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Useful Notes / 3DO Interactive Multiplayer

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Welcome to the REAL world.
What are you playing with?
Slogans for the machine itself

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, similar to the then-popular VHS standard for home video. While this may have been seen as an innovative business model at the time, it probably contributed to the console's high price (see below) since it not only added an extra middleman that increased the cost, but also meant that the system couldn't rely on the razor-and-blades modelnote  that most console manufacturers use. Panasonic was the first licensee, with Goldstar (LG) and Sanyo providing their own versions later- the latter only releasing in Japan- and Creative Labs releasing a 3DO add-on for your PC which has the actual 3DO hardware on it and only requiring a CD-ROM Drive and a Sound Blaster 16 or equivalent card, and it doesn't rely on the PC's processor and graphics card at all.


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.

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 and PlayStation 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 Panasonic.


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 3DO 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 3DO controllers also came with a built in headphone jack and volume control.
  • The standard game pad has three action buttons (ABC), two shoulder buttons (L and R) and two menu buttons (X and P). A six button controller (the REAL Pad Soldier) was also made for Super Street Fighter II Turbo, but it didn't actually add any new buttons - instead, it simply had the LXR buttons arranged atop the ABC buttons in order to mimic the standard Street Fighter button setup.
  • 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 3DO 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:

Multi-Platform games that started on the 3DO:



  • Meaningful and punny name: it was the first game console built around polygons, the next step for the progress of interactive media. So we have audio, video, and three-dee-o.
  • Product Facelift: Because the 3DO was conceived as a standard for a console, 3DO licensed out the software for other companies to produce rather than producing the hardware themselves. The original 3DO models were made by Panasonic, but the following year newer models were released by Sanyo and Goldstar, as well as an add-on by Creative Labs that added 3DO compatibility to a PC.
  • Take That!: One ad for the console took snipes at the SNES and Sega Genesis, dismissing them as baby toys compared to it.
    If you're not playing on a 3DO System... what are you playing with?
    It's time to put away your toys.

Alternative Title(s): Three DO


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