8BitDo M30 - Review
Controllers for beat ‘em ups are always an overlooked thing. Sure, you will find players that have their favorite controllers but it isn’t common to find discussions about controllers vs sticks vs hitboxes and so on. We recently had a great article, written by one of our collaborators, that discussed the pros and cons of each one. You can find it on page 09 of our magazine by clicking right here: Sticks or Pads: What's Best For You. Sure, beat ‘em ups doesn't have a competitive scene like fighting games and that makes a world of difference for manufacturers when directing their products toward that demographic. But, despite having or not having products directed to us, we can take advantage of the fighting games scene and use their stuff. That’s the case of the 8bitdo M30 controller, a model manufactured, under license, by the Brazilian company Tec Toy. Yes, the same Tec Toy that was producing Mega Drives up to 2017. But, although Tec Toy seems to be living in the past, they are a pretty solid company here in Brazil with some quality products. With that said, I am pretty sure it is the exact controller 8bitdo produces, and, assuming that, let’s take a look at the little guy.
The controller comes in a 100% Brazilian box, it also comes with a phone clip, a USB-C cable, and a small manual, all in Portuguese.
The controller itself looks a lot like a 6 buttons Genesis controller or, to be more precise, a Saturn controller. It has 6 face buttons, 2 shoulder buttons, and no triggers.
The M30 is a bit small for my big hands, but it is comfortable enough. And I've been playing with it for a while now, without cramps or pain after long sessions. This is way more than I can say about the now-discontinued, SN30 model. The controller also comes in two varieties, a Mega Drive-compatible model, and a Bluetooth one. Which is the case with this one.
The controller works on Windows, Android, Switch, Mac, and Xbox, and I was able to test it with the first three without any problems, especially on the Switch.
The D-Pad is very, very good. Compared with controllers like SN30 and SN30 Pro (yeah… I like 8bitdo) this is the superior one. It has a small click when you move it which is pretty satisfying and feels pretty good when you are playing, even though you won’t notice these clicks in the heat of the battle. All the inputs make you go where you want with no risk of pulling a diagonal when you just want to go down or up. Trying it with Final Fight 3 was great. Pulling those special moves was pretty easy to do. This is a very, very good D-pad.
The buttons are, in my opinion, a mixed bag. They are all pretty good and responsive, they feel good to press, which is great, but the position in which they are set isn’t the best possible for beat ‘em ups.
Let me use this as an example here: Shredder's Revenge. I often play with April because I like her aerial style and pulling this move with my SN30 Pro is pretty easy, here, it is not so much. You can do it, but your finger would have to be in an awkward position to do so or you will end up hitting B by accident and won’t be able to perform the move.
The upper row, with the smaller buttons, isn’t comfortable enough to press like the bottom row. While the buttons in the latter have a concave shape that fits your thumb perfectly the upper row has a smaller set of round buttons. It feels weird having two vastly different sensations in the same controller but this may be useful for fighting games… I don’t know. For me, it wasn't the best experience. Another thing that broke some of the experience for me is also how the button’s functions are distributed here.
A, B, X, and Y are all good and in their regular place, but when it comes to the bumpers and triggers, things get a little messy. The shoulder buttons will act as L1 and L2 while the other buttons, C and Z, are respectively R1 and R2. Again, for fighting games, this is probably well and good, mainly because those games let you customize your controller as you like it while in beat ‘em ups, this can be pretty rare. So, if you’re playing a game like, let’s say Mayhem Brawler where the Block is set to R1, things get complicated. Your finger has to travel from Y to C and, in the case of this game where you have a counter, it will have to travel back to Y to unleash the move. Sure, in this case in particular, there isn’t much of a problem, because you can remap the buttons, but in the case of other games, like SoR 4 or Shredder’s Revenge you can’t do that. But if you are playing arcade games on an emulator, things get a little better here. As usual with all emulators, you can configure the buttons as you like, and considering most of those games use 2 or 3 buttons, you will have a lot of options available to better suit your play style.
The bottom line is: this is a good controller, comfortable, responsive, and with an excellent D-pad, but this is a controller made for fighting games. For beat ‘em ups, it is a great pick for arcade games or games that use few buttons. But for modern ones, it won’t be as good as the SN30 Pro. The button layout isn’t made for that type of game and until button remapping becomes a common practice it has a big chance of giving you headaches. While the D-Pad is extremely comfortable and responsive, unless you are playing only arcade beat 'em ups, this controller will end up giving you a few headaches. But, if you’re looking for a pad for fighting games, this one can be a good option for you.