Panasonic 3DO hits the desk.

It’s been a while since I’ve had my Panasonic 3DO out of it’s box and onto my geek desk and after months and months of 8-bit goodness and loading games from tape,disk and cartridge it’s about time I jumped ahead a few more years and dive into all things CD based for my retro gaming fix.

I’ve had my 3DO for about a year now and despite the trouble actually getting it delivered (see previous blog post if you want a laugh – ) it’s rarely been out of it’s box and that’s a damn shame because just look at it…it’s looks truly awesome.

Mine is the front loading FZ-1 model commonly found in Europe and to me it the best looking of all the variant out there (althought PSone-esq ‘Alive2’ model looks pretty good).


Back when this puppy was released in ’93 (’94 over here), and you believed the hype, then the 3DO was not only going to be the next generation of high tech gaming console but would bring about the dawn of a new evolution in home entertainment, combining music, film and gaming together in one box thanks to the magic of Compact Disc…..yup, didn’t they say that about the MegaCD, CDTV, CD-i and CD32 – hmm, good job Sony didn’t include the acronym ‘CD’ in the title of it’s own console 🙂

However, back them and looking at those early tech demos it no wonder we craved it – Rendered intro sequences with copious amounts of marble, glass and chrome textures to dazzle us with and as many lens flares that we could take, full motion video and speech that contained whole conversations as opposed to the single lines of dodgy sampling, our existing Megadrive and SNES seemed to age practically overnight. I’m sold..want one….slight problem though…they’re HOW MUCH!

That’ll be £399 then please sir!

That’s Way way WAY too much to consider parting with for a games console with or without all the promotional hype. The same was true for many of my friends and knew, as with practically all new consoles, prices would fall once the initial boom was over.

My friend Richard didn’t see it that way though and wanted one asap. In fact, Richard was quite lucky in the fact that he was much better off that the rest of us and so had been an early adopter of shiny new tech and, might i say was very generous in nature to share. Even so, £399 was still a lot of money and so, piling all of his available resources – aka his entire SNES collection (which would probably be worth four times as much today), it was sold for a pittance of the original cost but was just enough to get him a shiny new 3DO and a copy of Need for Speed.

Considering I was quite happy with this –

Test Drive – C64

…and then along game this –


Need for Speed and this new console just blew us away. It’s car’s behaved with real physics and road handling (erm..o.k so back then it seemed like they did), tyre smoke that was actually ‘shock horror’ transparent and a highway that was beautiful and looked as close to the real thing that had ever appeared on a home console.

It had all the good stuff that gamers and armchair racers had always hoped for.They seen trivial now but back then, having scenery that wasn’t repeated over and over again, a field of view that stretched out so far that you could see sections of the road you wouldn’t be driving on for a very long time, other vehicles that not only looked like real life vehicles but were varied in both shape and size and not simply the same model repeated over and over again. Drivers that hit the horn in rage if you cut them up or the clever and seemingly intelligent tactics used by your opponents car. I nearly wet myself the first time i saw a three car pile up created entirely at random by three cpu controlled cars. This was a living breathing world and it wasn’t solely my actions that created these scenarios.

The list goes on and Need for Speed on the 3DO contained many many firsts for me.

Most of all, I’ll remember it’s outstanding sense of openness and freedom. Yes, the object of the game was to win races but that didn’t stop you from taking a different approach and creating your own hilarious mini games. For example, who can perform the biggest air, who can create the biggest crash (and then watch the fender replay), do donuts or reverse handbrake turns? options options options and all good 🙂


Despite this, I never did buy one. The bubble burst, the software list didn’t grow, the price didn’t come down and the nail in the coffin had to be Sega’s Saturn and shortly after that the all conquering Playstation.

..but now I’ve got one, take of the rose tinted glasses and see if it can entertain.

and it’s a great start too, no more blurred looking tv screen any more, this things got component sockets!.


It’s joypad is the same shape as the very comfortable Nintendo SNES controller (only bested by the Sony’s Dual Shock in my opinion) and contains two rather handy features to accompany it’s high tech design. The first is the inclusion of another joystick port on the controller itself rather than on the console. This allows you to daisychain multiple controllers together for en mass multiplayer mayhem (or a right loaded of knotted controller cables :)) The second feature is a rather handy-dandy headphone socket and volume control. No more hoping that the headphone lead will stretch all the way to the TV, simply plug into the controller and off you go…although not great for more than more player I presume?


So what of the games….well, as I’m still fairly new to the 3DO, my collection is rather small at the moment and therefore would love to hear your recommendations…but until then, I’ve got tyre smoke to create…did i mention it was tranparent?…amazing!


4 responses to “Panasonic 3DO hits the desk.

  1. Hi mate,

    Excellent post about the 3DO. I’ve always been curious about this console, but have never tried it in real life. It wasn’t popular or easy to get hold of where I live, so I didn’t know anyone owning it either. Certainly looks interesting though.

  2. Thanks mate. Hidden in between the scores of terrible FMV based games I’m discovering some real gems. Actually, even the FMV’s are quite funny for a short time.

    This and the Atari Jag are two consoles I’ve always wanted to own so that’s one out of two so far – although Jag prices seem to be ridiculously high!

  3. Yep, great post. I was part of the Perceptions development team creating ‘Power Crystal’ for the 3DO – M2, it was pretty amazing for the time. Shame the M2 died before release…

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