The lights are on
Many folks scoffed and teased Nintendo when it announced the bulky piece of 3DS hardware, but the Circle Pad Pro’s extra control nub and shoulder buttons make playing Resident Evil: Revelations a revelation in itself. The added control makes moving and shooting – a Holy Grail for the series – an empowering reality, while smoothing out the overall experience.
My 3DS automatically detected the extra circle pad upon booting up the game, which made getting started a snap. Once the gameplay kicked in I immediately noticed the default action button gets swapped to a shoulder button so you don’t have to reach your right thumb all the way from the new circle pad to the d-pad. Your melee attack is also mapped to a shoulder button, without the circle pad add-on you are normally required to select a knife or other similar weapon from your inventory first. I love the fact that I can now deliver a flurry of stabs with the push of a button.
The extra circle pad controls the camera when moving in the standard third-person view. Being able to glance around the environment and steer your character with your right thumb is a welcome addition. It gets even better when you enter combat. With the extra circle pad you can finally move and shoot. At one point I circle strafed around an autopsy table, effectively keeping two zombies at bay in a deadly game of Ring around the Rosie. I also managed to out-maneuver I giant slug-like enemy and dispatch it entirely with a knife without taking damage – something that would have tedious and annoying without the extra circle pad. Finally being able to apply sensible strategies to enemy encounters is a welcome improvement.
The welcome gameplay improvements come with a couple drawbacks. The extra circle pad I used didn’t feel as smooth as the one built into the 3DS. You have the option to calibrate the second circle pad, but I didn’t notice a beneficial change. Additionally, there were several times I felt I was battling the camera‘s auto-center function, which gets annoying when examining environments. Finally, I didn’t like that putting the 3DS to sleep caused the system to forget the circle-pad was attached. Reactivating it isn’t difficult, it’s just a slight hindrance.
Don’t let my small gripes deter you -- this is the definitive way to play Resident Evil: Revelations. I’ve already played and enjoyed the game a ton without the Circle Pad Pro, but I’m as excited as ever to do it all again with this added level of control. The ability to move and shoot and control the camera reduces the already narrow gap between Resident Evil: Revelations and its console counterparts. We haven't seen hide nor hair or any rumors hinting at a Vita version of Revelations or a new 3DS model with two circle pads, so there appears to be little gained by waiting it out. I’m purchasing this peripheral for Revelations alone, and it’s a choice I know I won’t regret.