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Why Doesn't The 3DS XL Have A Second Circle Pad?

Posted on Tuesday, July 10 @ 15:08:55 Eastern by

While we were more than a little taken aback that a major hardware revision would be announced just weeks after E3 2012, the staff at GameRevolution was more surprised that it wouldn't come complete with the second circle pad embedded in the hardware.

The Circle Pad Pro added a second analog input and two spare should buttons to the 3DS when it was released along side Monster Hunter Tri G. Presumably, these functions were needed by third-party publishers and developers who were intent on delivering "hardcore" experiences on the 3DS, whether or not they felt Nintendo had prepared the system for those games.

And in fact, Nintendo has yet to publish a game that fully utilizes the Circle Pad Pro. Kid Icarus: Uprising, the only Nintendo-developed and -published title to support the attachment still requires users to direct their reticle with the stylus, instead allowing left-handed users to use the right circle pad to instruct Pit.


In total, there are only seven titles with support or planned support for the 3DS Circle Pad Pro. This is out of the hundreds of games released across both retail and eShop storefronts.

The reality is that the 3DS does not need a second circle pad and the lack of one on the body of the 3DS XL speaks volumes about the way Nintendo sees the peripheral. Instead of a core part of the 3DS business, the Circle Pad Pro bridges the gap between what Nintendo wants to do with the hardware and what third parties want to do with the hardware.

In a way, it's a genius strike at the Vita's feature set. The 3DS XL offers bigger screens, a constantly growing library, and the option of dual analog controls.


This means that ports and experiences that might truly be better tailored for the PlayStation Vita head to the 3DS instead. Why would a publisher looking to make back their investment in the fastest way possible publish for the Vita when the 3DS install base dwarfs that of Sony's handheld?

What's always ended in a loss for Nintendo might actually change with the 3DS. That the Japanese hardware manufacturer is willing to put out a $20 piece of plastic at all shows Capcom, Namco Bandai, EA, Activision, and other major third-party publishers, that their software will be comfortable on the Nintendo platform.

In this way, the 3DS XL doesn't need a second circle pad, so long as it has the software and momentum. The decision to leave out the secondary analog input and accessory shoulder triggers wasn't about future proofing the 3DS.


WIthout a huge swath of planned Cicle Pad Pro games in the pipeline, adding Circle Pad Pro functionality would have driven up the cost and dialed back the reward. When existing 3DS consumers factor into the equation, it probably seemed like a stupid idea to piss them off all over again.

As a current 3DS owner, a current PlayStation Vita owner, and a prospective 3DS XL consumer, my hope is that competition is driven on both sides. The Vita desperately needs third-party support, while the 3DS has it at the moment. With it, the 3DS XL certainly doesn't need to add a second circle pad.
Tags:   3DS, Nintendo
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