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Nintendo explains why the Nintendo 3DS XL doesn’t have a second analog stick

Check out our full review of the Nintendo 3DS XL.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has been quite candid with the press lately, willingly addressing his company’s failings to evolve to modern video game industry standards. The world has embraced digital distribution through platforms like Apple’s iPhone and the App Store. Iwata says: That’s cool, we’re going to make all our games available as downloads. Nintendo releases a successor to the Nintendo DS that makes stereoscopic 3D graphics its main event, but people don’t like 3D. Iwata says: That’s cool, we’re not going to really do much of that 3D action anymore.

Nintendo is still Nintendo though. It’s going to do things that seem contradictory and very consumer unfriendly, no matter what flaws Iwata admits. Case in point: The Nintendo 3DS added an analog pad for controlling games in a three-dimensional space like Super Mario 3D Land, but most games need two analog pads to play well. Nintendo redesigns the machine as the Nintendo 3DS XL and still leaves out the second analog pad, much to fans’ chagrin. Iwata says: Too bad.

In the very same interview with The Independent that saw Iwata back away from stereoscopic 3D graphics, the executive explained why the 3DS XL won’t have a second analog pad.

“When we looked at the design of the 3DS XL we had to look at various factors, one was battery life, one was the overall size of the unit, and we had to make some trade-offs,” said Iwata, “The choice, if we were going to include the second analog stick, was to reduce the size of the batteries or make the unit much bigger. Attaching a second analog stick is possible but it would have made the system even bigger and, though it perhaps puts a burden on people that really want that second stick, it’s a call we had to make and these people will have to live with it.”

Now it would be one thing if Nintendo simply made this design choice in a vacuum but there’s a big problem. First, Nintendo has a healthy business going selling the Circle Pad Pro, a $20 add-on for the 3DS that provides a second analog pad. It’s supported by big games like Resident Evil: Revelations and Kingdom Hearts: Dream, Drop, Distance. The Circle Pad Pro has done brisk sales to the point of selling out full shipments, meaning that people want the product. Nintendo has already said it will release a new version of the Circle Pad Pro for the 3DS XL. That’s just bad customer service.

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