What if I were to tell you that it’s possible to take your trusty, reliable thirty-plus-year-old OEM Nintendo controller and make it function like a modern Bluetooth controller? Don’t believe me? I’ll let 8BitDo prove it to you. 8BitDo specializes in making custom controllers and receivers for an assortment of retro consoles but with one improvement: their devices also work with modern consoles equipped with a Bluetooth receiver.

The product that I’m reviewing today is one of many mod kits made available to the retro-oriented consumer that wishes to maintain the nostalgia and quality of OEM parts while freeing them of cord-length restrictions. 8BitDo’s available kits include mods for the following controllers:

  • OEM Sega Genesis six-button controller
  • OEM Nintendo controller
  • OEM NES Classic controller
  • OEM SNES/SFC controller
  • OEM SNES/SFC Classic controller

For this review, I’ll be taking a look at the OEM Nintendo controller. The asking price for all of these kits is 19.99 USD each, plus shipping.

8bitdo N30 Mod Kit and Receiver

8bitdo N30 Mod Kit and Receiver (via 8bitdo)

The ORM Nintendo controller package includes:

  • Installation and operating instructions
  • Small Phillips-head screwdriver
  • The replacement PCB

Installation is simple. All you do is unscrew the screws in the back of the controller, remove the old circuit board, replace it with the new circuit board and reassemble the controller. It’s as simple as that. 8BitDo even has a video tutorial on their product page that walks the buyer through the installation.

While installing the modkit was simple, pairing it with my NES console was a little trickier. For those who already have the retro receiver hooked up to their console, it’s important to ensure that your receiver’s firmware is fully up to date in order for the pairing process to work correctly. This little tidbit of information unfortunately wasn’t documented anywhere and took a little bit of problem solving to resolve. That being said,  I don’t believe this will be an issue for those who ordered the kit along with the receiver as those should already have the latest firmware.

Besides that minor hiccup, the controller’s response time is lag-free. I had no problem with playing games that are sensitive to button-pressing (I dare you to play the Guts Man stage in Mega Man with lag). Just keep in mind though, that in order to obtain a true, lag-free experience, you may want to bring your old CRT TV out of storage, as your retro consoles were engineered for CRT televisions in mind.

If you want lag-free, wireless retro gaming all while still using your first-party controllers, don’t hesitate to explore 8BitDo’s available mod kits to help bring your controller of the past, into the future.