Old-school gaming meets new-school tech with wireless NES adapter

Tired of tripping over cords while playing your favorite Nintendo Entertainment System games on the original console? Analogue and 8BitDo release a Bluetooth controller adapter for the classic device.

Danny Gallagher
CNET freelancer Danny Gallagher has contributed to Cracked.com, Mental Floss, Maxim, Break.com, Mandatory, Jackbox Games, Geeks Who Drink and many, many other publications in his never-ending quest to bring the world's productivity to a screeching halt. He lives and works in Dallas. Email Danny.
Danny Gallagher
2 min read

The original Nintendo Entertainment System was a groundbreaking game console that pulled a dying industry out of the hellfire of economic damnation. A number of companies released wireless controllers for the NES during the console's salad days, but they failed to connect, both figuratively and literally.

The classic game console may have just scored the wireless upgrade it deserves with a new Bluetooth-enabled adapter called the Retro Receiver. The retro hardware builders at Analogue who released the NES console Analogue Nt in 2015 teamed up with the wireless controller company 8Bitdo to design and release the Bluetooth controller adapter.

The Retro Receiver is a seven-pin female adapter that fits into the controller port for the original NES or any third-party console that uses Nintendo's uniquely shaped controller port. The adapter can connect to several different wireless Bluetooth controllers, including any 8Bitdo controller, a Sony PS3 and PS4 controller, a Nintendo Wiimote and Wii U Pro controller and any arcade stick with Bluetooth capabilities. The adapters can also be used as a Bluetooth input device on a PC or Mac computer with a Micro-USB output that connects to a USB port.


Analogue's new Retro Receiver brings the NES into the era of Bluetooth technology.


Microsoft's Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers are not compatible with Analogue's receiver, according to the latter's website.

The fatal flaw with the majority of wireless devices for the NES such as the NES Satellite -- an adapter that connected up to four controllers at once through an adapter that was half the size of the original console -- was its infrared communication technology that required a very steady hand or surface in order to keep them connected, said Analogue's founder and owner Christopher Taber.

"It was the same technology that you'd find in old television remotes," Taber said. "So the device has to be pointed directly at the system. The NES Satellite had two pieces. One piece you had to plug into the system and the other was this giant, rectangular box that you would plug your wired controller into so it's not truly a wireless system."

The Retro Receiver "works just like any next-gen system or wireless controller" and can respond to players' button movements or furious mashing just as fast as Nintendo's wired GamePad, Taber said.

"There is no latency that affects the gameplay at all," he said, "which is one of the big things for gamers when every single jump counts."

The button layouts have also been predetermined by Analogue and 8Bitdo in a way that's "most sensible" to the original NES controller, Taber said.

The layouts for each controller are listed on the support page of 8Bitdo's website and include the traditional D-Pad buttons, the B and A action buttons and the "Select" and "Start" option buttons. Taber said they also added two turbo buttons to the controller layouts "for games that give you carpel tunnel syndrome because you have to continually press the buttons over and over again."