For five years, 8Bitdo has been creating near-perfect wireless clones of your favorite classic gamepads, improving the experience of emulating retro games on modern devices. But if near-perfect isn’t perfect enough for your discerning gaming tastes, the company is now selling kits that should make it dead easy to upgrade your original Nintendo and Sega controllers with Bluetooth, without requiring any electronics know-how, or soldering.
If you’ve ever cracked open a gamepad to try to fix an unresponsive button, or to just clean out all of the Doritos dust in there, you might have noticed that the controller’s cable is permanently connected to the circuit board inside. So to make the wireless upgrade process as easy as possible, 8Bitdo’s new kits swap out all of the electronics with an entirely new circuit board that has a Bluetooth chip and a rechargeable battery already onboard.
There’s no hacking, soldering, or any kind of modifications required on the original controller’s housing, so how do you charge the upgraded gamepad’s battery without the addition of a USB-C or microUSB port? The hole where the cable once entered the controller gets plugged with a glowing port that provides visual feedback on the status of the gamepad (battery level, active connections) but also serves as a charging port, using an included but proprietary 3.5mm headphone jack USB cable.
Having to wrangle another cable isn’t great, but it’s necessary for the upgrade process to be as streamlined and simple as it is. The kits are available starting today on 8Bitdo’s online shop for $20 each, and are compatible with controllers from the NES, SNES, Super Famicom, Sega Mega Drive, and the tethered controllers included with NES and SNES Classic Edition. They should work out of the box with any device that natively supports Bluetooth controllers, but your classic gaming consoles will require a Bluetooth adapter once you cut the cable.