We always welcome modern tech that works with retro tech, it feels as if our favourite old consoles are getting a new life.
This time, we are reviewing the Retro Fighters Defender controller for the PS1, PS2 and PS3.
If you’re new to Retro Fighters, they are well known for reinventing old controllers, transforming your retro consoles with a new look and feel, all while giving you an excuse to get them back out of the attic again.
The Defender line is their latest controller, featuring a PS1 wireless adapter and a USB wireless adapter that can be plugged into a PS2 and even a PS3, making it a three in one, which is great because a lot of competitors controllers on the market don’t do this.
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Do I like the way it’s designed?
Yes, I do. The original PS1 controller is famously small, especially for large adult hands, so having a new controller that resembles the same design as a new Xbox controller just makes sense to me.
Bigger is better when it comes to grip and it gives Retro Fighters more creativity when it comes to button placement, battery capacity and design.
The face is covered with 12 buttons, which to me, is far too many buttons. This is a personal preference so I won’t let this alter the overall score, but I do like minimal controllers and I think placing some of the less popular buttons to the back (or top/bottom) would have made this controller look a little more modern.
To me, the buttons are placed perfectly around the device, everything is easy to get to, the smaller buttons have ben labeled, and the analogue sticks rise nicely out of the device so my thumbs can rest comfortably on them.
However, I do have a couple of issues that need pointing out. Firstly, the D-PAD is just… meh, it’s very thin, and when moving your thumb quickly around the D-PAD I noticed very little feedback when I was sliding my thumbs, making it hard to recommend for those of you who are into fighting games.
The buttons have feedback when individually pressed in the form of a soft click, but this soft click disappears when moving your thumb simultaneously around the D-PAD.
Secondly, the design within the action buttons are hard to see when playing with the Defender. The symbols sit at the bottom interior of the button, and it looks like they use a transparent plastic that magnifies the symbol in a very weird way.
This is a little overkill, and makes it very hard to see unless you bring the controller up toy our face, and because the plastic is high gloss, it does get slippery when playing games or if you’re munching on snacks.
The stacked shoulder buttons are also placed well, and even though the L2/R2 buttons have little travel to them, they are comfortable and work as intended!
Between them you will find your USB-C slot for charging.
Does the controller perform well?
The wireless receivers for both the PS1 and the PS2/PS3 are very good, and are easy to connect to using the controller’s sync buttons.
The Retro Fighters Defender has a wireless range of over 30ft, but that’s with clear sight, we recorded a little less through walls, but nonetheless, 30ft is a great, if not more than we need!
In terms of battery life, after a full charge we were getting around 8+ hours of gameplay out of it, which again, is more than enough.
Anyone who spends more than 8 hours playing the best PS1 games can be classed as a lunatic or a legend, there’s a fine line.
When in game the turbo functionality comes in handy if you want to speed up some specific sections of the game, and the vibration feedback is of good strength too.
However it is worth mentioning that on the PS3 the Sixaxis functionality does not work, Retro Fighters are working on a new PS3 only controller for this.
Is it worth the price tag?
At $44.99 this is a very reasonable price, and Retro Fighters have always priced their products competitively, especially when you take into consideration that this is a Wireless model.
The fact that it can be played across three different models of the Playstation is what makes this (in my opinion) a worthy purchase if you have two or more of the models.
Yes, it’s still great for just one console, but it makes it a far more worthy investment if you use it across two or more of the consoles.
Overall the Defender from Retro Fighters is a great controller. Even though it has somewhat “ok” build quality and the D-PAD could be a little more responsive, the comfortable design, long battery life and 3-in-1 compatibility makes it a great snag for those of you that are wanting to resurrect your old Playstations.
It makes the original PS1 controller feel like a Tic Tac, keep up the great work Retro Fighters, and thank you for pricing it reasonably in a time when most gamers are struggling.
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A 31 year old British fella that’s had a Gameboy ever since he was a child. Brandon is the founder of RetroDodo and has created a YouTube channel with 260,000 subscribers dedicated to retro gaming products. He now wants to create the No.1 site to showcase the latest retro products from around the globe.