What The 3DS Circle Pad Add-On Shares With History's Silliest Portable Consoles

by Bryan Vore on Dec 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM

The 3DS Circle Pad Pro is coming to North America soon, but it seems to have a little too much in common with outrageous handhelds like Lynx and Game Gear.

To catch everyone up to speed, the Circle Pad Pro is an add-on to the 3DS that brings in a second analog circle pad and some extra trigger buttons. It's out in Japan now and will release in the U.S. on February 7 for $19.99. Right now, it's set to work with Resident Evil: Revelations and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D with more titles on the way. The device requires one AAA battery that is reported to last up to 480 hours of game time. To keep things straight, we'll call this combined system and hardware the 3DS Pro. So now that we're all on the same page, let's look to the past for its inspiration.

Being Enormous And Heavy As Hell: Atari Lynx
The Pro adds to the ergonomics of the 3DS, creating more of a controller feel than hard, flat rectangular edges. This comes at a price, however. The whole contraption end up being quite large and can't slide into your pocket anymore -- though it's not like the 3DS is super compact in its naked state anyway. It's difficult to imagine anything competing with the massive Atari Lynx, which somehow still dwarfs the 3DS Pro. One "advantage" that Lynx will always have? The ability for leftys to flip the screen upside down and play with the d-pad on the right side.

  • 3DS + Circle Pad Pro - 13.5oz
  • 3DS - 8.3oz
  • Lynx - 1lb 4.8oz (with the required 6 AA batteries)
  • Dictionary - 3lb 8oz

A Useless Strap: Sega Game Gear
The Pro includes a wrist strap very similar to the ones packages with every Wii remote. How debased would you have to be to ever, EVER wear this thing even in the privacy of your own home? The Wii strap is there to save your flatscreen from disaster while you perform throwing motions at it. This device is there just in case you let go of a gaming device you're gripping firmly with both hands. Sega had a similar idea back in the Game Gear days, but it was there for carrying purposes. Businessmen toted it like a briefcase and little kids could skip down the sidewalk like they were swinging a lunch box back and forth.

Making It As Hard As Possible To Switch Games: Nokia N-Gage
To enable a nice, snug grip on the 3DS system, the Pro covers up the back game slot with a hefty piece of plastic. This forces the user to yank the contraption apart whenever he or she would like to change games. However, this works like a dream compared to the N-Gage, with which you had to rip off the rear plastic cover AND take out the rechargeable battery to swap Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004.

Convenient Stylus Access: Tiger Game.com
Gamers around the world oohed and ahhed at the original DS' innovative use of a touch screen and stylus when it was released in 2004, but Nintendo was super late to the party on that one. The Game.com had all this going for it way back in 1997. As you can see, the stylus was right up in your face just waiting to be unsheathed. Sure, the 3DS' Pro attachment may cover up the stylus' storage slot completely, but at least it has an alternate place to stash the easily lost plastic pencils. Hang on, I know it's here somewhere. Just... wait a second... Uh, okay, upon further inspection, that doesn't exist. Just like swapping out games, you have to pry the 3DS out of the Pro to get your stylus or just leave it in your lap and hope a light breeze or any leg movement whatsoever doesn't cause it to tumble helplessly to the ground.

In Summation
I think the message we can all see that Nintendo has been taking notes on the competition all these years in order to release the ultimate portable gaming console. Stay tuned to your TVs when we get closer to the Circle Pad Pro's launch in early February. I have a hunch that Nintendo's ads will go something like this: