History has been very kind to some consoles, and exceptionally harsh on others. Sometimes undeservedly. This really just applies to many of the consoles, other than the main ones, that appeared in the early 1990s. Specifically the year in this case in 1993. The CD and full-motion video craze is taking off. Online gambling source Casinoslots offer free pokies demos and reviews for nz online casino players in 2019!
Every company is jumping on the bandwagon, including Sega, Atari, NEC, Amiga, SNK, Philips and eventually Sony. But there was also a newcomer to the game console arena: 3DO. Released in 1993, the 3DO was the first dedicated CD-ROM console in America and is one of the more unique game system ideas. 3DO was conceived by the founder of Electronic Arts, Tripp Hawkins, as a not only next-gen game console, but an entire media experience in one machine. Which explains its full name, the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer. The idea was that it would take full advantage of emerging interactive entertainment mediums, such as full-motion video, video and audio CDs, and 3D applications.
The name 3DO itself is derived from this mantra: You have audio. You have video. But now you have 3DO. That is so lame, but it is so rad!
As a result, the machine was hyped to no end before released and was deemed by many as the next biggest thing in electronic entertainment. However, due to a whole list of things like licensing options, poor games, and not the least of which, the $699 price tag, the 3DO only lasted a couple of years before being overtaken completely by the Sony PlayStation, eventually going the way of Atari and Sega, only making software from that point on. But that’s the end of the story.
Let’s go back to the beginning. One of the most unique aspects of the 3DO was its licensing system for both the hardware and games. Tripp Hawkins had lots of experience with this, and was not satisfied with how hardware companies charged for licensing.
So 3DO never actually made a console, but instead sold the rights to produce them for a fee. They also charged very little to produce games for the 3DO, in comparison to the high fees from companies like Nintendo and Sega. These practices resulted in multiple versions of the 3DO system, as well as lots of very cheaply made games. Let’s go to the hardware side of things. Panasonic made the first 3DO system worldwide, the FZ-1.
It’s the model with a front-loading mechanical tray, and is generally considered one of the better quality systems. They also made a later cost-reduced version, the FZ-10, which uses a flip-top CD-ROM. Otherwise, the alternative was the cheaper system by Goldstar. It looks pretty similar to the FZ-1, but is less compatible with certain games.
Another prominent hardware player was Sanyo, which made systems in Japan only, so you probably won’t be seeing these in the US. I got my Panasonic FZ-1 3DO for $70, with two controllers and all the cables. Between $50-80 seems to be about the current going rate for an FZ-1 while the Goldstar and FZ-10 models usually go for a little bit less, depending on games and accessories. I went with this one because I wanted the maximum compatibility and build quality, and I just like how it looks. It’s heavy, with a built-in power supply, and looks like a quality bit of equiment.
And I especially like the top of the system itself. It can be hard to see, but there’s a nice granite-like texture with a glossy finish, which really looks spectacular. Further in line with its high quality is the fact that it uses no proprietary AV ports. There is no need for any proprietary cabling.
All you need is a standard RF or RCA outputs with Dolby Surround Sound and even S-Video in there, if you want it. The one thing you may notice is missing is a memory card port. Now that’s because the 3DO has fixed internal memory. Thirty-two whole kilobytes!
There a couple of expansion ports that you’ll never use as well, but here’s an odd characteristic: there’s only one controller port. But you don’t need a multi-tap for more controllers. Unlike one-port consoles like the TurboGrafx-16, you daisy-chained controllers together for multiplayer games. Thankfully the cords are quite frickin’ long. So you don’t need to be overly comfortable with your sexuality to play any dude-man-bro death matches together. The controllers themselves are surprisingly decent with three face buttons and two very nice shoulder buttons.
The D-pad is similar, but tighter, than the Genesis six-button controller. but there’s only five main buttons, and the standard set by Nintendo, and later Sega, had six, so a couple of games can get awkward. There were other controllers made that added more buttons and there was also a flight stick, a light gun, and even a mouse to use. You could see what 3DO was trying to do here, with the multimedia aspect, with each button corresponding to typical VCR-like functions. The CD player is great, with a visualizer that was totally unique at the time. And the “flying through space/asteroids” kind of screensaver is quite awesome, too.
You even get a headphone jack and volume control knob on the first edition controllers, which is absurdly cool. However, when you plug in headphones, it doesn’t mute your TV, though. So take note if you’re playing something like The Coven, and think all you’ve got is the headphone sound going. Yeah, that can get awkward.
[sexy music and moaning] So the FZ-1 console itself is really well made, but what about the games? Each game comes on CD-ROM and… What the HECK is this?! This is apparently a 3DO game box. It is entirely too tall and awkward. From what I can tell, they were made like this so you can fit multiple CDs in a box, like in Road Rash, but come on! There are better solutions for that.
Being so tall, they’re hard to fit on any normal type of shelf without readjusting everything. And the cheaper game boxes fall apart really easily as a result. And I mentioned it has 32K of internal memory?
Well, this is all well and good, but 32 kilobytes?! Some games take up multiple 4K slots, so you’ll run out really fast. And get this: there’s no way to even delete and manage your save data on the FZ-1. So you’ll need a game with an internal built-in memory manager or a disc like Game Guru to manage your save games. Also, as mentioned, there were very low licensing fees for games, so really almost anybody could slap something together and call it a game. It was also a time where full-motion video was “the future,” and everybody wanted to take advantage of the CD-ROM format, filling the whole 650MB up, just because they could.
This “just because you could” mentality unfortunately led to lots of lame games on the system and plenty of utter garbage. What’s really sad is that the 3DO is actually really sucky at doing 3D. Maybe be the programmers just didn’t know what they were doing. I mean, the port of Doom, for instance, runs horribly and is barely playable as a result. But there is a very nice selection of worthwhile games, if you really take a look.
Here are some of my favorites. [gasp] [rumbling] [cannon fire] [engine revving] [laser fire] [punching] [kicking and punching] [engine revving] Like I said, there are lots of games and many hidden gems somewhere in that library of 200 and something games. A great way to check them out is to just download some ISOs and burn them. Yeah, the 3DO has absolutely no copy-protection. It also has no region lockouts either so you can play games from around the world on your American system without any kind of modding needed.
The games themselves can be hard to find complete in the long box. But loose or in a jewel case, they really aren’t too hard too find, and they’re usually pretty cheap. So you may be looking at the 3DO and going, Hmm, should I really get this or not? I mean, is it worth the cost? Well, from one point of view, it is definitely worth the cost. It looks great.
It is cool to look at and say, “I have a 3DO.” This thing cost $699 back in the day and I only paid like 60 for it. Well… The other point of view is that, yes, it has quite a few good games, but almost every single one of them are on a far superior system for much less money like the PlayStation or something.
So… [straining] I don’t know what to say. I like the 3DO. I’ve always wanted a 3DO, so I got a 3DO. The 3DO is what it is. Take it or leave it.