Retro-Bit did a really nice job on the box, which as far as I can tell looks almost identical to the boxes that Sega shipped their 6 button controllers in back in the 90's. The plastic insert inside the box that holds the controller in place is rather flimsy feeling, but the controller it holds is most certainly not. To cut straight to the chase, let's take a look at Retro-Bit's offering next to an original 6 button Genesis controller from 1994 that I purchased brand new on eBay a couple months ago and have only put a few hours of use on since then.
From the outside it's clear that Retro-Bit's partnership with Sega on this project was a fruitful one. The color, feel, fit and finish of the controller's shell is absolutely identical to the original Sega controller and the cord looks and feels the same as well; with the only difference being that the Retro-Bit controller features a 10 foot long cord as opposed to the 6 foot cord on the Sega controller. Aside from the lack of a "TM" next to the Sega logo on the front and the addition of the Retro-Bit logo on the back, the text on the controller is just the same as the original and the only obvious difference is that the finish on the D-pad and A/B/C buttons on the Retro-Bit controller have a soft matte texture to them whereas the D-pad and A/B/C buttons on the original controller are slightly glossy. As long as we're on the subject of the D-pad and buttons, when pressed down the only difference I could feel between Retro-Bit's D-pad and buttons and the original were that the Retro-Bit ones required ever so slightly more pressure to activate; somewhere in the area of 3 to 5 grams of actuation force if I had to venture a guess.
To give them a proper test with a fairly demanding game I popped Mortal Kombat II into my Genesis and first did a full play through of the tournament mode with my original Sega controller, then upon beating the tournament did a second play through with the Retro-Bit controller. After two play through's of MK II's tournament I'm pleased (and a little surprised, to be completely honest) to say that I could find no discernible difference in build quality or function between Retro-Bit's new Genesis controller and Sega's original from 1994. During the 45 minutes or so I spent playing through MK II's tournament mode with the Retro-Bit controller I never once experienced a false input and in practice the tiny bit of extra force required to move the D-Pad and buttons was negligible. My thumbs didn't feel any more tired after playing with Retro-Bit's controller than Sega's and none of my movements felt any slower or less precise.
In order to get a better idea of why Retro-Bit's controller performed every bit as good as Sega's original, let's open them up and take a look inside.
Peering inside, it quickly becomes apparent why Retro-Bit's new Genesis controller performs so well. It is in every respect, down to the millimeter, an exact copy of the original Sega design. They are so identical that I would be very surprised if they weren't using the same mold that the originals were made with. With the exception of the screws that secure the two shell halves together (which are slightly longer on the Sega controller) every part is 100% interchangeable between the two controllers. In fact, when I swapped the silicone button and D-pad contact pads from the Sega controller into the Retro-Bit one the actuation force required to press the D-Pad and buttons became exactly the same as the Sega controller had; which makes it pretty clear that the only reason the Retro-Bit controller's buttons and D-pad required a tiny bit more force to press is because it has brand new silicone pads in it and the Sega controller's silicone pads are about 25 years old at this point.
The especially nice thing about Retro-Bit's controllers being internally identical to the original Sega ones is that if you do ever manage to wear out the silicone button contacts or any other part then they can be easily replaced with any of the numerous replacement parts on the market made for Sega's original controllers. With that future proofing in mind I give Retro-Bit's Sega Genesis 6 Button Arcade Pads my highest recommendation.
Never in my life have I encountered a third party controller for any system that was such a perfect copy of the original first party controller as these, and at only $15 each and officially licensed by Sega there's absolutely no reason whatsoever that I can think of to go try and hunt down a used original Sega controller when Retro-Bit's new Genesis controllers are available. They are, for all practical purposes, the exact same controller. Whether your looking for some top quality wired controllers to pair with your new Analogue Mega Sg or just need a good controller or two for your trusty old Genesis, I don't think you'll find a better option than Retro-Bit's Sega Genesis controllers anywhere; past or present.
Edited by Jin, Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:58 AM.