Retro Fighters Jab Gamepad Review: Modern NES Controller
A while back, I wrote about a brand new NES controller being created by the team, Retro Fighters. Just a few days ago, Retro Fighters sent me their jab gamepad in the mail! If you want to learn more about the idea behind the controller, take a look at our original overview. I was pretty excited to pull this out of the box and dig in, so let’s get started.
First impressions are important. And Retro Fighters didn’t disappoint. The packaging was much more professional than I expected. The controller is displayed proudly through the clear plastic with a decent amount of information on the box.
It’s a box that I definitely wouldn’t mind keeping. It’s sturdy enough to store the controller when I’m done with it and attractive enough to keep it displayed by my NES.
Aside from the controller, there are a few other things packed inside. To be honest, the first thing I noticed when I opened my mail was the keychain that came inside.
It’s the little things, ya know?
A small guide is also included that walks you through details about the controller. It explains how each button functions and how to use the turbo feature. My favorite part about the booklet is their suggestions of what types of games work best with what play style. We’ll get more into that later.
The Controller Design
The jab gamepad features an NES compatible 7 pin connector and a USB. The controller itself is very well made. It has a comfortable design that fits well in older hands. It has a great weight to it and doesn’t feel cheaply made like other 3rd party controllers. Button placements feel natural and movement on the d-pad is smooth. It’s essentially a modern day gaming controller for the NES. If you’ve grown accustomed to playing games on controllers like the Xbox 360, the shoulder buttons and analog sticks will feel just right. This controller is definitely one of the more well built 3rd party retro gaming gamepads.
How it Plays
So, of course I took this thing for a spin. Retro Fighters suggests what games best fit the different play styles. I took them up on their suggestions.
First up? Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! I played this traditionally with the face buttons and d-pad. I picked this game because delays are easily noticeable and I’m happy to report I noticed none!
Next, I popped in Super Mario Bros. Again, there were no delays and it felt great playing on the gamepad.
I wanted to test the analog sticks after, so I put in a game with more of a free-roam component. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the Arcade Game was my choice. Using the analog stick to move my character — Rafael of course — was extremely smooth. I also tried the analog with a few other games like Stinger, Double Dragon, and Star Soldier. The triggers also were a nice touch when playing the shooters. The shoulder buttons are also recommended for those style games, but I personally preferred the triggers.
Ultimately, the jab gamepad is a controller designed for a personalized gaming experience. Retro Fighters could have stopped at adding a d-pad and A and B buttons to a new controller shape, but they decided to take it a step further. By adding different options like analogs, shoulder buttons, and triggers, players are given the ability to play anyway they like. Retro Fighters did a great job delivering a fresh way to play our favorite classics. I look forward to using this controller to my retro gaming routine!