Hands-on with Nintendo’s Circle Pad Pro

If I’m being completely honest, Nintendo’s Circle Pad Pro for it’s Nintendo 3DS handheld is pretty ugly, especially when it’s clashing with the blue of my 3DS.

As you can see in the photo, I’ve got a blue 3DS and the Circle Pad Pro is black. In fact, it only comes in one colour: black.

The Circle Pad Pro is a bulky, strange-looking peripheral – that’s it there in the photo – that you slot the 3DS into, snug and tight thanks  to six rubber pads that hold it into place.

It takes a AAA battery and as well as  a second thumb stick – which I have always argued the 3DS needed from the beginning – it adds an additional right shoulder button and two triggers: ZR and ZL. It’s so bulky I can’t fit my 3DS into it’s case without removing it.

I’ve long said that the one mistake Nintendo made with the 3DS was not including a second thumb stick, crucial for action games and manual camera control  – and the Circle Pad Pro sorts that problem out.

The first game to make use of the peripheral is Capcom’s Resident Evil: Revelations, the first game of the series I’ve played on a handheld and it’s actually enjoyable using the Circle Pad Pro: more enjoyable than I thought it would be.

Being able to move the camera around as you move Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield around the game world of Revelations is a breeze thanks to the Circle Pad Pro. I played the demo of Revelations before I got the Circle Pad Pro and while playable, I think you get a lot more freedom of movement in the game if you didn’t have the device.

If there’s one think that’s frustrating about the device it’s that after a certain period of inactivity the device goes into standby mode, for example shutting the lid for a few minutes. What that means is that you have to go back into the options menu and re-activate the device. It’s not a big deal but it’s frustrating – especially when you have to keep closing the game because of interruptions.  A message also tells you that if it enters standby mode again to press ZR and ZL together.

Look, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the Circle Pad Pro. It looks ungainly, awkward and complicated but it actually works and works well. Hopefully there will be plenty of games coming out that make the most of it. I know there is a huge market of gamers who don’t see the merit in dedicated handheld gaming consoles like the 3DS but if you own one and want more control then I can’t see you going wrong with the Circle Pad Pro. Edit:  Something I forgot to mention about the Circle Pad Pro but remembered it this morning when I was doing my segment with Glenn “Wammo” Williams was that the volume slider on the left side of the 3DS is awkward to get to when it’s in the peripheral. I often turn the volume down when I’m playing while sitting on the couch with Mrs Game Junkie (or put in one ear piece) but when it’s all the way down it’s quite hard to turn the volume up while it’s in the Circle Pad Pro.

The Circle Pad Pro is out in New Zealand on February 2 (Thursday) and will cost $35. Resident Evil: Revelations is also out on February 2 and will cost about $90.

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