292: My Favorite Mistake

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An entire 3DO article with no mention of Shockwave: Invasion Earth? What's wrong with you? Not only was that one of the best games on the system, it was one of the few games with live action cutscenes not to make me cringe at every corner.

P.S. Thanks

Reading that article reminded me how much I loved my N-Gage... Yes. I loved that weird taco phone thing. I think I should get it out of the drawer and play some Tony Hawk.

I always wanted a 3DO. :(

Unedited Psychic Detective, Supreme Warrior, Twisted the game show. I loved playing those at my local video/game store.

msakey:
Hilarious article, Susan. I was in college at the time of the 3DO, and working at an EB. That was the Year of the Failed Consoles - Atari Jaguar, Philips... what was it called? CDS? 3DI?

Philips CD-I (CD Interactive). I immediately thought of that too, while reading this article. Fortunately, I never fell for such a trap. Great read though, Susan!

Its sad, I've still got my 3D0 and it's games laying around somewhere, it was IMO vastly superior to the PS1 which I also got after games for the 3D0 stopped coming out, hell it had inbuilt storage for save games without the need of a money grabbing save card.

I remember fondly sitting down the Christmas I got the game and exploring the demo disc that came with it, with game demos, animated shorts (Batman TAS, some Dogs cartoons) with glee, then playing Shockwave and it's expansion, then a year later the squeal (a series that was seriously awesome and I wish had been continued), hell my first taste of Earthworm Jim was on the 3D0...

The idea of a console that anyone could make rather then one company was great, but unfortunately the price and sony killed it.

RIP 3D0

Susan I think you are vastly overrate the obscurity of the 3D0 here. Maybe kids under 20 may not have heard of it, but every kid in the early 90's with a Genesis or Super Nintendo wanted a 3D0. In my family we were more interested in it for the arcade quality fighting games like King of Fighters... I even remember my oldest brother at age 14 or so making a $50 bet that he'd have a 3D0 by the time he reached 18. The problem with the 3DO was always that it costs 3 or more times the amount of the standard consoles of the time and nobody could either afford it or convince their parents to spend that much more on a gaming unit. Everybody wanted it but it failed because nobody could afford it. Actually if it came out in a market similar today, where half the gaming market place are adults who grew up gaming and now have jobs and can afford their own stuff, it probably would have been successfull. Certainly there were people like that around at the time, but not nearly enough.

(Edit: Actually forget everything I've said, I've gotten the 3DO mixed up with the Neo Geo.)

My cousin had a 3DO back then, From what I remember, It was marketed as the "adults video game system". My cousin had Waialae golf, which was okay. It had arcade perfect versions of SSF2 and Samurai Showdown. And I don't care what anyone says, Way of the warrior was a decent fighting game (that game also introduced me to white zombie, so bonus points for that).

Susan Arendt:
Snip

Did you every actually get to play 11th Hour?

Ooooh, man, 11th Hour! Aww, I remember that now, and The 7th Guest! Those old, spooky puzzle-horror games, yeah. I kinda want to play them now, along with Riddle of the Sphinx, a needlessly obtuse game that liked frustrating and killing you, and never suggested saving, and so you never remembered to. Pain in the ass, that was.

It's strange that so many articles start with something like, most of you haven't heard of, haven't done, didn't play, don't know... I am beginning to wonder if the author's know their audience. I am familiar with the system, remember it when it was released even.

I remember the 3DO, there are no way in hell I could have afforded one because at the time I was 10 but I remember playing the consoles in stores and seeing the hardware... That I knew I could never afford.

Later on I was given a computer to play with when my uncle bought a new one and I played some of those games like 11th Hour and 7th Guest and they all suffer the same issue. Too much focus on video and not enough on game mechanics. I think the biggest issue was lack of good quality development for the 3DO. With so many console developers slaves to Nintendo or Sega they had little chance. At least the 3DO was much better than the CD-i. Now that was a real stinker.

Nesrie:
It's strange that so many articles start with something like, most of you haven't heard of, haven't done, didn't play, don't know... I am beginning to wonder if the author's know their audience. I am familiar with the system, remember it when it was released even.

Given how often we get complaints of "I've never heard of Sephiroth" or "I've never played (pick super popular game", it seemed reasonable to assume most folks were unfamiliar with an obscure console from more than a decade ago.

Susan Arendt:

Nesrie:
It's strange that so many articles start with something like, most of you haven't heard of, haven't done, didn't play, don't know... I am beginning to wonder if the author's know their audience. I am familiar with the system, remember it when it was released even.

Given how often we get complaints of "I've never heard of Sephiroth" or "I've never played (pick super popular game", it seemed reasonable to assume most folks were unfamiliar with an obscure console from more than a decade ago.

Yeah.. like that Blade Runner debacle a while back. *shudder*

The only game I wanted for the 3DO was it's supposedly arcade perfect port of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. I was a fighting game nut back then and I still am now. As much as I wanted that version of SSF2T to be mine, even I couldn't justify the insane price tag the 3D0 boasted. Had there been more to it than one game, maybe, but the only other fighters were terrible looking Mortal Kombat rip offs. I do, however, vaguely recall thinking Killing Time looked quite interesting.

It is rare for me to throw a 'meh' at Arendt's general direction, but the thing I got the most out of this article is how great Killing Time is. It's Bioshock... in 1996! Why couldn't we have gotten a remake of that instead of games that no one cares about like Dead to Rights?

Poor Susan! I hope you eventually got to play 11th hour on the computer. And to make up for the 3DO money pit, might I suggest Minecraft? Silly, fun, blocky, inexpensive, and there are cows! Have a good week!

I'm glad you got enjoyment out of the machine. We were quite proud of it at the time. I believe Dave Needle still has the original wire-wrap prototype.

You wouldn't happened to have had a copy of Escape from Monster Manor, would you?

Covarr:
An entire 3DO article with no mention of Shockwave: Invasion Earth? What's wrong with you? Not only was that one of the best games on the system, it was one of the few games with live action cutscenes not to make me cringe at every corner.

Funny you should bring that up. Shockwave's cutscenes are compressed and displayed using the Cinepak codec. However, when we were doing initial work on Video CD, I saw the originals in considerably higher quality MPEG format. Believe it or not, though they were objectively higher fidelity, they revealed all the cheapness of the production, with the overall effect of being instantly and gratingly cringe-worthy. To this day, I still don't know how running the video through Cinepak made the cutscenes not just tolerable, but good.

And yes, Shockwave was a darned fun game.

Anyone else enjoy Burning Soldier?

frans909:

msakey:
... what was it called? CDS? 3DI?

Philips CD-I (CD Interactive).

Don't forget Commodore CDTV and CD-32.

As for the $699 price tag, that only made sense if you stood within Trip Hawkins' Reality Distortion Field(TM). The original idea was that the 3DO would be a licensed platform -- like VHS videotapes -- and consumer electronics manufacturers would make compatible boxes and compete with each other on price. Ultimately, the only two companies who made 3DO boxes were Matsushita (Panasonic) and LG (nee Goldstar).

Leo L. Schwab
Former Employee, New Technologies Group/The 3DO Company

I also idly note that, amidst all the fond remembrances of 3DO games, no one's mentioned Jurrasic Park Interactive.

I cackle in socially unredeeming glee...

ewhac:

Funny you should bring that up. Shockwave's cutscenes are compressed and displayed using the Cinepak codec. However, when we were doing initial work on Video CD, I saw the originals in considerably higher quality MPEG format. Believe it or not, though they were objectively higher fidelity, they revealed all the cheapness of the production, with the overall effect of being instantly and gratingly cringe-worthy. To this day, I still don't know how running the video through Cinepak made the cutscenes not just tolerable, but good.

Well, I was mostly referring to the fact that that the acting was far superior to what I've seen in most other FMV games, and the story (though a bit clichéd) was not nearly as stupid as in many similar games of the time. Though I admit, it did look awful nice too.

I think the reason the lower quality codec looked better is for the same reason older games tend to look better on older CRT televisions. A reduction in display resolution and quality can do a good job hiding technical flaws. Look at a 1950s horror flick with aliens, for example. On a low resolution screen, the strings holding up the UFOs simply disappear, but can stand out if the original film master is brought out and remastered in HD. Similarly, the low polygon count of 3D games released throughout the '90s is a lot more obvious when you play these games in emulators which can render them at high resolutions, and on crystal clear LCD screens, compared to older 480i televisions. Better technology can certainly bring out the flaws in anything.

Of course, now you've really piqued my interest; I didn't know that higher quality video masters from Shockwave ever existed, and there's a small part of me that is beyond curious to see them. :/

P.S. Thanks

thenoblegaunt:
Plus it had Plumbers Don't Wear Ties, which I've been wanting to play since AVGN reviewed it.

You must be a huge Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan, or an enormous masochist (or both). Please stay away from my neighborhood. :-)

Moriarty70:
And even with the similarities I would never imply the Sony executives took all the upper managment of the 3DO team and cut their heads off, absorbing their knowledge and power and integrating it with their own in some weird synergy quickening.

I wouldn't imply it, but damn it's fun to think of.

I, too, find it damned fun to think of 3DO management having their heads cut off, but probably not for the same reasons as you :-).

Oh, and can I get some love for Nicky Robinson's Army Men?

Alone in the Dark for 3DO was an uncontrollable mess, by the way. Just putting that out there.

Susan Arendt:
Alone in the Dark for 3DO was an uncontrollable mess, by the way. Just putting that out there.

Is that where Uwe Boll got the idea from?

Susan Arendt:
Alone in the Dark for 3DO was an uncontrollable mess, by the way.

Thankfully I had nothing to do with that.

You forgot to mention live-action-hot Stephanie Seymour in Hell: A Cyberpunk Hop-venture.

When is I was a lad in grade school my local Software Etc. had a PC set up showing off how crazy-hot games played on a Pentium machine could be. The two demo videos that most caught my eye were Crusader: No Remorse and The Daedalus Encounter. My da' said he'd buy me one. I went with Crusader. I made very much the right choice.

In that same store there was a cashier who tried to sell me on a 3DO over a PSOne (what we called a Playstation back in 1995). I chose to wait for Nintendo 64. Between the three, the silver medal.

My favourite mistake remains the Virtual Boy.

Because it was my only mistake.

You call it your favorite mistake, hmm? That begs the question of whether it actually was a mistake - even something that seems obviously not worth it, could, if you enjoyed it, actually be worth it.

I personally don't know anything about the 3DO (I've heard of it, but that's it), being younger than many of the people here, but I can see the appeal and know the feeling - albeit on a smaller scale.

Susan Arendt:
Of all the mistakes I've made in my life, the 3DO will always be my favorite.

--So then why would you want to change ANYTHING?! The mistakes we make growing-up and the decisions we then take as a result of them account for everything we are today.

ewhac:
I'm glad you got enjoyment out of the machine. We were quite proud of it at the time. I believe Dave Needle still has the original wire-wrap prototype.

Very cool to see you here :)

ewhac:
Ultimately, the only two companies who made 3DO boxes were Matsushita (Panasonic) and LG (nee Goldstar).

Sanyo and Creative released hardware to retail as well, and I remember seeing prototypes from AT&T and Samsung.

Anyway, great article! I love my 3DO... And my Jaguar, 32X, Lynx, 7800 (Ninja Golf!!!), Vectrex... But most of all of my failed systems, I love my Virtual Boy; Wario Land is reason enough to track one down, and the rest of the library is pretty solid!

Back to 3DO: There are still some awesome exclusives for the system that are worth checking-out today, and people here have already mentioned the fantastic arcade ports, but what really makes the 3DO important is that it provides a great history lesson with regard to many of today's favourite franchises and developers!

Naughty Dog (Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter, Uncharted) got their start with Way Of The Warrior on 3DO; D, Gex, Need For Speed, and Return Fire were first developed for 3DO; it has some of the best versions of Flashback, Out Of This World, Road Rash, Star Control II, Wing Commander, and Wolfenstein 3D; and let's not forget the system's crowning jewel, Dennis Miller: That's News To Me ;)

I just about remember this Console! :) Brings back memories of my elder brother wanting one, but I don't remember then being seen much over here in the UK

Those were the good old days of gaming though, with Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) and the Nintendo Super NES! :D

I was too young but I really did want a turbo grafx 16 when it came out. And the turbo express.

Gotta love Keith Courage in Alpha Zones.

twicesliced:

ewhac:
Ultimately, the only two companies who made 3DO boxes were Matsushita (Panasonic) and LG (nee Goldstar).

Sanyo and Creative released hardware to retail as well, and I remember seeing prototypes from AT&T and Samsung.

Ack! You're right; I totally forgot about Sanyo, and that thing Creative made for PCs.

Now that I think about it, Samsung might have shipped a few boxes. I know AT&T showed a mockup/prototype at CES, but never produced it.

Naughty Dog (Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter, Uncharted) got their start with Way Of The Warrior on 3DO;

I remember those guys as being fantastic. As I recall, it was just a couple of guys in someone's garage putting together Way of The Warrior, a monumentally ambitious work for the platform which received uneven reviews. But I remember them asking a lot of incisive questions, and it was clear they were pouring their hearts into the game.

D, Gex, Need For Speed, and Return Fire were first developed for 3DO; it has some of the best versions of Flashback, Out Of This World, Road Rash, Star Control II, Wing Commander, and Wolfenstein 3D; and let's not forget the system's crowning jewel, Dennis Miller: That's News To Me ;)

I believe that last one was actually shot at Studio 3DO; I saw some of the footage and the "game" in development. I really didn't see the point.

Return Fire was developed by another former employer, Prolific Publishing (nee Silent Software).

Road Rash got a lot of play in our building's lobby, where we had a 3DO and large TV set up.

Also, Crystal Dynamics was founded writing 3DO titles. Before New Technologies Group was acquired and relocated to 3DO's campus, they worked just a couple doors down from us.

Interesting, and honestly I'll say that this whole brief era of gaming is what I think of every time someone decides to tout "interactive movies" like "Heavy Rain" as something new and exciting, since during this era they were extremely common. Honestly a lot of those same 3DO games were also on the PC, or made their way there. I played a lot of the games mentioned here via computer, since I was never all that impressed with the 3DO itself.

Truthfully the one "failed" console I wound up trading in and never forgave myself for was the Dreamcast. I've been looking forward to the relaunch of some of those titles, but really it doesn't seem to be happening despite the claims/hints. Sort of like how Xenogears and Vagrant Story seem to be doomed to never actually make it to the US PSN.

I think the lesson to be learned from the 3D0, Jaguar, CD-I, Sega CD and even the first XBOX and the PS3 is that it is possible and disastrous to be ahead of your time in this industry.

Having the best hardware usually doesn't translate into sales. Most of these systems were competing with the SNES and they lost. The N64 lost to the inferior Playstation, the XBOX and Gamecube lost to the inferior PS2 and this gen the weakest system of them all is on top and has been since it's release.

Handheld market is the same. Nintendo's inferior handhelds have always sold more than the competition, be it from Sega, Atari or Sony.

I remember first playing the 3DO at a local neighborhood computer store that dealt in Commodore machines. I remember staring at loading screens more than actual gameplay, Road Rash was especially guilty of this. I saw little to no appeal in this system, I was never a fan of full-motion video-based games since 99% of them were done so horribly. The price point of the system didn't help much either. $699.99? Were they serious? Not mistaking it for insanity, yes, they were.

Every other company BUT Nintendo and SEGA failed to understand what really makes a console great and worth buying: The software! Even with the Sega CD and 32X flopping and only having a minute amount of really memorable games, there were still top-notch games being developed for the Genesis itself. Same with the SNES. Both were playing home platform to the groundbreaking iconic traditional games of the day while the FMV stuff passed through the public consciousness as kind of an experiment. That is why they stood out above the rest, they delivered what the gamers wanted in an ever improving form.

FMV games were a niche genre. Not everyone wants to play Dragon's Lair-style games with low-budget movie live-action movie scenes as the sole game visuals, they have no control over that. FMV was cool at that time in the sense of just being a novelty, it wasn't practical enough for actual engaging gameplay. Believe me, I played Supreme Warrior and that pile of shit doesn't work well AT ALL.

So what do I have from the 3DO? I have an advertisement booklet pinned up on my wall full of all their rhetoric about how groundbreaking it was. The only feature of the system I will give them props for is the theoretical option to connect an infinite amount of controllers since they could all be daisy-chained together without end.

Garak73:
I think the lesson to be learned from the 3D0, Jaguar, CD-I, Sega CD and even the first XBOX and the PS3 is that it is possible and disastrous to be ahead of your time in this industry.

Having the best hardware usually doesn't translate into sales. Most of these systems were competing with the SNES and they lost. The N64 lost to the inferior Playstation, the XBOX and Gamecube lost to the inferior PS2 and this gen the weakest system of them all is on top and has been since it's release.

Handheld market is the same. Nintendo's inferior handhelds have always sold more than the competition, be it from Sega, Atari or Sony.

It was a design philosophy that originated with the late Gunpei Yokoi at Nintendo: "Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology". Withered technology refers to technology that is cheap and well understood. Lateral thinking refers to new and radical ways of using this withered technology. Yokoi believed that a video game didn't require cutting edge technology; novelty and fun game play were enough.

The Game Boy always beat out the competition because it was accessible with a long library of fun games and it had a healthy battery life when compared to the Lynx or Game Gear. All of the color graphics and licensed IPs in the world won't push the sales of a system if it takes 6 AA batteries to power it for 3-4 hours. The Game Gear itself was a modified Master System so even though SEGA also employed a Lateral Thinking method to their old technology, it still was too much for it's new intent.

It still holds true today as Miyamoto headed the design of the Wii and it's motion controls. The hardware itself is a Gamecube with a little more RAM and slightly faster CPU.

I remember drooling at the graphics of 3DO.
Anyway: "The game's plot, which took place in a dystopian future (what else?) where the United States was under a religious dictatorship that could actually send people to Hell..."

Whoa, now that's a religious dictatorship with loads of spunk if I ever saw one! :D

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