Saturn fans rejoice! 8bitdo’s excellent M30 controller just got a lovely new makeover in the style of the Sega Saturn’s Japan-only HSS-0101 pad. With a solid white body, six multicoloured face buttons and two deep red shoulder buttons, the new M30 is a perfect re-creation of that old NTSC-J controller which tantalized PAL and NTSC Saturn fans back in the day. In my eye, its a real thing of beauty. Much like 8bitdo’s original black M30, this new pad comes in two variations: Bluetooth or 2.4ghz with an included USB receiver. No word on an official 8bitdo adapter for real Sega Saturns just yet, but I’m sure you could work something out with a nice BlueRetro dongle.
8bitdo and their products have always had somewhat of a mixed reception amongst the retro community, and for good reason. Some of their pads, like the Pro 2, are excellent all-rounder controllers suited to just about anything. For years I struggled to find a good PC controller with a real D-pad that could handle both modern games and emulators with ease. Until finally the SN30Pro+ answered my prayers with its DualShock layout, SNES-style D-pad and plug and play X-input support. It was a real game changer for me, and its revision, the Pro 2, was even better.
Still, not every 8bitdo product can be as trustworthy as the Pro 2. The old SF30 was plagued by poor diagonals and down-inputs that only seemed to worsen over time. Newer revisions of that model, namely the recent SF30 Pro, seem to be of a higher standard. But for many who suffered through that original pad, the damage is already done.
Don’t let any of that keep you from enjoying the Mega Drive/Saturn-style M30 though. Even amongst the most ardent 8bitdo detractors, the M30 is begrudgingly known as one of the good ones, and that’s certainly a sentiment I’d agree with after several years of using it. Its comfy, the face buttons are satisfyingly clicky, and both the Bluetooth and 2.4ghz versions are pleasingly low latency, as verified by Porkchop Express. But the real star of the show is the D-pad. Man, oh, man, what a D-pad. You just gotta love the roll and pivot of that thing. It’s up there in my own personal hall of fame along with the Vita’s beautiful little arrow buttons.
I’ll definitely be grabbing one of these bad boys as soon as srg320 finishes work on his excellent Saturn core for the Mister.