In a new Nintendo-organized roundtable discussion with the excitable Earthbound writer and all-around Japanese celebrity Shigesato Itoi, company president Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto discuss how the 3DS came about, revealing Nintendo's long history with 3D experimentation. In fact, the company had 3D running on both the GameCube and the Game Boy Advance SP, which was also used as a test platform for the DS's touchscreen technology.
"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 reveals. "But the resolution of LCD was low then, so it didn't look that great and it never made it to being a product."
Of course, Nintendo's most famous dalliance with three-dimensional technology, the Virtual Boy (pictured), actually made it into stores, where it ... didn't do much. Miyamoto attempts to cast the odd goggle thing as a toy, like the Ultra Hand or the Love Tester, rather than what was intended to be the next step in the company's game console line. "I imagined it as something that people who were on the lookout for new entertainment or who could afford to spend a bit of money could buy and enjoy, even if the price was a little expensive," he offers. "But the world treated it like a successor to the Game Boy system."
"That was also true within Nintendo," Miyamoto adds. "Our sales department treated the Virtual Boy as an extension of our licensing business." In hindsight, it does make sense for Nintendo to file away the Virtual Boy, along with its low sales and small game library, as a weird, one-off toy, instead of a true platform iteration. Of course, all the headaches it caused are probably best forgotten.