Review: The Retro-Bit SEGA Saturn and Legacy16 controllers are decent with compromises

Retro-bit recently launched the SEGA Saturn 2.4GHz Wireless Pro Controller. This is a controller designed in collaboration with SEGA and features the look and feel of the original Saturn controller, but with newer technologies and inputs. A couple of years ago, they also released the Legacy16 2.4GHz wireless controller, modeled after the SNES controller. The Retro-Bit team was kind enough to send me samples of both which I will review in the following article because they are so similar. Both controllers are available at a variety of retailers including Amazon and Castlemania Games.

Both controllers are designed to look like (or at least very similar to) classic gaming controllers. However, to accommodate modern hardware designs, some changes have been made. For example, both controllers feature two thumbsticks (Hall effect for Saturn and analog for Legacy16), a capture button, a Home button, and ZR and ZL buttons. Additionally, both controllers can be charged via USB-C. Overall, nothing too special. It’s also worth noting that the Saturn controller offers loud motors while the Legacy16 does not. Not a problem for me, as most games I would use the Legacy16 for don’t have any rumble.

Ergonomically, the Saturn controller is very nice. I’ve never played a SEGA Saturn before, but this controller is comfortable. The Legacy16 is fine. The original SNES controller usually has more circular ends but with the addition of the analog sticks, the space at the bottom has filled up making it slightly less comfortable than the original. It’s not bad, but it’s not as good as the original. The buttons are all exactly where you would expect them, with the exception of the shoulder buttons which are slightly different because they have been split in half. That said, my fingers naturally gravitate towards the more raised L and R buttons which feel nice despite how thin they are.

In terms of appearance, the Saturn controller looks great in gray with colored buttons. I’m sure this was possible due to SEGA working with the team on this item. The Legacy16 looks great in the white and gray color scheme, although I wish it had the same pop of color for the buttons to mimic the Super Famicom controller, but I’m sure the licensing prevented that. Both controllers have black options, if that’s more your thing, and they look stylish even if the Saturn controller misses out on the colored buttons.

Now it’s time to talk about what you’re really interested in: how do controllers work? They work? Any secrets? I have to point this out considering the fact that I don’t have a SEGA Saturn and therefore can’t speak to how it works with the original console. However, I connected it to my Nintendo Switch and was immediately disappointed. The way the controller is mapped isn’t how you might like it. When I went to play some SEGA Genesis games via Nintendo Switch Online, the D-Pad was mapped correctly and the A and B buttons were mapped correctly, but nothing else seemed to line up as I had hoped. The worst part is that you can’t remap the controller on Switch! That said, you can use it perfectly on a PC since you can easily remap things there.

Meanwhile, the Legacy16 works perfectly on Nintendo Switch. I imagine this probably has to do with the 1:1 button layout. I also found it nice to use for titles outside of Nintendo Switch Online such as Mega Man X Collection. Basically, for basic ports and remasters of SNES and GB/GBA games, I prefer Legacy16. The D-Pad is more prominent making the controls a little more natural. I was also able to take out my SNES and see how it runs on the original console. It took some troubleshooting, but after using a paper clip to reset the controller, I was able to sync the controller to the receiver. Once synced, I had no problems. The controller worked perfectly and I didn’t notice any latency issues or anything else.

What is my final verdict? There are pros and cons to both controllers. If you plan to use the Saturn controller with a PC, you have nothing to worry about and I imagine the same goes for a Saturn console. It feels great in the hands, has Hall effect joysticks that feel nicer than the Legacy16’s analog sticks, and dual-roar motors. Unfortunately, the controller mapping isn’t great if you want to use it for Nintendo Switch Online games like I did. Meanwhile, the Legacy16 trades rumble, Hall effect, and slightly worse ergonomics for perfect mapping that works on every platform I tested it on as expected (though the reset required to sync with the SNES receiver was a bit awkward ). I wish Retro-bit could work with Nintendo to get more colored controllers for the Super Famicom, but that’s okay. Ultimately, I think both controllers deserve the score listed below, although if the mapping is changed for the Saturn one, it could go up a point or two.

by Tommy Williams
Source: Geek Tyrant

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