Panasonic REAL 3DO Interactive Multiplayer FZ-1

In 1991 Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins started a company called 'The 3DO Company' that was given the mission to come up with a CD based, interactive, multimedia platform. Basically they came up with the design for the '3DO' (Three-Dimensional Operating System) with the intention of selling it to a number of prospective electronics manufacturers. Which they did.

Come 1993 Panasonic released the '3DO Interactive Multiplayer' which is more often than not lovingly shortened to just the '3DO'. In 1994 both Goldstar and Sanyo released their versions of the 3DO to the market.

By design it is an open platform for developers and marketers having no regional lockout feature as traditionally employed by SEGA and Nintendo. It is also totally copy protection free which unfortunately paved the way to easy software piracy.

System specs. are readily available online but safe is to say that it was a pretty neat piece of tech and well in advance of hardware offered by competitors.

Game-wise the 3DO offers polygon based environments painted with rich textures and a surprisingly fast update rate as well as traditional sprite based titles. What the 3DO offers in addition to this was the ability to pander to the growing interest in full motion video footage titles at the time. Traditionally these were fairly terrible but they certainly caught the public's imagination and even attracted a number of higher profile actors. See the end of the the images for screen caps from the titles 'Crash 'n' Burn', 'Way of the Warrior' and 'Sewer Shark'.

Sound could be up to CD quality which made for a number of great game soundtracks and provided true voice recording for full motion video game titles. Another neat thing is that it only had one controller port. Player one's gamepad is connected to the console and each additional gamepad connects to the back of the previous one in a daisychain affair of up to eight pads. The original FZ-1 and Goldstar controllers also offered a headphone jack and volume control so gamers could play without bugging the people around them.

While the 3DO was a very impressive piece of hardware compared to the offerings of SEGA and Nintendo it was a VERY expensive games console by comparison being retailed for $699.95USD at its release. Why so expensive? SEGA and Nintendo worked to the model of selling their consoles and making almost no profit on them and instead making their money on fairly high game royalties. The idea with the 3DO was to make the hardware the money-maker and instead only gather $3.00USD per game sold making it an attractive platform for software developers.

Advertisers worked hard to elevate the public's impression of the 3DO and rightly promoted it as more than just a games box but a home entertainment, multimedia system; it could play CDs, Video Discs, display photographs, etc., which was all pretty neat back in the day.

Unfortunately, as with some many innovative pieces of tech, the public just didn't buy it.... literally.

Even with this consumer disinterest the price remained high as marketing placed the 3DO as a high end multimedia system with gaming abilities and so justified the consumer cost. 1994 saw Atari's 'Jaguar' and Sony's 'Playstation' in full circulation and consuming most of the market interest in CD based systems. That combined with poor sales and the SEGA Saturn entering the market saw production of the 3DO cease in late 1996.

Personal Note: The 3DO is a really neat system that sadly never flourished. It had a lot of new ideas and, like Johnny Mnemonic, wasn't understood or embraced by the largely ignorant public. In all fairness it did have a number of features that very few people had embraced, like playing Video Discs. I guess developers gambled that such new technologies would soon become a household standard if only folks had a cool box to play them in.

Panasonic REAL 3DO Interactive Multiplayer FZ-1 Panasonic 3DO Rear
Panasonic 3DO Motherboard
Panasonic 3DO PCB Panasonic 3DO CD Drive Panasonic 3DO Optical Drive
Panasonic 3DO Box
Panasonic 3DO Packaging Panasonic 3DO Crash n Burn Panasonic 3DO Way of the Warrior Panasonic 3DO Sewer Shark
Unit pictured has been sold and its location is unknown.