3DO Interactive Multiplayer

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3DO Interactive Multiplayer
3DO-FZ1-Console-Set.jpg
"But you’d better buy it, because this is the real gaming console. That was its slogan, REAL, because it's a real pieceashit."
— The Angry Video Game Nerd
Developer: The 3DO Company
Release Date: NA: October 4, 1993
JP: March 20, 1994
EU: June 11, 1994
KOR: December 3, 1994
Successor: M2 (cancelled)
Competitors: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Sega CD
Atari Jaguar
Philips CD-i
Generation: 5th generation


The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer was a game console hardware platform originally released in 1993 with the first models released by Panasonic and other models released by other companies in 1994.

The 3DO was created by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, who founded the 3DO Company in 1991. Game publishers only had to pay a $3 royalty rate fee per game, unlike Nintendo and Sega that required higher royalty fees for the games. This combined with the cheap production cost of CDs led to a large amount of shovelware being released for the system.

Variants

There are several variations of the 3DO system, made by different manufacturers, most notably Panasonic.

  • Panasonic FZ-1 R·E·A·L 3DO Interactive Multiplayer - The first 3DO system, made by Panasonic. Uses a motorized, front-loading CD tray. Pictured above and in Models below.
    • Panasonic FZ-1J 3DO Testing Station (Part No. HW102TS-PJ) - A variant of the FZ-1 that functions as a debug unit for use by game developers.
  • Panasonic FZ-10 R·E·A·L 3DO Interactive Multiplayer - A slimmer, less expensive, and lighter model released a year after the FZ-1. It has a top-loading CD tray with a lid, an internal memory manager, and repositioned LEDs and controller port. It does not have a headphone jack like the FZ-1 did.
  • Panasonic N-1005 3DO CD Changer "ROBO" - A custom variation of the FZ-1 fitted with a rotating five-disc CD changer. Japanese-exclusive, and used in hotel rooms and demo booths.
  • Sanyo IMP-21J TRY 3DO Interactive Multiplayer - Released in 1995, the TRY 3DO has the pickup head on the CD tray, in a manner similar to a laptop's optical drive. Japanese-exclusive. Made in moderate quantities before discontinuation. Originally, 60,000 units were to be produced, but it was decided that production would be halted at 20,000.
    • Sanyo HC-21 - The prototype version of the IMP-21J TRY.
  • GoldStar GDO-101 Alive 3DO Interactive Multiplayer - Released only in South Korea, the GDO-101 Alive 3DO is similar to the FZ-1 in which it uses a motorized, front-loading CD tray.
  • GoldStar GDO-101M 3DO Interactive Multiplayer - A variant of the GDO-101 released for the European and North American markets.
  • GoldStar GDO-202P 3DO Interactive Multiplayer - A later model of the GDO-101.
  • GoldStar GDO-203P Alive II 3DO Interactive Multiplayer - Released in South Korea and Europe only. A top-loading successor to the GDO-101 resembling a rounded PS1. The case design was modified from GoldStar's unreleased M2 console, the LGP-M2.
  • AT&T 3DO (Unreleased) - Telecommunications giant AT&T, which created GPUs used in the 3DO hardware, was slated to release its own 3DO console in Fall of 1994, but they had ultimately pulled out. It has an appearance similar to a TiVo set top box, and was going to be a front-loader with a motorized tray.[1]
  • Samsung 3DO (Unreleased) - South Korean electronics conglomerate Samsung was going to release its own 3DO console, but it was ultimately canceled due to the 3DO Company's stock dropping. [2] It has somewhat of a resemblance to a VCR.[3]
  • Toshiba 3DO (Unreleased) - Toshiba had a licensing agreement with 3DO with a combination car navigator/3DO console in the works. However, it was ultimately canceled because of the 3DO Company's stock dropping. [4]
  • DMB-800 - A Video CD player that features 3DO hardware. Many sources claim that the system was sold in South Korea, but as of currently, it is unknown what country it actually originated from. [5]
  • US West Interactive TV - US West, one of the seven Regional Bell Operating Companies created in 1983 under the Modification of Final Judgement case related to the antitrust breakup of AT&T, had a set-top box in the works with 3DO hardware in it, but it was quickly scrapped because of 3DO stock dropping. [6]
  • Karaoke on Demand System - In 1994, Matsushita Electric Industrial participated in the "Cable TV 94" exhibition in Ikebukuro with over 80 other companies to showcase new products and ideas. As part of their exhibit, Matsushita showcased a "Karaoke on Demand System", which used 3DO hardware.[7]
  • Creative Labs 3DO Blaster - While hardly a console, the 3DO Blaster was an ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) expansion card and an accompanying control pad that allows compatible Windows 3.1-based PCs to run 3DO games, though you would also need a CD-ROM drive.
  • Arcade - There were a few select arcade games built using 3DO hardware. In some cases, a Panasonic FZ-1 R·E·A·L was used with a custom BIOS and custom controller board managing input and audio.

Why It Flopped

  1. Overpriced at $699 at launch time (just over $1,200 today if inflation is applied), though Trip claimed that the price at launch was $599, but then stated that the original launch was $699 and retailers did not sell it at that price.
    • The real reason the 3DO system was priced at $700 was because the companies working with 3DO were not manufacturing it, so they had to make back their money by selling the system for that much.
  2. Similar to Sega's anti-Nintendo campaign, the 3DO's advertising directly insulted the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis by calling them "kid's toys" and claimed that the 3DO was "the Best Gaming Console". While it worked well for a time with Sega, it didn't work well with the 3DO since it was a new console brand. Ironically, it was getting killed by both the consoles that it claimed superiority over.
  3. The $3 royalty rate-per-game was well-written on paper, as this basically could allow anyone to create a game for the system with no quality control. This led to the creation of Plumbers Don't Wear Ties, one game that ended up contributing to the demise of the 3DO just three years after it was released. (the Wii U for comparison lasted four years).
  4. While the 3DO did indeed have good games in its library (such as Gex or the 3DO port of Wolfenstein 3D), it focused too heavily on FMV-style games which were a fad at the time, and were more like movies with barely any interactivity.
  5. The market was over-saturated with other game systems, such as Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Atari Jaguar and the Philips CD-i. By the time that the Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation came along, the 3DO was finished.
  6. There were too many 3DO models despite the short lifespan of the console.
  7. Every 3DO model had only one controller input, but this doesn't mean the console could only support single-player. The only way to connect a controller for another player is to plug the second controller into a controller input on the top of the first controller that just daisy-chains them together, which means that if a player that has its controller daisy-chained pulls it, it would also pull the other player's controller. While this concept has some level of potential of allowing players to play from farther distances in their living rooms and allow up to four players, this is hampered by the fact that it's shoved down their throat by making it the only option and the fact that one pulling is enough to break the whole experience.
  8. The North American CD cases use unnecessarily huge boxes. Even the Neo Geo AES cartridge cases are smaller and they use big cartridges so they have a necessary reason to make their cases huge, but in the 3DO boxes, the games are just in little CDs, only half the size of the box. Often times, they are crammed with additional materials, stacks and filler to artificially pad the box's size.
  9. While a decent number of games got released in America and Japan, very few games got released in Europe. That number of games is only 30.[8]

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The technology of the 3DO was somewhat acceptable for 1993, as it surpassed the Jaguar's hardware by using CD-ROMs as its primary format without the use of a peripheral, had better graphics, and was actually released before the Jaguar. This led to the console succeeding in comparison to the Jaguar with about 2 million units sold worldwide despite its insane price, granting it a decent library of more than 300 games for the first (and only) console released by a company.
  2. With the exception of a small number of Japanese games, the console is not region-locked. This means that European 3DO users can buy import games from other regions to expand their game collection.
  3. The PAL region and Japanese games just use standard CD jewel cases for their packaging, which makes it more passable than the massive boxes the US games use.
  4. Some great games, like Gex, Policenauts, Puzzle Bobble (Also known as Bust-A-Move in North America), Super Wing Commander, Wing Commander III, Wolfenstein 3D and one of the best ports of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, alongside the PC version. It's also home to some exclusive titles like Crash 'n Burn, Yu Yu Hakusho, Blade Force, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Slayer, and Guardian War.

Reception

AVGN Enraged.jpg "What were they thinking?"
The Shit Scale
Games that are debatably bad High level of shit contamination The very high category The severe zone Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Major code red
👆
This game/console belongs to the "High Level of Shit Contamination" category of the AVGN's Shit Scale.

The 3DO was awarded "Worst Console Launch of 1993" by Electronic Gaming Monthly. On Yahoo! Games, the 3DO was placed among the top five worst console launches due to its one-game launch lineup and high launch price.

French YouTuber Doc Seven considers this the second worst video game console (made by well-known brands) of all time, along with the Panasonic Q - a hybrid of a DVD player and a Nintendo GameCube.

Models

Trivia

  • "Multiplayer" is as in "plays multiple things" rather than its modern meaning.
  • The 3DO had an unusual rasterizer, which rendered using square polygons rather than triangular polygons, leading to some stating it is not truly capable of 3D. Sega appears to have used the 3DO as a reference when designing the Sega Saturn, as it is the only other system ever to use this method.
  • The original Need for Speed was first released on the 3DO in 1994, along with Gex.

Videos

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