Impressions: 8bitdo Zero 2

  • Manufacturer: 8bitdo
  • Model: Zero 2
  • Compatibility: Switch, PC, Mac, Android, Raspberry Pi
  • Battery: 180 mAh Li-on / 8 hours of play / 1-2 hours of charging time / recharging via micro-USB port
  • Dimensions and weight: 7.3 x 3.65 x 1.47 cm / 20.7 g
  • Official site

Introducing: 8bitdo Zero 2

Like sunshine melting the ice.

How tiny can you get? No, seriously! The Zero 2 by 8bitdo is definitely the smallest controller for the Switch at the moment. It’s so tiny that the strap you connect to it (makes total sense, otherwise you would lose that infinitesimal device) is double the length of the controller.
Well, what can you expect from the thing? Good that you ask. There is a dpad, START, SELECT, A, B, X, Y as well as L and R buttons. There are neither ZL/ZR, +/- nor home or screenshot buttons. There is no analog stick either, lest alone a second one. Thankfully 8bitdo implemented two button combinations to make home and ZL/ZR available: dpad-down + SELECT equals home and SELECT + START switches L/R to ZL/ZR. Both while the controller is connected to the Switch, of course.

So far, so good. But can you actually use the thumb-size thing? Let’s find out by playing some games!

The test run begins!

First, I tried Tetris 99. Tetris worked on an old Gameboy with a dpad and just two buttons, so the Zero 2 should have no problems with it, right? Well, wrong! While turning the blocks with the buttons was easily done, moving them with the dpad was impossible. Flabberghastedly, I ensured that the device was in Switch mode (it was) and was using the latest firmware v1.05 (again, it was). What a shame!

Next on my list was Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. Here, the dpad worked as expected. I could navigate the world, I could jump and I could fire the pistol. I couldn’t, however, use neither hat nor scimitar as those are mapped to the ZL/ZR buttons. Fear not, I thought, for I can change L/R to the desired buttons with a press of SELECT and START. Oh, silly me! Both START and SELECT are mapped to actions within the game. One opens the pause menu, the other map and inventory. Pressing both at the same time opens one of either. Alas, no half-genie fun with the quarter-sized controller.

Hollow Knight was the next game on my list. And to make a long story short, here again missing buttons made me miss out on the enjoyment. It was playable, but without ZL/ZR there is no dash and super dash and without +/- pause menu and inventory stay hidden. This is not the way to play.

Does the controller have a use, then?

Indeed, it does. The build quality is as expected from 8bitdo. It’s sturdy and the buttons have a nice and very quiet feel to it. It’s hard to use for a longer time (that means for more than ten minutes with my rather huge hands), but it will not budge. It also looks cool and comes with a strap, so in the end I added it to my backpack. It now resides comfortably next to my Mimikyu plushy and looks pretty dapper there. I think Mimikyu is happy to have something to play with, too.

If you are looking for an ultra-portable controller for your Switch, the Zero 2 might fit your needs because of its size, but not for its features. Unless your games only need the buttons provided, you shouldn’t invest in this gadget. The build quality on the other hand is top, so if you’re in for a novelty item as a decoration, it’s a thing to have.