A little more than a decade ago, an industrial designer named Daniel Jansson unveiled his latest creation: a computer mouse inspired by the Nintendo Entertainment System’s iconic controller. It was a thing of absolute beauty; a truly ingenious piece of design that perfectly instilled the ethos of the original product while simultaneously transforming it into something totally new. The NES never had a mouse of its own of course, unlike the Super NES and Nintendo 64, but Jansson’s design is exactly what one would have looked like. The only problem with Jansson’s mouse was that it was a non-functional, one-off prototype made of foam.
Now, in the year of our Lord 2019, neo-retro hardware manufacturer 8BitDo has licensed Jansson’s design and turned it into a real product available for purchase: the N30 2.4g Wireless Mouse. Compatible with Windows machines and computers running macOS, the mouse features a hidden touch bar between the buttons for use as a scroll wheel. The four directions of the d-pad are mapped to Page Up, Page Down, Forward, and “Upward,” which is a designation that I’ve never before encountered with regards to a function on a mouse, so who knows what that could possibly mean.
The mouse connects to your computer via standard 2.4g wireless (dongle included), rather than Bluetooth, but I’d assume that’s one of the reasons why this beautiful little thing only costs $24.99. Its optical sensor is rated at 1,000 DPI (perfectly acceptable) and it should last for a little over 100 hours on a single AA battery (also fine), but there’s no USB port for non-wireless use. Kind of a bummer but, again, not surprising for a non-gaming mouse at this price point. It’d be cool to see 8BitDo offer a “Super” version of the N30 with Bluetooth and a rechargeable battery, but at that point the increased cost might start to outweigh the novelty factor.
Just like the original controller, the N30 probably isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world to use for extended periods, but that’s not really the point. This mouse wasn’t built to enable max-level pro esports maneuvers, it’s just supposed to look dope AF next to your 60-percent mechanical keyboard. It’s supposed to be an affordable gift for the retro-savvy enthusiast in your life. It’s supposed to hang out in your laptop bag until you need to work on some homework at a Starbucks, where someone will ask where you got it and that person ends up being the love of your life. Isn’t a lifetime of happiness and companionship better than frivolous luxuries like adjustable DPI settings or Bluetooth connectivity?
In the years since the mouse was first designed, Jansson has started a YouTube channel where he teaches folk how to “Make a Knife Handle From Cat Hair” and “Make a Game Cartridge Hard Drive,” among other useful life skills. His design portfolio has also grown to include everything from commercial packaging for liquid products, to IKEA art installations, along with a fidget toy developed years before those were a thing.