In the first of a multi-volume edition of the "Iwata Asks" series on Nintendo's official site, the company's president sits down with legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto and Shigesato Itoi, known in the West for creating the EarthBound series, to talk about the upcoming 3DS hardware. In this entry, titled "And That's How the Nintendo 3DS Was Made", they take a walk through Nintendo's hardware history.
As you might expect, they start with the company's ill-fated earlier attempt at 3D, the Virtual Boy. The conversation continues, revealing some interesting experiments to combine 3D technology with various Nintendo consoles over the years since then. Iwata notes that one of the 3DS sample screens for glasses-less 3D was successfully tested on a Game Boy Advance SP. The technology at the time, though, was not to a point where it could create a sharp stereoscopic effect so the project stalled there.
Iwata then drops a bigger surprise:
To go back a little further, the Nintendo GameCube system actually had 3D-compatible circuitry built in. ... If you fit it with a certain accessory, it could display 3D images. ... Simply put, the Nintendo GameCube could display 3D images if you attached a special LCD, but that special liquid crystal was really expensive back then.
Nintendo also had a 3D game to go with its 3D GameCube: Luigi's Mansion. For those who remember the game, it's easy to imagine how the concept of wrangling ghosts would mesh well with a 3D play space.
The full "Iwata Asks" stretches four pages over on the Nintendo site and includes more on the Virtual Boy and a special set of LCD shutter goggles Miyamoto worked on to make a 3D racing game for the Famicon.