The Demise of the 3DO
by Joe Santulli

I remember the day the 3DO came out. I was "working" at the Electronics Boutique in the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, NJ. Employees were always privvy to first dibs on stuff as it came in, both because we knew WHEN it was coming in, and because we could put our names on the waiting list ahead of real customers (just kidding!). Anyway, I’ve always been a "cutting edge" gamer. Always had to have the newest, greatest, system first. Even when I heard that the 3DO was going to be listed somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 I thought "yep, I better hop on that deal!". It is just one of the many poor decisions I’ve made, but at least I’m consistent. That same philosphy sometimes gets you stuff that’s limited in production. I’m always around for those "first 100 customer"-type deals.

The 3DO arrived at the store with not a roar, but a whimper. We received six of them, and only four sold on the first day. One of them was mine. I remember thinking "am I the only hardcore gamer in northern NJ?". Days later, I was thinking "am I the only hardcore gamer in the world?".

When it was released, only Mad Dog McCree and a few Fatty Bears games (I’ve set high score world records on the Fatty Bears games - they’re so damn challenging!) were available. The system was packed with the exceptional (at that moment) Crash ‘N Burn. I bought Mad Dog with the system, took it home, and didn’t go to sleep that night. I was amazed with Crash ‘N Burn’s beautiful graphics, which were far and above anything I had ever seen on the Sega CD, the closest thing to a competitor at the time. I played that game until 4am, only alternating occasionally with Mad Dog McCree, which was admittedly a disappointment. "First wave game design", I thought at the time, "Just wait until Mad Dog II!".

Although Crash 'N Burn burned away many hours, it wasn’t enough to keep me satisfied. When you’re an impulse console buyer, you learn to get used to waiting around for new game releases. The Genesis was the same way. So was Sega CD. But this... THIS... was unbearable. Knowing that dozens of developers were working to make quality titles for the 3DO. You could see the great screen shots on the box. Magazines were hyping everything from a "super" Super Street Fighter to the greatest video games full motion video had to offer. It was an unbearable time, mastering Crash ‘N Burn and waiting.

They really trickled in. The first outstanding game I can remember was EA’s Escape from Monster Manor, a sort-of Doom clone that takes place in a haunted house. Tremendous visuals, smooth gameplay... this system HAD to be the greatest thing ever to come along. Next came a short burst of great games: Total Eclipse, Way of the Warrior, Road Rash, Quarantine... PC conversions and original titles. It was enough to guarantee I’d stay happy for awhile.

It seemed that just as the 3DO had found its niche, along came the Sega Saturn. Even with a library of nearly 100 games, the 3DO was doomed. Sure, I bought the Saturn the day it came out. When I saw a giant worm rise from the desert sand in Panzer Dragoon, I knew it was something the 3DO could never do. I thought that same "this is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen" thoughts, but part of me lamented the 3DO, a system that had already developed a double-cancer that I knew would kill it: Sega and Sony.

In a few short months the world had forgotten about this system, its rather extensive library shoved off of retail shelves to make way for the new 32 bit systems. It’s too bad - because the peak of 3DO games came right at about this time: Blade Force, StarFighter, and Battlesport... games that would be all but lost in the mix when the better systems came to town.

It all happened so fast - even the usual "bargain bin" hunting seemed to be cut short. I was able to pick up 20-30 titles at incredible prices, but I missed quite a few simply because time ran out. Now it’s getting very difficult to find the less common games, and imported titles are really scarce. To those of you who haven’t yet begun the hunt. Get moving! This system is not only one of quality but I suspect one of scarcity... which means collectibility! The systems are going very cheap right now, as are many of the games. It’s the best time to build a collection. Don’t miss it!

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Last updated Tuesday, February 13, 2007 06:01 PM