The Nintendo GameCube was a weird little console, one that had all kinds of wacky add-ons and peripherals released for it over the years, from LAN adapters to Game Boy Links to bongo drums. One thing I never knew about until today, however, were the company’s plans for an official LCD screen.
Via Go Nintendo, Adam Doree has uploaded an uncut video of a presentation Nintendo made at E3 2002, featuring Shigeru Miyamoto, Satoru Iwata and Bill Trinen. In this video, after the crew had spent ages talking about Wind Waker and Metroid Prime, Iwata reveals that they have one last surprise to discuss: a first-party LCD screen, designed to attach to the top of the console and make it even more portable than it already was (the GameCube, famously, included a carrying handle on the back). I’ve set the video to autoplay at the beginning of the discussion about the screen:
I never knew this! Sure other companies have stepped into this vacuum over the years, releasing various screens of varying quality, but it would have been very cool to get an official Nintendo monitor.
It measured just five inches across, with a 4:3 ratio, and a resolution of just 320×240. Which sounds bad by 2023 standards but this was 2002, so for the time they weren’t terrible, as you can see in the footage above, where Mario Sunshine looks just fine! It’s also interesting hearing Iwata say it was peripherals like this that specifically convinced Nintendo to install digital output—itself a forgotten but amazing aspect of the hardware—for the GameCube.
Iwata even reveals that he had met with Sega’s Yuji Naka—in happier times—about Phantasy Star Online, and the pair discussed whether they could take that title and “make it a portable game” to make the most of this screen. None of which ever came to pass, of course, but it’s still neat imagining a GameCube era where you could have grabbed your console by its handle, taken it to a friends house and played Mario Kart Double Dash on your own little official Nintendo screen.
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Just because I’m only learning about this today doesn’t mean there isn’t other stuff out there about the screen; here’s a 2002 write-up on IGN about how nice it looked, for example, while its listing on Console Variations speculates that the high cost of LCD screens at the time made it too expensive to release. The video below, meanwhile, has a good linger on footage of the screen alongside some speakers, part of the most 2002 gaming setup imaginable.
UPDATE: Thanks to Spindash on Twitter, there’s more! Satoru Iwata quietly revealed years later that the monitor had secret, glasses-free 3D capabilities that Nintendo “kept secret”, along with the trivia that the Phantasy Star Online figures visible in some of the display units ended up getting stolen off the showroom floor!