Panasonic 3DO

Console facts

Type Video games
Year 1993
Speed 12.5 MHz
Media cd-rom
Graphic modes Interpolated 640x480 resolution output to screen, upsampled from 320x240 or 320x480 internal resolution.
Colors 16 bit palettized color (from 24 bits) or 24 bit truecolor.
Sound 16-bit stereo sound
Panasonic 3DO

In my collection

Panasonic 3DO

Bought from fleamarket in Stockholm.


3DO Interactive Multiplayer (most commonly referred to as the 3DO) is a line of video game consoles which were released in 1993 and 1994 by Panasonic, Sanyo and Goldstar, among other companies. The consoles were manufactured according to specifications created by The 3DO Company, and were originally designed by Dave Needle and RJ Mical of New Technology Group. The system was conceived by entrepreneur and EA Games founder Trip Hawkins.

Despite a highly-promoted launch (including being named Time Magazine product of the year in 1994) and a host of cutting-edge technologies, the system's high price ($699.95 USD at release) and an over-saturated console market prevented the 3DO from ever achieving any real market penetration.

The consoles had very advanced hardware features at the time: an ARM60 32-bit RISC CPU, two custom video co-processors, a custom 16-bit DSP and a custom math coprocessor. They also featured 2 megabytes of DRAM, 1 megabyte of VRAM, and a double speed CD-ROM drive for main CD+G, view Photo CDs, and Video CDs with an add-on MPEG video card. The 3DO also included the first music visualizer in a console system, converting CD music to a mesmerizing color pattern.

A notable feature of the console is that it is one of few CD-based consoles that feature neither regional lockout nor copy protection, scoring it points amongst import gamers and software pirates alike, though reports have suggested that the Goldstar model isn't particularly durable when used for either of those purposes. Although there is no regional lockout present in any 3DO machine, a few Japanese games cannot be played on non-Japanese 3DO consoles due to a special kanji font. At the request of the 3DO company, most third-party developers included this font directly on the game CDs so that they could be played on any 3DO console; however, a few did not, including Sword and Sorcery (which was released in English under the title Lucienne's Quest) and a demo version of Alone in the Dark.

It is often said that the 3DO software library exhibited many of the worst aspects of home video gaming at the time. This was the dawn of CD-ROM gaming, so cutscenes of pixelated video footage dominated many titles at the expense of good gameplay. The most well-received titles were commonly ports of games from other systems, such as Alone in the Dark, Alone in the Dark 2, Myst, Out of This World, Return to Zork, and Star Control II. Other notable titles include Need for Speed, Road Rash, Jurassic Park Interactive, Crash N' Burn, Gex, Slayer, Killing Time, and the first console port of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which exceeded the original with its CD-quality audio. Game series that started on 3DO by Electronic Arts, Studio 3DO and Crystal Dynamics established themselves on other 32-bit consoles. One major hit for the 3DO, Return Fire, an advanced tank battle game, was ported from the 3DO to the Sony PlayStation, and Microsoft Windows, but met with limited success. However, few titles utilized the console's full potential.

In addition to the consoles, a 3DO Blaster ISA peripheral card for PCs which offered all the features of the home console was manufactured by Creative Technology.

The 3DO Company also designed a next-generation console called the M2, which was to use a PowerPC 602 processor, but the company abandoned the console business and sold the technology to Matsushita, who rebranded the hardware and sold it in the kiosk market competing with the CD-i system.

Konami later made an M2-based arcade board. As games ran straight from the CD-ROM drive, it suffered from long load times and a high failure rate, so very few games were developed for it.

Panasonic 3DO images