Friday, 3 February 2012

3DS Circle Pad Pro - Review

If there is one thing the 3DS has been good at since its release last year is its ability to cause controversy . The initial launch saw claims of 3D induced headaches if you played the system for longer than 10 minutes. Then the price crash so soon after launch caused some people to declare the console as a failure and gimmick. Then there was the article from Japanese magazine Famitsu which spread around the world in hours. Scans of an image of a huge plug-in with a second analogue stick hurtled through cyberspace. Was this a belated April fools joke... Had Nintendo gone mad?

Nintendo soon announced to the world that the Circle Pad Pro was in fact real and was required to allow games like Monster Hunter to arrive on the console. It seemed that Nintendo has realised that it should of been there in the first place. It looked like a workaround to get out of a horrible hole. Meanwhile Sony laughed and showed a lot more Vita images with it's two analogue nubs and touch triggers.

Last Friday saw the unit released in the UK to complement the release of Resident Evil: Revelations, the first title to support the device. The first thing that struck me was the size. It wasn't as big as I expected. The images released before launch made it look massive. It is not as bad as you would think although you won't be popping it your pocket anytime soon. The sleek design of 3DS is basically destroyed and the whole unit is now off centre and looks odd. Thankfully, I got the Carbon Black 3DS which looks the best sat in the Circle Pad Pro.

Looks are not everything (As we keep telling BG every day when we fight over which clothes to wear). The Circle Pad Pro is not trying to fix a cosmetic issue, but a functionality issue. Having played the newly released Resident Evil demo for a week without the CPP, I can say that there are no real control issues with just a standard 3DS. It plays very well. With the CPP attached though, it plays so much better. The additional stick is a welcome addition for this Xbox gamer and the new triggers are the icing on the cake. The additional stick on the CPP is slightly more resistant than the one on the console, but that is a minor niggle.

The unit is powered by a single AAA battery and Nintendo state that should last for 480 hours of gameplay. Funnily enough, I haven't been able to test that claim, but I am working on it. The connection to the 3DS is done via the infra-red port on the back of the console. The 3DS just simply pushes into the CPP and is held in place by rubber feet, very securely. Due to the configuration of the CPP you cannot change cartridge or access the stylus during use.

Nintendo are the kings of showing the world a wacky piece of hardware and then proving us all wrong. This product is no exception. Playing Resident Evil with this is amazing, it makes it feel more like a home console rather than another handheld. I played Metal Gear Solid 3DS at the Eurogamer Expo, last year and hated it because of the control system. Now, with Circle Pad Pro I cannot wait to get my hands on MGS 3DS. Kid Icarus will also feature Circle Pad Support and that makes more sense to me than the next piece of crazy hardware... the 3DS Stand.

Verdict: 9 out of 10

3DS Circle Pad Pro is available now at between £15 - £20 at  all good High Street and On-line retailers

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