Hardware Review: Sega Saturn Wireless Pro Controller from Retro-Bit

We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. It’s time for another Retro-Bit controller review! Best of all, it is just in time for the holidays. So check out the pictures, watch the unboxing video, and read the article. If you’re sold, I’d suggest you get to ordering (if there is any in stock, that is). If you’re not, then just go over the article again, you must’ve missed something!

Description:

The widely praised SEGA Saturn® Control Pad (MK-80116) has received new fine-tuned features for this release. Take your game to the next level with Hall Effect analog sticks to provide 3D Controller support for compatible titles on the SEGA Saturn® with the console receiver. You can also take the controller to USB®-enabled consoles or devices to keep that familiar feel with your favorite games. Utilize modern features such as four shoulder buttons, Home and Select buttons, and button macros for additional features that celebrate all things SEGA Saturn®.

Features:

  • Includes SEGA Saturn® and USB® wireless receivers
  • Comes with a 3.3ft / 1m USB-C® charge cable and manual
  • Firmware upgradable
  • 3D Control Pad support enabled by macro via console receiver
  • Features dual Hall Effect analog sticks for durability and precision
  • Dual rumble motors incorporated in the controller
  • Four shoulder buttons, Home, and Select buttons
  • Rechargeable 500mAh Li-ion battery
  • Compatible with SEGA Saturn® consoles via console receiver
  • Compatible with PC, Mac®, and other USB®-enabled devices via USB® receiver
  • Up to 30ft / 10m wireless range

Unboxing:

Controller Breakdown:

Okay, I have to say that this new Retro-Bit Saturn Pad is definitely giving me better overall impressions than the standard Saturn pad. It is slightly larger in size and therefore heavier due to the inclusion of dual sticks and rumble motors. However, it does make for a more comfortable for individuals with larger hands. And that’s especially comparing it to the original one from Retro-Bit. However, some of you may find the controller’s more squared top corners on the shoulder buttons to be slightly uncomfortable. In the unboxing video, I showed how the fingers could naturally rest on them, but if your fingers are smaller or shorter, it may not feel grand when resting your fingers on them. So I’d say that it’s important to consider the size of your hands when assessing whether or not you’ll buy it. If you already own a standard one and it feels great, this may be a bit too large. If you have a standard and it feels a little small and cramped, this will be right up your alley.

One of the good things about the sticks is their overall design. The controller does feature recessions where the dual analog sticks are located. Naturally, that means that this design ensures that the sticks are safe from getting caught or rubbing against the controller. The sticks are brand spanking new hall effect sensors, which is a great inclusion and the way that every controller should be. For those who don’t know, Hall effect sensors detect stick movement differently and because of that, they prevent stick drift as well as reduce wear and tear. But it’s so interesting because you would think that the Saturn controller would just be a thumbstick style similar to the 3D Saturn controller from back in the day. But by doing this, they can expand the amount of games that are compatible with it. So this is the smarter decision overall. And even though this controller has the new age thumbsticks, the controller still gives a Saturn pad feel. The caveat of this controller fitting larger-handed people is the inclusion of tiny thumbsticks.

Other great points to make about the build is how awesome the sticks feel. They work just the same as the thumbstick does on the original 3D controller and they work as you’d expect in modern games. And let’s not forget about the nice clicky shoulder buttons when playing. It’s just a treat when playing games that originally were designed for triggers instead of shoulder buttons. The build quality continues in the right direction when it comes to the Saturn wireless adapter. You can plug it in without any crunchy forcefulness as well as pull it out without it holding on for dear life! And for those wondering if they should upgrade from the previous release, I can put your worries to bed. If you want to upgrade, you certainly can because everything that you love about your current one transfers to this one. I’m specifically speaking about the D-Pad and button feel. Any latency that may be present from this being wireless is so minimal that games feel as they’ve always had. Saturn lovers rejoice!

Inside of the controller, you’ll naturally find a rechargeable battery. The better thing here is that Retro-Bit kept longevity and self-repair in mind. You’ll see that the 500mAh battery is held in with double-sided tape. So if you know how to take out screws and remove buttons and other bits, you can reach the battery to unplug it and plug in a new one. But I’d like to point out, that the day that you’ll need to replace the battery is easily five years after buying the controller, if not longer. But that’s not all, if you’re a super handy person you can swap out a lot of the parts in the controller. This allows you to do upkeep and mods if you so choose. Everything inside is off the shelf and modular. So kudos to Retro-bit for this ability.

One thing that this controller brings with it that other solutions don’t have is rumble. The controller comes complete with dual rumble motors and they give off just the right amount of rumble. Too much rumble would likely kill the battery faster and also feel like overkill when playing. However, be aware that the feature is not for the Sega Saturn itself. It’s not possible for the controller to add the rumble retroactively. You’re only going to experience it when you use the controller with the USB adapter. Newer games on whichever platform supports the USB controller will give you rumble if they have it built in. But still, for part of the $50 price, I think it’s great that they added more bang for your buck by way of the rumble. I could’ve tested the battery of the controller without rumble and then with non-stop rumble, but I think that that is unrealistic. The modern gamer likely experiences rumble in some games and not others. And not to mention lots of games don’t have any, so it’s a bit of an apples and oranges scenario. I pegged the average at 16.50 hours of run time with intermittent vibrations.

Okay, let’s discuss some quick downsides that I found that I dislike about the controller. I promise to keep it quick. First off, I quite dislike the half matte, half gloss design. I’m aware that it’s all based on the original controller look. But glossy plastic looks ugly, it shows thumbprints, and it’s susceptible to scratches. I would love an all matte black controller from them to satisfy the people like me. Another bummer (I may have mentioned this in the video) is the micro-USB on the receiver but USB-C on the controller. Now, to be clear, I don’t have a problem with two different ports. I understand that they’re using the same wireless adapters as other controllers. It’s really just down to the fact that they only give a cord for one of them. Either give a cord for both or give a cord for neither. If neither of those options works, just charge a little more and include a USB-C cord. And if that option doesn’t fly, update the adapter to have a USB-C port and then include just one USB cord. I’m sure they’ll get there at some point, but it’s just a strange choice for launch day.

And finally, the elephant in the room is the lack of analog triggers. I have my 3D controller handy for games that need it like Nights into Dreams and Sega Rally, so you may have to do the same if you’re a huge Saturn fan. I will say that because the Saturn library is so large and diverse that I can definitely use Retro-Bit controller for 90% of the games and be happy. It just would’ve made more sense if they just made 2 versions of this controller. One of them with analog triggers and only the Saturn wireless adapter and another with digital triggers with a wireless USB adapter. I’m aware this was likely a business decision and it’s cheaper to have it be all in one. It’s likely that they view the massive library of other games that this can play over USB as the more logical target. Because in comparison, Saturn games don’t come close to the hundreds of thousands of games this can play over USB. But still, if someone wants a Saturn only version with analog triggers, just charge them more for it and they’ll buy it!

Final Thoughts:

Overall, this is a great idea for a gift for the Sega fanatic in your life. Or you can always buy it for yourself, of course! It’s a bit larger, but it has a build and feel that makes it feel sturdy. Best of all the cost on this controller isn’t 3 digits, far from it. For just $50 you can have a controller that you only use on the Sega Saturn but you can also use it on every other system that accepts USB controllers (as both dinput and xinput). That means instead of buying a $50 Saturn controller and a $50 USB controller, you can get this instead! It’s two controllers in one, IT’S A BOGO CONTROLLER.

(peep the purchase links down below!)

Links:

Firmware Update Page

Black or White Wireless Sega Saturn Pro Controller-Rondo Products

Black Wireless Sega Saturn Pro Contoller-Amazon

White Wireless Sega Saturn Pro Controller-Amazon

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