8Bitdo Retro Receiver For NES Review

Product Name:8Bitdo Retro Receiver
Features:Use wireless controllers on your original NES system. Supports all 8Bitdo controllers and arcade sticks. Compatible with two-four Retro Receivers for Multiplayer games.
Find Out More About This Product And How It Brings Retro Gaming Back In The Forefront of Fun!

The realm of gaming in the 21st century may generally be classified as who has the better, more crisp graphics combined with a fuller, more engaging gaming experience, but in the midst of all that is still a special place for something more minimal coupled with a simple and easy-to-pick-up game dynamic. So in actuality, there is still a place for good ‘ol retro gaming!

Thankfully, a Hong Kong-based company known as 8Bitdo has been making waves this year thanks to their specialty of modernizing our favorite games from the NES and SNES era. And at the forefront of their product offerings is a handy little device that brings both the old and new school gaming together, and that is the 8Bitdo Retro Receiver for NES.

Do I have your attention now? Great, let’s go check out this product.


Product Overview

The 8Bitdo Retro Receiver comes in a very simple packaging that comprises of the receiver, a USB-to-microUSB cable and a quick-start guide. The receiver has a small indicator light (that shows the pairing status), an orange button for pairing purposes and a micro-USB slot.

Wait, back up just a bit – pairing? Where are all the wires?

Well, given that we are in the century that we are in, wired controllers as seen with the NES are a thing of the past. The 8Bitdo Retro Receiver is pretty much a solution to a variety of concerns when it comes to retro gaming, some of which we will look into right now.


There are no strings (I mean wires) on me!


While still a lot of fun, the wires did give out after a while.

One of the biggest concerns for retro gaming in this day and age would have to be controller wires. Not to that the craftsmanship involved in hooking these up into an NES system is bad, rather that it tends to get faulty over time due to a combination of overuse and plain old wear and tear. And let’s face it, once that controller wire gets faulty, you’ll end up spending a lot of time and resources just to keep the controller operational.

Let’s not forget, these wires were made to be long enough so that players can use them while sitting a good distance away from a TV – a good enough distance to keep miffing in a real-life game of controller wire skip rope!

The Retro Receiver deals with this by literally cutting out the middle man – controller wires have been replaced by wireless connectivity via Bluetooth. This allows players  lot more room to move around to a more comfortable position, as well as prevent other people from tripping or pulling on wires. Just plug the Retro Receiver into the front port of the system, then press the orange button on the product to enable the wireless connectivity (it’s just that simple!) and the pairing status is shown on the indicator light. Pretty nifty, isn’t it?

Yeah sure it is.. if NES controllers were Bluetooth capable. That technology was nowhere to be found back in the day!

That’s quite true, which brings me to the next solution this product brings.


New gen controls for old-school console? Genius, I tell you!

It’s not just the wires on the NES controller that lose its durability over time – the materials that comprise the actual controller do, too. I can personally count the number of times that I’ve had to bash, bang, gut and scratch an NES controller for it to last longer yet still end up with similar results – another whole console in the recycling.

Again, this has nothing to do with the quality of materials that were available back in the day, as the kind of rubber and plastic cases and buttons that make up an NES controller were top of the line back then. Rather, and as I have said time and again on this site, gaming controllers have come a long way over the years in both ergonometrics and quality of materials, resulting in more durable designs that will last longer in our hands.

So where does this leave our beloved NES?


A wireless NES controller!


A wireless Famicom controller, too!

Well thankfully, 8Bitdo also happens to have a line of retro controllers! That’s right, these guys are amazing with recreating the classic designs of controllers in wireless format. The craftsmanship is amazing – from the bulky grey with red and black buttons of the NES, to the slim and shiny red/gold plate with black buttons seen in the Family Computer, the company manufactured these controllers to carry the same nostalgic feel, yet functional for the modern times.

And yes, these are all fully compatible with the 8Bitdo Retro Receiver. But talking about them would be for another time.

Ok, so I have to buy ANOTHER controller to go with the Retro Receiver? What’s wrong with the ones I have now?

Actually, there isn’t. This is another cool feature that comes with the Retro Receiver – newer controllers will pair nicely with them, too! That’s right, you can pair up your Wii Mote, Wii U Pro, PS3 or PS4  controller to the product. It’s definitely a plus because it will also recognize the use of analog sticks in these controllers – perfect for top-down view games like Zelda or every racing game you recall from the NES days. Now granted the other buttons on the new controllers are switched out as turbo buttons, you definitely cannot go wrong with the comfort and feel of the new controllers to bring back your Donkey Kong fix!

8bitdo-retro-receiver-for-nes-wii 8bitdo-retro-receiver-for-nes-ps3 8bitdo-retro-receiver-for-nes-wiiu 8bitdo-retro-receiver-for-nes-ps4

The Retro Receiver works on these 4 controllers.

Writer’s Note: It does not seem like the new Xbox One S controller (with Bluetooth capability) has been tested on this product, so we will have to see if it is supported when the S hits the market.


Not just for the original console? Can you say cool-NES!

So yes, all this cool wireless protocol and forward technology on controllers is great, but at some point I get a sense of what the next issue is going to be… are there still NES consoles out in the market? Yeah, it would definitely be nice to plug this in the minute you get a hold of your NES.

But that’s the thing – Nintendo discontinued the NES all the way back in 1995. They let the Famicom run for 8 more years before hanging up its pads. So the only places you can get these are either at retro stores, on the internet or maybe even at garage sales (good luck trying to pry one from the latter if the original owner found out about the Retro Receiver, by the way).

Well that’s reassuring! So much for reviving my retro gaming fix if I can’t even get a NES…

Yes, it will run on this thing (make sure to update the firmware!)

Yes, it will run on this thing (make sure to update the firmware!)

Not to fret, though. 8Bitdo has done some extensive things to the Retro Receiver’s firmware. Out of the packaging, it will actually support the aftermarket NES systems that were released. This means that if the system has an NES controller port, then this receiver is likely to work. The product’s official page states that the Retro Receiver will support all models of the original NES as well as the other NES-type products in the market like the Analogue Nt or the RetroN 5.

But just to be sure it works, you will need to update the firmware of your copy of the product to ensure that your retro console will be compatible with the receiver. Thankfully 8Bitdo provides updated firmware from their website.


Closing Thoughts – NES Games! Lemme at them (again)!

There’s definitely a lot to like about 8Bitdo’s Retro Receiver for NES for all the reasons that I had already mentioned. So what else is there to add?

Actually, there are a couple. First, there were plenty of fun games on the NES that were cooperative and competitive (let’s call it multiplayer for sake of relevance), so it would be nice to use this same wireless capability in a multiplayer setting. The Retro Receiver, however, pairs on a 1:1 ratio. Definitely understandable, as this ensures that a particular controller is recognized as a certain player so as not to confuse the system of who’s who (and probably also keeps the quality of the connection good as well). So if you’re going to jump into 2-player games, prepare to have two Retro Receivers hooked up – which is not the end of the world, seeing as the product is very affordable at USD 19.99 retail.

Secondly, quality of the wireless connection is something I believe everyone should be aware about. While newer Bluetooth chipsets provide consistent fidelity beyond 10 meters, the near frequency communication (NFC) provided by Bluetooth is typically more optimal at 5 meters or less. This is to ensure that physical object that blocks the path of the wireless connection does not impede low-lag feedback. It is definitely best to use this at optimal distance that is not too far from the TV and console, yet close enough to not be obstructed by anything solid (yes, including walls).

Finally, and I must stress this as I’m a firm believer in, well, firmware keeping products like this optimal and functional – always make sure that you have the latest firmware of the Retro Receiver. Again, you can easily access this through 8Bitdo’s website. The process to update firmware is very straightforward and easy to do, and is likely the one thing that spells the difference between jumping into retro gaming bliss and scratching your head on what to do next. If your aftermarket NES product is not supported, you can always get in touch with customer support!

So is this worth getting?

Yes, yes, yes. I will say it time and again – I loved the NES system. I loved it so much that my parents would save up just to get me not one, but two of them (one original, one aftermarket) through my childhood years. I got to enjoy a phletora of games of different kinds with family and friends, logging so many gaming hours until a game was finished, my fingers were tired or the adapter’s fuse gave out. So yes, the very thought of doing this again is something I would in a heartbeat.

And yes, I will admit wanting to stay cheap and use emulators, but it’s nothing compared to the real thing!

Nintendo had created such an amazing product that adheres to their beilefs of a heartfelt, bonded experience of gaming with people that you love. And well, I’m married to a wonderful woman who enjoyed Donkey Kong and every version of Super Mario that she got her hands on, so she’s itching for her shot to beat DK.. or get to the princess after being told numerous times that she has been transferred to another castle.

Yes, retro gaming does bringpeople together. "First round matchup of the 2014 Annual NBA Backyard Jam" by Tyler Einberger is licensed under CC BY 4.0 / Cropped from original

Yes, retro gaming does bringpeople together.
First round matchup of the 2014 Annual NBA Backyard Jam” by Tyler Einberger is licensed under CC BY 4.0 / Cropped from original

At the same time, as a gamer, I would like nothing more than for my kids to enjoy the same games I had when I was a kid (while at the same time learn the fundamentals of simple, intuitive gameplay versus an intriguing concept of ramping difficulty). And with a product like this, I can definitely guarantee you can do that with your kids without shaking your fist in the air for tugging too hard on controller wires and breaking your console.

So yes, if you are definitely looking to get the fullest out of your retro gaming experience in many ways possible, the Retro Receiver is definitely the way to go.

Have any thoughts about the product? Do you have it already? Or do you wish to share your own retro gaming stories? Let me know in the comments section!

Find Out More About This Product And How It Brings Retro Gaming Back In The Forefront of Fun!

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