June 16, 2024

Over the last few years, I’ve been buying and using quite a few controllers across different consoles, PC, and mobile platforms. Some of them have been mediocre while others have been amazing. I also use these controllers across a variety of game genres and have slowly been finding how I sometimes prefer different controllers for different genres. After buying a few 8BitDo products, I’ve basically been a fan and buy any new product they release when I can to test out. The newest of these is the 8BitDo M30 Bluetooth controller I bought to use on mobile, Switch, and Steam Deck. There’s also an Xbox version that I will be buying soon to write about. The 8BitDo M30 controller has constantly impressed me, and I liked it enough to want to do a review of it despite its age, so here we are. Before getting into the full review, all mentions of the 8BitDo M30 controller refer to the Bluetooth version unless otherwise stated.

8BitDo M30 controller – what’s in the box

The model I have is the 8BitDo M30 Bluetooth version. This ships with the actual controller and a USB C to A cable. Mine also included an 8BitDo pin which I’ve put on my bag. The cable included is sufficient, but I’d really recommend getting one of these for use across your platforms if you don’t already have good cables.

8BitDo M30 controller compatibility

The 8BitDo M30 controller is advertised to officially support Switch, macOS, Android, Windows, Steam, and Raspberry Pi. I’ve used it on my Nintendo Switch OLED, Steam Deck (both LCD and OLED), iPad, and iPhone for daily use and for this review. When Nintendo announced those Nintendo Switch Online controllers for the various apps, I kept getting annoyed at the 6 button SEGA one being Japan-only and selling out quite fast. After getting the NeoGeo controller 8BitDo released for use on Steam Deck, I was looking at the Xbox lineup and found the M30 variant the company released. It then struck me that the M30 Bluetooth model exists and I ordered it. I’m glad I did because I love the controller and it might be my favorite fighting game and shmup controller outside of actual sticks and leverless controllers.

8BitDo M30 controller d-pad

Yes, I’m not exaggerating and this is mostly because the d-pad is that damn good on the 8BitDo M30 controller. If we look at the current consoles and the official controllers available, the Switch Joy-Cons are at the bottom tier for the d-pad (if you can even call it one) with the DualSense Edge (it improves over the regular DualSense d-pad) on the top. But that’s a big variance in price of course and the Xbox Series X controller has been very good, but none of them come close to how good the 8BitDo M30 controller d-pad feels for fighting games, arcade games, and shmups.

8BitDo M30 controller face buttons and in-hand feel

Aside from the d-pad, the in-hand feel of the controller will vary depending on your hand size and what controllers you’re used to playing with, but I like everything about it. The shoulder buttons, face buttons, and other buttons are all good and feel as they should to use. Aside from buttons, pairing the controller and the different modes are very easy to use or swap between. The back of the controller has a cheat sheet for the modes (switch, dinput, xinput, and macOS) and you basically hold one specific face button and the start button to turn the 8BitDo M30 controller on in a specific mode.

8BitDo M30 controller – battery life

The 8BitDo M30 controller has a 480mAh rechargeable battery. It is advertised as being able to deliver up to 18 hours on a full charge and it takes 1-2 hours to charge. I’ve not pushed it to 18 hours yet, but I’ve used it for more than 12 hours on a single charge multiple times. I do usually charge my controllers when not in use though. With this using USB C charging, I usually leave it plugged in after a few days of use. I don’t have any complaints with the battery life or charge time.

8BitDo M30 controller – Genesis Nintendo Switch Online, fighting games, shmups, and more

I originally thought I’d mostly use the 8BitDo M30 controller just on Nintendo Switch Online’s Genesis app and a few other games, but I found myself enjoying it more with just about every game. Playing shmups like G-Darius HD or even modern fighting games like Street Fighter 6 have felt great thanks to the excellent d-pad. Basically, you can safely enjoy the 8BitDo M30 controller across games that don’t require both analog sticks and can function with up to six or eight buttons and a d-pad.

I used the 8BitDo M30 controller over bluetooth on iOS, Switch, and Steam Deck and had no issues with inputs or connectivity. I also tried it wired and it works as it should. This is basically the perfect controller for games that don’t require the analog sticks for anything. So how does it play in modern fighting games? Well, I was surprised at how good it works. I know I shouldn’t be, but this is now my favorite fighting game controller outside of actual arcade sticks or leverless controllers.

On iOS, I used the 8BitDo M30 controller to play games like Streets of Rage 4, and it felt amazing. I’m considering buying the white variant of the controller specifically for use on iOS. When it comes to controllers for iOS, I don’t recommend buying this as your main controller though because there are too many games that require both analog sticks now with console game ports, but as a controller for older games and retro titles, this is unbeatable in its convenience and performance for its price.

The 8BitDo M30 controller has one issue though, and it may or may not be a big deal for you. The three buttons on top are smaller than the ones below. This is obviously to be as authentic as possible for the controller’s inspiration (the Mega Drive 6 button controller), but it isn’t ideal because of how the buttons sit in the concave area. This means the X button is at the edge nearly. It isn’t a dealbreaker and I got used to it, but having all six the same size would’ve been better. Outside this, I have no complaints. The 8BitDo M30 controller does more than what it advertises and I would recommend it even if it costs twice what it does right now. It is that good.

8bitdo M30 Bluetooth Review Score: 4.5/5

If you’d like to grab it, the 8BitDo M30 controller is available for $30 on Amazon in the Black and White variants. There’s also a 2.4G model that costs $5 less, but I haven’t used it yet. If you do end up buying it or already own one, I’d love to know what you think about it. Let us know in the comments below, and also if you’d like to see any specific controller reviewed.

If you buy the controllers or items listed and linked above through our links on Amazon, it helps TouchArcade in a small way.

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