Friday, February 17, 2012

Game Accessory Review: Nintendo 3DS Circle Pad Pro

Back in September of 2011, Nintendo announced they would address all of the complaints about the 3DS not having a second analog stick, by creating an actual add-on with which to use on any future games that would add compatibility for it. Once Nintendo finally showed us a picture of how it looked, the results were mixed, and understandably so. I mean, look at it...

This is not exactly the most attractive piece of technology in the world. Comments ranged from "It's not too bad," all the way to "Dear God, what is that tumor coming out of the 3DS!?" Obvious over-dramatizations aside, it's simply not the prettiest thing on the market, and that makes it a difficult sell for many right off the bat. Even more confusing was the decision to make the circle pad pro a GameStop exclusive. I could understand them getting a title like Xenoblade Chronicles to be a retailer exclusive, as it appeals to a very niche market, but this attachment confined to one store is going a little far...

Alright, with the oddities about its actual release out of the way, we'll go into the product itself:


1. If Resident Evil: Revelations is any indication, this add-on WILL make gameplay better. Despite the positioning of the A/B/X/Y buttons on the handheld in conjunction with the circle pad accessory, the game was much smoother to control than it was with the initial default setup. Without the pad, you have to hold down a shoulder button to strafe from side to side, whereas using both analog sticks allows you to do this as easily as you could playing a console version of Resident Evil (4 or 5 mainly). That's not to say the game isn't playable without the pad (far from it in fact), but I think many who get the chance to compare the two will see a clear advantage here.

2. I am also happy to say this accessory does not feel as odd as it looks. There's little to no time when it comes to adjusting to how to hold it; it simply feels a tad bigger without also feeling like an original Xbox controller in the process.

3. The accessory also boasts a pretty nice list of upcoming compatible games to use with it. These titles include Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, and more. These happen to all be titles I am very much interested in playing.

And now we go to the opposite end of the spectrum.


1. Like stated before, this thing is ugly as hell. Comfortable to hold or not, this just isn't an attractive piece of equipment. It also does not help much in the sake of portability, as this makes the 3DS about half of size and bulk of the Sega Game Gear. For those who are too young to remember the Game Gear, know that thing was a monster...

2. It's very hard to justify a $20 price tag on something that many fans are already claiming they shouldn't even have to pay for. While I would not go that far myself, I can see where they're coming from, so the price does have to be noted here.

3. This thing requires the use of a AAA battery to get working. While it's not too big of a deal, it is still a minor inconvenience all the same.

4. In order to open the battery panel, you have to use a screwdriver. Yet another minor inconvenience.

5. The accessory is very awkwardly placed when it comes to the A/B/X/Y buttons being directly next to each other. While it doesn't cause any real issues with Resident Evil: Revelations, it is yet to be seen how this will play in with other compatible titles that come out.

6. The accessory is even more awkwardly placed when it comes to all the slots it actually blocks access to. You won't be able to reach your game slot or stylus pen slot without removing it. As more compatible games come out that you may want to switch between, this can become quite an annoyance in the future. At least they were kind enough not to block access to the A/C adapter slot...

7. By far the most annoying aspect about this piece, is that it all but guarantees that Nintendo will go back to the drawing board down the line and create a revised version of the 3DS with the second analog stick built in. It also makes consumers feel like this was an idea tacked-on at the last second, which as far as we know, may not even be too far off from the truth.

Despite all of the awkward flaws that plague it, I still recommend the 3DS Circle Pad Pro accessory for a few reasons. The first and most important, is that there is no real possibility of a revised 3DS coming out for quite some time. If you already have the handheld, then $20 for this extra piece isn't really the worst thing in the world. It also really does feel nice to control (so far) if you can get past the awkwardness of the design. Overall, I feel this accessory could have been quite a disaster and ended up being more a pleasant surprise, after having so many initial fears. If you are on the fence about it, I'd say that it won't go changing your life, but that I think you'll be happy with it all the same.

7 awkwardly made GameStop exclusives out of 10

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