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Nintendo had 3D working in GBA SP

Tech wasn't ready though, nor for Cube.

We know that Nintendo has been toying with 3D technology for years – since before the Virtual Boy in fact – but this week company president Satoru Iwata talked in a bit more detail about the experiments that have come and gone along the way.

Having invited Shigeru Miyamoto and Shigesato Itoi (probably best known to you as the designer of EarthBound) round for tea and interviews, Iwata revealed that the same screen technology at work in Nintendo 3DS was at one stage alive and well in a modified version of the clamshell Game Boy Advance SP.

"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," Iwata said. "But the resolution of LCD was low then, so it didn't look that great and it never made it to being a product."

One of the reasons it didn't work terribly well on the GBA SP was that "you need high resolution and high-precision technology", Iwata said, which wasn't possible back in those days (GBP SP was released worldwide in early 2003).

"We didn't have that to a sufficient degree back then, so the stereoscopic effect wasn't very sharp," he told his colleagues.

After that, Nintendo experimented further by putting "3D-compatible circuitry" in the GameCube. Apparently "if you fit it with a certain accessory, it could display 3D images".

"The liquid crystal for it was still expensive. Simply put, Nintendo GameCube could display 3D images if you attached a special LCD, but that special liquid crystal was really expensive back then," Iwata revealed.

"We couldn't have done it without selling it for a price far above that of the Nintendo GameCube system, itself! We already had a game for it, though – Luigi's Mansion, simultaneously released with Nintendo GameCube."

Nintendo 3DS is due out in Japan on 26th February and is expected to launch in Europe and North America in March. Nintendo is expected to announce full launch details at a press summit later this month – and you could be there.

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Tom Bramwell


Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.


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