Review: Retro-Bit SEGA Saturn Pro Wireless 2.4G Controller

Sega Saturn official controller, now with more buttons with dual joysticks and smoother buttons!

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I pre-ordered this controller and I have no regrets. Maybe I have, because it was pricer than now when I bought from 8BitMods but lets continue with the review, shall we? Review written based on my Sega Saturn system (Firmware 1.10 update) experience only:

#Positive impressions:
  1. All face buttons are precise and soft, they feel great, no clicking, just perfect! This D-PAD is way better than my Retrobit 6 button Mega Drive wireless V1, it is smoother and more precise. I don't have problems with diagonal inputs. I would love to buy this D-pad part and install in my Mega Drive V1 though.
  2. The best thing of this controller are not the analog joysticks, I'm not saying that they are bad, they are good but what I will highlight are the Shoulder and Trigger buttons. Shoulder and trigger buttons are the smoothest you will ever experience in video games. They don't have the click noise because they don't use microswitches :( but they feel great when you press them, whereas the original design didn't feel right when the user pressed the buttons, it felt hollow. I really want to press them all the time because they feel really good! I can imagine playing Death Tank multiplayer with it, it will be a blast I guarantee. One thing to add, the Z and C buttons are duplicated as shoulder buttons, a nice feature for small hands that prefer the "Sony/Microsoft/Snes Layout".
  3. Contrary of what people say, the analog sticks are great and fit well and they are Hall-effect, so no drifting! I can easily use them while pressing the other face buttons and shoulder/trigger buttons. There are three modes: The default one which the joystick mimics the d-pad for those that dislike using the D-PAD in some games. The second mode turns you pad in a 3D one - activated by holding Start + B - so you can play games like NiGHTs (worked like a charm!). The third mode is the dual sticks that will have benefits for those who play Virtual On and Bulk Slash (English Fan Translation with Dual Stick support) - activated by holding Start + X for 5 seconds.
  4. Easy to update by downloading firmware from Retrobit website, running the setup and inserting USB dongle into PC USB port.
  5. The Saturn Input Dongle looks like an official one just like the wired controllers. This isn't what happened with the Retrobit Mega Drive 6 button Wireless Crystal Clear V1, which looks generic and fake.
  6. The plastic materials used in this pad are of a great quality, they feel authentic.
  7. As described in the package, it's compatible with a plenty of systems: Sega Saturn, PC, Mac, Switch and PS3.

#Negative impressions:
  1. The triggers aren't analog. So games that use this feature won't work as intended (racing games like Daytona or Sega Rally) when in the second mode - 3D. The shoulder / trigger buttons can't be remapped, this could be easily fixed if Retrobit had a App or a firmware that could map them to any other face button of the user preference.
  2. The dual joysticks dual-stick mode doesn't come in the factory firmware, you have to update it, this isn't a bummer but... The thing is the right stick has a weird mapping. R-Analog-Up is mapped as Y, R-Analog-Down as X, R-Analog-Left as A and R-Analog-Right as B. Because of this I can't control the Virtual On robot - if I use the R-Analog-Down it turns left, because of this if I use the R-Analog-Left it won't turn left, I think maybe it jumps, as I got confused I can't remember. Or they should fix it to follow the In-Game options (a control scheme that mimics the dual-stick but with a pad and Y, X, A, B as a cross shape) which would be X to turn Left and B to turn Right and because of that the R-Analog-Left needed to be mapped to X and R-Analog-Right to B, following the cross shape of these face buttons. Maybe I understood wrong and I should set up the game in a different control scheme? How I should now if there isn't more instructions about it? I thought that it would be automatic if I set it before the game booted.
  3. The USB dongle isn't USB C, its the old Micro USB. It's kind of strange because the controller is USB C and could had benefit from the same included cable.
  4. I couldn't find a pdf manual online. What will happen if I miss my printed one? It would be nice to have one digital manual with the default firmware and a second that is updated with newer instructions.
  5. I wouldn't call it negative but I won't create a Neutral impressions category, so here it goes: the shoulder and trigger buttons of the Charcoal Black version aren't black as they advertise in e-commerce websites pictures, they are grey.
  6. Isn't retrocompatible with V1 receiver dongles or vice-versa, so you cannot use your Sega Saturn controller in your Mega Drive setup if you had a V1 receiver.

#Conclusion
A great controller that feels solid and probably will last forever, with great features and more confortable than the original one. Not perfect as noted in the Negative impressions, but I believe its a must buy if you love your Sega Saturn.

#Rating
4 Stars
out of 5.

#Release date
Released by December 2023 in North America and by January 2024 in Europe.

#Price
About USD 50,00.

Disclaimer: This is a legit review for Sega Saturn fanbase, I wasn't paid for.
 
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The best thing of this controller are not the analog joysticks, I'm not saying that they are bad, they are good but what I will highlight are the Shoulder and Trigger buttons. Shoulder and trigger buttons are the smoothest you will ever experience in video games. They don't have the click noise because they don't use microswitches :( but they feel great when you press them, whereas the original design didn't feel right when the user pressed the buttons, it felt hollow. I really want to press them all the time because they feel really good!
Wow, I had the exact opposite feeling. The shoulder triggers are the worst feeling whatsoever. Half the time I am misfiring because I am not getting the proper feedback from the button that signals me that the button is pressed (This mostly pertains to L and R.) ZL and ZR feel even worse, because there is an unnatural resistance that happens to them that I can best describe as making you think it is a microswitch, but the Temu/Aliexpress version of said switch. (Yes I know actual microswitches are available on both, I just mean you can tell the quality difference from the real and the fake knock off.)

Additional negatives:

The battery drains like with the old retro bit pads.
The start button is used to power the controller up, and will fire that button to the screen.
Using face buttons to change the pad mode when there are other less essential buttons to use was an absolute terrible idea.
Not having the feature to just map buttons yourself is a huge disappointment. You need to rely on the software to map buttons.
The controller turns off way to fast.

I also argue the DPAD is worse on the analog than on the regular pad, but the face buttons are indeed tighter.

Bottom line, People really should avoid this controller because Retro-bit has not put enough care into fixing issues that already existed from their last line, while introduced new issues with new updates. This tells us that quality assurance is not their priority.

If you want an analog pad on your saturn. Grab yourself a Blue Retro adapter with any bluetooth controller of your choice. Personally I like the Gulikit King Kong 2 as I never have a reason to use the 3 button layout when playing analog stick games.
 
Don't buy retro-bit controllers. They have 0 quality assurance and customer support. My regular Saturn 2.4 Ghz came with a defective console receiver, they told me to do a dumb thing to make it work (reset the controller, which I already did a million times) and stopped responding my emails after I sent they a video doing exactly as told and the controller still not conecting.
 
The battery drains like with the old retro bit pads.
The start button is used to power the controller up, and will fire that button to the screen.
I forgot about that, I can confirm that my controller battery drained quickly too. Last Friday I tested the controller for less than 1 hour, and on Saturday I played for a few hours, then this week I was going to play once more and the controller got no battery. The same thing happens with my Mega Drive controller as well, it drains fast. In the manual of the Saturn controller they say if your battery is draining a lot, try to reset the pairing. I haven't tried that yet.

The Start button thing didn't occur here, when I press it doesn't fire the button in Saturn. But I can confirm it happens quite a lot in my Mega Drive Retro-bit controller. Why don't they use the home button as the power button is a mistery to me, it would work better because it wouldn't fire up a button that isn't used my the console.

Don't buy retro-bit controllers. They have 0 quality assurance and customer support.
Damm mate! I never had to contact them. I thought they were very proactive with quick response with real solutions, this was my conclusion based on some tweets of users asking for replacement parts or with defective dpads. The costumer support appeared to be willing to help sending new parts / products. Ohh well...

Dudes, this is my very-first review so, I thank you to contribute to this thread so we can share our experiences about this product. I will update here with more content after I get more hours of play.
 
The Start button thing didn't occur here, when I press it doesn't fire the button in Saturn. But I can confirm it happens quite a lot in my Mega Drive Retro-bit controller. Why don't they use the home button as the power button is a mistery to me, it would work better because it wouldn't fire up a button that isn't used my the console.
If you got an ODE that starts a game using the start button, sit on the menu until the controller turns off.
 
If you got an ODE that starts a game using the start button, sit on the menu until the controller turns off.
I don't know if Fenrir ODE starts with Start button too, I think its A or C button.

Virtual On mode
About the Virtual On mode, if they could make this change following these images bellow, this game would be playable using the control scheme that mimics the second stick with the cross shaped face buttons (Y, X, A, B):

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I don't know if Fenrir ODE starts with Start button too, I think its A or C button.

Virtual On mode
About the Virtual On mode, if they could make this change following these images bellow, this game would be playable using the control scheme that mimics the second stick with the cross shaped face buttons (Y, X, A, B):

View attachment 9525

View attachment 9526
This wont work. Twin stick is Left X, Up Y, Right, Z, down B.

They made some excuse that because C and Z is mapped to L,R, that they couldn't map other buttons to it.

Also, you should be changing the triggers as well. ZL should be L, L should be R, ZR should be A and R should be C.

This is twin stick mode here, so the face buttons are "useless" since your thumb should be on the stick at all times.
 
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I have the regular Retro Bit 2.4ghz controller, and love it. I was excited to see the new one with the joystick, bought it immediately. Just started replaying Shining Force 3, so I wanted to use the the joystick, but to my chagrin, I couldn't turn the map with the L and R buttons, because they are C and Z. Very disappointed. Now at best it's a normal second controller. It doesn't feel as comfortable as their regular one, but I would have let it slide if I could use the joystick plus the shoulder buttons. It's baffling that Retro Bit didn't do any apparent testing on real hardware. And they admit it's non-remappable. Same price I can get a 3D controller from Japan. Not wireless, but oh well.
 
New bugs found:

1) Dudes yesterday I was playing Doom (Japan) the ZR and ZL where bound to use as strafe buttons (right and left respectively) but out of nowhere the contoller got weird and the ZL didn't strafe left, the L started to strafe left but the ZR kept strafing right...

2) Before playing Gex I had a Doom session today, because I wanted to play more and see if I got the same bug from yesterday, but not, I played more than an hour perfectly.
Now when I went to play Gex, my Run button was mapped to ZL and now it seems that ZL and ZR switched mappings to L and R. So My L is Run and the C that was Jump doesn't work and ZL started to act as button C, so now it jumps.

What the hell is happening here? It seems I can't recommend this controller anymore. It's unstable, it's acting weird randomly.

I really hope that they fix it. I don't know if the v 1.1 is bugged, but as I can't downgrade because there isn't the factory firmware available anywhere, I'm stuck.

I sent an email to them yesterday, talking about the other problems (Virtua On mode) and I invited them to read this thread because it has experience from other costumers as well so they could improve / fix the issues.

I really hope they read it and do something. It wasn't a cheap investment, I was taxed and had to pay about 60% of the price added to the original pre-order price that was USD 52.00, so I spent USD 83.00 in total (just because the controller was 2 dollars above the "free tax" rule of where I live. Now I got mad.

I didn't have a bad experience with my Sega Mega Drive Genesis Retro-bit wireless 2.4G V1, that's why I trusted them.
 
Controller certainly looks dope. And since I play almost zero 3d Saturn games (radiant Silvergun is ‘technically 3d’), I shouldn’t need it.

Time to check to see if Brook has included in a recent update for Wingman SD, support for either PS4 Razer Raion, or PowerA Fusion Fightpad, both of which I love for 2d platformers and metroidvanias on switch.

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I don't think this is true. I thought they swapped ZL/L and ZR/R between some update.
After updating, L/R are still mapped to C/Z when using with a Saturn, at least in regular mode. Not sure about 3D pad mode.

ZL and ZR are used as the shoulder buttons. I confirmed this again now by using them to toggle the HUD in Clockwork Knight.

Unless this is expected behavior after the update, then I'm not sure it was changed. They claim it's hardwired in this tweet:
 
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Abouy my issue with the console receiver, I was wondering if it's possible to force pairing using a cable. So i used an usb-a to micro usb adapter and conected to both controller and receiver, held the sync button and connected to the console. After holding the start button... it worked. The controller is now paired to the receiver but both devices act like they are trying to pair all the time. At least it's working and I bet retro-bit staff don't even imagine this is possible (don't even know if this is a planned feature lol). I made a video showing them acting weird but working.
 

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After updating, L/R are still mapped to C/Z when using with a Saturn, at least in regular mode. Not sure about 3D pad mode.

ZL and ZR are used as the shoulder buttons. I confirmed this again now by using them to toggle the HUD in Clockwork Knight.

Unless this is expected behavior after the update, then I'm not sure it was changed. They claim it's hardwired in this tweet:

Good call, thanks for this info. Challenge accepted to Retro-bit, maybe I will bust out my multimeter to confirm this.
 
Good call, thanks for this info. Challenge accepted to Retro-bit, maybe I will bust out my multimeter to confirm this.
I really think it may be mapped and the PR doesn't know and say the opposite.

Why? As I explained this bug that happened last week, which in summary randomly moved the mapping from C and Z to L and R and because of that the default button C and Z stopped to work. So triggers and shoulder buttons did respond in-game but no C and Z face buttons. Its like the Saturn controller changed to a "hidden Playstation Layout Mode".

Maybe a hack could be done in software (firmware) or modding the hardware.
 
Weird, I was looking for this on the retro-bit site and it was not listed anywhere outside the Sega collab page, I thought they took back the launch, lol.

I really wish it had analog triggers, then I'd get it for my PC as a catch-all controller for all retro 2D/fighting games, emulation of anything and modern games too. Hopefully they'll do a revision down the line though they wouldn't talk about it any time soon and make people wait instead of buy this one.

I had previously bought 2 wired Saturn USB pads (no sticks etc.) and was super disappointed when the one I used broke in like days of barely any use, the d-pad interior disc thing snapped. They ignored me for years after explicitly saying they will send me replacement parts in the initial e-mail exchange but when I brought it up again recently (publically) they finally sent me two replacement pads plus an extra part after I dug up the e-mail history to prove to the new person handling the case how things went last time. I've been using one for a while now and it seems like that (known for an initial batch) issue has been fixed, so I'd be willing to give them another shot even though it's not quite as good as the original Sega Saturn pads.

One of the two they sent me is with the semi transparent one, which is neat and more visible than on the box (though there's not much to see inside).

Granted after they had put me on ignore mode I had also bought a Fighting Commander that was also cheap and great for Saturn/2D/fighting stuff (plus emulation of other systems like PS1 because unlike those Saturn USB pads it also had an extra pair of shoulder buttons to map and a select button too) but I've shelved that now I have the real deal I originally wanted. Still, if they all somehow break again I have that. But I also have a Dual Shock 4 that's getting quite old so I'd be looking for a new pad to replace that if it gets too worn and a catch-all like this with fancy hall effect sticks could be great.
 
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