Nintendo has confirmed that the 3DS extra Circle Pad attachment is very real.
It has also been confirmed that Monster Hunter Tri G will utilise this extra circle pad which for me says a lot about where this peripheral has come from. Monster Hunter is one of the biggest franchises in Japan and Monster Hunter Tri was the biggest selling third-party Wii game. Basically, what Monster Hunter (and Capcom) wants, Monster Hunter gets. Expect it to be bundled with a deluxe version of Monster Hunter (much like the Classic Controller Pro).
When @antoniamoreno told me there were rumours of a redesigned 3DS with an extra circle pad, I dismissed them. “You can’t add extra controls to an iteration of a device”, I said, “because what happens to the owners of the original device?”. Looks like Nintendo thought of a solution for me.
So in my opinion, this basically confirms we will be seeing a new 3DS (which I’m un-affectionally calling the “3DS Plus”) very soon. The cynic inside me says Nintendo will wait until this addon has been released and die-hards have bought it before they announce a redesigned device in order to get maximum profits, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a redesign announced much sooner than that.
The redesigned 3DS will be very similar to the current 3DS (I doubt it will be much slimmer, if at all) and will probably look like my mockup above. The power button will be moved to the side and a second Circle Pad will take its place. Your thumb will rest on the buttons still because most games aren’t going to make heavy use of the circle pad and the buttons at the same time (either the circle pad will be used to manipulate the camera when required, or it’ll be used in a dual-stick shooter style which traditionally use the trigger buttons). I’ll admit I’m not sure where the extra shoulder button the attachment provides will go.
A second Circle Pad does make sense. In fact, not including one in the first place was criminal when every other platform worth its salt has 2 analog inputs. I have no doubt that the lack of 2 analog inputs was putting off lazy third-party developers because it meant they had to work on creating decent cameras again. Nintendo have been very vocal recently about trying to encourage more third-party developers to develop for their consoles and I think this is another example.
Once the redesigned 3DS comes out you can guarantee every developer (with the exception perhaps of Nintendo) will jump on it, practically forcing everyone with an old 3DS to upgrade. Nintendo will of course deny this, pointing to the Circle Pad attachment. But no one wants to carry around a bulky attachment with their device. If Nintendo are at all worried about losing out to Apple, they sure aren’t showing it by releasing this attachment and making their ‘portable’ device even bigger.
This is nothing like the DS redesign pattern. The DS Lite was just slimmer, the DSi had gimmicky addons. The 3DS Plus is going to have a completely new control scheme.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like Nintendo and I enjoy playing on my 3DS, I’m just disappointed with them. Yet again this makes me wonder what Nintendo actually spend their time doing! The 3DS was clearly rushed out (twin Circle Pad design, lack of key features at launch, price cut, imminent redesign), just like the E-shop was rushed out (even after delays), just like the free ambassador games were rushed out. And now they are indulging the whims and desires of their biggest (in Japan) third-party franchise as if they’re desperate.
Better start saving up for the 3DS Plus.