Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has revealed that the company considered a 3D gaming handheld as far back as the Game Boy Advance SP, but axed the project at the prototype stage over concerns the stereoscopic effect was insufficient. Speaking in an interview with other Nintendo execs this week, Iwata discussed precursors to the upcoming Nintendo 3DS, as well as letting slip that the Nintendo GameCube was 3D-capable all the way back in 2001.
"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." Satoru Iwata, president, Nintendo
According to Iwata, the GameCube "actually had 3D-compatible circuitry built in" but the necessary LCD accessory for the 3D effect to be visible would have cost considerably more than the console itself. Nintendo even prepared a 3D title, a version of Luigi’s Mansion.