The 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller is an accurate recreation of SNK’s NeoGeo CD gamepad from 1994. Featuring a phenomenal joystick, superb-feeling buttons, and solid wireless connectivity options, it’s an excellent choice for retro gaming. However, the lack of a second analog stick makes the controller unsuitable for modern games.
Perfect retro look and feel
Excellent, clicky joystick
Remarkable value for money
Relatively limited use
Centered start/select buttons are quite awkward
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8BitDo has partnered with SNK to develop the NeoGeo Wireless Controller. Essentially a revision of the original NeoGeo CD gamepad from 1994, this new model recreates its iconic look and feel, while adding some quality modernities like wireless connectivity along with PC, Android, and NeoGeo Mini console support.
The star of the show here, just as it was with the original controller, is the beautiful joystick. Simply one of the best of its kind, the stick has been accurately recreated, maintaining a responsive, clicky feel that’s perfect for play with some of the best fighting games and arcade games of the 90s.
It’s worth noting, above all, that, despite some modern changes, the 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller is a warts-and-all recreation. This means that those awkwardly-placed Start and Select buttons are right where they were left in the '90s - smack in the middle of the pad. But really, aside from the controller’s relatively limited use (since it lacks a second analog stick), this is the only blemish I can point to on what is otherwise an excellent gamepad that’s well worth the astonishingly low asking price.
Price and availability
The 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller is available to buy now for $34.99 / £29.99. US buyers can purchase the gamepad directly from 8BitDo’s website, while those of you in the UK can rely on Amazon to obtain theirs. While that’s a relatively low asking price, do note that the controller is only compatible with Windows PCs, Android devices, and the NeoGeo Mini console.
There are also four limited edition variants of the controller available to purchase, each bearing the likeness of The King of Fighters ‘97 characters Iori, Kyo, Mai, and Terry. However, these are slightly more expensive at $39.99 and seem to be exclusive to the US market.
Design and features
The 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller is an impressively lightweight and easy-to-handle gamepad. It’s highly accurate in recreating that original look and feel, maintaining that stark black finish complemented by face buttons bearing four different colors. In terms of appearance, the only real change here from the 90s original is the addition of 8BitDo’s logo on the front and rear of the pad, as well as an added pair of shoulder buttons not too dissimilar to the ones you’d find on an SNES controller.
The gamepad also maintains the original’s impressive ergonomics. It has a much thinner profile compared to the best PS5 controllers and best Xbox controllers, but it’s neatly rounded to fit exactly between your thumbs and index fingers. It may fit less well if you have larger hands, as it is a fairly compact controller, but for most players it’ll rest very comfortably.
Module quality is also fabulous across the board. The sizable face buttons have a short, snappy travel time that makes them perfect for classic platformers and fighters. The same goes for the newly added shoulder buttons, though it’s worth noting that there are only two here, meaning games that require the use of four aren’t a good fit for this pad.
The standout module on the 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller is undoubtedly its phenomenal stick. Feeling more like a versatile, 8-way d-pad, it's excellent to rock back and forth thanks to a clicky, tactile response and a relatively short travel time compared to more traditional analog sticks.
The only major drawbacks in terms of design are those centered around the Start and Select buttons mentioned earlier. The fact they are smack center of the pad, one placed above the other, means it can be slightly awkward to reach a thumb over to press them. It’s a small gripe that would have benefitted from a slight revision, but it doesn’t detract too much from the controller’s superb design.
Performance and battery life
You can wire up the 8BitDo NeoGeo controller to your PC via USB-C connection, or opt to insert the included USB dongle for a wireless 2.4GHz connection. A toggle on the back of the pad also lets you switch to Bluetooth for use with Android devices if you prefer. Wireless connectivity in both modes was stable in my testing, without any noticeable input latency.
The controller also features a Turbo mode with its own dedicated toggle. This is particularly useful if you’re playing shoot-em-ups or brawlers that require frequent presses of the same button.
The 8BitDo NeoGeo wireless controller performs wonderfully for older games, so long as they don’t require a second analog stick or two additional shoulder buttons. Starting a new game in the original Final Fantasy 7, I found the gamepad’s responsive buttons to be a perfect fit for the turn-based commands. I’ve also never had more fun playing classic fighting games like Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo and Vampire Savior; that excellent analog stick makes inputs much easier than on a more traditional d-pad.
The controller is also generous in terms of battery life. Expect to get around 30 - 35 hours on a single charge, with anywhere between 60 - 90 minutes required to get it topped up again via USB-C. That high battery capacity paired with the pad’s relative lightness makes it excellent to take out and about, too, especially if you’re planning on pairing it to an Android device.
Should I buy the 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller?
Buy it if...
You want an excellent way to play older games: The 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller is a fantastic way of revisiting 80s and 90s classics or playing them for the first time.
You want a retro controller with a sweet joystick: The clicky joystick on this controller is easily its best feature, feeling simply incredible to use, and makes retro gaming even more enjoyable.
Don't buy it if...
You primarily play modern games: Lacking a second stick and additional shoulder buttons, this gamepad isn’t well-suited to more modern games.
How we reviewed the 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller
I tested the 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller over the course of a week, primarily on PC, but also with some testing via Bluetooth on my Android phone. To get a proper feel for the controller, I ensured testing was largely done on older titles with modern ports, including the Capcom Fighting Collection, Breaker’s Collection, Final Fantasy 7, and various entries in the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster collection.
Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.