3DO logo Panasonic 3DO
Type Console Developer The 3DO Company
Release Date 1993-Oct-04 Region(s) North America, Japan, South Korea, Europe
Initial Price $699 Games Released 200+
     by Dark Watcher
Similar to the goal of the Philips CD-i, a company called 3DO set out to create a new standard in multimedia.  Their creation became the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer. It was capable of running 3DO interactive software (games), Audio CD's, CD+G, Photo CD and Video CD's using an add on.  Rather then manufacturing their new system, 3DO decided to make 3DO Interactive Multiplayer a franchise.  Sanyo, Panasonic and Goldstar all bought rights to manufacture the 3DO system.  Once produced and sold, 3DO would claim a royalty for each system and $3 for each game sold.

In October of 1993, Panasonic began sales of the first 3DO Interactive Multiplayer.  The systems capabilities were clearly quite ahead of its time.  Although it was not the first 32-bit system in history, the 3DO was the first 32-bit system in the United States, beginning with the the FZ-1 R.E.A.L 3DO Interactive Multiplayer followed by the FZ-10 3DO Interactive Multiplayer.  There were several more models established by other companies, but other then a few additions they are all pretty much the same.
As groundbreaking as the console was, the 3DO was also one of the most expensive systems ever released.  At a whopping $700 USD or more, this machine only seemed to attract the wealthy.  Even after a few price drops, the 3DO never recovered from its initial reputation as a rich man's videogame system.  Since 3DO placed no software licensing restrictions, the 3DO amassed a large library of games. Some quality titles such as Need For Speed and Road Rash became quite popular.  Others (as with Atari 2600 titles) were sheer crap.

In 1995 the 3DO company began announcing a new technology called 3DO M2.  This technology was rumored to have 7 times the power of any console released at the time.  M2 would come standard in a new 3DO system, or be used to upgrade existing systems.

The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer could have had the capability to compete even with newer 32-bit systems, but M2 never became reality.  M2 technology was sold off to another company (Matsushita), and 3DO machines never saw the upgrade.  Gamers found themselves more interested in cheaper 16-bit consoles, and eventually newer 32-bit systems entered the market.  3DO games and systems found their way into clearance bins starting in 1996.  The system eventually died the end of that year.

FACT:  3DO Interactive Multiplayer had only one controller port.  However, this wasn't a problem since extra controllers (up to 8) could be easily daisy-chained to another controller.  The original Panasonic controllers have a built-in stereo headphone jack along with a volume control dial.  The system has its own internal memory to save games and other information.  It has 2 expansion ports which were to be used for future upgrades such as memory cards, modems, digital video cartridges and the M2 system upgrade.  The 3DO was definitely designed for the long haul.
     by Marriott_Guy
The 3DO REAL Interactive Multiplayer (3DO) system is one of those consoles that is either loved or hated by those in the gaming community.  Released by Panasonic in September of 1993, this new gaming machine was one of the first entries within the 32-bit gaming era.  The developer, The 3DO Company, was created by Trip Hawkins, co-founder of Electronic Arts.  Their aim was to create the first 32-bit system that truly delivered a 3D gaming experience.  On many levels they achieved this objective and were successful in pioneering some technological advances in both hardware and software for the time.  3DO had an eager audience yearning to upgrade their outdated 16-bit systems (notably the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo and NEC Turbo Grafx systems).

The 3DO Company did not actually construct any of the 3DO systems, but instead chose to develop the technology and license it to third party manufacturers (Panasonic, Goldstar, Sanyo, Creative Labs and AT&T).  With very affordable licensing fees and a heavy marketing campaign, the 3DO seemed destined to become the system of choice.  Unfortunately, this opportunity was squandered by the steep $699 USD ($1228 USD in today's dollars) offering price which alienated much of the video gaming community.  Most game manufacturers expect initial financial losses on console sales with the thought that they will make it up in royalty fees and software sales.  Since the manufacturers would never see any of these profits.  Since The 3DO Company owned these rights, Panasonic, Goldstar and Sanyo had to gain a profit on each system that was sold.  Hence the high price point.
Trip Hawkins
Aesthetically, the 3DO system (any version) is nothing to write home about.  Each is rather nondescript and belies the potent technology under its hood.  In total there were six (6) releases of the home system produced by Panasonic, Goldstar and Sanyo.  AT&T also though about getting into the mix, but their 3DO prototype never saw the light of day.  The most rare model is the Goldstar 3DO Alive I, a South Korean exclusive.

The 3DO was powered by a 32-bit 12.5 MHz RISC CPU (ARM60) with a math co-processor and separate video co-processors which rendered games in true 24 bit color and was able to display FMV (Full Motion Video).  This hardware was a great leap forward in 1993 and was revolutionary for the time.  The 3DO featured an internal drive that was utilized for saving games and caching game data during play.  Sound is delivered in crisp 16-bit full stereo and with Dolby Surround Sound technology (one of the first to incorporate this into a console).  The interface of the console featured power and CD eject buttons with only one controller port.  The controllers, while very comfortable and intuitive, required the 2nd controller to be plugged into the "master" controller to enable two (2) gaming ("daisy-chained").  Obviously, this set up was not a good call by 3DO.  With the exception of the controller configuration, the 3DO hardware technology was all good news.  One thing was forgotten in the process (and that we have seen repeated in subsequent "next-gen" systems even to today) - game play.

The 3DO library of games is not the worst of all time (that honor belongs to the Memorex VIS in my opinion), but it is not out of the bottom ten.  Relying too heavily on the new technology that was afforded them, games for the 3DO often relied upon FMV to attempt to deliver the gaming experience.  What was forgotten was the actual game play and development.  FMV production was costly at that time and, though impressive in 1993, did not offer much to the gamer other than eye candy. The frame rate of the FMV (and FMV-based games) was a bit choppy at times.  That being said, lets proceed to the actual games.

There were a number of great games released for the 3DO.  Notable hits include Road Rash (best version on any platform), The Need For Speed, PGA Tour Golf 1996, Madden Football, Out Of This World, the Shock Wave series and the highly collectable Lucienne's Quest.  The 3DO also released the game Night Trap, a FMV game featuring Dana Plato (know from the 1980s hit TV series Different Strokes and subsequent adult movie fame), which was the catalyst in the creation of the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) which we now see today.  Unfortunately, for every great game that was released there were 9 others than were truly brutal.
Games came originally packaged in long, tall boxes made of sturdy cardboard with a hard, black plastic lining to protect them.  Later releases were distributed in cheap cardboard boxes that collapsed easily, or in standard CD style cases.  Many collectors hate the long original boxes since they do not stand up well and are difficult to display (due to size and poor construction on many).  Personally, I love the old-style boxes.  The art work is generally very good and there is just something about them for me (like, but not as great, as the Neo Geo carts) that I like.  It may be just that they are different from every other game packaging.

Overall, the 3DO was a somewhat innovative console in 1993 but lacked the attention to gaming that caused this systems demise (along with its absurd initial price).  The Sony PlayStation, released in December of 1994, ultimately put the stake in this systems heart.  3DO attempted to make a comeback in 1997 with its second generation system (3DO 2 / Panasonic M2), but that is for another article.
Panasonic FZ-1 Front
Panasonic FZ-1 Back
This console is a recommended purchase for any gamer.  A working, original FZ-1 model is sought after by many due to its place in gaming history and will run you around $40 USD (CIB $90).  The FZ-10 is the most reliable.  Expect to pay $30 ($70 CIB).  The Goldstar version is a little more rare, with a going rate of around $40 ($90 CIB).  The Sanyo TRY is rather pricey.  Expect to pay $200 for a CIB system plus $65 shipping if coming from Japan to the US.  For either of the Goldstar Alive models - break out some BIG bucks!!
     by 98PaceCar
I'll admit I have a soft spot for the 3DO as it was the first post NES console I personally purchased while it was still available in retail.  I found most of the titles I owned to be well worth the time and effort to play.  The library was varied enough to keep me interested with many games that were not FMV based offerings, as was the norm during this generation. Even with its very high price of admission, I never felt that I wasn't getting my money's worth and still feel that way today.

Hardware wise, the 3DO does tend to show its weaknesses today.  Long load times and the need to daisy chain controllers are the two major issues faced by the 3DO with no real solutions available.  However, the gamer that looks beyond these issues will be rewarded with many offerings that are well worth the price of entry.

I spent a lot of time with games such as Need For Speed, Road Rash, Guardian War and Shockwave.  To this day, Return Fire is one of my favorite multiplayer games on any system with its simple, quick and highly competitive game play along with the perfect soundtrack for waging war on your friends.  The conversions of both Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Samurai Showdown were nearly arcade perfect, albeit with noticeable load times.
Panasonic 3DO FZ-1 Print Ad
The 3DO even managed to grab the attention of my mostly non-gamer mother with titles like Icebreaker and Incredible Machine, two very good puzzle based games that she still plays to this day.  However, the 3DO does have its share of ill conceived games with poor game play and as much as I would champion the system, the games that are bad are really bad.  Several FMV games were made along with many shovel-ware titles of the era causing the overall 3DO library to be among the weakest around.  But the games that are good are very good, so don't be afraid to jump in and try the system out.

For the gamer, the 3DO is a great system.  The price of the console is very reasonable and most of the must own games are low priced and typically easy to locate.  There are a few titles that can command high prices and are seldom seen on eBay or elsewhere, but those are mostly kiddie titles and are not recommended for anyone other than completest.  Despite its shortcomings, the 3DO belongs in the stable of any serious gamer or collector.
     Officially licensed releases
Panasonic FZ-1 R.E.A.L. 3DO Interactive Multiplayer

Panasonic FZ-10 R.E.A.L. 3DO Interactive Multiplayer [1]

GoldStar 3DO Interactive Multiplayer System [1]

Sanyo TRY 3DO Interactive Multiplayer [1]

Panasonic ROBO 3DO [2]

Creative 3DO Blaster [2]

Goldstar 3DO Alive [2]

Goldstar 3DO Alive II [3]

[1] Courtesy of Charles Lee
[2] Courtesy of bitrate
[3] Courtesy of Madroms
     Non-licensed hardware releases
No clones were released for this system.
     by Marriott_Guy
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  Ratings based upon a 10 point scale, with 10 being excellent.  Review is based upon my experience with the Panasonic FZ-1. Panasonic FZ-10 and Goldstar 3DO models.

Console Design 06 Overall these systems are rather nondescript.  The lack of a a second controller port is rather disturbing to say the least.
Console Durability 07 Though I have not personally had any issues with either of the Panasonic or Goldstar models, the FZ-1 model can be susceptible to failure due to the CD sliding door mechanism.
Controllers 06 Besides the cumbersome 'daisy-chain' method that is utilized for multiplayer gaming, the controllers are surprising well constructed but are severely lacking in the amount of available buttons.  Get used to having to do perform plenty of 'combos' during game play.
Graphics 07 Technically the 3DO was the most powerful system at the time of its release, producing highly detailed FMV and large, digitized 2D sprites.
Audio 09 3DO did not skimp out when it came to delivering the best in audio performance for the time.  CD quality, Dolby Surround Sound, it had it all.
Media 09 Hard to go wrong by choosing the best media for that time era (CD-ROM).
Game Library 05 The 3DO did have number of great ports (Out of this World, Road Rash, Madden, etc.) along with some excellent original titles (Shock Wave series).  Unfortunately, there are a number of truly horrible offerings in its library.
Gamer Value 07 Though the software library is not the best in the world, there are plenty of excellent titles that can be had for very little coin making the 3DO a must have for the classic gamer.
Collector Value 06 It is rather easy to score any of the base models of the 3DO, with the exception of the Goldstar Alive models and the Sanyo TRY.  Pricing seems to fluctuate greatly, especially for the FZ-1 original model.  This is a classic console which seems to be garnering more attention from the new hardware collectors.
     Interesting facts on software for this system
Software for the 3DO was distributed in the CD-ROM disc format.  Most titles came in long cases that were constructed of a thin plastic outer shell with a thick cardboard used for the front and back cover.  Towards the middle of the 3DO's lifespan, the game packaging was changed to utilize an extremely cheap cardboard for the entire casing.  These boxes are horribly fragile and are prone to being crushed.

Managing the internal memory used for game saves is software driven.  This memory management program is included on many game CDs as well as the 3DO Interactive Sampler CD(s) that were packaged with various models of the 3DO.   If the 32 KB of internal memory is not meeting your gaming needs, an additional 256 KB can be provided by Panasonic FZ-EM256 Memory Expansion Unit.  This peripheral was released exclusively in Japan, but will work on any 3DO model.

applemctom's Games that Defined Compiliation
Although a few Japanese titles are not compatible with NTSC-U systems, the 3DO does not have any built-in copy or regional protection.

Panasonic 3DO Game Boxes
Inside 3DO Game Box
     Captured in-game images
Crash'n Burn
FIFA Intl Soccer
Flashback: The Quest for Identity
Foes of Ali
Iron Angel of the Apocalypse
John Madden Football
Lucienne's Quest
Mad Dog II - The Lost Gold
Need for Speed
Night Trap
Out of this World
PGA Tour Golf
Road Rash
Return Fire
Samurai Shodown
Shock Wave
Super Street Fighter II Turbo
Total Eclipse

     First and third party system emulators

This emulator is still in development, but is the closest to achieving emulation.

Great emulator with high compatibility with most 3DO games.  Still being maintained and developed.
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
 32-bit ARM60 RISC Chip 12.5 MHz Math Co-Processor 2 MB \ 1 MB
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
320 x 240, 640 x 480 16.7M colors 20 K \ 20 K 16-bit Stereo, 44.1 KHz Sampling Rate with Dolby Surround Sound
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
CD-ROM (2x) 700 MB 200+ CD-ROM, CD-R (in most cases)
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
32 KB SRAM \ 1 MB ROM Optional 256K Expandable
Memory Unit (Japan Only)
3-Button, 2-Trigger Control Pad FMV module, Karaoke module, Mouse
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
One (1)
(up to 8-way play if daisy-chained)
None See Other Details section RF, Composite, S-Video
Power Supply - Internal Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
120V, 50\60Hz None 1 High-speed 68 pin x 1 AV I/O port (for FMV cartridge)(1)
1 High-speed 30 pin x 1 I/O expansion port
Panasonic 3DO FZ-1 PAL (PDF) - 0.88 MB
Panasonic 3DO FZ-10 NTSC (PDF) - 2.46 MB
Goldstar 3DO Owners Manual (PDF) - 7.15 MB

     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
3DO Startup & Television Commercials

Panasonic FZ-EM256 Memory Unit

3DO Control Pad
3DO Control Pad
3DO Mouse
Digital Stick Controller
Video CD Adaptor
Video CD Adaptor
Memory Unit
Karaoke Mixer
Courtesy of bitrate
     Visitor insights and feedback
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