Nintendo: Virtual Boy's failure inspired 3DS creation

Company discusses long-held desire for three dimensions

Nintendo's experimental Virtual Boy has long been deemed a commercial flop since its launch in 1995, but its legacy may yet prove to be one of the company's great successes.

According to Nintendo boss Saturo Iwata and design guru Shigeru Miyamoto, the hardware - which completely covered the eyes of players - was a milestone in the firm's quest to provide 3D gaming.

However, it suffered lacklustre sales, which helped the company decide that if they were going to release a fully-functioning 3D console, it had to come without "goggles".


Nintendo chief Iwata revealed that the platform holder experimented with both a 3D-ready version of GameCube and GBA SP.

"[Even] when Nintendo failed with Virtual Boy, the company stubbornly persisted [with 3D]," he said in the latest edition of the Iwata Asks Q&A, "putting 3D circuits in Nintendo GameCube and making a Game Boy Advance system with a built in 3D LCD."

He added: "A sample screen used in the Nintendo 3DS to illustrate how you can see three-dimensional images without special glasses was functioning on the Game Boy Advance SP system."

Miyamoto said that former Nintendo chairman Hiroshi Yamauchi was always keen for games that "jumped out" of the screen - as far back as the Famicon (SNES).

He commented: "As we were trying things out [with GameCube, GBA SP and Virtual Boy], one thing we decided was to make it glasses-free. We flat out decided that 3D should be enjoyed without using special glasses or goggles."

Iwata concluded: "If it hadn't been for the failure of the Virtual Boy system, so many of our people might not have said, 'As long as special glasses are necessary, 3D is impossible.'"

Miyamoto stated his belief that the Virtual Boy was a success when viewed as a "toy", and is only consider a failure as fans and industry partners expected it to be a "games console".

Nintendo 3DS is due for release in Japan next month and the EU and US before the end of March.

[ SOURCE: Iwata Asks ]