Nintendo is gearing up to bring an extra nub to your 3DS XL, if that’s what you’re into. The company listed the previously Japan-only accessory on its website in the U.S. today, with an anticipated ship date of this Friday. The Circle Pad Pro for 3DS XL is like the original version for 3DS, but beefier, and perhaps even more unsightly when glommed on to your portable console.
Less than stellar looks are a trade-off for a much more ergonomic and comfortable design, however, according to most who have used the accessory. Nintendo got a lot of flack back when it first revealed the 3DS for not just including a second analog control pad to begin with in the device itself, and clearly the Circle Pad Pro was a concession designed to calm those whiners.
Nintendo’s got a lot riding on the 3DS, especially since it looks like the Wii U isn’t doing too well in the initial offing. The mobile console faces an even greater threat from multipurpose devices like iPads and tablets that are also getting plenty of software to add to their gaming libraries, and which follow a hardware upgrade cycle that sees them get more powerful on at least a yearly basis, but often even more frequently.
The OUYA Android-based gaming console so far mostly challenges the home console market, and then even not very well, according to early reviews. But Sony at least seems to be investing more time and effort into PlayStation Mobile, its attempt at crossing the divide between dedicated gaming devices and the smartphone market, and third-party devices with more of a gaming focus, possibly from startup sources, likely aren’t that far behind. The Circle Pad Pro for 3DS XL isn’t revolutionary, but it is a cheap way to offer something smartphones generally don’t, so it could help convince fence-sitters unsure about a purchase, at the very least.