Nintendo ‘Traumatised’ By 3D Virtual Boy, But ‘(Laughs)’ About It Now

Nintendo ‘Traumatised’ By 3D Virtual Boy, But ‘(Laughs)’ About It Now

The Virtual Boy is one of Nintendo’s biggest flops, an experiment in stereoscopic 3D that left a bad taste in the mouths of some of the game maker’s employees, leaving them with hesitation that the Nintendo 3DS could succeed.

In the latest “Iwata Asks”, the interviews conducted by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, he asks the designer of the Nintendo 3DS, Kenichi Sugino, and the system’s producer, Hideki Konno, how the glasses-free 3D handheld came to be. Sugino was involved the creation of the Virtual Boy, released in 1995, a failed experiment he says “traumatised” him and made other Nintendo employees fearful of 3D.

Iwata: Sugino-san, you actually worked on Virtual Boy. (laughs) Konno: Because of those hard experiences, when I told people at Nintendo how fun 3D games are, I couldn’t get them to immediately believe in the potential.

Iwata: Even though Nintendo had continued its efforts in 3D, lots of people in the company were perhaps full of doubt. (laughs)

Konno: Yes. I’d propose something, and they’d be like, “Huh? Are we still doing that?” (laughs) I decided to at least experiment. First we made it possible to represent Mario and Luigi in 3D. Then I talked to the development staff of Mario Kart Wii and asked if they could make it in 3D, and it went relatively well. A few weeks later, we could display Mario Kart Wii in 3D on the newest 3D panel. When I saw it, the 3D looked more natural than I had expected. I thought it was good and had some people at the company look at it.

Iwata: I talked about this the other day with Itoi-san, too. Until we experimented, not everyone was ready to give their whole-hearted consent to going with 3D. What did you think about that, Sugino-san?

Sugino: I, too, had been through some really tough times with 3D. I think I was traumatised by it! (laughs) So the moment I heard the 3D idea, I instinctively reacted against it. I even said, “No, let’s not do that.”

Konno: Oh, that’s right! (laughs)

Photo by Kitsuney @ Flickr.

The Luigi’s Mansion 3D That Never Was [Nintendo]


  • Ha ha! It’s easy to laugh now, isn’t it Nintendo? Just look back at it and laugh and ignore the fact that you shamed Gunpei Yokoi into leaving the company even though he insisted that the Virtual Boy wasn’t ready but you shoved it out anyway because of your terrible release planning.

    Which indirectly resulted in one of the most creative minds ever getting killed on a freeway while helping out a fellow motorist.

    So yeah, laugh it up, Nintendo.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!