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Slide Pad Love: Why It’s a Big Deal

Wait, they are calling it the Circle Pad now? Well that’s just lame.

I could list all the 3DS features, but that would seem just silly; I am not a PR machine. March 27th is soon upon us all, and we will all have the 3DS in our grasp. Will I be ready to handle a brand new Nintendo handheld system? While it will take a bit for me to experience the 3D aspect (since Nintendo of Canada hasn’t bothered to release any 3DS tour information yet), it will be yet another handheld cycle for me to go through, and I’m looking forward to it.

While everyone is making a big deal (and rightfully so) of the other features included in the 3DS, there is one thing about the 3DS that was badly needed on the DS. I will let the picture below say it.

Say it with me now. Slide. Pad.

Analog control. While the DS hosted some fantastic 2D games, controlling 3D games was not so hot. The biggest control nightmare that really struck a chord with me was Super Mario 64 DS. Was controlling Mario, Yoshi, Wario and Luigi fun on the DS? No, it wasn’t. Extra stars and new courses were nice, but having to control a game with a D-Pad when it was originally a Nintendo 64 game built around using the N64’s control stick is not a good experience.

Mario 64 without a joystick is not fun. At all.

And Nintendo probably felt the same way as well. While the Nintendo DS was a bit more powerful than the N64, three dimensional games like Ocarina of Time would be a chore to control if put on the Nintendo DS. D-Pad controls do not work for games like Mario 64 and OOT, but after the Nintendo 3DS was unveiled to the masses at E3 2010, my attention immediately turned to the Slide Pad and what it can be used for. Non-2D games on the DS that have the D-Pad as an option? I can already think of a few: Okamiden, the two Final Fantasy remakes, Resident Evil: Deadly Silence, and Mario Kart DS.

Backwards compatibility with DS games will be enormously improved. If you’ve played any of the VC games on the Wii, then analog control comes into play if you want to use the Classic or GameCube controller. I have found it useful for some games, others not so much. The same should hold true for the Slide Pad, but unlike its console cousins, the Slide Pad is flat and has a more circular base than, say, the Classic Controller Pro’s analog sticks. Analog control on the 360 is far better then the Wii’s because its analog stick base is not octagonal. The Slide Pad also has a circular base. Console-like control on a Nintendo handheld that isn’t 2D based is like a dream come true.

It’s finally coming true in two weeks time. Super Mario 64 DS, you are going to have a home again.




03/17/2011 at 10:55 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the circle pad won't add analog controls to DS games. Mario 64 DS won't play the same as on the N64 or Wii.

Nick DiMola Director

03/18/2011 at 12:17 AM

It definitely won't be the same, but it should definitely be better. I'm looking forward to trying it out and seeing what the results are.

Nate Hascup Staff Alumnus

03/18/2011 at 05:13 PM

Reports are that the game improves greatly with the slider pad. I might pick the game up around launch time as I passed over it before due to the D-pad controls.

Jason Ross Senior Editor

03/18/2011 at 05:28 PM

I'm just curious, who's reports suggest that?

I mean, I've seen the video of the people at 1up (or somewhere) using the slide pad on Super Mario 64, but the reality was they didn't devote the same attention to smoothly rotating on the D-pad as they did with the slide pad, and the video seemed relatively misleading in that regard.

I'm not saying it won't offer improvements on diagonals in some 3D or 2D games, and Matt's example choice of Dynamite Headdy is a great example, but I don't know how vastly the slide pad will really change gameplay.

Alternatively, though, the DSLite D-pad really hurts my thumb after long periods of gameplay. I'm excited about the slide pad for lengthier DS games, just because I don't think the pain will be there, if that makes sense. Hooray!?

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

03/18/2011 at 06:24 PM

Wasn't Mario also controlled with the touchscreen?

Matt McLennan Staff Alumnus

03/18/2011 at 08:49 PM

Yes, he was, but it was worse then the D-Pad.

Kathrine Theidy Staff Alumnus

03/19/2011 at 02:03 AM

"Analog control on the 360 is far better than the Wii’s because its analog stick base is not octagonal."

Interestingly, I find this to be the exact opposite. With a circular base, I can't tell simply by pressing the stick which direction is up, because there is no shape to give me feedback. As such, in any game that uses the stick for character movement, I can never walk straight forward using a circular stick. Nintendo's analogue stick design makes it far easier to press one of the eight directions, and I find that rarely is any direction in between actually used or needed. When would I ever need to hold the stick 1/5th the way to the left?

Also, Super Mario 64 DS's "touchscreen analogue stick" was meant for the thumb pad which came with the original DS model but not the Lite or DSi. Unless you had one, the touchscreen option was worthless.


03/20/2011 at 03:29 PM

"Also, Super Mario 64 DS's "touchscreen analogue stick" was meant for the thumb pad which came with the original DS model but not the Lite or DSi. Unless you had one, the touchscreen option was worthless."

Let's not kid ourselves--the touchscreen option was worthless even with the thumb pad.

Nate Hascup Staff Alumnus

03/20/2011 at 06:14 PM

Wasn't the 'thumb pad' just a wrist strap with a plastic tip that you could strap around your hand? My friend had one and I hated it. I ended up buying these cheap plastic 'thumb claws' to try and use the touch screen for games but it was uncomfortable.

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