We’ve recently been handed Nintendo’s latest accessory to try out for 3DS and an exceedingly useful piece of kit it is too. The Circle Pad Pro is a caddy for your existing system to sit in which comes complete with its own analogue stick, thereby providing you with the joy of dual analogue support.
Communicating with your console via the 3DS’s infrared port, the Circle Pad requires a battery in order to function (provided), is shaped so as to provide access to the console’s headphone input and myriad side buttons and even adds two extra buttons via its shoulders: ZL and ZR.
As Nintendo were also kind enough to provide us with Resident Evil: Revelations to try it out on (review coming soon) we’ve been able to put the accessory through its paces. The difference in control provided proving nothing short of staggering on Capcom’s latest horrorshow.
Without the accessory you’ll find yourself moving Resident Evil’s Chris, Jill et al via the sole analogue stick, your only option for adjusting the game’s swooping camera becoming the touchscreen itself.
Worse, once in classic Resident Evil shooting stance, the analogue stick becomes your means of aiming while the ability to move in such a situation becomes an hugely inaccessible muddle of buttons – particularly considering you’ll also be hitting ‘Y’ to fire, ‘B’ to reload and all while attempting to dodge the attentions of the various sea zombies.
With the Circle Pro attached however your ability to retreat while firing is as simple as pulling back with left stick, aiming with the right and hitting the right shoulder button to fire – a familiar control combination that’s second nature to anybody with even a modicum of gaming experience.
Opening doors becomes a quick press of the right shoulder button, properly aiming grenades is a simple as directing the camera via the right stick, while exploring the game’s environments is made similarly simple – and believe us, the interiors of Revelations’ Queen Zenobia are well worth a second glance.
In fact, from our experience, we’d go as far as saying that for an action game such as Revelations the Circle Pad is as essential an accessory as the Wii’s nunchuk is for adventure games. That we’re currently re-editing our Revelations review in light of these new found control options only adds weight to our overarching question to Nintendo: why not include a second analogue stick on 3DS by default?
For one, lugging around yet another device in our bag is far from ideal, secondly the device runs on battery which means yet another drain on our dwindling supply of AAAs, third the Circle Pro is more a beast than a beauty – it’s cumbersome frame and matt black detracting from the cool cubic looks of our 3DS while, lastly, it costs money – £19.99 in fact for a device that we’d argue should never have had to exist in the first place.
Nintendo: We like the extra control it grants – but then we already knew dual analogue control was far superior than that offered by a single stick, did you see the PSP? We’re glad you’ve built a console powerful enough to run action games not a million miles away from those seen on PS3 and Xbox 360 too but, having done so, why not provide us with a method to control such games by default?
While we recommend purchase of the Circle Pad Pro – we have to given the impact it makes to action games – we can only think of two options in answer to the above question. 1) That Nintendo didn’t have the foresight to see the impending bottleneck in control (doubtful we’d guess), or 2) That Nintendo were keen to put to market yet another ‘essential’ accessory, following hot on the heels of the Wii Motion Plus.
What can we expect for Wii U? The screen missing from the controller, but available from all good stockists? Your guess is as good as ours.