Hardware: 8BitDo Pro 2 Review

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8bitDo Pro 2Image: Nintendo Life

8BitDo has a long and enviable reputation when it comes to third-party accessories, having produced some of the best controllers we’ve seen in the past few years. A short while back it released the superb 8BitDo Pro+, a Switch Pro Controller rival that mixed the design language of the SNES and PlayStation pads to create one of the most comfortable and responsive interface options money could buy.

Fast forward to the present, the 8BitDo is releasing a new version of the pad. On the outside, it looks rather similar to the original, but it offers some significant upgrades over the previous model. The most obvious is the inclusion of two additional ‘paddle’ buttons on the back of the controller, located where your fingers ‘rest’. These can be programmed (more on that in a second) with custom inputs, giving you even more control over the in-game action (Hori’s excellent Split Pad has a similar feature).

Another big advantage the Pro 2 has over its older sibling is the ability to quickly toggle modes (Switch, Android, D-input, X-input) using a mechanical switch, rather than having to hold various buttons when powering the device on. This is handy because the Pro 2 can be used on other systems, such as your smartphone or PC.

8bitDo Pro 2Images: Nintendo Life

The next big update relates to software rather than hardware. Like the original 8BitDo Pro+, this new model can be re-mapped and tinkered with using software – however, rather than having to be near a computer, you can now use the Android or iOS app on your smart device. As well as changing which button does what, you can adjust the sensitivity of the sticks and triggers (analogue trigger support is not present on Switch, though, for obvious reasons) and have multiple button and directional inputs mapped to a single button – so, for example, you could have the combination for Ryu’s fireball special move in Street Fighter II mapped to a single button press. You can create custom profiles for any configurations you cook up, and switch between them at the touch of a button.

Outside of those changes, the Pro 2 isn’t massively different from the original Pro+ – and that’s a good thing as the first model was (and still is) comfortable to use. A textured surface has been added to the underside of the pad, but that’s about the only other difference. Like the original Pro+, the 1000mAh Li-on rechargeable battery (20 play hours on a 4-hour charge) can be removed in the event of it refusing to hold any juice, which is good from a sustainability perspective – there’s no need to bin the entire pad when the battery dies. Rumble is included (not HD Rumble, however) and it has gyro support as well.

Image: 8bitDo

Should you upgrade if you already have the original 8BitDo Pro+? That’s a tricky question to answer, because while the improvements are welcome, it’s not like they radically change things. The ability to toggle between modes is fantastic, as the button combinations on the original pad were difficult to remember, while the gripper texture and additional paddles are genuinely decent improvements – as is the ability to re-map buttons via a smartphone rather than a computer. However, the ‘feel’ of the controller remains largely unchanged, and, like the Pro+, there’s no NFC support.

If you’ve yet to take the plunge and are looking for a decent Pro Controller replacement, then we’d heartily recommend this pad, though.

The 8BitDo Pro 2 launches on April 12th in North America and April 30th in Europe. Thanks to 8BtiDo for supplying the unit used in this review.

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