It can be difficult to differentiate oneself in the crowded mechanical keyboard market. The variety of providers and customization options means there’s something for everybody. But retro gaming controller outfit 8BitDo has created something original and highly alluring to nostalgia fiends like yours truly.
You might recognize 8BitDo’s name from their reimagined versions of controllers from the 80s and 90s, which can be used with modern consoles, PCs and phones alike. But this keyboard is something else entirely.
As a wireless mechanical, its closest competitor is probably Keychron’s well-known boards, but this is a fully custom PCB and style made purely for fans of the NES and Famicom 8-bit game consoles. Although the two styles are functionally the same, aesthetically the Famicom version is primarily for the Japanese market, with kanji and the color scheme that went with their version of the legendary console.
The 87-key board is a familiar full-size TKL layout with some interesting additions. There are two dials in the top left there, one for selecting the wireless mode (Bluetooth or 2.4GHz wireless), and a sweet little volume dial. The little circles next to it are indicator lights.
Then there are the big cherry-red A and B buttons between the right ctrl and alt. These (like the rest of the keyboard) are fully customizable with macros or functions, for instance play/pause and “launch NES emulator.” You set them via dedicated keyboard mapper software.
But the keyboard also comes with a unique add-on peripheral: a pair of “super buttons” that perform the A and B functions while being… well, entertainingly huge. They’re not touchpads or analog or anything. Just gigantic buttons! There are actually cable ports for four buttons, if you want to buy X and Y for that Super Famicom feel.
I’m genuinely not sure what the point is of these things, and that’s why I love them. I’ve considered grabbing a small control panel for quick mute on video calls and other frequently used shortcuts, but they’re all so boring! This could be the whimsical alternative I’ve been looking for.
At $100 on Amazon, it’s firmly in the middle range for mechanicals; you can get one for $50, sure, but the ones we’ve found ourselves recommending are in the $100-$150 range, above which you start paying for exotic layouts and switches, or extra ergonomic features.
If you feel like customizing, though, you’re welcome to — the keycaps are swappable, though I believe the Kailh Box White switches would be a pain to replace.
We’ll be sure to get one of these to test and include in our next keyboard roundup. In the meantime, I have a feeling certain people will be ordering one sight unseen simply due to the aesthetic.