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Do You Need A Circle Pad Pro For Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance?

by Bryan Vore on Jul 26, 2012 at 05:00 PM

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The latest Kingdom Hearts game (releasing July 31st) is one of a handful of titles compatible with the 3DS Circle Pad Pro add-on. But does it add anything besides bulk?

After playing Resident Evil: Revelations, I was convinced that any game compatible with the Circle Pad Pro would be vastly improved. The extra analog pad allowed the cadre of heroes to navigate and shoot freely and moved many of the controls seamlessly to the shoulder buttons. It felt like the way Revelations was meant to be played all along.

I hoped to experience the same control improvements with Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (read the review), but Square wasn't as savvy at implementing the controls as Capcom. As with with most of the portable entries in the Kingdom Hearts series, the standard control scheme allows players to swing the camera left and right with the shoulder buttons. To look up and down you have to stop moving, hold both shoulder buttons down, and move the analog pad. When in battle you can tap the shoulders to lock on to an enemy and basically stop thinking about the camera during that time. This control setup is more than adequate, as you can rotate the camera horizontally while you're in the middle of running, jumping, and fighting. The only thing missing is easy access to the vertical axis while moving.

The Circle Pad Pro gives you full camera control on the right pad, which is great for scouring levels for hidden treasure chests outside of battle. However, the battle controls remain on the face buttons, so your right thumb has to choose between looking and attacking/jumping/casting spells. Granted you can still use the skinny shoulder buttons to move the camera horizontally, but it doesn't feel as natural as the analog pad. You can't tweak the shoulder button and analog pad settings individually, so there's no way I could play with both shoulder and pad camera control. Even if that weren't the case, why didn't Square map camera control to the bigger Z triggers instead of the harder-to-hit L and R buttons?

One feature I did appreciate was an option in the menus to check how much battery power is left in the Circle Pad Pro. This should be a standard moving forward if Nintendo planned on supporting it, though fewer than 10 games support it now and Monster Hunter 3G (currently not announced for the U.S.) is the only title on the horizon that will as of this writing.

I like being able to move, look around the horizontal plane, and perform face button actions all at once, and you can't do that with the Circle Pad Pro. If you don't own the peripheral, don't buy one just for Kingdom Hearts. If you already have one, go ahead and experiment, but you'll probably end up taking it off before long.