Retrogaming is a fantastic hobby that is made even more enjoyable when you use real original hardware. Emulators are convenient, but the real deal just feels better. Unfortunately, many vintage consoles were designed before the concept of ergonomics and had downright painful controllers. Even when that’s not the case, controllers can be expensive and the cost really adds up when you want a handful of people to play. To solve both problems, Jacques Gagnon developed an adapter called BlueRetro that gives you the ability to use modern Bluetooth controllers with classic consoles.
Let’s say you have a Nintendo 64 and want to play Goldeneye 007 with three of your best friends (soon to be enemies), but you don’t have enough controllers for everyone to play. You can plug in your BlueRetro-N64 adapter cable into the four sockets on the N64, plug the other side into the DB-25 connector, wirelessly select the appropriate configuration, connect your modern controllers via Bluetooth, and start playing! So far, Gagnon has developed adapters for the Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube, and Sega Dreamcast. BlueRetro works with controllers from the Sony PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, Nintendo Wii, and Switch, as well as generic Bluetooth HID gamepads and keyboards.
The heart of the BlueRetro hardware is an ESP32 module. Gagnon intentionally programmed the whole Bluetooth stack to run in just one of the ESP32’s cores, so you can utilize that portion of the code in other projects. For BlueRetro, the console interface runs on the ESP32’s second core. The configuration can be altered through a website hosted on the ESP32 and accessed via Bluetooth. Through that, you can reconfigure virtually every aspect of the control scheme, so you can map the buttons however you like — including inverting axes, enabling turbo functionality, and so on. BlueRetro already works with the previously mentioned systems, and should work with many more in the future has the specific adapter cables are designed.