Well the guys over at 8Bitdo saw these and have very kindly sent me another product to review! Thanks so much guys!! I really do appreciate it! 😀
Without further ado I present you with the 8Bitdo Zero, a fascinating product, it’s another Bluetooth game pad which they make, but it has a significant difference from all of their other pads…
It’s absolutely tiny!!!!
The controller is packed in a plastic bubble type packaging which is a less premium than the packaging of their more expensive controllers, but then this is less than half the price or their other products coming in at only around £7 or so, so that’s really no surprise. The packaging protects the controller well and it’s not that annoying plastic you have to cut open before you can get in, if it doesn’t cut you open first! This is hinged at the bottom instead and simply pulls open from the top, which I’m pleased about because I’m a weirdo who never throws away the packaging for anything.
You can see from the picture above what size it is in comparison to an iPhone 5.
It’s actually hard to believe it’s a real controller when you see it how small it is.
It measures up at an impressively tiny 7.3cm wide by 3.5cm high by 1.37cm deep that’s about the width of a zippo! and the length of a Post-It note!
Seriously it’s very small! It even comes with a little strap to attach it to your keys because it is SO small that you could genuinely have it as a key ring if you were so inclined.
Personally I like to have as little as possible on my keys, my car key, house key, office key and alarm fob is as much as I would ever want but I know a lot of people are huge fans of big key rings etc. and this may well appeal to some people for that reason.
The design of the pad is very clean and very nice indeed, it has an almost Wii-esque look to it and looks great in my opinion. There is a fine plastic film covering the top of the controller which I’ve yet to remove, in case you’re wondering why some of my pictures look like there are bubbles on the top side of the pad.
It’s shiny white plastic on top and slightly rubberised blue on the bottom.
It needs this bit of texture to it to be honest; because it’s SO small that it would be very easy for it to slip through your fingers without it. For those a little clumsy it has a strap you can put on it which fits over your hand/wrist presumably for that exact reason, this strap was another aspect of the product that made me think of the Wii. I have actually found myself using this strap with it personally in the kind of places I use it; like on a train or a coach etc., it would be a massive faff if I accidentally dropped it and it fell under the chair or under some other passengers’ legs or something. I’ve not dropped it yet, but it’s comforting knowing that if I do I won’t be that guy who can’t keep his stuff in check on the train.
Initially when it arrived I did think to myself, why on earth would u want a controller this small!?
It’s so small that after an initial test, for the first week of having it, I put it in my suit trouser pocket with my wallet and completely forgot it was there! It’s about as annoying as having a zippo in your pocket, so you honestly barely notice it’s even there.
Given its size it’s a bit of a gimmick, definitely a novelty item, and other controllers are much more suited to lengthy button bashing gaming sessions. But when I contemplate how annoying it would be to have a full sized SNES controller in your trousers all the time it dawns on me that this thing actually makes a lot of sense.
This controller clearly isn’t for spending hours and hours gaming into the night, it’s for just having around when you fancy a game and your other controllers aren’t around. It’s the kind of thing you need in your life when you are sat on a train with your iPad and you remember how crap Retroarch is with on-screen controls.
I occasionally make a 6-hour coach journey to the in-laws and this controller will definitely be on board with me next time to help kill the time.
So yeah, I totally get the concept and I definitely see a use for it despite its seemingly laughable size, but how is it to use?
I have to say, it’s been really good. The buttons, whilst tiny, are spread apart enough that you aren’t accidentally pressing the wrong buttons and you can comfortably roll your thumb off one to another.
The D-pad has a great feel too, 8bitdo have absolutely nailed it with the D-pad on the SFC30 and this one is very nice too, again it’s smaller than a normal sized D-pad, but it’s extremely usable and feels great to play on.
The shoulder buttons are a tricky one in the design of a pad of this form factor. The actual buttons themselves are very good, they have a very nice confident click to them which provides very tactile feedback and the buttons feel very well put together, as do all of the others. But on first use the placement of the shoulder buttons felt a little unnatural to me. You find yourself unsure if you should be pressing them with your finger tips or with the middle of your index fingers. I find it depends on the game to be honest, but either way they are usable and just take a little getting used to. The shoulder buttons aren’t very important buttons in a lot of the games I play, but in games like Mario Kart this is much more noticeable.
The Zero is extremely well built, it doesn’t feel cheap in any way and whilst it’s very light it doesn’t feel flimsy which is very impressive, as with their other controllers, again, you get a feeling that 8Bitdo have taken pride in creating this and not just knocked it together so people can have a cool keyring.
This thing definitely is cool though, I’ve had several people see it and ask about it because it’s just a tiny little piece of awesomeness.
It’s never going to replace my 8bitdo SFC30, but it’s definitely got its place and I have actually been using it more than its’ bigger brother since I got it just through pure convenience. It’s always in my pocket so it’s always ready to go when I need a quick fix.
There is only one thing I will say, that I possibly would change given the choice… to turn the controller on, a single press of the start button (which incidentally awesomely looks like a little Pac-Man symbol!) is sufficient and I have come to grab the controller out of my pocket only to realise that the buttons have been pressed by my wallet and it’s run out of battery. This only happened once, as I’ve been careful to put it button side down since, but it was disappointing and could have easily been avoided should a switch, rather than a button, or better still; a combination of buttons, have been required to be pressed to turn it on instead. It does automatically turn itself off after a period without use, but obviously on that occasion my wallet was into a bit of button bashing itself.
So yeah… That’s the 8Bitdo Zero, a beautiful, from what I can tell, uniquely, tiny little Bluetooth gamepad from 8Bitdo. It’s a cheap and convenient alternative to a larger pad, but definitely not a replacement for one in my opinion.