The Circle Pad Pro peripheral for the Nintendo 3DS adds a second analog slide pad and two trigger buttons to the system's core functionality. However, it blocks access to the cartridge and stylus slots, as well as the wireless switch, and vastly decreases the portability of the 3DS.
Installing the Circle Pad Pro is fairly simple. You need to open the battery cover using a coin, insert the included AAA battery, close the cover, secure an included wrist strap and snap your 3DS into the peripheral. Read More...
The Circle Pad Pro communicates with the 3DS via the handheld's IR port. Because it blocks access to the stylus and cartridge slots as well as the wireless switch, any insertion, removal or switching should be done before launching a game to ensure proper calibration. If the analog slide pad of the Circle Pad Pro feels off, you can calibrate it in game in the same manner you would in the 3DS system options.
The Circle Pad Pro increases the total size of the 3DS to 7 by 4 by 2 ½ inches (17.8 by 10.2 by 6.4 cm) from 5 ¼ by 3 by 1 inches (13.4 by 7.6 by 2.5 cm). While this added bulk can make the unit more comfortable to hold for those with larger hands or a condition like arthritis, it takes away from the portability of the handheld.
Aside from the obvious addition of a second analog slide pad, the Circle Pad Pro gives the 3DS two extra trigger buttons that feel snappy and responsive. The system's R button is duplicated on the peripheral however players are left using the stock 3DS L button, which feels a bit small and sunken in with the peripheral attached.
Considering the bulk of the Circle Pad Pro, it seems as though much of the internal space is unused. It would have been nice to see a feature such as rumble added to the unit, though battery life would undoubtedly take a hit.
The biggest drawback of the Circle Pad Pro is a lack of compatible software. At the time of this review, only two titles—Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D and Resident Evil: Revelations—make use of it, with only two more titles—Kid Icarus: Uprising and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance—officially announced to have support in the future.
The value of purchasing a Circle Pad Pro is directly related to one's interest in these four titles and even then, it is not required to play any of them. In my experience, Resident Evil: Revelations did benefit greatly from the use of the Circle Pad Pro and felt more like a console experience, but the game was perfectly playable without it.
Had more software compatible with the Circle Pad Pro been released or announced at the time of this review, I would recommend it without question. However, it feels like a stop gap solution to a problem that never really existed. Because the peripheral is not standard, it is destined to be underused and games will continue to be designed to be played primarily without it. The Circle Pad Pro is available in North America exclusively at GameStop/EB Games and at Nintendo's online store, which may also hinder its adoption.
Game Forward Score: 2/5
Circle Pad Pro (Nintendo 3DS) Quick Facts: