Saturday, May 14, 2016

Retro Receiver First Impressions

Despite the controversy, I've been very happy with my Analogue Nt and when Analogue announced that they had partnered with 8bitdo to produce the Retro Receiver, I put in an order with Play-Asia on day 1. It took a couple of weeks to arrive and I just received it yesterday, so here are my first impressions:

First off, it works as advertised! The receiver is powered by the NES' controller port, so no batteries or charging are necessary, and I was able to pair an 8bitdo Zero with it just fine (using the basic gamepad pairing mode, which you access by holding the 'start' button). I also tested pairing a Wii remote, which was a smooth, painless process, as well.

Controls are responsive, with no appreciable latency, as far as I could tell (I didn't do any scientific measurements, just operating on subjective "feel"). The automapped turbo buttons work great and are very handy.

The only complaint I had is that, on 8bitdo's pads, the NES' B and A buttons are physically swapped to match the lettering scheme used by 8bitdo (that its, Xbox 360-style, with A on the bottom and B on the right vs. SNES-style, with B on the bottom and A on the right). Correction: this is only an issue on the Zero; the other pads are fine. This is a real drag for games where you have already developed muscle memory and is terrible for Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! because it makes the left-side button do a right-arm punch and vice versa.

However, the Wii remote doesn't have this issue and the B and A buttons are mapped to the 1 and 2 buttons, respectively, as you would expect. Start and Select are mapped to minus and plus, respectively, which seemed backward to me, but that's not as big of a deal as the face buttons and is more easily ignored/adapted-to. With only two face buttons, you lose the turbo buttons, sadly. I had hoped to get around this with the Wii remote's Classic Controller attachment but it doesn't seem to work with the receiver. Update (9/22/16): it should with the latest firmware, I think. I think the Wii U Pro controller is supposed to work with it but I don't have one, so I couldn't test.

The receiver should also work with PS3 pads, but I haven't had a chance to test this yet. I'll update the post when I get around to that. Update (5/15/16): I got a chance to try it but didn't have any luck actually pairing up a DS3 with the receiver. I tried just pairing with the PS3 button, as well as plugging the controller into the receiver's micro-USB port via a USB OTG cable, neither of which worked. If anyone knows the trick, please drop me a comment! Update (9/22/16): ok, no wonder it didn't work: the pairing process is pretty involved. You have to download the pairing utility from here, plug the receiver and your DS3 into your PC or Mac (no Linux client, and it doesn't work via WINE; Note: if you're running Windows 8 or 10, you also need to either disable driver signing temporarily or install the dual shock pairing utility, which is helpfully included with the tools download), run the utility and then use it to pair the pad with the receiver. Whew!

For now, I think the sideways Wii remote provides the best experience (despite the lack of turbo buttons)--or the Wii U Pro controller if its buttons are mapped properly--unless/until 8bitdo provides a way to swap the button mapping on the other pads Zero.

All in all, I think it's a great little accessory that fills an important niche created by Kevtris' HiDefNES HDMI adapter and bunnyboy's upcoming AVS FPGA NES (scheduled for release in late June). Now that we can actually play our carts on our gigantic flat-panel TVs, this receiver lets us sit back on our couches to relax and enjoy it. Update (9/22/16): I got my AVS and the receiver works great with it!

I would also like to echo the comments I've read elsewhere asking for an SNES version. Since NES and SNES use the same controller protocol, this should be a matter of just wrapping the same guts in a different plastic shell. Fingers crossed! Update (9/22/16): My wish came true and they did release an SNES version. The initial firmware that comes with the receiver uses some pretty strange mapping for DS3 pads, so be sure to update it to the latest, which should give a more sane layout. The updated firmware also adds support for Wii Classic Controllers, which is awesome! Strangely, plugging the SNES receiver into an SNES-to-NES adapter *does not work* and jumbles up your inputs. I was hoping to use a single DS3 to control both systems, but no such luck. :(

1 comment:

Radius said...

oo, this is pretty neat
the 8bitdo pads are all using classic nintendo labels. Only the zero and the retropad prototype are mislabeled like the XBOX pad

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