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3DO: We’re Here to Play

 

   When the Three-Dimensional Operating System (3DO) Company came up with the idea for the 3DO game system, they had lofty goals in mind.  Time Hawkins, founder of the 3DO company, and his team members RJ Mical and Dave Needle worked together to create what they envisioned to be the most innovative video game system of the 90s.  It was designed to be a blueprint for the next-generation of video games: 32-bit, TV, VCR, CD player, computer and all-around multimedia system (similar to Gates’ vision for the original Xbox to which has partially been realized in the Xbox One).  The company designed the system but did not manufacture it, instead selling the license to third-party companies like Panasonic, Goldstar, and Sanyo.

   Panasonic was the first company to take on the 3DO, releasing the first version in 1993 at the high asking price of $700 and further variations of the hardware were released in 1994 by Sanyo and Goldstar.  The 3DO’s price tag may have spelled the death of the system; while it was designed to be a game system that doubled as a multimedia system, people had the perception it was just an overpriced version of the 16-bit systems they already owned and loved, such as the Nintendo SNES, Atari Jaguar, Sega Genesis and Commodore.  Systems were sold at a heavy discount a few  years later, and by 1996, the 3DO was retired entirely.  Despite its flop in the market, the 3DO had hundreds of titles released worldwide.

   Serving as the unofficial mascot of the system, the smart-aleck gecko, named Gex, was one of the most popular games for the system.  The lizard had to climb walls, fight its enemies with its tail and collect power-ups with its tongue.  Another popular game, considered superior to the Playstation alternatives, was called Star Control 2.  This space RPG game was ported onto the 3O from the PC version, and it proved to be far superior on the 3DO.  Finally, the 3DO also claimed many games that have become wildly popular like Need for Speed and Road Rash on their not-so-popular system.

   The 3DO Company went bankrupt in 2003, seemingly never recovered from their legacy of bad sales.  If you’re itching to get a taste of this classic and impressive video game console, there are a small number of emulators available, the most popular of which being FreeDO.  Creative Labs also released a PC card which could be used in a computer called the Creative 3DO Blaster.

~Vic

 

PANASONIC 3DO - Model: FZ-1

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: 1993

   This was the original 3DO system which was released in 1993.  It was priced originally at $699.99 in the US, but because sales were not good, was quickly reduced to $399.99 the next year.  This was the first model of the CD-based video game/entertainment system, and it featured a comprehensive multimedia entertainment system.

 

PANASONIC 3DO - Model: FZ-10

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: 1994

   The Panasonic 3D) FZ-10 was released just one year after the original 3DO Model, the FZ-1, was released.  This product was less expensive, slimmer and lighter.  It featured a CD tray which could be loaded from the top, an internal memory manager and repositioned LEDs and controller port.  The theme with this update was lighter is better - the controllers were also more compact, however did not have a headphone port.

 

PANASONIC 3DO - Model: N-1005

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: 1994

   This model was only released in Japan.  Nicknamed the “changer”, this product featured a five disc drive so that more than one disc could be stored on the console at the same time.  This model followed the blueprints of the FZ-1 more than the FZ-10, complete with headphone outputs on the controller.

 

SANYO 3DO - Model: IMP 21J

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: 1994

   This model was also only released in Japan.  Unlike earlier models, this model has a pickup head on the tray which looks a lot like a laptop optical drive.  This model was only released in medium quantities and was discontinued fairly quickly after experiencing poor sales.

 

GOLDSTAR 3DO - Model: GDO-101

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: 1995

   This model was only sold in South Korea, but was very similar to the Panasonic model of the 3DO.  It was released about two years after the original FZ-1 Model.  This model was blockier than the FZ-10 and looks much more like the first model of the 3DO.   There were hardware differences between this model and others, so some games were not compatible with this model.

 

GOLDSTAR 3DO - Model: GDO-101M

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: 1995

   This model was very similar to the Goldstar GDO-101, but it was released in North America and Europe.   In the same way as the original Goldstar model, this model had games which were incompatible with other 3DO models.

 

GOLDSTAR 3DO - Model: GDO-203P

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: 1995

   Called “Alive II”, this model is the rarest of all the 3DO models out there.  It looks very similar to early PlayStation models.  The console was only released in South Korea, and no other variants of this model were released in other countries.

 

CREATIVE 3DO BLASTER - Model: ???

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: 1995

   The 3DO blaster was an add-on which was produced by Creative Labs which allows 3DO console games to be played on Windows based PCs.  Using CD-ROM drives, 3DO games were made compatible with the equipment of many computer owners.  The model never gained major momentum.

 

  • Unit Lifetime:  1993 - ???
  • Units Sold (Worldwide):  2+ Million
  • Games Released (Worldwide):  312
  • Backwards Compatibility:  M2 (cancelled)
  • Media Type:  CD-ROM
  • Resolution:  320 x 240
  • Colors Available:  24-Bit
  • Colors on Screen:  16-Bit palletized color or 24-Bit true color
  • Sound Output (All Models):   RF Switch, Composite RCA, S-Video
  • Power Requirements (All Models):   ???
  • Best A/V Cables Available (All Models):   ???
  • Emulator:   FreeDO

(If you see anything incorrect or that you want added, feel free to comment below and the posting will be edited to reflect the corrections.)

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