When you talk about video games, most people will probably think of game controllers immediately, even if a large chunk of these aren’t played that way. Even disregarding mobile games that only use touch screens, many are actually played with good, “old-fashioned” keyboard and mouse. There are, of course, keyboards made for gaming, with noisy mechanical switches and bright RBG lights, but most of these are designed to match the aesthetics of most computers, which is to say they almost always come in black, a few in off-white. Nothing screams “gaming,” however, more than a keyboard that’s designed to look like a gaming console. Ever the masters of making old things new, 8bitDo is coming out with its very first keyboard, one that pays homage to a gaming classic in an endearing and tasteful way.
8bitDo is a brand best known for its multitude of game controllers catering not just to console owners but also to PC gamers. Although many of these look like your typical gamepads, the company has a penchant for applying the design language of past gaming controllers to present products, giving an ode to the rich history of video games. Its portfolio, however, has been growing recently to cover other accessories and gadgets, including a wireless charging pad, a wireless speaker, and a computer mouse. For the first time, it’s dipping its toes into keyboard territory, and what better way to start that venture than with one of the most iconic consoles in history?
Launched in the 80s, the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES, which was called the Family Computer or Famicom in Japan, kickstarted Nintendo’s own journey from making playing cards to the gaming giant it is today. Although it is hardly the first home gaming console to be launched to the masses, it is one of the few to have gained worldwide acclaim to the point of being an icon. The new 8bitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard pays tribute to this landmark gaming device but does more than just get a paint job to match the gray or red themes of the NES and Famicom, respectively.
The retro keyboard is filled to the brim with details that will really give you that old-school vibe, from the fonts used on the keycaps to the analogy dials for volume and for switching between Bluetooth or Wireless modes. There’s even a classic power light that thankfully uses a more modern LED. The package also includes two giant programmable red buttons in the style of the A and B buttons of the original NES controller. You can connect up to four of these pairs via a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is a pretty old-school connector by now.
As for the keyboard itself, it’s a tenkeyless keyboard, which means you don’t get a numeric keypad on the side. Like with many mechanical keyboards, you have the option to change not only the keycaps but even the switches to your liking. It can connect via Bluetooth, the included wireless RF receiver, or a USB cable. Unlike most gaming keyboards, however, there is no backlighting at all. The 8bitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard costs $99.99 and will ship starting in September. If you really dig the NES motif, you might be tempted to also grab the brand’s N30 wireless mouse which was also inspired by the classic console.