Review: Retro-Bit Sega Saturn Controller (Hardware)
Original Quality for an Brand New Controller.
One of the more worrying things most people think when they see a “brand new” controller for a retro system is “How does it compare to the original?” Whether it’s a third party controller improving upon the original, or a modern re-release for PCs, most gamers picking up something like this usually worry first about that nostalgic, rose-tinted glasses feel. And this is where Retro-Bit’s collaboration with Sega pays off: The Retro-Bit Saturn controllers really do look and feel just like the originals. Let’s take a look at their offerings, and see what’s included in each box when you order your own console or USB Sega Saturn controller.
Taking a look at the boxes themselves, you’ll notice Sega and Retro-Bit opted to use one of the original box designs for their Saturn controllers that released in the EU instead of the boring, bland white box used in the US which is a nice touch for collectors. When you open each box, all you’ll find is a plastic insert, and the controller itself. There’s no fancy thank you note, no instruction manuals, and no long winded warranty slip. Just the controller, the plastic it sits in, and that’s it. Each controller is based off the slimmer JP form factor, which is a nice bonus, and features the same circle D-pad, 7 button design as the original controller along with 2 shoulder buttons, and a 10ft long fairly sturdy cable, which is perfect for the console variation but a tad excessive with the USB version. The USB version of the controller supports PC, Mac, and Steam, and holding down the start button for 5 seconds allows you to switch between DirectInput and X-input...although this information isn’t actually provided anywhere on the box, and can only be found briefly mentioned on Retro-Bit’s website, which was a tad confusing.
Quality-wise, these brand new controllers feel almost exactly like the original Saturn controllers feel, which is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the buttons have a nice clicky feel and the D-pad feels about as good as a circle D-pad can feel, but on the other nothing was really done to improve upon the rather poor shoulder buttons. Like the original controllers, they have practically 0 travel and very little tactile feedback, which makes it quite difficult to tell if you’re actually hitting the shoulder button or not. There have been a few times I’ve found myself holding down the L button on my controller without even noticing, which would occasionally result in missed inputs depending on the game I’m playing.
+ Good quality controllers that feel like the original.
+ Based on slimmer, better feeling JP controller.
+ USB version supports both DirectInput and Xinput.
+ Long, sturdy cable for console version.
- Lack of information on the box for the USB version.
- USB controller's cable is just a tad too long.
- Awful shoulder buttons.
out of 10
The Retro-Bit Sega Saturn controllers look, feel, and play just like official controllers. If you’re looking for a brand new controller for your Saturn, or if you’re looking for that authentic Saturn feel with emulation, then I would definitely suggest picking up a Retro-Bit Saturn controller.