Nintendo 3DS May Get Ugly, Awkward Righthand Joystick

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Hey 3DS owners, how about a funky looking snap-in part that adds a right-side analog thumb-stick pinched off to the side of Nintendo’s no-glasses 3D portable in what has to be the ugliest expansion accessory I’ve seen. No? Well it’s not a rumor or photo-manipulated fake. That’s it up top in a shot taken from Japanese games mag Famitsu, and we’re not talking about some hypothetical third-party experiment, but an official product from Nintendo themselves.

Nintendo just confirmed to Edge that the device exists, that it’ll include both the right thumb-stick as well as shoulder buttons and that it’ll first be used in Monster Hunter 3G, a souped up version of Capcom’s fantasy-themed monster-slaying Wii game, Monster Hunter Tri. What’s more, Monster Hunter’s creative lead calls it a “secret weapon” and says it’s designed (inexplicably, by my measure) to make game feel as controllable as the Wii version.

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Okay, straight faces everyone: It’s called a “Kakuchou Slide Pad.” Kakuchou is transliterated Japanese for “expansion,” “extension,” or “enlargement.” Edge says it’s a full inch thick extending from the back of the device, perhaps to make room for the second set of shoulder buttons and you can see from the shot above that the right-side thumb-stick’s actually smaller than the native left-side one. So there you have it—something to make the already clunky 3DS clunkier still.

Most of us are accustomed to double-thumb-stick gaming on consoles and PCs, and sure, it would’ve been nice if Nintendo designed the 3DS with this thing inbuilt from the start, but adding it after the fact? The 3DS is already a handful compared to our iPhones and Android mobiles. Is it wise at this critical point, when dedicated gaming handheld sales are slumping, to assume that what gamers want is a kludgy cradle?

Back in August, French tech site 01.net suggested Nintendo was working on a revised version of the 3DS, due in 2012. Perhaps our fears of nightmarish kludge-ware are overblown and this snap-on’s just a workaround for first-gen 3DS owners. Maybe after all this, Nintendo’s plotting to one-up Sony’s PS Vita with a smaller, slicked-up version of the 3DS, replete with extra shoulder buttons and dual thumb-sticks.

We’ll probably know more next Tuesday, when Nintendo’s inaugural 3DS trade show launches to showcase the handheld’s latest and greatest. And it sounds like the snap-on’s going to be playable at next week’s followup Toyko Game Show, or at least Monster Hunter 3G will, claims Japanese newswatcher Andriasang.

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Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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