8BitDo’s $100 wireless mechanical keyboard screams ’80s NES

by owner

Iconic, impactful, and unforgettable, the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) changed the video game industry for good when it came out in the ’80s. Originally released as the Family Computer, aka Famicom, in Japan, the landmark console still holds a place in people’s hearts, whether it’s through cherished maintained consoles, DIY designs, or old-school titles. Now that nostalgia can trickle down to your fingertips, too.

Today, 8BitDo, a gaming peripherals maker with a flair for retro designs, announced via Twitter a mechanical keyboard that will give ’80s Nintendo fans the warm fuzzies. 8BitDo, likely aware of Nintendo’s stringent legal team, doesn’t outright state the keyboard’s similarity to the original Nintendo console. And the product’s name, Retro Mechanical Keyboard, is vague and unrevealing. But the colors, extra buttons, and color scheme names—N Edition (with NES colors) and Fami Edition (with Famicom colors)—are enough to bring you back to your ’80s gaming den.

Both the N and Fami Edition have console-controller-looking “B” and “A” buttons where FN and Menu keys are expected. The keys, as like the rest of the keyboard’s keys, are programmable without software or using 8BitDo’s Ultimate Software V2.

But the real standouts compared to other mechanical keyboards are the “Dual Super Buttons” 8BitDo is including. They connect to the keyboard via a 3.5 mm jack and can be programmed to perform macros or other forms of input, also without having to download software. The massive buttons should offer a satisfying tactile feel, since they use clicky Gateron Green mechanical switches. They won’t smash repeatedly as quickly and easily as linear switches might have, but they’re a nice nod to the NES controller if you can find use for them. Their size and clickiness bring some arcade vibes, too.

8Bitdo says you can connect up to four Dual Super Buttons (for eight super buttons total) to the keyboard. They go for $20 apiece when purchased separately.

The switches in the actual keyboard should feel lighter to depress. They’re Kailh Box White switches, which are also clicky but require less force (60 g versus 65 g) and travel (1.8 mm versus 2 mm) to actuate than the switches in the giant Super Buttons.

Retro designs are fun and all, but 8BitDo was wise to include some more modern features, like support for the keyboard to connect to systems via a USB-A cable, a USB-A 2.4 GHz dongle (which you can store in an integrated compartment), or Bluetooth Low Energy.

8BitDo seemingly put some care into keycap selection, as well. Mechanical keyboards from newcomers or with cheaper prices often settle for ABS plastic with legends that could eventually wear away. 8BitDo opted for PBT plastic with dye-sublimated legends and an “MDA-like height” with more sculpting than the oft-used Cherry or OEM profiles.

Leave a Comment