The Nintendo 3DS has its unique selling propositions, and top of the list are its glasses-free 3D, and its distinction as the world’s newest and most potent Mario and Zelda delivery system. And make no mistake, the latter is a bigger deal than 3D; Nintendo’s success relies on our affection for its beloved characters and franchises. That said, the 3DS itself is a nice piece of kit, and does lots of things right.
However, with the recent launch of Sony’s PS Vita into the handheld space, one of 3DS’s deficiencies has begun calling extra attention to itself. Or, as serious gamers might explain it, jumping up and down and screaming, leaping out of the handheld’s stereoscopic 3D screen, and stabbing them in the eye (because gamers are dramatic like that). Yes, the 3DS, a handheld launched less than a year ago, is equipped with only a single analog joypad—a suspect design decision on the part of Nintendo, according to many.
Conversely the Vita, like grown-up console controllers, features twin analog sticks in addition to a directional pad, a configuration now considered essential by most serious gamers, for anything other than casual games. Can you imagine, at this point, playing a Call of Duty game without a second stick? I’d frankly rather be stabbed in the eye.
Bear with me, though; this isn’t a hate piece. The inadequacy has been addressed. Enter Nintendo’s Circle Pad Pro, a $25 add-on cradle that retrofits the 3DS with a second analog slide pad on the right-hand side. And here’s the crux of the matter: If there’s a 3DS in your family, you want one. Depending on who you are, reasons vary.
- Hardcore gamers: Circle Pad Pro equips the 3DS for experiences you can’t have without it, and the gaming press is nearly unanimous in the view that it enhances the new 3DS releases Resident Evil Revelations and Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater (both of which are great).
- Nintendo fanboys: Kid Icarus is coming, and it’s probably going to be pretty good, but it’s also probably going to suck without a second stick. [EDIT: I’ve learned that Kid Icarus does utilize the Circle Pad Pro, but only as an alternate control scheme for lefties. The game’s core mechanic uses a combination of a single slide pad and the 3DS stylus.)
- Parents: a $25 add-on is cheaper than a $250 PS Vita, a device your kid is soon going to insist he can’t live without, unless you do something—and fast—to make the 3DS seem cutting edge again.
The Circle Pad Pro isn’t pretty, and it bloats the 3DS slightly past the pants pocket threshold (especially if you wear exceptionally skinny jeans. Mind you, if that’s the case, some would suggest you have bigger problems) but the peripheral inexpensively addresses the 3DS’s biggest shortcoming, and can easily be removed while playing games that don’t benefit from the second stick.
Circle Pad Pro
‘Side Mission Chris’ Vandergaag loves hearing from Canadian gamers, both the core and the casual. Follow him on Twitter: @ButNoSeriously