I was so impressed with the 8Bitdo SFC30 controller (reviewed here) that I decided I would see just how closely it really compares to the original Super Nintendo controller.
So I decided to get both together and take them both apart for comparison. The results were very impressive…
Looking at the two controllers next to each other they look near enough identical, obviously the one with the wire and the “Super Nintendo” on the top is the original, but other than the branding and possibly a very slight gradient of difference in the colour of the plastic used they look identical…(apologies for the poor quality photos, I only had my phone to hand)
From the top edge of the controller there is again very little difference. The L and R button markings differ slightly, in that on the original pad there is a grey “L2 and “R” and on the 8Bitdo pad the markings are etched into the plastic instead of painted on. This looks better imho and is a nice touch.
The sides of the controllers again don’t show any real differences at all.
On the back you can see that all the screws are laid out exactly the same and the main differences are the sticker on the 8Bitdo one and also a nice little 8Bitdo logo in place of the recessed plastic hole in the middle of the original…. again a nice little touch.
So, now the fun part… time to take them both apart and see what’s happening inside…
I took all the screws out and opened them both up side by side…
The obvious differences are the fact that there is a wire going into the PCB on the original and there is a battery strapped to the back of the 8Bitdo one, the battery is soldered on, but in a way that it looks pretty easy for even a complete amateur to replace it should the need ever arise.
The back plastic of the case is laid out slightly differently on both to accommodate that fact, further proof, if needed, that the parts don’t appear to be machined from the same tooling, as I’d previously suspected with them looking so remarkably similar. Before taking the controllers apart I genuinely thought that 8Bitdo had somehow managed to get hold of the original tooling for the SNES controllers to build there because the likeness is so perfect. 8Bitdo have really put in a lot of effort here to make the controllers as true to the original as they could and it really shows.
The PCB’s are very similar, if anything the SFC30 one has a much cleaner look to it with very little shown on the back and even the front as you’ll see later. The L and R buttons are both mounted to the PCB in almost identical ways, the parts are different colours but the similarities are abundantly clear which is fantastic as the L and R buttons on the SNES pads are renowned for having a much nicer feel and being less flimsy than subsequent Nintendo pad designs.
Also I’ve just noticed there is a little 8Bitdo logo made from solder on the left hand side of the board. Quality.
After taking the PCBs out you can see the rubber supports for the buttons and the similarity here is really quite astonishing, aside from the colour these SFC30 parts look and feel identical to the SNES ones in almost every way. The same moulds could have easily been used for both pads here which is why these pads feel so close to the original with every single button press.
Taking it one step further and removing all of the rubber covering the buttons shows even more closely how much effort they have gone to here to keep everything as original as possible. The actual buttons themselves, are remarkably similar. To the point that I could literally have swapped them over and nobody would have been able to tell. The D-Pad is near enough exactly the same, lending to the slight rocking you get on the original, yet another reason why these pads feel so true to the feel of the SNES controller.
I removed every last button and compared them all, they have done exceptionally well here.
The original SNES button is on the right and the 8Bitdo effort on the left.
On the coloured A B X Y buttons, the ones of the 8Bitdo controller feel noticeably more tactile than the Nintendo ones, it’s at this point that I have to remind myself that the Nintendo pad that I’m looking at here is 26 years old! The tactile feel of the 8Bitdo one is achieved by how the rubber behind the buttons snaps from one position to another, something that will be lacking in the Nintendo purely because the rubber is old and tired. If a brand new SNES controller doesn’t feel exactly like the 8Bitdo one on these buttons I would be surprised. In fact, if anything, I would say that the 8Bitdo buttons may actually feel better than their original counterpart, which is very cool.
Looking again at the PCBs now that they have both been removed from their respective devices, there seems to be a lot less clutter on the 8Bitdo one, it’s a much cleaner and in my humble opinion, nicer, looking PCB. The components are clearly smaller and it’s makes for a much cleaner look.
Overall, I’m genuinely amazed by how well 8Bitdo have done here. The effort put in to making this controller as close to the real SNES pads as possible is very, very impressive, it’s evident that they haven’t cut any corners and have really tried to make everything just right. They have done an absolutely fantastic job and I think you would be hard pressed to find an alternative that’s so perfectly well made. Bravo 8Bitdo! You should be proud of this one!