Nintendo is certainly no stranger to innovation. With 3D making a revival in movie theaters and beginning to makes waves in home theater as well, Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, their much maligned 3D experiment was actually not their first foray into 3D technology.
The Family Computer 3D System was released in 1987 by Nintendo for use with the Famicom console. The 3D System consisted of a liquid crystal shutter visor and the special adapter, which can connect up to two visor units into the Famicom’s front-facing 15-pin expansion port via a 3.5mm (headphone style) jack.
In total, only 7 games were released for the 3D System, including Nintendo’s sequel to Famicom Grand Prix, 3D Hot Rally, Konami’s shooter Falsion, and Highway Star. Curiously, when Highway Star made it over to North America it’s name was changed to Rad Racer, but it came with 3D glasses and the 3D mode could activated by pushing the NES’s select button.
All but one of the Famicom released 3D games had 3D toggle feature. With the exception of Falsion, all games could be played in normal 2D and switched to 3D at anytime.
The 3D effect itself was created by rapidly alternating the opaqueness of the left and right lenses in tandem with corresponding flashing images from the TV screen to create a stereoscopic 3D effect and therefore the illusion of depth. The glassed worked in the same manner as the more well known (and internationally released) Sega Master System 3d Glasses, and the Master System glasses can even be used in place of the original Famicom visor, as can any shutter style 3D glasses provided they have the correct connector.
Unfortunately Nintendo never released the Famicom 3D System and the hardware was pretty much abandoned shortly after it was released. Another unfortunate note; I actually do not own any of the 3D games. They tend to go for a pretty penny and I am just waiting to snap a couple up at the right price.