Should you buy a Circle Pad Pro? Let’s look at it from all angles

We’ve been all over the map with the 3DS’s Circle Pad Pro. We doubted its existence, ridiculed it, wondered if it would be released outside Japan, waited for US and UK release dates, and now we’ve actually played with it long enough to really judge it. The Circle Pad Pro is available in Europe right now, and next week it will be a GameStop exclusive in the US. So we’re left asking ourselves, “Is an extra stick on the side actually worth the cash?”

That answer really depends on a multitude of factors and how you feel about them. We’ll guide you as best we can, and by the end you should know if the $20/£15 add-on is something you actually want. Are you a bad enough dude to let us know in the comments if you’ll be buying it?

1. Resident Evil’s camera controls work just like on a PS3/360 controller. Do you care?

Though we played through the first quarter or so of our Resident Evil Revelations review using the standard controls, once we popped on our Circle Pad Pro and adjusted to it, we couldn’t go back. After experiencing RE5 and countless other third person action titles over the last six or so years, twin stick controls just feel natural to us. You walk with the left stick, you look around with the right, line up your shots with the second left trigger, fire your gun with the second right trigger. For millions of gamers that’s “normal” now, and if that’s at all important to you, then the Pad is the option to go with for Revelations.

However, this by no means implies RER is otherwise unplayable. Without the attachment, stopping to aim with the right shoulder button and shooting with the face buttons works great. And the controls are surprisingly customizable for a portable game, so you can probably find an adjustment that fits you well enough. Revelations is fine without it, but it’s very positively enhanced by the Circle Pad Pro. Perhaps not enough to make it worth $20 for use in a single game, which is why it’s fortunate there’s more than one game the CPP works with.

2. Planning to buy any of the other compatible games like Metal Gear Solid, Kingdom Hearts, and Ace Combat?

As has been proven in the past with add-ons like 32X and the DS Rumble Pak, their worth is defined by the number of games they support. Even if Resident Evil Revelations is improved, what comes after that? Currently only a handful of games have been announced that use it, and even fewer are coming out in the US any time soon. But at least most of the games are high profile enough to be warrant your attention.

Not counting the Japanese-exclusive Monster Hunter 3G, only two games currently available use the CPP: Resident Evil Revelations and Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy (which we thought was pretty good). If those two aren’t enough for you, February 21 brings Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D, which features 3D camera controls that could work great with the add-on, and on March 23 there’s Kid Icarus: Uprising, though it’s only intended use is to make the interesting controls work for the left-handed.

After that the number of compatible releases gets a tad nebulous, with upcoming Japanese launches for games like Kingdom Hearts 3D and Dynasty Warriors VS that currently lack any real international release date. If the CPP really takes off, more titles could appear down the line, but at the moment it’s just those six that will be available to Circle Pad owners this year. Are you planning to buy at least a couple of those games to make it worth it?


3DS Nintendo


  • The_Tingler - February 7, 2012 4:56 a.m.

    I was lucky enough to get the Resident Evil/Circle Pad bundle pack, which you could pre-order here in the UK from only one store (Zavvi) but for the same price as Revelations on its own (£29.95). Since release they've upped the price to normal "game + Circle Pad" price (£45), so I basically got the Circle Pad Pro for free. Excellent. And now I have, I totally agree with you Henry. It feels like a regular control pad, and Resident Evil plays just like 5 - with the added crucial bonus of being able to MOVE WHILE AIMING! Wow! Also, I really, really hope Nintendo use it for Luigi's Mansion 2. That's currently my only concern about that game as the GameCube controls were perfect.
  • Pyroco101 - February 6, 2012 2:02 a.m.

    I wouldn't hold my breath for one till a third party comes out with a better design. I've seen pics of a guy who took out the nub from his psp and successfully used it on his 3ds. It even fit right under the face buttons.
  • Ravenbom - February 3, 2012 6:53 p.m.

    Yeah, I think I'm going to pick one up. I'd prefer direct camera control if at all possible.
  • ThisIsMyFuckingThirdAccount - February 3, 2012 5:10 p.m.

    I'll have you know that I have a GBA-to-GCN sitting in my primary electronics drawer right this minute! I swear that I will transfer my Fire Emblem GBA data to my Fire Emblem GCN someday. I just have to find a GBA, and a GameCube, and my copies of Fire Emblem...
  • Shazamin - February 3, 2012 2:43 p.m.

    Thank you Henry for another great article, it was the article we needed... but not the one we deserved.
  • CrazySmurf - February 3, 2012 12:28 p.m.

    I'll probably pick one up, but I'm not going to be rushing out for it or anything like that
  • Yukichin - February 3, 2012 12:17 p.m.

    I'm not going to bother. It's not necessary, and control schemes worked fine for me on the original DS. I hope that, should Nintendo release a 3DS Lite--and I'm not sure how they'll change the design--they don't include the second stick. Again, control schemes are fine with or without it, but I don't want to see it suddenly required for new games, making the original 3DSs completely obsolete.
  • ppopopp - February 3, 2012 11 a.m.

    nintendo, when they will eventually release the 3DS Lite, will incorporate the second analog. Anything less would be a major sellout from Nintendo for not supporting a much-needed enhancement, not like rumble.
  • GameManiac - February 3, 2012 10:42 a.m.

    Well, let's see... I'm sure as hell buying Kid Icarus: Uprising, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. So buying that should be a no-brainer for me.
  • shawksta - February 3, 2012 8:51 a.m.

    Im sure most of you are skeptical but look at this, 3rd Parties are making great use of it,, usually its mostly Nintendo who justifies them, this is definitly a good sign. Im planning to buy one, but not just yet.
  • Darkhawk - February 3, 2012 8:13 a.m.

    I call total bull**** on Nintendo for this. If you're going to release a system lacking functionality, either stick by your choice or release the upgrade for free. Sony at least had the balls to stand by their uni-analog PSP, but Nintendo is notorious for bleeding its consumers with incomplete products: GBA gets a proper backlight only with the SP. NDS goes Lite, then i, then iXL, and so on. Wii only gets proper motion control with the MotionPlus (which at least had a killer app in the form of Red Steel 2 bundled with it). If I'm going to get a 3DS, I'm waiting for the inevitable 3DSLiteXLi to buy used on Kijiji. (Which is what I did for the NDS, natch.)
  • Dadyo238 - February 3, 2012 8:06 a.m.

    Getting it!
  • ZhugeLiang - February 3, 2012 7:43 a.m.

    To ascend, slide the circle pad down. To DESCEND, slide the circle pad up.
  • rob619 - February 3, 2012 7:05 a.m.

    Again great work Gamesradar. Just what I was looking for, is it worth buying the Circle Pad. It is but at the moment I will have to pass. This is because I brought a battery extender due to the standard 3DS battery preety much being crap, and the circle pad pro will not clip on! Waiting for a good third party circle pad pro :)
  • TheElephantManchurianCandidate - February 3, 2012 5:31 a.m.

    I'd get one if there was a game I wanted that used it but there aren't many Nintendo franchises that utilise dual analogue control as they have always been limited by strange control schemes. It'll work well for Luigi's Mansion I guess.
  • db1331 - February 3, 2012 5:23 a.m.

    Great article Henry. Very insightful. Looks like I may be scooping one of these up. Honestly, as a grown ass man with big hands, the added finger real estate is probably the most appealing aspect of it.
  • wingsdjy - February 3, 2012 9:21 a.m.

    Thinking along those lines, it'd be nice if there was an add-on that gave you the added finger real estate without the circle pad, for games that don't use the CPP.
  • db1331 - February 3, 2012 10:07 a.m.

    Just put it on and don't use the circle pad. Henry said he kept it on even for games that didn't support it, jut for the extra grip.
  • wingsdjy - February 3, 2012 10:36 a.m.

    Yeah, but it extends the distance to reach the buttons on the right side. Might not be an issue for him, but for others...
  • meagaman45 - February 3, 2012 5:02 a.m.

    i will get it for sure when kid icarus comes out but i might get it before then and i have a question could you use the circle pad pro with games that involve moving the camera or clicking the shoulder buttons on the regular ds.

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