News Article

Hardware Review: 3DS Circle Pad Pro XL

Posted by Damien McFerran

Two pads are better than one?

When Nintendo announced the 3DS XL, many were disappointed that the system lacked that all-important second slider pad. This omission was made all the more puzzling by the fact that Nintendo had already released the Circle Pad Pro for the original 3DS console, an admission that perhaps a twin-pad arrangement would have been a good idea from the start. Alas, despite having the opportunity to rectify this oversight with new hardware, the XL model retained the single analogue pad — hence the arrival of the Circle Pad Pro XL.

Looking uncannily like the original Circle Pad Pro, this beefed-up edition is once again powered by a single AAA battery, which lasts so long you'll forget its even there. The power source is needed because the Circle Pad Pro XL doesn't physically connect to the 3DS XL console; it uses the IR port to communicate with the system. The accessory is made entirely of plastic and has three additional buttons along the top edge: ZL, ZR and R — the latter being a necessity because the R shoulder button on the console itself is obscured by the Circle Pad Pro XL's casing.

The list of Circle Pad Pro compatible games remains surprisingly thin on the ground, but the fact that Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate supports the peripheral will probably be enough of an excuse for many to make the purchase. The game is definitely improved by the additional of a second analogue slider, as is the excellent Nano Assault EX.

The big downside to the Circle Pad Pro XL is illustrated keenly by the images above — it makes the already chunky 3DS XL even bigger, lending it dimensions which rival the impractically bulky portable systems of the early '90s. The lumpy back of the accessory means that it is comfortable to hold, but also makes it quite large and therefore not the kind of thing you'll be slipping into your backpack without any thought.

Even so, you need only play Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate with the second slider to see the worth of this add-on; with Nintendo unlikely to alter its stance on changing the 3DS control configuration, it would appear that we're just going to have to live with increased size and reduced portability in order to get that much-needed "second slider" feel.

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User Comments (80)



Squashie said:

It certainly looks more stylish than the original, but I don't feel that I need it yet. Otherwise, a great review!



bezerker99 said:

Yep, it's still fugly all these months later. 50+ hours of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on my 3DS and still don't feel the need for this thing.



gurtifus said:

So am I, I've spent 30 hours on monster hunter and the virtual pad suits me perfectly. I don't even use the lock function because I prefer using the virtual pad.



KnightRider666 said:

I bought the original when I has a regular 3DS. I used it twice on RE: Revelations. It was unnecessarily ugly & clunky. I was lucky enough to sell it to somebody else for what I paid for it. I wouldn't even think about buying this abomination for my 3DS XL. They should have just made the XL with a second slider built in and had learned from their mistake. I mean how many games actually support this thing, 5? What a waste...



Spoony_Tech said:

I have a friend that's shipping two to himself so I'm getting one of those eventually. I want it for those exact two games mentioned above actually. Almost don't want to play Monster Hunter again until I get it! I also have Metal Gear and have yet to really get into that so it works out perfect for me.

Still don't know why its not available over here yet otherwise I'd already have it.



Galactus said:

Are these still not out in North America? Whats the hold up?

Also where the #@%$ are the XL Styluses!?! The system only comes with one and I lost it a long time ago!!!



galachef55 said:

Although it does add bulk my girl hands find the circle pad pro's molded bottom quite comfortable for longer play sessions. I think managed to kill the battery in mine after about two weeks of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate.



EverythingAmiibo said:

Already got the original for my 3DS, purely because of MH. I'm thinking of picking up MGS and Resi too though



Arcamenel said:

I'm thinking of getting this for my Pikachu 3DS XL. The reason being, while I do manage fine playing MH3U on my 3DS without one, underwater battles are quite a pain. I feel like the battle with the Lagiacrus and Ludroth took entirely too long underwater simply because turning around in the water is a huge pain.

Also I don't see why anyone expected the XL to have a second circle pad when the original didn't. There were already 10 million 3DS units sold when the XL came around, adding on a new circle pad would've alienated early adopters and confuse developers. There aren't enough games that need a second circle pad to even justify adding one anyway.



Zyph said:

If you ask me it feels very comfy and natural. I always use it when playing MGS:SE3D, KH3D, and of course MH3U. I can't imagine not using it especially in longer hunts. The 4 shoulder buttons really comes in handy as well. You guys just need to feel/use it by yourselves. If you like it then use it, and If not then don't.
It's completely optional.



gojiguy said:

I have to but one due to Nintendo being unable to manufacture a decent R button on a portable system...



Rect_Pola said:

I don't think it was so much an admission as either a "way to shut up all the complaining" OR a "way to make you pay again"
At least they refined the molding of this one. The last one had a lot more visible mass on the sides. Maybe if I can handle it at a store and see if it's more comfortable to hold.



Faruko said:

@gojiguy actually... i cant remember a non-faulty handheld system since the Advance times... my PSP had awful L/R that after some time (not much, mind you) would register when they want, my DS too... and ive heard that the Vita has a lot of problems with the L/R too.
Havent had a single problem with my 3DS, but i know theres problems...
Now that i think, besides the Wii, my 360 and PS3 al are really faulty system, its me or this is just a trend to low the prices of the consoles ? i cant remember nor my SNES, N64, PSX, PS2, GC had a single problem




@Luigifan141 From everything I have read most likely not. I called Nintendo a couple of weeks ago and was told there was no plans for now to release it in the U.S. I purchased mine on Amazon. Monster hunter is fine with or without he CPPXL I prefer with I have large hands so the system is very comfortable with it on. For games like Resident Evil and Kingdom Hearts they are both greatly improved with the CPPXL. Even with just a handful of games that support it I feel it's well worth it for those games alone. Hopefully future games will support the CPPXL I was disappointed that the U.S version of Ace Combat does not support it like the Japanese version.



Tasuki said:

I was thinking of getting one for my normal 3DS back when RE:R came out but the fact that I could only get it at Gamestop stopped me from getting. Since than I played and beat RE:R without so I dont see the point of getting it now even for my XL. I am not getting MGS3D or KHDDD so I wont need it for them and as for MHU once the patch for off tv play comes in a few days if I want a second stick I will be playing it on the Wii U.



Mk_II said:

IMHO the list of compatible games will remain small. This clearly wasn't Nintendo's idea in the first place and only released to placate some 3rd party developers (ie Capcom)



FullbringIchigo said:

to be honest Nintendo dropped the ball by not putting a second slider on 3DSXL, even if most games don't use it it should still be there

but i guess this is their way of making more money



CowLaunch said:

Nintendo has been making consoles for a while now, you'd think they could design it right the first time.



Damo said:

@Majin-Naruto That's the thing, though - if the system had the second slider built-in, more developers would support it.



Dpishere said:

I have been playing Monster Hunter since launch day and I have never seen a use for the circle pad as the game controls wonderfully without it.



SteveW said:

How are you supposed to use the right control and fire buttons at the same time?



Ren said:

hmm, yeah this is silly. I love my Xl, it's the perfect size to me, and I got a backpack that fits it perfectly in a special pocket, maybe meant for a big cell phone? Still, I wouldn't be caught dead with this cheesy thing. If it's not built in, then it's would never be supported enough for me to jump on it as an add-on. I'm someone who prefers to learn default controls because I've always hated having to reset my favorites in the many games that can't save your settings, so default should just be pretty good (luckily I'm right handed too).



FullbringIchigo said:

@Damo true i didn't think of that but then again having 2 sliders could make the touch screen control's a little awkward because you can't use the stylus and the slider at the same time



domdom87 said:

Everyone complains about the XL not having a second circle pad. They seem to forget there's also the additional shoulder buttons. I can't begin to imagine how to work that into the design. Would you make the XL thicker? Would you make the buttons smaller and place them side by side like the Wii classic controller?

Also, designers should work with what they are given and design experiences accordingly. Metroid Prime Hunters was an FPS and it worked brilliantly by using the touchscreen.



sonicfan1373 said:

This add-on might be more worthwhile if Nintendo allowed the 3DS to be used as a Wii U controller (the buttons on it almost bring the 3DS to parity with the Wii U Gamepad). The top screen of the 3DS can be used to display games as if it were being displayed on the TV and the bottom screen could be used as the Gamepad. I know not all games could support such a feature (as some require the Gamepad to be moved around in order to interact with the TV), but for those that could this would be a cool feature.

I think Nintendo really needs to give the 3DS's successor the same compliment of inputs and buttons as they did with the Wii U (including clickable circle-pads, two triggers [analog triggers would be nice for racing games], NFC sensor, and magnetometer). On a side note, nicer camera's would also be nice (5 Megapixel camera sensors have become really cheap now due to their wide use on phones).



kenzo said:

There is a subtle design flaw with the Circle Pad Pros.

The round 'gate' for the circle pad is ideal for compass mode actions, however there is a shortcoming for up/down vs left/right gun aiming.

The circular gate of the circle pad makes is hard to tell when the full X direction or Y direction has been reached. It would have been better to have a square gate to make the limits of the circle pad distinctive.

Conventional analog sticks normally have this 'square' physical limit built-in because of the separately integrated X and Y potentiometers.

As a workaround for the aiming circle pad, I have considered putting a squarish flat cut-out over the right circle pad, to give it proper corner limits.



tloc365 said:

I got the standard circle pad pro packed in with Resident Evil Revelations. It felt great, finished the game using it. Despite its ugliness, in terms of usability its perfect.
But I never touched it since because practically no games support it.
The other thing is I play my portables mostly at home, I wouldn't fancy having the attachment on and having to carry it around, too bulky.



NintenBo said:

Waiting for this to come to America...

It sucks not being able to play Kid Icarus because I upgraded to the XL. (I'm left handed.)



k8sMum said:

my contact at my local gamestoppo says this won't be released here in the states, as the original sold very poorly.



SCAR said:

I wish I had this. I don't even care about the extra bulk and price, I just need the extra buttons for Kid: Icarus. I don't even have any games that need it really(also because it's optional), but I would probably buy Metal Gear Solid 3D and Nano Assualt EX if I did. I just sold off my RE: Revelations copy in favor of the Wii U version, so I don't need it for that anymore...
I'm sure Nintendo will release this when Super Smash Bros. comes out for both systems. I want this thing so bad! If you don't like it, don't get it.



MAB said:

Yeah I got it for Metal Gear and Revelations see the thing is if you don't like it then that means you're not a hardcore gamer haters probably play games like Fallblox and 2 fast 4 gnomz or some poop.



Marakuto said:

I never use mine on Monster Hunter since I find it easy to use the touch screen and the built in circle pad. Only used for Revelations.



meltendo said:

I imported one and got it a week after starting Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate: I love it. Gameplay is so much easier with it. When I'm not playing MH, it's easy to remove and set aside.



ouroborous said:

bad news is i have no idea if this will ever see a release outside of japan. (it should have been released the same day as the XL, which was ages ago, but no, not so far).
good news is that it's not region or system locked in any way and you can get them from amazon, etc no matter what country you are in and it will work on your XL. you'll probably have to pay at least twice the normal price though.
or you can do what i did and just mod your original CPP, it works just fine on the XL that way, though its a little less pretty.



Justaguest said:

@MarakutoThat surprises me. You can only change camera angles with circle pad pro while walking whereas without the accessory you have to stop, use touchscreen/dpad and walk again. But ok.. it is about preference. I gotta admit dpad has its uses too. When attacking you can only use that to change view.



Vincent294 said:

The one on my 3DS is fine, but on such a big system, they should've fit a second analog stick in the 3DS XL from the start. A CPP XL must be so big.



marakassi said:

I kind of hope that Nintendo comes up new Zelda with Circle Pad Pro, otherwise I'm not interested. Gadgets are nice though



Gate_Shikimuri said:


The 3DS XL is a larger version of the 3DS! Stop complaining about it not having a second circle pad! If it did have one, the regular 3DS would need one two because, again, THE 3DS XL IS A BIGGER VERSION OF THE 3DS!!!



ACK said:

I don't care what anyone says... These are a godsend due to added girth and comfortability. I love having the option of turning my handheld into an ergonomic controller. Also, the added buttons are nice... And anything that puts less stress on the L/R buttons is OK by me...



Unit_DTH said:

@Faruko - I actually took my DS lite apart and then opened the R button took it apart and replaced the TINY little metal "button" inside it and it never had a problem after that... prior to my own fix I had sent it into Nintendo for repairs 4 times. Metroid Prime: Hunters ravaged my R button on the original DS Lite. Haven't had a single problem out of my 3DS or 3DSXL and I like the feel of the CPP so I will probably get the CPPXL... I have big hands and it feels more comfortable with the added girth of the CPP.



Unit_DTH said:

The XL isn't really all that "portable" anyway. Why would the size of this thing play into it's portability? If you carry your XL in your pocket you damage the rubber "bumpers" that keep the screen from getting scratched by the flawed touchscreen design (raised lip around the touchscreen). Had a big problem with this on my original 3DS, don't want the same problem on my 3DSXL. So it doesn't travel in my pocket anyway. Buy a carrying case for the thing and get a good sized one, then the problem of size doesn't matter.



Lopezdm said:

I was thinking of buying this just because of comfort. I have big hands so the buttons on the the right side of the 3ds XL are still to close to the edge making me have to use my thumb in a odd angle. After a hour of that I feel like I am getting arthritis. So the added space would remedy that. I just don't know if 35.00 US is too much. I think 25 or 20 would have been a better price. I think I will wait.



Sun said:

This time I agree with the article, it makes a lot of sense. I bought the Circle Pad Pro XL days ago and I am happy because I already own Resident Evil: Revelations and Metal Gear Solid 3D, but it is incomprehensible the choices Nintendo have done with this console. It is a pain not being able to change volume and take and place the pen with this stuff attached to the XL. Taking into account that Nintendo is so pig-headed this is the only way to make the most of the Nintendo 3DS XL. Next time (Nintendo 4DS) the console design will make sense, let's hope so.



ZinogreMaster said:

It doesn't really matter to me, i couldn't care less about how big the CPP makes the 3DS and XL. Don't shoot me, but i actually like the design and it fits in my book bag perfectly.Maybe its just me.



Zombie_Barioth said:

I like how the XL model has a curve to it compared to the regular CPP, looks much nicer that way. I've gotten used to the virtual d-pad on MH3U the only problem I've had is my right hand (and only my right hand) cramps up a bit from extended use, I've thought about upgrading to an XL or getting a CPP but I'm not entirely sure its worth it or if I'm just gripping my 3DS too hard or something.

The size isn't an issue since I play my handhelds mostly at home and it should fit perfectly in my coat pocket (after all, so does my kindle fire). I have a laptop bag laying around for longish trips I can use if I have to anyway.



diastelo said:

@Galactus eForCity and Everydaysource both sell replacement styluses for the 3DS XL through Amazon. The eForCity ones I got are retractable "metal" ones, and the Everydaysource ones are randomly chosen colors in a 12 pack. Both fit perfectly in the slot.



pikku said:

That white 3DS XL is pretty sexy, but that cancerous lump on the side makes me sick D:<



ecco6t9 said:

I now own 3 games that use it, so I'll pick one up if Reggie ever releases it in the states.



AtomicToaster said:

I dont feel like i need it, its harder to reach the touch screen with my thumb when using it and im fine aiming with buttons or using the touch screen in monster hunter. I actually thought the controls were really good in the metal gear port without the circle pad, but thats me.



Windy said:

So Far I have found that playing Monster Hunter I have not needed the Circle pad pro one bit. The game was made right and controls very well. Maybe im missing out and don't know But once you get used to the left Shoulder lock on it seems to work well and feels comfortable after a bit



skyluigi2 said:

I got this the other day, solely for MH3U. Swimming's such a pain without it...
I actually like the Circle Pad Pro, it's not too big and is actually pretty comfy.



BF-Medic said:

Bought it today with MGS:SE, and it really makes the game easier to play, compared to when I tested the demo.



Dpullam said:

I started off playing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate without the Circle Pad for around 200 hours until I decided to try it out and I can easily say that it was much easier to control the camera and movements. That being said, the Circle Pad certainly isn't a necessity but it does help out with certain games. I believe the price I paid for it is fully justified.



KnightRider666 said:

@ChaosAngel: Dude, we have a legitimate reason to be upset. The XL could've had a 2nd slider even though the original doesn't. Don't hate on us for wanting Nintendo to learn from their previous mistakes and to get on top of their game for us.



Ren said:

I love my Xl and I do wish it was a more true upgrade but I get why it wasn't. It could have had second stick and also don't get me started on the camera (no excuse for that thing). But it was released so early there was no way they could truly upgrade anything besides size without angering a LOT of buyers, though that never seemed to stop them before.



McGruber said:

I'll get this if Nintendo ever allows the 3DS to be used as a Wii U/ Classic Controller. Otherwise, there's what like 3 games that use this? I doubt there will be many games in the future that use it just like the DS Rumble Pack, and every other peripheral N has put out.



KnightRider666 said:

@Windy: Thanks man. I hear you, and it's nice they made something for those people who do want one; but the positives don't outweigh the negatives in my opinion.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@KnightRider666 from what I saw when people opened an XL, it has the same problem as the regular 3DS - there's just no space to add a second stick since there's platines everywhere inside.



DaveGX said:

Just a heads up, not sure exactly how many they have available, but if anyone is considering getting 1 insetad of waiting months and months, my suggestion would be to check Amazon as they aren't very expensive; Mind you you'll most likely ponly find the import version, but it DOES work with either JP or US system. Trust me on this as I now own 1 myself after waiting and guessing, so I can even confirm right on the flat area that the DS XL would sit init reads Nintendo3DS XL/Nintendo3DS LL indicating it's designed for both.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@KnightRider666 Sorry, I was referring to the circuit board...
But look at the following picture:
The upper right part of the board is the D-Pad, and the free space below is for the Stick. On the upper left side are ABXY, and there's absolutely no space for a second Stick to fit in. The contents of a 3DSXL only barely fit on at all, so it's already fortunate enough that we got it without losing anything compared to the regular 3DS...

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