Now that the 3DS is out, we can all talk about how Nintendo is the first company to the market with an out-of-the-box 3D-capable handheld system, and how that is awesome and whatnot, but maybe some of you didn’t remember that Nintendo also happened to be one of gaming’s 3D pioneers with its earlier hardware, too.
Am I kidding? Not in the slightest.
For one thing, the Famicom had its own 3D peripheral called the “Famicom 3D system.” This was a Japan-only add-on with its own glasses that simulated a 3D effect. There were seven or so games for the Famicom 3D system, and while some of them made it to the West, like Rad Racer or 3D World Runner, these had to be played with normal red/blue 3D glasses as the add-on itself was not available outside of Japan.
Of course, the Virtual Boy was a 3D system all on its own, and while it was technically portable, it could in no way be considered a “handheld” system as the visor required a flat surface upon which to rest. The Virtual Boy had a set of two monochrome displays, one for each eye, and was probably Nintendo’s least successful system pretty much ever. It had a few notable games, such as Nester’s Funky Bowling, Wario Land, and Teleroboxer. These are collectible now, though mostly because of the failure aspect rather than the awesome startup theme song.
There’s more here. Did you know the GameCube was 3D, too? Technically, I guess, it wasn’t, but it certainly had the ability built in. The system’s processors had the capability to display both left and right side images for stereoscopic 3D, but again, glasses would have been required, so the company never went forward with 3D GameCube games.
And now, we have the 3DS, with a top screen capable of displaying both images on the same screen, where glasses are not necessary, and where 3D can be adjusted or turned off entirely if desired. We still haven’t really seen how this kind of 3D can change gaming, so this is a handheld generation to look forward to.