can press down on either side of this round disc to move around in different directions.

How to Pick the Right Video Game Controller?

The first step in buying a video game controller is to determine what features are most important to you. The best controllers offer many different kinds of input options, including buttons, joysticks, and trackballs. In addition to these mechanical controls, many controllers also have touchscreens and motion sensors that can be used for games with more complex gameplay mechanics.

After you have decided on the type of control mechanism that is most important to you, it’s time to find out which controller fits into your budget and has good reviews from users who bought it. If the controller has been around for a while and has received positive feedback from previous buyers (especially if they were positive enough reviews), then this may be an indication that this product will work well for your needs as well.

Finally, if possible try out different types of video game controllers before buying one so that you can decide whether or not they fit comfortably in your hands without causing any discomfort while playing games on them over long periods of time.

Carina Miller
Written By

Carina is a journalist and content expert in her professional life. When she's not writing, she loves nothing more than getting way too absorbed in a video game. Carina loves testing out new titles and classics, either on her own or with friends. Talk to her about Dungeons & Dragons.

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