It seems that the rumors were true, Nintendo is developing an add-on for the 3DS that gives the system a much-needed right analog stick. And...oh dear lord.
That unsightly plastic cradle, with the look of a cheap knock-off peripheral, isn't just for show: it adds three important features to the system. First and foremost is the right circle pad, but that huge cradle wrapping around the 3DS also adds a second set of shoulder buttons for all of your R2 and L2 pressing needs. As for that third important feature? That would be the extra bulk, essentially doubling the system's thickness making it too large to fit in any pocket. I suppose that puts the 3DS more in line with the size and girth of a PlayStation Vita at least.
All of this info comes from a leaked scan of Famitsu Magazine in an article that links the 3DS attachment to the newly announced Monster Hunter 3G. This is all rather ironic seeing as Monster Hunter 3G is said to be an expanded port of the Wii's Monster Hunter Tri, a game that didn't have a second analog stick to begin with.
There are still several questions left unanswered about the peripheral. Release date and price are still up in the air, and it's unclear what kind of developer support the add-on will receive beyond Monster Hunter. It is also a rather transparent admission by Nintendo that a system redesign is in the works that will include a right circle pad, hopefully placed in a more reasonable location under the four face buttons, with this add-on releasing as a concession to early adopters so their system will still be compatible with future games.
Nintendo is holding a pre-Tokyo Game Show event on September 13 to discuss the future of the 3DS, at which point we'll likely learn a lot more about this add-on with an official unveiling. In the meantime, I'm left wondering where this circle pad extension will fall on the Nintendo peripheral continuum. Will it be utterly forgettable like the DS rumble pack? Fantastic, but poorly supported by developers like the Wii Motion+? Or will it become an essential part of the hardware like the Wii Nunchuck?