News Article

Talking Point: First-Person Shooters and the 3DS Circle Pad Pro

Posted by Mark Reece

Aiming down 3D sights

It's old news that first person-shooters are bigger business within the industry now than they've ever been. Since the advent of online play on home consoles, they have inarguably become the most played genre on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with the latest Battlefield and Call of Duty titles dominating the market. However, FPS titles have remained relatively quiet on the handheld front. The GBA only had a handful of efforts — most notably Doom and Duke Nukem Advance — which was understandable given its limited control inputs, but the DS's distinct lack of FPS games is another matter entirely. After all, the touch screen offers players an incredibly accurate means of aiming a gun, something that was proved in the sublime Metroid Prime: Hunters and also in Activision's annual Call of Duty DS instalments. Apart from these and efforts like Renegade Kid's Dementium II, the less-than-prolific show of force of FPS titles on the DS is slightly bewildering. Likewise, the 3DS is yet to see any examples of the genre with no announcements, at the time of writing, made in regards to future projects.

That could, however, all change as soon as next year thanks to the impending release of the 3DS Circle Pad Pro — as it’s likely to be called in Western markets — the existence of which was initially leaked online along with Monster Hunter 3 G. The official announcement of the peripheral was met with strong reactions from consumers on both sides of the fence. On the one hand it arguably makes the 3DS look a little ridiculous; however, an extra analogue pad and two additional shoulder buttons will present far greater control options and broaden the possibilities afforded to developers creating 3DS games. Upcoming titles such as Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, Resident Evil Revelations and the aforementioned Monster Hunter 3 G are all based on franchises that have relied on dual-analogue controls on home consoles, so the most obvious benefit is an added degree of control over camera movement.

It's the FPS genre that stands to benefit greatly from the new peripheral and have the most potential for improvement.

But it's the FPS genre that stands to benefit greatly from the new peripheral and have the most potential for improvement. While we'll never definitively know the real reasons behind the general apathy expressed towards releasing FPS titles on the DS up to this point, it may be safe to assume that touchscreen aiming may have presented the biggest hurdle. There's a reason that as of November 2009 the Call of Duty franchises had generated over $3 billion in revenue: it never asks players to stray outside of their comfort zone. With Call of Duty, you know what you're getting year in, year out, and this applies to the controls as well. It's all very well telling your average Call of Duty player that they can now play their favourite game on the move, but if they’re not convinced by holding a DS with one hand and using a stylus to aim, then all the promises of accurate aiming are going to fall on deaf ears.

But the second Circle Pad marks a significant step forward for potentially getting the genre onto the 3DS en masse. Dual-analogue control and four shoulder buttons mean that developers will finally have adequate means to authentically map the controls of home console FPS games to the 3DS, with absolutely no compromises. With the control set-up already in place and the 3DS more than capable of offering the competitive online play that has skyrocketed the genre's popularity in the last decade it should, in theory, be far more likely that developers will be able to entice FPS fans over to their 3DS releases, helping Nintendo cement the handheld as a force to be reckoned with in the genre.

One publisher that has tentatively supported this is Activision; CEO of Publishing Eric Hirshberg has already come out in public support of the peripheral, stating that it was a "smart move" and "made the platform more relevant and compatible to the style of games we make." Seeing as Activision publishes Call of Duty, it doesn't take an awful lot of brainpower to figure out exactly what games he's referring to. And he's probably not thinking merely of initial software sales, but downloadable content as well. On home consoles, enthusiastic FPS fans will happily splash £10/$10 a time on a handful of new maps, and with Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata having already confirmed that the November update will allow developers to release DLC content on the 3DS, it's seems probable that Activision will explore plans for Call of Duty and premium downloadable content on the handheld.

Whether or not this was a deciding factor — or even something that was even given any thought — in Nintendo's decision to develop the Circle Pad Pro is anyone's guess, but it certainly offers extremely lucrative possibilities for both Nintendo and third-party publishers alike. Furthermore, while the peripheral certainly represents a jumping-off point for developers to get FPS titles onto the 3DS in the coming months, this aesthetically unwieldy extension of the 3DS' control inputs finally makes the discussion of a potential 3DS redesign academic. A hardware redesign is more than likely on the way in the not-too-distant future and when it happens, it should open the floodgates for FPS development. The 3DS's updated controls, stereoscopic 3D visuals and significantly lower price when compared to the forthcoming PlayStation Vita could very well see blockbuster home console FPS franchises such as Call of Duty and Battlefield grace the handheld, and this can only be one more positive foothold for the 3DS.

What do you think? Will the Circle Pad Pro expansion bring the FPS genre to life on the 3DS, and does it make these games more appealing on the handheld? Let us know in the comments below.

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User Comments (61)



pixelman said:

Just give me Gameloft's shooters on the eShop (supporting the CCP of course) and I'll be satisfied. :3



MarioMario said:

I'm not a huge shooter fan myself, but it would be nice to see a larger variety of games on the 3DS.. bring on the shooters!



Linkstrikesback said:

Maybe it will make fps games better on the 3ds, maybe it won't. Outside of a metroid prime game (and thats not really even an FPS barring hunters), I really couldn't care less about FPS games on any handheld or console.

On the other hand, Xenoblade could never have worked without a 2nd stick + the dpad, so maybe it'll be helpfulf or other genres too



RVN said:

MW3 in 3DS
that would be incredible, if they only could get a little more hardware sales now we could had high hopes on it



TheGreenSpiny said:

RE has NEVER relied on dual analog input. The old games used a single D-pad. The new games use a single analog stick. Metal Gear Solid never used dual analog either. The sequels allowed you to adjust the camera manually, but it was never used like the controls for a FPS.

What I don't understand is why people are so eager to go backwards on clumsy unreliable dual analog controls? I certainly won't buy any games that require the circle pad. After playing with the precision of touch screen controls, I won't be going back. As far as I'm concerned dual analog is best left where it belongs: in the past.



Mr_Reece said:

@TheDarkness you try playing a third person game without dual analogue control for camera movement and see what happens. If that's not reliance, I don't know what is



Meta-Rift said:

@3: On the other hand, Xenoblade could never have worked without a 2nd stick + the dpad, so maybe it'll be helpfulf or other genres too

Yeah, I think most genres could somehow be improved with this. I hope there are games that use it for something other than aiming a first-person view.

@4: Nope, they're adventure games.




While touchscreen aiming sounds more accurate than analog sticks (I admit I haven't tried one), ergonomics is a prime concern for many people. Holding a device for a long time on one hand that's handling movement, shooting, and whatever else is bound to cause cramps for many people.



NintenHero said:

Yeah i agree, this will make the Circle Pad Pro look like it's actually worth buying, I would love to play some MW3 or similar FPS games on my 3DS.



Noire said:

On the one hand it arguably makes the 3DS look a little ridiculous

Are we gunning for Understatement of the Year here or what?

Now where's my first-person Zelda?!



Ickaser said:

Although I completely understand that the chances are EXTREMELY slim, I would love Halo on 3DS. Heck, even if the campaign and matchmaking was dropped, I would love it. Forge FTW!



Mr_Reece said:

Chances of a legit Halo game releasing on 3DS aren't slim at all.

They're non-existant.

It's a shame, but it's true.



steamhare said:

I'd prefer to use the gyro controls I saw in Ocarina of Time 3d. Get me a spinning office chair and I'd be throwing up from the fun in no time.

I know it's not for everyone, but I'd still like both options to be utilized.



Gustoff said:

I've been waiting for news of an upcoming FPS for the 3DS. I really thought Activision was going to have n-Space develop COD for it this year. Maybe next year. But @pixelman brought up a good point. I would buy "day one" from Gameloft: Modern Combat 3(their version of Modern Warfare) or even N.O.V.A. (their version of Halo). I was actually looking at purchasing for my ipod touch yesterday but thought better of it.



accc said:

Dual analog controls are a blight on the first person shooter genre. They're pathetically inaccurate (to the point that games that use them are forced to automatically lock your aim onto targets to prevent the games from being unplayable), and having to keep your thumb on the stick at all times renders the face buttons all but unusable. I'm eager to try out some shooters that take advantage of the 3DS's gyroscopic motion-sensing capabilities, though.



warioswoods said:

I loved the touchscreen aiming in Metroid Prime Hunters. It made the handheld experience actually feel like something unique, rather a shrunken console game. I don't get the wish for portable games to edge ever closer to what you have on the TV.



UltimateMetroid said:

im very suprised we did not get mw3 for 3ds. if it was for 3ds, it could have gyroscope shooting or just the circle pad and R would be shoot and L would be ballistic and 3d maps would be amazing and you could see the stats at the bottom instead of taking up the screen



Scissors said:

It's simply that many of us are not excited for FPSs. I can play FPSs on my PS3, I stick with my Nintendo consoles for other reasons. I'll display my love for the prime series, Half-Life and Red Steel 2 any day, but I could care less for MW3 or BF3. The thing is if you're an FPS portable fan you're going to get a Vita, I'm all for diversity on the 3DS, but it really doesn't need FPSs. Chances are that if you're really into the FPS genre you already play those games on your PC, 360, or PS3.

The Wii U is going to get tons of multiplatfrom FPS love, so if you're a Nintendo fan jonesing for some gun-play you can get your fix there.



ueI said:

I don't play shooters myself, but I don't see how a second stick is necessary if popular games like Goldeneye made do without one.



pntjr said:

Portable FPS? You can count me in!
Watch out, PS Vita, because 3DS is a'comin back!



MasterGraveheart said:

Only downside? The add-on itself will be all but pointless when the 3DS recieves it's first re-working since they'll probably add it on directly.

This'll be good for a future Metroid Prime game, if there is one, and it'll be a must for something like Monster Hunter, though, so I'm in.



retrox said:

So am I the only person on the face of the planet who played MP Hunters / Dementium with the thumb strap? And dual analog is better than this... how? Again? Huh? Has everyone gone mad?

What someone needs to do is come out with a peripheral similar to the thumb strap, but with a little nub on the bottom or something that more closely mimics the precision of a stylus. Perfect aim, no hand cramps.

I'm a mouse/keyboard FPS player. Not interested in dual analog FPS'ing in the least. THUMB STRAP people!!!



Corbs said:

I wish people would never bring up the thumb strap ever again. I've tried to forget that tiny piece of plastic crap for so long now.



kdognumba1 said:

I am interested in the attachment however using separate batteries for it kind of ruins it for me. At the same time I hope to see strong support for the second analog so when there is a system redesign, it comes with the second analog.



brandonbwii said:

I was just thinking about this yesterday. Nothing else to say atm, just a fun coincidence imo.



brandonbwii said:

Not COMPLETELY on topic, but I was wondering if any is afraid that a 3DS Call of Duty will just be dumbed down port of the HD titles like the Wii versions of the game? I'd prefer an original one like n-Space's DS games.



Haywired said:

I remember thinking that the touch screen controls on the Metroid Prime: Hunters demo were quite cool. Then, when I actually got Metroid Prime: Hunters a year or so later, I realized that while they may be cool in short demo form, use them for more than 10 minutes and they become absolute agony... I wouldn't ever want to play another game with those uncomfortable controls. It's funny, the whole "DS touch screen is perfect for FPSs!" movement went awfully quiet after that game released. But anyway, I'm not hugely into FPSs, so it isn't as big a deal for me.



kdognumba1 said:

@28 Most CoD's are just ports of the same game though if they were to put one on the 3DS it'll look a lot better then the Wii's (better shaders and lighting especially). Also you can actually expect dlc, patches when needed (I know BO and MW3 can patch when needed but others can't), and over all more support from Activision. Not to mention the 3DS has a built in mic that they'll probably end up using and easier to use friends list offering better online options for all players then the Wii version.



komicturtle said:

MW3 is on DS with some subtitle.. I forget, but those games must be a tad popular if Activision keeps bringing them into fruition.

Oh, btw... mw3 is also on Wii...



bowkid50 said:

of couse i was expecting a FPS by now for the 3ds but none have come not really a FPS fan but i need at least 1 FPS for my 3ds,i hope some come next year,but till then i will be playing modern ware defiance for my ds



TheGreenSpiny said:

@7 Mr_Reece: You missed my point. RE has never used dual analog period. It's not about reliance, I'm just stating facts here. RE 0-5 never used dual analog. 3DS Mercs doesn't use it, neither does the Revelations demo. Maybe those Outbreak games did, I haven't played those in a long time so I don't remember. Metal Gear Solid and it's remake also didn't use it. Never played 2, but 3 only used it for controlling the camera not aiming and such. In Metal Gear Solid you could always go into aiming mode to look around. Anyway, Modern Warfare 3: Defiance was just released for the DS with doesn't even have one analog stick which kind of makes your point null and void. This is like the 5th CoD game for the DS by N-Space, who also developed both GoldenEye games for the DS as well. As others have pointed out somebody must be buying these games because they keep bringing them out for the DS. The best games are designed around the specific controller for the system they're made for.

@9 bobbikat: Yeah, it takes a little getting used to. I basically put my thumb on the touchscreen as if it were an analog stick. Much more accurate than dual analog. It's even more accurate if you use the stylus, but that is a bit too clumsy for me. It's the standard for the DS, and I'd like to see it continue.

@23 Retrox: Somebody did come up with a stylus that wraps around your thumb. Don't remember the name though.



ThomasBW84 said:

I think it'd be interesting to play a well-made FPS on the 3DS, just to experience the 3D effect in that genre. Also, one point I would make about why the Circle Pad Pro is important for aiming controls, is that as a leftie I find it difficult to use the stylus right handed while using the d-pad (or circle pad in the Kid Icarus demo) for movement. It's unnatural for me to hold and direct the stylus accurately in my right hand, it's just awkward. I think pointer controls are the best way to go with FPS games, but in terms of the options on 3DS I'll be grateful for the second circle pad.



WaveBoy said:

The FPS genre 'wouldn't' benifit with Dual Analog on the 3DS, stylus First person controls are superior imo. But we all have our preferences I guess.

With that said, Dual analog needs to go back to the prehistoric PS2 stone age and go die there. I won't be buying this piece of crap that's for sure. Dementium already gave me a taste of how much more fun and how well FPS's control with the stylus compared to dual analog.

And speaking of Demetium......A Demntium III, in 3D, with the power of the 3DS and with Stylus controls would be pretty shnazzy.



Coolio2480 said:

the circle pad pro will make the 3ds less porbable cuz then u have to carry that to and it looks weird



BenAV said:

I honestly couldn't care too much.
Just give the 3DS one or two really good First Person Shooters and leave it at that.
I don't have any more money than that to spend on them, as I've got more exciting games to buy.



WaveBoy said:

The gaming industry is already oversaturated with War themed FPS's and zombies. Stupid 'playing it safe' American and Canadian For once I'd like to see something unique in the genre. But that's where the Metroid Prime Trilogy and BioShock Infinite come in. ;



Mr_Reece said:

@TheDarkness. I never once claimed that MGS used a second analogue for aiming. In fact I explicitly stated that a second analogue would be useful for CAMERA CONTROL in third person games.




alLabouTandroiD said:

I found targeting with the touchscreen quite intuitive and comfy. But I don’t really know if these games actually benefit from having six buttons (on the traditional Xbox360 and PS3 controllers) that can easily be reached all the time. I haven’t tried to get used to dual analogue aiming either.
It will be interesting to see if the Circle Pad Pro will be mandatory for some games because of its additional buttons. I mean the Wii had a roughly similar but even better control setup imo. And as we all know the genre didn’t really shine on it in general. (At the very least compared to the “PS360”. Especially not if you don’t consider railshooters to be FPS’s.)
The question will be if the average 3DS owner is interested and if they can market these games right. So give us poor uneducated fools demos, demos, demos.
I don’t even know if I will find out how well these games play on the 3DS any other way since I’m not really interested in the typical CoD or Battlefield scenarios anymore.



retrox said:

Oh come on! What's so bad about the thumb strap? I dominated in MPH with that thing! I mean sure, it's not exactly a marvel of modern handheld technology, but I racked up tons of kills with that tiny little plastic piece of crap.



TheGreenSpiny said:

@Mr_Reece: You also claimed that RE used the second stick for camera controls. It never has. If you really need to look around in RE you can hold down R and and use the slider pad. No need for any clunky circle pad attachments. I don't think a lot of FPS fans (ones that don't own a 3DS) are going to jump on the bandwagon unless some future redesign has the second circle pad. Even then they may just get a Vita for the beefed up hardware. If a redesign happens, then we are just gonna get a batch of generic games with generic controls, that don't make good use of the hardware, most likely downgraded ports from the Vita. We've all seen that before.



theblackdragon said:

@Mr_Reece: if i'm reading everything correctly, you did say 'you try playing a third person game without dual analogue control for camera movement and see what happens', which kinda opened TheDarkness up to a wide range of games to argue. :3



accc said:

I think Mario Sunshine is the only 3rd person game I've played where I felt that using dual analogs to control the camera was absolutely necessary. Every other 3rd person game either has a fixed/automatic camera, or works just as well using buttons to rotate or recenter it. Of course, this doesn't even take into account the fact the 3DS's gyroscopes are far better suited for camera control than thumbsticks because they're more accurate and don't require the use of your thumbs.



alLabouTandroiD said:

@acc: Play a Splinter Cell game and you'll totally know what we're talking about. (Though i find adjusting the camera by buttons not as game-breaking as maybe 99 % of people.)



TheGreenSpiny said:

@51: Thanks Dez. I was simply pointing that his facts are inaccurate, and that his argument is self defeating. I'm guessing he brought up those franchises because they are on their way to the 3DS. From his write up it sounds like he's never played RE before. Also, poor controls didn't stop MH on the PSP. My feeling is that Capcom is using the Frankenstick as an excuse to continue being lazy and not create a proper auto camera for their MH franchise. It was still clumsy and horrible even with the Classic Controller Pro on Wii.

@52 accc: There are a lot more games out there than Sunshine that use poor cameras that require the second stick. As battLeToaD pointed out Splinter Cell is one of them. This could easily be rectified if designers took the time to implement better cameras for their games, but most want to save time and money by simply shoehorning controls to an analog stick.

The biggest problem with Frankenstick is that it has stunted sales. A lot of people said that they are waiting for a redesigned "lite" version of the 3DS. Now everybody is assuming that the second slider will be part of the redesign, they simply reaffirmed their decision to wait. While they might have otherwise been enticed by the newly added features (eShop, Netflix, Hulu, DLC...) and the next big crop of games (3D Land, MK7, Revelations, Snake Eater...), their decision to wait will in turn hurt a lot of sales for the above games. Just one more thing that Nintendo can do to alienate 3rd parties I guess. If however the slide pad is not incorperated into the redesign, they risk permanently losing customers who waited for the "lite" version of the 3DS.



alLabouTandroiD said:

I do find Splinter Cell games to be so unique though that i think they would lose a lot of their appeal if it wasn't about moving the camera as freely (does that word even exist ?) as possible. If you want "the opposite" just play a Metal Gear Solid game.



rafaelluik said:

Err... While FPS games might be hard and exciting, put your heart beating fast and all I don't like these games. They're most war games which I really don't like the story and I don't support this violence.



TheAmazingRaccoon said:

I have never liked dual anolog control for fps. I can understand it for 3rd person things where there is a camera that needs manipulating, but for 1st person it always seem to feel stupid to me. I loved the 64s control for fps especially for Turok and I love the the Wii and DS control, but gamecube fps control never caught on for me. Dual stick now seems like a massive step back in control for fps and doesn't make sense when there is a superior control scheme already built in to the 3DS.
My fear is that games will focus on the circle pad pro for control, and the touch screen control will be shoddy when it could be great. When the redesigned 3ds comes out there will be games that use only dual stick and us early adopters will be forced to buy it.
That being said I think that it is still a good idea when used for camera control.



kyuubikid213 said:

I think this would be the best possible thing to happen to the 3DS. The CPP would actually give it more control options than the PSVita. I mean, it won't make people that play console FPSs with the 360 and PS3 want to buy a 3DS (they'll most likely still go for the Vita), but it would be a huge revolution in handheld gaming.

And just because this topic is bound to come up anyway... I have Call of Duty on the Wii (CoD 3) and it is great. The graphics may not be up to par with the competition, but it is still amazing! I have noticed that the 3DS can pull off graphics that are just as good if not better than the Wii, so a FPS on the 3DS wouldn't look that bad either.

If this ever does happen though (a FPS on 3DS with CPP), I have one request. Don't use the touchscreen for anything. Have it be a radar or something, With all the buttons, you don't need the touchscreen to do double duty. Just use it to take all of the clutter off of the top screen (ammo, radar, etc).

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