Nintendo's rumoured hardware refresh for its 3DS console, which adds a second analogue control stick to the device, has turned out to be true - but not in the way that many people expected.
When Nintendo announced a trade event scheduled for the 13th of September, many people believed that it was to launch a redesigned 3DS console. While that follows the company's tradition of releasing redesigned yet compatible products - such as the DS, DS Lite, the DSi, and the DSi XL - we dismissed the rumour as coming too close in the product's life cycle to be true.
It transpires that we were half right, and half wrong: the rumour of a full hardware refresh has turned out to be bunkum, but the claims that Nintendo is looking to add a second analogue stick to the device in order to achieve more PlayStation Portable-like controls turns out to be true - in a way.
Rather than a new model of 3DS, the second analogue stick comes courtesy of a cradle add-on for the console. The 3DS sits within the casing of the accessory, and the - for some reason slightly smaller - extra analogue stick pokes out of the right-hand side.
Image taken by Twitter user @South1996
At the moment, details of the device are hard to come by. Its existence has been confirmed by Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, with reader South1996 posting an image to Twitter of the article in question. It is believe that the controller add-on will be supported by an upcoming title in the popular Monster Hunter RPG series, but it's not currently clear whether the device is specifically for that game or a more general accessory that third-party developers will be able to target.
If the latter proves true, then Nintendo risks the fragmentation we warned of in our original coverage: when games start demanding the use of an add-on controller that doesn't come bundled with the 3DS, gamers will likely start voting with their wallets.