GameCube almost had 3D functionality

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata admits the last-generation console could have displayed 3D images when fitted with never-released LCD-screen peripheral.

180 Comments

For the past several years, 3D visuals have become all the rage. One need look no further than last week's Consumer Electronics Show, at which Sony dedicated almost its entire presentation to 3D movies, cameras, and games.

The GameCube almost received 3D gaming, courtesy of an LCD peripheral.
The GameCube almost received 3D gaming, courtesy of an LCD peripheral.

One device not on display at the expo was the 3DS, which will be showcased at a separate event next Wednesday in New York and Amsterdam. The handheld is being touted as Nintendo's first 3D-capable device since the ill-fated Virtual Boy and will go on sale in the US and Europe sometime in March.

That said, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has revealed that Nintendo almost went the 3D route years before unveiling the 3DS at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. (The device was originally announced in March.) In his Iwata Asks column, the executive admitted that his company's last-generation console, the GameCube, was almost made 3D capable.

"The Nintendo GameCube system actually had 3D-compatible circuitry built in. ... It had the potential for such functions," Iwata told an interviewer. "If you fit it with a certain accessory, it could display 3D images. ... Nintendo GameCube was released in 2001, exactly 10 years ago. We'd been thinking about 3D for a long time, even back then."

The GameCube's 3D functionality was to be achieved with a special liquid crystal display that would have been sold separately. However, due to the cost of LCD screens at the time, the peripheral was deemed too expensive and never made it past the prototype phase.

"We couldn't have done it without selling it for a price far above that of the Nintendo GameCube system, itself!" remarked Iwata. "We already had a game for it, though--Luigi's Mansion, simultaneously released with Nintendo GameCube. ... We had a functional version of that in 3D."

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Avatar image for Ultra_Taco
Ultra_Taco

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I think the Gamecube would have done a lot better if it had 3D, because at the time no one had ever thought of 3D games... I'm not sure even any movies were in 3D yet

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IslandBros15

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Let's hope Nintendo's next console has 3D functionality.

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MyLameUsername

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I wish they decided to go ahead with the 3d, i would have bought it.

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thecartman80

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I hope luigis mansion come out for the 3DS

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conroybrink

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The Wii cant do 3d because it doesnt have the hardware to run it from its graphic card if you had read at all and had any sense of putting two and two together you can surmise that yourself.But really why would you want to play the Wii in 3D that system is a joke.

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Marky360

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@Leo_Colt Your probably right but if these other companies can get glasses-less 3D to work on televisions in a way thats convenient to consumers then the Big N might consider bringing 3D to the WII

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Ganados0

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Wii is three times more powerful then a Gamecube though the operating system should be factored in and there's a difference between 3DSD and 3DHD.

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Sirbobislost

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so why cant the wii then? its basicly a gamecube with motion controls

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clqtte

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Now, I own 2 GC and played RE,sometimes, I feel the screen look 3D to me when zombies jump at me to bite my neck.

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ACx7

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When you look at Nintendo's accomplishments over the past couple decades, is this really that surprising? Nintendo, in my opinion, has always been at the top of the innovation board when it comes to gaming. They may not have the most impressive hardware. And sure the Wii doesnt have HD. But they dare to do things other companies wont risk because they know it will be worth the risk.

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spooky102

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Never knew GC was this advanced.

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Kevz0

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So the Gamecube almost had 3D but the Wii doesnt even have HD

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Red-Metal

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I'm surprised that this many people didn't hear about this until now. I mean, I've known about the Game Cube having 3D since February of last year or so.

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OmegaGear

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@Xplode_77 I think you need to work on your spacial perception. The original PS2 was in no way larger than the Xbox.

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Ted_Stevens

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Now, I'm not positive on this, but to everyone who is saying why can't the Wii play 3d games, doesn't it say right in the article that the Gamecube had it in its circuitry the ability to play 3d games? Plus the fact that you still needed to get some device to plug into the Gamecube's bottom to do it. I'd just assume that since they decided it wasn't the right thing for the Gamecube, that when Wii was in development they just decided to skip that, and wait for when it was the right time. Also as a side note, Luigi's mansion on 3DS would be hella-fun.

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Phil-teh-Pirate

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Unless there is a video showcasing a tech demo or any kind of evidence, I remain unimpressed and unbelieving of these claims. A lot like how Nintendo fans cried foul when it was shown that Sony were working on something like the Move in 2001.

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raghraghragh

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I hope they change the name of the 3DS to Virtual Boy 2.

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itchyflop

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@goodemon good question.

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goodemon

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so...whats keeping Nintendo from making the wii 3d?

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Spectacular66

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I still have my Gamecube stowed away. I'll never forget gaming on that tiny little box which was so filled with awesomeness :)

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cs45F

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Wow if they were thinking about 3d at that time who knows what there thinking about in the future.

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GamingBoy2009

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So there is some untapped power within the Gamecube all these years. To bad they couldnt have at least done this at the end of the Gamecubes life when high-end TVs were becoming more common. Heck, they could do it now becuase the Wii has the Gamecube built into it. Unless they removed it to make it cheaper.

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evo4x4hardcore8

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I knew the technology in it was advanced, but not this much advanced!

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godzillavskong

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Neat. I just don't think 3D gaming is that important. I guess I'm really not that stoked about it.

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amaan4ever

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i still play time splitter2 on gamecube!!!!

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coylenintendo

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I'm not even gonna bother reading the comments because I'm sure everyone is bashing on the gamecube. I'm not a huge Wii fan anymore but the Gamecube was always a fun system and did things that the PS2 and Xbox couldn't. I sort of regret not keeping my Gamecube and 30+ games. there's probably plenty of things that Nintendo could have done with its Gamecube and even with the Wii now. like better online play, at least a dvd player, etc. but it is better than Microsoft and Sony in certain ways. and btw, I'm a 360 player so I'm not a Nintendo fanboy.

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qubeley

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I love my GameCube and still play it today despite having bought a Wii and a PS3. It still sits as my favorite home console to date. The near zero loading time for games is just a blast to play games on the console...that kind of enjoyment is now gone with Wii.

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Wormkid_64

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To you people hating on Nintendo for this you're thinking backwards.We should be happy.What might they be trying now without our knowing? BTW the Wii has 2.5 times the power of a Gamecube last I'd been told.Even so,I saw the device they spoke of for the Gamecube,and there was a small screen you attached where the disc cover was.There is nowhere to attach such a screen to the Wii,and 3D TVs still haven's saturated the market enough for Nintendo to spend the money on home 3D.They made the right move with the 3DS,and years from now,when the 3DS is a huge success everyone will act surprised and agree with me. Though they shouldn't be surprised because Nintendo does that all the time.They do what they believe is best,and that's why they are the only original gaming company still making consoles.Atari and Sega are gone,and MS and Sony are newer in the console world than Nintendo.

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Ladiesman17

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almost :D lol

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Merl57

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I loved the gamecube more than anything in those days

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wiidominance

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You tell us this now Iwata-san ??

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The_Gaming_Baby

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Luigi's Mansion was a babe of a game

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Megavideogamer

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So maybe that was what the unused "Ext port" was for on first generation gamecubes? Dol-100 Nintendo removed that port along with HMIN port for Second generation Gamecubes Dol-101? So I guess Nintendo thought that since the gamecube wasn't selling well last Generation. It was better for them to wait and perfect the 3D technology. Smart move since the Nintendo last try at making a 3D gaming system failed. The Virtual Boy is Nintendo's only failure at making a gaming machine. So I would guess that Nintendo will re-release that 3D version of Luigi's mansion?

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xcollector

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Nintendo doesn't have enough credibility to speak. The Wii could have had HD graphics but didn't and their talking about the gamecube doing 3D? Logic would dictate that if the Wii is a slightly more powerful gamecube then it should be able to do 3D also, but it doesn't. Nintendo is the company that could have but never did.

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Avatar image for deactivated-57fce817a4cf5
deactivated-57fce817a4cf5

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Yeah, it wouldn't have been the right time to release it. I didn't know anyone with an LCD TV back then. Still, the Wii is technically the same console. Couldn't they do it now? Mario Galaxy in 3D would be something else!

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StAzKrnchyNMilk

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Being a collector of older systems it constantly amazes me when I find out things like this about past generation systems oh and @Biagio55 Um Avatar was one of the few movies that actually was filmed in 3D. The new Tron movie is the same way. But for your basic point I agree. I have no desire to get into the current 3D fad (because make no mistake this "technology" crops up every other decade or so) until they get away from the gimicky "ah it jumped out of the screen at me!" crap and use the tech to make a more immersive experience.

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Miltonelite

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Sega had 3d on their 8 bit master system. It used special glasses that plugged into the system and worked quite well, plus the master system had way better graphic capabilities than the nes, and it's cartridges had far more storage space. So why did it fail? Lack of support. It's not about what a game system can do that makes it awesome, rather what it does do well. Sega should have learned their lesson on overly priced peripherals way back then but still came out with mega cd (later sega cd) for sega genesis, then 32x, then started making 32x CD games that required about $450 worth add ons just to play (on top of the price of the genesis). Nintendo was wise not to release the 3d screen for the gamecube, but I have high hopes for 3ds.

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hotdiddykong

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@inaka_rob I'm talking about when multiplayer didn't mean EVERYTHING and we had a decent single player games. Metroid prime is of the best FPS games.

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big-boss-91

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hang on! Gamecube almost gone 3D and Wii got no HD? hahahahahahaha! Nintendo fails yet again

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MooncalfReviews

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biagio55, dude, Avatar was made with 3D in mind right from the start.

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HollowNinja

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The Gamecube was pretty lacking IMO. Mainly because of how hard it is to get component cables for the damn thing...

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Xplode_77

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Once again, Nintendo was TWO steps ahead of everybody else. The size of an original Xbox -dinosaur- the size of the original PS2 -megadinosaur- the size of a Gamecube -lunchbox... a small lunchbox-

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Evenios

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this is not new information this was said at an interview with him at E3 of LAST YEAR. Late to the game again.

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TETSUOdaIRONMAN

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Virtual boy was awesome.

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bigM10231

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the GCN is the most undrrated console that was really good. it had good games left and right but most didnt get it for its kiddish looks. it had hardcore titles like ps2 or xbox but not as many

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PHILRYABKIN

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The Gamecube is the little system that almost could.Higly underatted console.

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Little_Socrates

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Just thinking about Luigi's Mansion in 3D makes me squeal with joy. PLEASE DO THIS FOR THE 3DS.

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Leo_Colt

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@Marky360 That's a really good question. Although, given that they're trying to promote the superiority of "glasses-less 3D" or autostereoscopic 3D on the 3DS, enabling 3D for the Wii would probably come counter to this message as they wouldn't be able to do autostereoscopy on a TV.

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biagio55

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the thing about the 3-d games and films coming out is that they need to be made for 3-d not just added later as an after thought otherwise its pointless and until that happens i wont waste my money buying anyhting 3-d related. went to see avatar in 3-d and it did nothing for the experience

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mario-nin-freak

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I'm kinda glad they didn't, now that it's "perfected" it will be much better.

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