Danny buys the Circle Pad Pro and tests it as a grip for unsupported games.
Coinciding with the release of Monster Hunter 3 (Tri) G on December 10 in Japan, Nintendo released the Circle Pad Pro, a peripheral for the Nintendo 3DS which adds an additional joystick to the handheld as well as extra shoulder buttons. The device is powered by a single AAA battery (included) and can last for up to 480 hours of gameplay. Currently, there is only one game on the market that supports it –Monster Hunter 3 (Tri) G. However, more support for the add-on is coming from a variety of developers in upcoming titles such as Resident Evil: Revelations, Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D, Kingdom Hearts 3D, and Ace Combat: 3D Cross Rumble (known as Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy in North America).
I already pre-ordered both a Circle Pad Pro and my copy of Monster Hunter 3 (Tri) G on Amazon in late November so I could avoid the mad rush to the electronic store to secure my copy of both the game and the monstrous 3DS accessory. Since I had roughly a week to wait for my Circle Pad Pro and game to arrive, I figured I would take a stroll to my local electronics shop on December 10 to see if they had the game or accessory.
First, I think it is important to give you a little bit of background about where I live. Yes, I live in Japan, but I do not live in the bustling, metropolis that is Tokyo. I live in Saitama prefecture. My town in Saitama is about 45 minutes away from the outskirts of Tokyo and is just urban enough to make it easy to find grocery stores, electronic shops and restaurants without having to own a car or riding my bicycle for two hours to get somewhere. When it comes to game releases, things are pretty tame. For big releases, you can almost always find what you need without any problems. With Monster Hunter and to an extent with the Circle Pad Pro, I was not going to take any chances, which is why I made sure to pre-order both items on Amazon.
As I walked into the local electronics store this afternoon, I expected to find a destroyed display where Monster Huner 3 (Tri) G once was and an empty spot on the shelves where the Circle Pad Pro once resided. Surprisingly, there were still plenty of both the game and the devices. While I couldn’t quite justify the purchase of another copy of Monster Hunter, the going price for the Circle Pad Pro (1,500 yen) was cheap enough to buy so I can test it immediately without waiting for my order to arrive from Amazon. I bought it and then scampered home to try it out.
Unfortunately since I didn’t have my copy of Monster Hunter for 3DS (and since the demo version from the eShop doesn’t support it), I have not had a true chance to test the device with software that is intended to be used with it. I have, however, had the chance to see how it works as a grip for 3DS games. Nintendo World Report Japan Correspondent Minoru Yamaizumi put it best in a recent tweet by saying, “...as a grip, it’s mediocre.” I couldn’t agree more. The first game that came to mine was Mario Kart 7. While it’s definitely not terrible to play with the 3DS, I do find that my hands can cramp up a little bit after extended play sessions. The first thing to understand with the Circle Pad Pro is that none of the buttons on the device are going to work with unsupported games. The Circle Pad and triggers are completely useless. You can still access the 3DS shoulder buttons while your 3DS is secured in it, but the experience can feel a little bit awkward. I found that my right hand felt perfectly comfortable reaching the R button as I had a little bit of room to reach thanks to the extra Circle Pad. The left side still feels a little cramped, though, and more or less the same as it does when playing games without the attachment.
The system itself fits snuggly into the groves of the attachment and goes in smoothly with four small rubber bumpers securing the 3DS to make sure it doesn’t get scratched or damaged. When it’s all said and done, the Circle Pad Pro is a very well put together piece of hardware. As a grip, which is the manner in which I used it, the Circle Pad Pro is mediocre.
Below are some pictures I snapped of my Circle Pad Pro. Notice how the Aqua Blue 3DS blends perfectly with the black, adding to the aesthetic appeal and beauty of the Circle Pad Pro.