The Switch’s fighting game selection is rather meager at the moment, with Ultra Street Fighter II and ports of old NEO GEO arcade games acting as the only places for Switch owners to throw down. With Pokkén Tournament DX on the horizon and the potential for ports of upcoming titles like Dragon Ball FighterZ, fighting game fans may be looking for a Switch-compatible arcade stick in the future. HORI’S RAP V is an expensive stick to start with, so 8Bitdo have stepped in with a budget option: the NES30 Arcade Stick. Priced at $79.99, is this retro-inspired stick a worthwhile purchase?
Let’s start off with the panel artwork, which is the most striking thing about the NES30. The stick sports a black, grey, and red color scheme, meant to evoke the NES and its original controller. While eye-catching and great for retro fans, the NES design means that players are restricted when it comes to modding this stick. Unless you spray paint the panel, you’re stuck to using red buttons if you wanted to swap out the buttons — and trust me, you’ll want to swap out the buttons.
Based off a Mayflash F300 shell, the NES30 uses their own stock parts, resulting in a stick that doesn’t have a premier feel. The lever is loose, the buttons are made of low-grade plastic and the panel has a grainy texture which feels fairly unpleasant on your hands. Everything has an unnerving click to it, as if the stick could fall apart at any moment. It is easy to take off the back and put in your own parts in — as it is built from a Mayflash case — but that runs the risk of meddling with the NES30’s unique look. Don’t get me wrong, everything works, but the NES30 really feels like a budget stick.
When it comes to function, the NES30 is a pain to set up, but works well once you’re over that hurdle. It is designed to be paired to your PC, phone or Switch via Bluetooth, meaning you’ll have to spend a decent amount of time actually getting it to work. Setting it up with my PC took no time at all, while linking it to my Switch took way too long. God forbid you go to a tournament with this stick, as the TO will no doubt disqualify you in the time it takes to connect your stick. There is a firmware update coming soon which allows the NES30 to be paired to a Switch via its USB-C charging cable, which will make things much simpler. If you want the NES30 to work with other consoles, you will have to go into the guts and install a new PCB, as it is currently not compatible with either the PS4 or Xbox One.
With no other amenities like a headphone jack, it is clear that the NES30 isn’t really designed for hardcore fighting game players. It’s more for retro gaming fans who want to have a stick to play on to emulate that feel of the arcade. For those who already have a fight stick they want to use on the Switch, you’re better off buying the recently announced Switch Brook converters or modding your stick to work with the system. Otherwise, you best look at HORI’s RAP V if you want a proper fight stick for the Switch. Even then, you’re better off waiting for more than one new fighting game before you going buying a stick for this new console.
- Easy to customize
- Eye-catching design
- Only works with the Switch via Bluetooth [currently]
- Isn’t compatible with PlayStation 4 or Xbox One
- Low-grade plastic buttons and loose lever