I am an absolute sucker when it comes to gamepads. There’s just something about them that I’m obsessed with.
So, the folks at BigBig Won sent over their Rainbow 2 Pro controller. While at first glance it looks like an Xbox controller, it can do far more than meets the eye.
There are two versions of this controller: one with just the controller itself, and one that comes with a charger, extra sticks, and a rubber-dome D-pad. BigBig Won sent me the one with the extras. Aside from the controller itself, here’s what it comes with:
- USB type C cable
- multilingual instruction manual
- USB dongle for wireless communication
- four sets of sticks – two that are medium height, two that are taller (the gamepad uses the short ones by default)
- rubber dome D-pad
The controller has foam circles surrounding the sticks upon unboxing. Actually a pretty good idea; this will keep the sticks from getting inadvertently tilted while the box ships.
Look and Feel⌗
It looks like an Xbox controller – asymmetrical sticks, headphone jack, ABXY buttons, Guide button, Start, Select, Share, shoulder buttons, triggers, you name it. However, it has two back buttons and two additional buttons on the top. The Guide button icon uses the BigBig Won logo (looks similar to a gladiator’s helmet). Sometimes this button will change color depending on what you’re doing with the controller.
Additionally, it has a Function button by the right stick that will allow you to:
- turn the RGBs on or off
- adjust the vibration strength
- set up simulated gyro
- flash an indicator, telling you what it’s doing when you’re re-mapping a button, setting up turbo, or setting up a macro recording
- adjust turbo frequency
- adjust volume of headphones if they’re connected
Towards the bottom of the controller are four buttons. From left to right, they function as follows:
- controller profile switching
Not much to say here as far as how the controller feels. It feels just like a regular Xbox controller. Not too small, not too big. The back grips are textured. The shoulder buttons and triggers are partially padded, just like the Xbox Series X|S controller.
The front-facing part of the controller is semi-transparent. Not quite translucent enough to see the intricacies of the motherboard, but you can see the main parts of it anyway.
On the back of the controller are two levers for adjusting the trigger deadzones, a connection for charging the gamepad with the included charger, and eight Phillips screws. There’s also a QR code for opening the instruction manual via your web browser.
The box comes with four extra sticks and a rubber-dome D-pad. You can easily take out the sticks by pulling them out and replacing it with a taller one or a shorter one. If you’d rather not use the 8-way D-pad that’s on the controller by default, you can pull this out too and replace it with the rubber-dome pad. Pretty nice to change these on the fly, depending on your preferences.
You can re-map any of the four extra buttons (M1 to M4) to any of the available buttons, either using the mobile app or using the second button on the bottom of the controller.
Want turbo? That’s here too. You can even adjust the frequency with which the button is mashed: five times per second, 10 times per second, or 20 times per second. Hell, there’s even macro recording! And adjustable rumble levels!
Joystick gyro can be simulated using the Function button plus the click of the stick you want to simulate. If you want to only activate the gyro for the right stick when a trigger is held, you can do that too.
Now let’s say you want a couple of separate profiles. Maybe you want a profile specifically set up for shooters. Another for use in Xbox mode. A third for really strong rumble. A fourth for having a couple of turbo buttons set up. The controller supports up to four different profiles! You can seamlessly switch between profiles by pressing the appropriate button on the gamepad.
Who says you need built-in software to calibrate the joysticks, triggers, or gyro? You can do all of that through the controller itself by pressing the appropriate button combination. The LEDs on the controller will change color to let you know what it’s doing.
The triggers can also be adjusted as to how far they can be pushed down. Using the levers on the back, these can be positioned upwards to make the trigger stop sooner when you press it. These can be useful for games that need a hair-like trigger response, such as first-person shooters. On the other hand, you may want to switch back to full-stop triggers for racing games. It’s all going to depend on your use case.
There’s three different methods of connectivity:
- wired (USB type C)
- wireless via the USB-C dongle
Naturally, if you want the fastest polling rate possible, you’ll want to use a wired connection. According to the BigBig Won website, the polling rate while using a wired connection is 1,000 Hz, or every millisecond. With the 2.4 GHz connection, that polling rate goes down to 200 Hz. Bluetooth would be 125 Hz. Pairing the controller via Bluetooth will require holding the pairing button on the top of the controller, then adding the device on the computer. Pairing the controller with the USB dongle is a similar process.
You can actually switch between “Xbox” mode and “Nintendo Switch” mode. After pressing the correct button combination, the controller LED colors will change, indicating the mode has switched. Putting the controller in Switch mode should enable the gyro (I put that word in italics, because Steam for some reason isn’t picking up the gyro), at the expense of the triggers becoming just buttons without any in-game sensitivity.
RGBs…gotta have ’em. There’s a light strip that surrounds the outer front part of the controller. With the mobile app that BigBig Won provides, you can customize the way the RGBs behave. There’s just way too many things to list here, but you can change the color with a RGB wheel, use one color on one side of the controller while using a different one on the other, use breathing effects, adjust the speed and brightness, and well, many, many other things.
But the light strip is also important when it comes to telling you what the controller is doing. Putting the gamepad in Xbox mode, for example, will turn the strip green. Putting it in Switch mode will make it red. Resetting the calibration of the joysticks/triggers will cause an orange breathing effect. Calibrating the gyro will cause the controller to blink purple. If the battery is low, the color will blink red. If you’re using the charger, the controller will turn a solid green when charging is complete.
There’s a Function button located by the right stick. If you press this twice, it will switch from the default color, to the color you defined in the app. Alternatively, if you’re the type that doesn’t like LEDs/RGBs, you can also set this off with this button.
Now that I’ve finally explained the overwhelming number of customization options you have with this controller, I can get into the actual experience of using the gamepad.
If you like clicky, you’re gonna like this. The D-pad and shoulder buttons are nice and “crisp” to the touch, if you will. The ABXY buttons aren’t quite as clicky. But they don’t feel cheap either.
Honestly, the turbo and macro buttons are things that I don’t need. I don’t even need to use the back paddles or the extra two buttons on the top. But those functionalities are there, should anyone else need to use them.
Steam is just not picking up the gyro and it’s a bit frustrating. I might need to set up some udev rules to actually get it to work. In the meantime I can use the simulated gyro controls. The problem with this though is that it simulates joystick movement as opposed to mouse, so it’s not going to offer the same precision as using mouse simulation.
Other than that, I don’t have much else to say. It mostly works as it should. When I have the gamepad set to Xbox mode, Pop!_OS will just not pick up the controller at all. So I have to use Switch mode for now, without being able to use analog triggers. Oddly enough though when using the gamepad on my Legion Go, only the Xbox mode will work. And then, on my Deck OLED, both modes work.
One thing that is missing though, is this controller could have benefited from having hall-effect sticks. I find it a bit funny that, despite the ridiculous amount of customization you have with this gamepad, the sticks themselves are using potentiometers. I won’t be surprised if this gamepad suffers from stick drift five years from now. It’s the one thing that would have made this controller the ultimate controller and where you wouldn’t need to buy another for a long time.
For the amount of customization with this controller, the $60 asking price with the extras is a pretty good deal. The box with just the controller is around $50. (This is going by the current prices on Amazon. The actual price may be higher depending on when and where you get it.) The RGBs are nice, being able to see the basic internals of the controller via the translucent shell is a plus. You get turbo, macro recording, four extra re-mappable buttons, adjustable stick length, adjustable D-pad feel, adjustable trigger length, Bluetooth, 2.4 GHz wireless, adjustable rumble, simulated gyro…the list just goes on and on.
On the Linux side of things, though, you probably won’t be able to get the native gyro to work (unless you get the proper udev rules set up). You’ll just have to use simulated joystick gyro for now. The potentiometer-based sticks are also a missed opportunity. Not a big deal but there isn’t a dark mode for the mobile app.
- a ridiculous amount of customization, from re-mappable buttons, to turbo, to macro recording, and everything in-between
- easily switch between a standard D-pad and a rubber-dome version
- easily swap out the sticks for a longer or shorter one, depending on your use case
- translucent front shell
- simulated gyro
- support for Xbox mode and Nintendo Switch mode
- adjustable trigger length
- not a bad asking price
- native gyro is not working on Linux
- intermittent connectivity issues depending on what device I’m using
- sticks are using potentiometers
- no dark mode for mobile app
Review sample sent courtesy of BigBig Won.
WARNING: LGC will be shutting down March 7, 2024. See this post for more details.