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TGS 2011: Hands On – Nintendo’s 3DS Slide Pad Add-on

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Posted on September 16, 2011 AT 08:05am

There really is no two ways about it: Nintendo’s new peripheral for adding a second analog slide pad to the 3DS comes across as a quick fix. From the announcement, to the way it looks, to how it connects to the 3DS, all points seem to show a product that was put together in a way that would get the job done, but which might not exactly be pretty while doing so.

The big question, however, is how does it feel? Really, that’s what counts, and today I got the chance to get my hands on one. Not via playing any real games, mind you; much like introduction to the Wii U controller at E3, it was about touching and feeling, not getting in any actual quality time with playable products.

First, let’s get it out of the way—this thing is big. When you hold the 3DS cradled in the slide pad add-on accessory, you definitely notice the difference. Trying to explain it as “oh it feels like holding a GameGear” or “it reminds me of the Atari Lynx” doesn’t even work, as the accessory almost makes you forget you’re holding a handheld gaming platform. Instead, it’s like a device of some sort. Or maybe one of those big programmable TV remotes. Or maybe a controller for an RC car.

It’s big and bulky, no two ways about that—but it also is somewhat comfortable. At least, I’m guessing some will find it that way. Me, I’ve always preferred my hand-held gaming controllers, devices, or accessories to be on the smaller side of things, so anything that makes something bigger isn’t really what I’m looking for. That said, its designed was done in a way that holding it felt neither awkward nor unmanageable.

I think people will fall into one of two reactions for the add-on: Either you’ll be happy to give the 3DS some added bulk due to normally finding it too small, or you’ll find it to be a little bigger than you’d hope yet still not bad on a comfort level.

However, let’s be clear here: This isn’t something you’re going to want to take out and about with you. For sitting at home playing the 3DS, or for those special Monster Hunter meet-ups, sure, it’s fine. On the other hand, this thing takes some of the “portable” out of portable gaming, and what was a nice, compact, easy-to-slip-into-a-pocket 3DS becomes this somewhat massive device that needs thought put into how best to carry it around.

As for how the unit will actually perform in gameplay, that we’ll have to wait and see. Just from holding it, you certainly do notice that the right slide pad is unbalanced in terms of position to the rest of the 3DS. The one shoulder button on the 3DS that stays usable—the L1 button—is deeper into the back side than the rest of the new buttons, certain ports and switches become hidden away when docked with the device, and changing games is no longer a simple and easy process. Again, it comes back to my original thought: This indeed feels like a quick fix.

My opinion of Nintendo’s new second slide pad add-on is this: If it’s something I have to use for a particular game, it seems like a device that will get the job done and not torture me while doing so. On the other hand, seeing its bunk and feeling its awkwardness, it’s a device that I hope is not required by any must-have 3DS titles that come along for me. That, or I hope Nintendo announces a revision to the 3DS with the second slide pad built it—the sooner, the better for me.

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got his start via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as he can convince them to fit in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk him on Twitter: @pikoeri. Meet the rest of the crew.

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