Circle Pad Pro Functionality Adds to “New” Nintendo 3DS

[Images not to scale.]

Nintendo unveiled it's "New" Nintendo 3DS hardware all over again at an event last week organized for Western games media coverage and GameRevolution was there. Between the morning's Nintendo Direct and the discussion of games there, it was a little like walking into E3 without knowing what had happened at the press conferences the day before.

We heard about how Nintendo is doing as a company and we heard about the product and software teams readying "New" Nintendo 3DS hardware for launch in February alongside some enticing looking software, but I still wasn't ready to recommend "New" Nintendo 3DS because of one factor:

I like that it's a miniaturized Nintendo 64 you can carry around.

That's been my own personal view of the system since it launched and the classic games sitting next to it on store shelves, games like Ocarina of Time 3D and Star Fox 64 3D, only furthered this. It's probably why I love the handheld system so much, even compared against mobile hardware from Apple and Google's partners or the PlayStation Vita itself.

Some may say that the "New" Nintendo 3DS XL hardware veers closer to anti-consumer than it does a genuine upgrade to the technology. That may be true for anyone eager to offload a 3DS before buying the latest version. Still, I managed to square away about a half-dozen hours this past weekend to compare exactly what's different between Nintendo 3DS XL and "New" Nintendo 3DS XL. Here's how I decided to test each out:

  • My "New" Nintendo 3DS XL hardware got to connect to the Internet, but I didn't move my Nintendo Network ID over just yet. I managed to explore the Nintendo eShop on the hardware, but I didn't download anything or install any new programs. In fact, the "New" Nintendo 3DS XL hardware auto-updated to include support for apps (notably Youtube), but nothing else has changed since I opened the box and turned it on.
  • In fact, I only played two games on "New" Nintendo 3DS XL hardware: Resident Evil Revelations and Super Mario 3D Land.
  • My older, blue Nintendo 3DS XL hardware got a decidedly different treatment in that it got to download the demo for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (available to consumers sooner rather than later) in addition to the full retail release of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D. Both of these games make use of Circle Pad Pro functionality, but for now they're on my older 3DS XL and available for redownload from my Nintendo Network ID.
  • I played through the Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate demo and then got about two or three hours into Majora's Mask 3D on my old 3DS hardware.

How can you possibly compare the two experiences? you might be asking. Are you insane? What the hell is wrong with you? Why didn't you download Majora's Mask 3D to the "New" Nintendo 3DS XL? you might continue asking.

This was hardly a scientific approach to hardware comparisons, but I did come away with a few decent impressions that may or may not help you decide whether or not to upgrade:

  • The secondary analog nub that sits on the right side of the touch-screen does offer precise, if not less-than-tactile response in feedback. Where I did, at one point, wrestle with it in order to steer the camera one way or another, you quickly develop a responsive touch. Rather than large sweeps of the viewpoint, the "New" 3DS analog stick offered better control in slight adjustments.
  • While some gamers may prefer the original Circle Pad Pro attachment for the fact that the analog input features much larger and adds to the overall size of the 3DS hardware, I even thought that adjusting aim with the "New" 3DS nub worked perfectly fine.
  • The same can be said for the secondary trigger buttons dubbed ZL and ZR. These buttons sit larger and more obviously in the original Circle Pad Pro accessory (which I never owned). On "New" Nintendo 3DS they make it feel natural to grip the handheld in a slightly different way where previously my index fingers rested on the sides of the top screen.

Sure, there's no explicit need for the secondary analog stick or added triggers, but then there's software like Majora's Mask 3D where the camera itself will be mapped to the secondary analog input. You'll obviously want to upgrade if you're a diehard Nintendo fan, but the game remained playable without it.

I'm surprised to say the same for the Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate demo, which puts camera controls on the touchscreen if you don't have a Circle Pad Pro or "New" Nintendo 3DS hardware unit. Irregardless of your preference towards more intricate game software, 3D geeks will get a kick out of the wider range and stability of Nintendo's parallax set up.

For more on how "New" Nintendo 3DS XL improves overall hardware with emphasis on glasses-free 3D tech, click here. We'll have full reviews of upcoming Nintendo hardware and software over the next few weeks, so stick with GameRevolution.