Hands-on with the Nintendo 3DS XL Circle Pad Pro

Nintendo 3DS XL Circle Pad Pro hands-on impressions from Tokyo Game Show 2012.

Nintendo may not show up for the annual Tokyo Game Show, but its next hardware add-on, the Circle Pad Pro for the beefy Nintendo 3DS XL made an appearance at this year's gaming show. We had a chance to spend some hands-on time with the XL Circle Pad Pro, which feels like an improvement on the original, awkward accessory that adds a second analog stick to Nintendo's latest handheld.

The extra-large version of the Circle Pad Pro makes the 3DS XL extremely thick, making it feel like one is holding a controller that rivals the size of Wii U GamePad. Despite the chunkiness, the new Circle Pad Pro feels comfortable in the hands.

The second analog stick feels almost identical to the built-in one, with just slightly less give. The XL Circle Pad Pro's shoulder buttons felt a bit mushier than the stock L and R, but the difference in feel is unlikely to severely affect gameplay performance.

Like the original Circle Pad Pro, the XL iteration obscures the slot for the stylus, meaning players will need to pop the 3DS XL out from the accessory to get access to it. There's no clear way to store a stylus in the XL Circle Pad Pro.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to test the Nintendo 3DS XL Circle Pad Pro with any games. The demo units that had playable copies of Monster Hunter 4 inside were tucked away inside glass cases.

Nintendo hasn't announced a price or date for the Nintendo 3DS XL Circle Pad Pro, but it's safe to assume that it will ship before (or alongside) the release of Monster Hunter 4 in Japan next March.

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