Nintendo Toyed with 3D Long Before the 3DS

By Matthew Jay

January 7, 2011

For some people the 3DS seemed to come out of nowhere. Sure, it was announced a couple months before E3 last year but no one expected Nintendo to whip out a near finished version of the project, let alone have a PLAYABLE one. According to the latest Iwata Asks, the 3DS isn’t even Nintendo’s first foray into the technology. Yes, there was the Virtual Boy, but we won’t get into that here and it was based on completely different type of 3D.

The 3DS utilizes a special liquid crystal display screen that functions not unlike those cool 3D cards and DVD covers we’ve seen over the years. A prototype screen was developed for the GBA SP. Iwata says;

“…a sample screen used in the Nintendo 3DS to illustrate how you can see three-dimensional images without special glasses was functioning on the Game Boy Advance SP system.

Yes, that’s right. Making three-dimensional images that can be seen by the naked eye requires a special liquid crystal, so we tested it out by putting it in the Game Boy Advance SP. But the resolution of LCD was low then, so it didn’t look that great and it never made it to being a product.
In order to make images look three-dimensional without special glasses, you display the images for the left and right eyes separately, and deliver each one separately. To do that you need high resolution and high-precision technology. We didn’t have that to a sufficient degree back then, so the stereoscopic effect wasn’t very sharp.”

The feature goes on to mention similar technology developed for the GameCube. The system actually had 3D compatability built into the console that would be used with a special screen attachment which would have been too expensive to produce at the time. In fact, launch title Luigi’s Mansion was designed to be played in 3D.

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Matthew Jay

Contributing writer for DualShockers, Matthew Jay is a comedy writer involved with the Philadelphia comedy scene. When he's not on stage trying to convince a room full of strangers to like him in under 3 minutes he likes to play and write about video games. Especially weird ones.

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