The 1990s saw the video game landscape change in some pretty big ways! Arcades began to decline in popularity. Portable devices like the Game Gear and Game Boy Color took portable entertainment to a whole new level. And, a young entrepreneur dared to dream big when he conceived of the world’s very first 32-bit gaming console.
Released in North America on October 4th, 1993, the 3DO was the brainchild of Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins. Lacking the resources needed to make the console, it was instead licensed out to other companies for manufacturing – including Panasonic, GoldStar, and Sanyo respectively.
Featuring an introductory sticker price of $700 USD, it stayed in circulation until 1996 and sold over 2-Million units before being discontinued.
While praised by many for its ingenuity and cutting-edge hardware, the 3DO was panned for its steep price tag and slim library of games. It quickly lost traction, failing to compete with the much cheaper offerings from industry giants Nintendo and SEGA.
Developers and publishers dropped support as games failed to sell and stock in The 3DO Company dropped to just $23 a share less than two months after launch.
As quickly as it had started, the story of the 3DO was done.
With such a short lifespan, and just over 260 games released before being discontinued, is the 3DO even worth looking into nowadays? Yes, retro gaming has exploded in popularity in recent years, but does this unique piece of hardware deserve your attention in a world that also includes the likes of the Super Nintendo, SEGA Genesis, and Sony PlayStation?
You’d better believe it does!
What follows now is a list of ten games that I feel best represent the full potential of the 3DO and everything it strived to be! They may not all be widely known, nor be the most technologically mind-blowing titles to ever land at retail, but I’ve no doubt each shines a bright light on the 3DO and makes for a pretty awesome day worth of retro gaming!
Let’s flip over to Channel 3 and get this party started, with
The 10 Best 3DO Games Of All Time
Let’s kick off this list with one of the very best point and click titles to ever hit the market!
Designed by Robyn and Rand Miller, Myst was a massive success when released for the Macintosh personal computer in 1993. Two years later, it would find a space within the 3DO library and was heralded by critics as even better than the original!
The game sees players transported to a mysterious island where they must search for clues surrounding the character’s past. There are no pressing objectives. No time limits. No baddies to get in your way. Instead, players simply explore the land of Myst – collecting items and solving puzzles along the way.
Myst is an extremely relaxing experience, and looks really pretty besides! Certain to grab your attention from the get-go, it’s a truly immersive way to spend an afternoon!
Street Fighter II Turbo
You just couldn’t do this list justice without including Street Fighter II Turbo! Part of one of the biggest gaming franchises of all time, Turbo bolsters gorgeous graphics and is easily one of the most technologically advanced versions of the game to see release.
It posted solid scores across the board with multiple critics and is still praised today as one of the very best games of 1994.
That said, it does suffer from a slight lag and will oftentimes appear glitchy during load times. However, it also featured a strong selection of new moves, a host of extra characters, updated mechanics, flawless player control, and a look and feel that is closest to Capcom’s arcade original!
The game has also had a pretty big impact on the fighting game E-Sport circuit, where it is still played competitively more than twenty-five years since its initial debut. Which is not too shabby, if you ask this writer!
Road Rash originally bowed from Electronic Arts in 1991. Three years later, it would be ported to the 3DO and become one of the best titles to grace the short-lived gaming console.
Leaps and bounds better than its eventual SEGA and Sony counterparts, the 3DO version of Road Rash features stunning scenery, a slick soundtrack, and some pretty great driving mechanics overall.
For those who don’t know, you must place in the top 3 to advance. However, what Road Rash is perhaps best known for is its requirement for players to knock other riders out of the game with everything from fists to even chains and bats. It definitely stands out as one of the more wild and unique racing games out there, and you just won’t find a better-looking example than the version that was ported to the 3DO!
Developed by DMA Designs, Lemmings was a hugely popular puzzler released to every major platform beginning in 1991. Ported over to the 3DO in 1993, the game requires players to guide a group of anthropomorphized Lemmings through 120 different stages to a designated exit.
To advance to the next level, players must try to figure out how to utilize different abilities amongst the Lemmings so that they may alter the landscape and create safe passage for their friends. It is far from easy, and certain to challenge even the most seasoned of strategy gamers.
Still regarded as one of the very best titles of the 1990s, the 3DO version of Lemmings has been praised for its bright colors, smooth frame rate, and user-friendly interface. Even all these years later, this version is still seen by many as the very best example of the Lemmings game and all that it was capable of, and what it could be, at the time!
Add to that a fun soundtrack guaranteed to get stuck in your head and plenty of brain massaging puzzles, and it is easy to see why Lemmings is still one of the most widely ported and best-selling video games of all time – with over 20-Million copies sold, and climbing!
The Need For Speed
The One That Started It All! Electronic Arts hit the gas hard with The Need For Speed in 1994 – and this 3DO exclusive stands as further proof as to just how powerful the ill-fated gaming console really was!
The Need For Speed features a total of eight exciting cars from manufacturers ranging from Lamborghini to Porsche.
There is also a very nice selection of race tracks – each rendered in a stunning 32-bits of polygonal beauty. You got multiple camera angles, true-to-life engine sounds, and some seriously raw driving mechanics that easily make this one of the very best racing games of all time!
It’s pure petrol-pounding fun at its very best, and set the stage for more than twenty-five years worth of follow-up titles still built upon the same rubber-burning action that embraces the old-school and performs like its showroom fresh!
The Incredible Machine
If you were a kid growing up in the 1990s, there is no doubt that you experienced this classic Dynamix title in one form or another! Originally designed and coded by Kevin Ryan and produced by Jeff Tunnell, the game sees players create a series of truly wacky Rube Goldberg-like devices.
It arrived on the 3DO in 1994 and still showcases some of the best brain-wrinkling puzzles to feature within a video game to this very day. It can be a real head-scratcher on occasion. And, it is sure to have you throwing down your controller in frustration more than once.
However, when everything eventually goes off without a hitch, it’s easily one of the most rewarding experiences within the field of video gaming!
This family-friendly puzzler remains a favorite among many – and the 3DO version is seen as one of the very best takes on the title thanks to a smooth frame rate and easy-to-navigate user interface. It may not be the prettiest title on the console, but it certainly is one of the most addictive! And, the most fun!
Boot it up, and it won’t take long for you to discover why this award-winning title is still considered by many to be a near-perfect blend of educational and entertainment software at its finest.
Before Army Men. Before Worms Armageddon. There was Cannon Fodder! Played from a top-down perspective, this Virgin Interactive title sees gamers leading a small troop of soldiers across enemy territory.
Featuring a point-and-click interface, the game forces players to figure out the best way to defeat their foes throughout a total of 72 different levels. And, if you think simply charging in headfirst is perhaps the most logical way to approach certain stages, you’d be dead wrong!
Cannon Fodder is loads of fun, and forces players to use strategy and problem-solving techniques if they are to emerge victorious on the field of battle!
No two levels play out the same, and you’ll have to use numerous different tactics if you hope to win! Do this successfully, keep your men alive, and they’ll all receive a promotion!
Now, while I didn’t have a 3DO of my own growing up (we were more of a Nintendo family), I did get to experience my fair share of the system and its numerous games throughout my youth. As such, I can honestly say that Cannon Fodder was one of those titles that my friends and I remember enjoying most of all during the rather short lifespan of the console.
Again, it isn’t the most graphically defying title. But, like The Incredible Machine mentioned above, it’s extremely addictive and a great way to spend an afternoon with your pals!
Crystal Dynamics released Gex to the 3DO in 1995. Created by Lyle Hall, the platformer allows players to take control of a wisecracking, television-obsessed gecko named Gex as he crusades through the media dimension to defeat the evil Rez.
The graphics are superb, while the mechanics within feature some rather unique ideas that set Gex apart from other platformers of the time – such as giving the character the ability to stick to walls!
The game was a smash hit upon release and praised by critics for its uniqueness and solid gameplay. Many felt that Gex set some very high standards for future 3DO releases and that the character would soon reach popularity levels on par with other gaming greats like Super Mario and Sonic The Hedgehog before too long.
Loved by critics and gamers alike, Gex would quickly become one of the best-selling 3DO games in history – and the character would go on to feature in sequels for both the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation respectively in the years that followed.
Since then, the Gex franchise has collectively sold around 15-Million units worldwide, with the original 3DO title still being regarded by many as the best of the franchise to date!
Star Control II
Sci-Fi games hit an impressive stride during the 90s, with two of the very best examples of the genera landing on the 3DO before 1996!
Star Control II is a sequel to the hit 1992 MS-DOS original. Designed by Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III, this open-world adventure features exoplanet-abundant star systems, hyperspace travel, and interstellar diplomacy with twenty-five different alien species that can be communicated with.
The main focus of the game is story-based, with players having to choose questions and answers wisely in an effort to recruit different races in defending earth against attack. Choose wrong, and you could find yourself in some serious trouble!
The level of freedom available in this title is simply staggering, and many critics still cite this classic as one of the most influential video games ever made!
Like Myst, the 3DO port of Star Control II is vastly superior to the PC version thanks to its improved FMV sequences, sound, and graphics. It’s deep. It’s rich. And, is easily one of the most engaging titles available on the console.
Wing Commander III: Heart Of The Tiger
Behold the crown jewel of the 3DO library! Wing Commander III is of the most immersive gaming experiences of all time, inviting players to not simply watch a game, but to actually play a movie!
With a huge budget and an all-star cast that included Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys-Davies, Jason Bernard, Tom Wilson, and Ginger Lynn Allen, the game features over two hours of original FMV footage and some of the most beautiful graphics to grace a video game!
This space flight simulator put the full capabilities of the 3DO system to the test. It is a title that hooks you in straight from the start and made you feel as though you’re right in the thick of it all as you look to blow enemy ships to smithereens.
It has been over twenty-five years since the release of Wing Commander III, and it remains one of my personal favorites – not just as a combat simulator, but as a prime example of everything this console could have been and where it could have gone!
It perfectly utilized the strengths of the RealSpace engine and offered gamers something that was truly unlike anything they had ever experienced before – while also giving heavy hitters like Rogue Squadron a run for the money with its super slick frame rate and enhanced mechanics!
Garnering positive reviews from numerous gaming critics, Wing Commander III offered us a glimpse into the amazing future of video games – and continues to blow minds to this very day!
If you’re looking to build out your 3DO collection with the very best that the console had to offer, you need Wing Commander III! It’s too sexy for its own good. The brightly burning star at the center of a truly daring gaming console that was just too far ahead of its time!