Useful Notes / 3DO Interactive Multiplayer
Welcome to the REAL world.
The 3DO, released by the now-defunct 3DO Company
in 1993, was an attempt to create a standardized video game console format
. The 3DO Company was founded by Trip Hawkins, the founder of Electronic Arts
, which he left to form 3DO.
The system was unique in that it wasn't manufactured by the parent company. Instead, 3DO licensed the blueprints to various manufacturers, which provided their own versions of the console. Panasonic was the first, with Goldstar (LG) and Sanyo providing their own versions later.
Despite a great deal of hype (to the point that it was named Time Magazine's "1994 Product of the Year") and graphics far superior to anything else at the time short of the LaserActive, the 3DO never took off. The console launched with a price of $700, making it one of the most expensive systems of all time note
, and the early games squandered the system's impressive specs on Full Motion Video
. And like many other early CD based games, the complete lack of copy protection made it ridiculously easy to pirate its games, which didn't do the underselling console any favors profit wise.
Nevertheless, 3DO's very liberal licensing policy gave the system a surprisingly large number of third-party productions (if heavily variable in quality), with Crystal Dynamics
, 3DO themselves, and Electronic Arts
releasing some very solid titles. However, this didn't save it from the hype for the superior Sega Saturn
systems just around the corner, and the 3DO format died a quick death after a much-hyped 64-bit add-on called the "M2" ended up being unceremoniously cancelled by its buyer.
3DO tried to rebrand itself as a third-party developer (much like the Sega
of today), but a lack of quality control due to a failed game development strategy led to them going bankrupt in 2003.
Videos of various games with commentary by former 3DO Company
employees ewhac and gammadev can be found here.
- CPU: 32-bit ARM60, 12.5 Mhz, with math coprocessor.
- GPU: Two custom video coprocessors.
- Sound: Custom DSP.
- 2MB main memory.
- 1MB video memory.
- 32K battery-backed saved game memory.
- 640*480 resolution.
- 24-bit color.
- Optional S-video support.
- 16-bit stereo or surround sound.
- While all models of the 3D0 were designed with only one controller port, the controllers are designed to work around this by having second controller ports built into each one, allowing up to eight controllers to be daisy-chained together.
- Panasonic FZ-1 3D0 controllers also came with a built in headphone jack and volume control.
- Because the standard game pad only had five buttons (not counting the "X" and "P" buttons), a special six-button controller was released to accommodate ports of fighting games like Super Street Fighter II Turbo.
- One Light Gun was released for the console, the Game Gun, which worked with 10 games. Certain models of it also allowed to two player support by daisy chaining the guns together.
- The 3D0 mouse, co-released by Panasonic and Logitech. Fewer than 20 games support its use.
- Home Arcade Systems steering wheel, designed for several racing games on the console, including The Need for Speed.
- Memory Expansion Unit: A japan-only upgrade that plugs into the Expansion Bay in the consoles back. It also came with a Storage Manager start-up disc that is needed to use it.
- Panasonic 3DO Karaoke Mixer: A peripheral that allows 3DO owners to play a standard music CD, turn the vocals down, plug in one or two microphones and sing over the music.
Exclusive titles and Multi-Platform games that started here:
- Product Facelift: Because the 3D0 was concieved as a standard for a console, 3D0 licensed out the software for other companies to produce rather than producing the hardware themselves. The original 3D0 models were made by Pasasonic, but the following year newer models were released by Sanyo and Goldstar.
- Take That: One ad for the console took snipes at the SNES and Sega Genesis, dismissing them as baby toys compared to it.