An ornamental Circle Pad, at last

One of the first things we noticed when Satoru Iwata stood on stage at E3 2010 with a 3DS was the Circle Pad. Some called it a slider pad, others opted for analogue stick: whatever name you chose, it ultimately meant that Nintendo was giving us analogue control in its shiny new handheld. It's since given us the Circle Pad Pro to provide dual analogue controls, though its questionable appearance means it's not exactly a design flaunted with pride.

It seems that the standard Circle Pad may be due for a makeover, however, as Nintendo has just been granted a US patent, lasting 14 years, for the 'ornament design for an operating knob for portable electronic computer'. The accompanying images show a 3DS with a Circle Pad that seems to resemble the design of a GameCube analogue stick. For those who complain of their sweaty thumbs slipping off the current design, this could be the answer to those woes.

The patent and its drawings do specify 3DS, or portable electronic computer, so that may exclude the use of this design on the Wii U controller. For those suspicious that Nintendo's remodel of the 3DS is already on the way this will aid their cause — the patent was filed 6th December 2011 — though the images do show a system with a single Circle Pad, not the dual analogue controls that many anticipate.

So, what do you think of the design? Is it an improvement on the original?