At first touch it seems better than the DS Lite's D-pad: that one has a more of a mushy feel to it. Even the Game Boy Micro's D-pad is tighter. But the 3DS D-pad is lower set than the DS Lite, tighter and more clicky. It actually felt really good at first.
But now when I press right direction on it, it's getting squeaky. Much like how the PSP-1000/2000 and PSPgo have squeaky D-pads. It's too bad, I wonder why this is so common?
UPDATE: I noticed there was some white dust/dirt/schmuckus of some sort in between the edge of the upper right side of the Dpad... I pulled it out and the squeaking disappeared! So that seems to have been the problem. Odd.
Reviews seem to largely ignore the 3DS D-pad, and a lot of the launch titles surprisingly seem to favour the circle pad... it's like Nintendo doesn't want people to use the D-pad or something... but I've been using it a fair amount like for racing games like the mini-game kart mode in Super Monkey Ball 3D and Ridge Racer 3D, and I have to say, the low placement of it is cramping up my thumb a bit. it's the same complaint people make about the low analogue nub placement on the PSP... but with a D-pad I think it's worse. I think I may have preferred that Nintendo had switched the circle pad & D-pad placement.
In other news, I took some pics comparing the 3DS
I was surprised that the circle pad is not much bigger than the PSP-2000 analogue nub. Basically, the PSP-2000 analogue nub is the same size as the inner circle part of the 3DS circle pad.
Of course the PSPgo analogue nub looks TINY compared to the 3DS...
The biggest differences between the Circle Pad & Analogue Nub...
Nintendo 3DS Circle Pad:
- concave design
- smooth but rubberized for grip
- softer push but farther travel
Sony PSP Analogue Nub:
- convex design
- hard plastic but has little squarish textures to give it grip
- takes a bit more effort to push it but has shorter travel
I don't know why everyone is saying the 3DS circle pad is better than the PSP analogue nub. Sure, a lot of launch games like Pilot Wings Resort and Super Monkey Ball 3D use the circle pad, but the problem is there aren't any third/first person shooters or action games to *really* test the mettle of the 3DS circle pad. I've been playing a DS game, MechAssault Phantom War on my 3DS and that's basically a third-person-shooter.... the circle pad handles it ok. I wouldn't say it's better than the PSP... just different, really.
And once NGP comes out with its actual analogue STICKS-- not just nubs but actual sticks that pivot, not slide-- that should blow away both of these controls... maybe? We'll see.