The TurboGrafx-16 Mini is a fun retro game console with a ton of great games, many of which support more than one player. Unfortunately, it only comes with one controller, and that one’s wired. 8Bitdo has a solution that lets you cut the cord to enjoy wireless gaming, or enjoy two-player gaming on the console, in the form of the TG16 2.4g. It’s a $24.99 wireless gamepad inspired by the TurboGrafx-16 and designed for the mini console. It’s easy to use and feels good to play with, and you can even use it with the Nintendo Switch, though it’s still very limited outside of the TurboGrafx-16 Mini.
8Bitdo once again strives to appeal to fans of all variations of the retro consoles its controllers evoke, with three versions based on the different primary TurboGrafx-16 releases. The gamepad comes in TG16 (black with yellow lettering, TurboGrafx-16-style), PCE (white with black and red lettering and buttons, PC Engine-style), or PCE Core (black with blue and gray lettering, (PC Engine CoreGrafx-style).
The TG16 2.4g is more rounded and slightly narrower than the controller that comes with the TurboGrafx-16 Mini. The top and bottom edges are curved rather than flat, and at five inches wide, it measures nearly half an inch thinner than the wired gamepad. It preserves the signature U-shaped panel on the front, though it holds an 8Bitdo power button rather than the TurboGrafx-16 logo. The physical controls are identical in size and shape to the wired gamepad, with a circular direction pad with a prominent plus-shaped surface for the cardinal directions, and convex face buttons.
The three-way turbo switches found on the original TurboGrafx-16 and TurboGrax-16 Mini gamepads are gone, replaced by a second pair of identical I and II face buttons that serve as turbo fire versions of the buttons below them. This design change makes switching between turbo fire and normal fire much faster, but the controller loses a bit of its charm without those tiny switches.
The top edge of the TG16 holds a micro USB port for charging the built-in battery (a USB-to-micro USB cable is included). According to 8Bitdo, the gamepad can last up to 18 hours before it needs a charge. Two indicator LEDs flank the micro USB port, indicating power and connection status.
Receiver and Compatibility
The 2.4GHz USB dongle is standard 8Bitdo fare, a small, rectangular USB fob with a brick-textured casing that evokes Super Mario Bros. blocks, harkening back to the company’s original NES-inspired peripherals. It looks identical to any other 8Bitdo USB adapter, just black instead of brown or gray. The TG16 doesn’t have a compartment to store the receiver when not in use, so you’ll probably want to keep it plugged into your device of choice if you don’t want to lose it.
The TRG16 2.4g is designed to work with the TurboGrafx-16 Mini, but it can also work with the Nintendo Switch if you plug the receiver into a USB port on the Switch’s dock (it won’t work with the Nintendo Switch Lite). This is useful when playing games on Nintendo Switch Online, but SNES titles and any other games that require more than two face buttons won’t work so well.
If you plug the receiver into a Windows PC, the gamepad will be detected, but it won’t work properly. I was unable to configure the TG16 2.4g to work with even simple retro platformers on Steam like Shovel Knight or Soviet Jump Game. Of course, there’s no shortage of excellent controllers for your PC, even if this isn’t one of them.
I played a few different games on the TurboGrafx-16 Mini with the TG16 2.4g. The gamepad connected wirelessly to the system through the receiver as soon as I turned both on, and responded exactly as intended. Dungeon crawling in Ys: Books I and II and shooting at different enemies in Lords of Thunder, Galaga ‘88, and Ginga Fukei Densetsu Saphire all felt responsive. The direction pad let me carefully guide my ships and warriors around busy maps, and the face buttons didn’t fail to fire. The upper buttons provided rapid fire without issue, and being able to switch between rapid fire and single fire without flipping a switch on the gamepad is quick and easy.
An Optimal TurboGrafx-16 Mini Accessory
The 8Bigdo TG16 2.4g is a useful accessory for the TurboGrafx-16 Mini, but it’s very limited otherwise. It works flawlessly with the TurboGrafx-16 Mini itself and is compatible with the Nintendo Switch for (mostly) NES games, but it doesn’t work with PCs out of the box. Still, at $25, it’s a very good peripheral for the mini console, especially considering it only comes with one wired controller, and the TG16 2.4g is only a few dollars more than a second official controller. It adds wireless convenience and two-player capabilities to the TurboGrafx-16 Mini, which is worthwhile on its own. It’s just a shame you can’t do much more with it.