Games That Defined the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer

Presented by TekToro
This Guide is part of the Defining Games Series

The 3DO was an interesing chapter in console gaming history.   It was not only an attempt at creating a platform-to-rule them all in the gaming industry, but it was yet another player in the middle crowded console war. (Learn more in 3DO 101: A Beginner’s Guide)

This overview of the 3DO library takes a look at the games that made the largest impact on the industry at the time and gave the 3DO its unique personality while overcoming its opponents (as opposed to a standard list of “the best” 3DO games).

Normally, these guides will be filled with exclusives, however, when the dust settled, the 3DO wasn’t left with many exclusives.    There were many “next-gen” games that came out first on the 3DO (it came out before the Playstation and the Saturn)  or were the superior ports of the title due to the 3DO’s hardware capabilities (it is more advanced than the SNES and Sega  Genesis/CD/32X).

Crash ‘n Burn

The very first 3DO game on the market and bundled with the Panasonic FZ-1 system. Crash ‘n Burn is a Combat Racing game with a backdrop setting on a post nuclear earth, year 2044. Six unique drivers to say the least, will test your skills in a couple of game modes with over 29 different race tracks to win.

Depending on which driver you select, each has his or her own statistics such as acceleration, top speed, traction, etc. However winning races will win you money to upgrade your cars various guns, missiles, defensive hazards, armor and specials. Which is very fun and necessary to compete in further challenges, and trust me there are plenty of challenges.

Not as polished as later 3DO titles nor having a multiplayer option, this pack in game still impresses with its steep inclines, barreling corkscrews, beautiful color palette, tight neck races and brutal head to head combat.
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GEX

Making his debut as the wise-cracking (voice of comedian Dana Gould), tongue lashing, tail thrashing, fire spitting spunky little gecko on the 3DO platformer scene is GEX!

Even before being ported to other consoles, GEX defined itself on the 3DO and is one of the Best Selling games with over 250,000 copies printed, I’m assuming he was an unofficial mascot of some sorts till popping up on the Saturn and Playstation consoles?

Being one of the very few platformer games for the 3DO it is no surprise GEX holds supreme to any on the system, and not without his own merits, GEX offers a very solid experience from an unlikely package. With a total of 6 worlds one being a bonus world, they each contains roughly 4-5 levels and a boss. Varying themes from T.V. land are the concepts to each world such as Graveyard land, Cartoon land, and fan favorite Kung Fu land. It does all seem random at first but actually works out well and keeps things fresh throughout the game, especially when you have Dana commenting and cracking jokes frequently.

Levels do get progressively harder, and there are a bunch of hidden areas as well as bonus stages to master( a must in order to unlock Planet X) . The game flows smoothly with the multitude of moves GEX can perform, anywhere from climbing on walls and ceilings or using his tail bounce to take out enemies or chain hard jumps together, it all just controls smoothly.

Completely accessible to a broad range of gamers, some may owe it to themselves to spend a bogged down weekend in front of the boob tube, just like GEX would and immerse themselves in some iconic bits from the 90s platformer gaming history.
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Road Rash

With big EA behind their originally published game for Genesis Road Rash, a few years have gone by since that iteration and now it’s back!

In its true 32-bit form and with a rocking official soundtrack, from bands like Soundgarden, Paw, Swervedriver, Therapy? plus more. Road Rash is a take no prisoner, street bike racing beat’em up game and is so much fun you won’t know what to do with yourself.

It is also another great game that has seen ports to Playstation and Saturn, but can still hold it’s head high as once again being the definitive version between the other hardware versions. Graphically awesome, map textures and environment are highly realistic and all backgrounds look photo realistic (mountains and objects) adds a great touch. FMV segments that are cool and can seem campy (especially the losing race FMVs) at times were a huge draw to most gamers then, but overall goes good with the action.

The game contains a total 5 courses and 5 levels of difficulty which isn’t too much content, but makes up for it with challenge and ability to upgrade to newer faster bikes. In turn which actually gives a great replay value.

Amongst other fun to be had you have an option to visit various areas in your menu options. Talking to other racers in the pub/bar can add some depth to the story or can give you a heads up when out racing. There is the bike shop where you can browse through the many dream bikes of various stats and colors, the selection is balanced and gives you ambition to win those races.

Gameplay in Road Rash is near perfect, with simple controls, challenging races and great sense of speed during the lengthy courses. Sometimes it’s simply best just to pull to the side of the road and enjoy the country scenery, but not for too long because then it’s back to smashing your opponents helmet in or kicking them into oncoming traffic. Simply a classic and be sure to avoid the law unless you want to get “Busted”.
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Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed

Electronic Arts did not hold back when it came to developing for the precious 3DO console, many gamers can tell you that the 3DO version of NFS is something truly special.

Nearly 20 years and countless installments later, we haven’t see quite the same game from EA in the NFS series. NFS on 3DO is more of a racing simulator than the arcade versions you play today. Each selection in cars provides you with the simulated sense of how each of these cars would handle and react in a realistic way. Choose from purebred exotic cars such as Lamborghini Diablo, Dodge Viper RT/10, Porsche 911, Ferrari 512TR and many more. Like stated earlier all look and handle like a dream, no matter in cockpit view or behind the car mode, the steering and handling seemed to be a prime focus on making this game an authentic experience.

Downside to NFS would be its selection in courses, which is limited. City, Alpine, and Coastal are all great courses and look superb, but leave you feeling like you went out on an afternoon drive instead of a cross country expedition. And that’s okay because what the package offers is well executed, real time physics behind handling, great course environments, gnarly crashes which can be seen in replays, also last but not least the stiff competition and signature ”The Fuzz” on your tail.
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Madden Football

When it came to sports titles in the 16-bit era, EA had already made an impression with its fantastic line up of sports titles anywhere from Madden, NHL and Mutant League all reigning supreme on the Sega Genesis. However this is a new era (or was), one of 32-bit technology and Trip Hawkins is destined to pioneer the future as we know it. Just like with a large portion of all other 3DO software EA had a strong premise on that front, even for non sports fans the 3DO offerings are something to inquire. With a limited library to begin with you find yourself trying new things, and why not? You may miss out on some solid titles.

Selling millions of copies throughout its lifespan is the king of all sports games John Madden Football. Although not as tweaked as the 16-bit console versions, Madden is as every bit as addicting and exciting as any other version. In the ultimate player vs player sports game to date the same principle still resides today, grab a friend, pick your favorite team and let the smack talk begin.

Seasons and matches against the computer tend to be slightly dull since there are some malfunctions to the A.I., however worth a few seasons and especially with a buddy to play. Graphically an improvement from the 16-bit era that we were used to and can’t beat seeing John Madden in Full Motion Video. The gameplay you’d come to expect from the ’93 version with hundreds of plays straight from John Maddens own playbook.
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FIFA

Giving Madden a run for its money is the uber popular Football International Soccer, Fifa as known to most is a isometric soccer game pitting you against international teams and fabricated players. With clean but not ground breaking graphics, Fifa handles excellent in the controls department.

Supporting up to 6 players, a nice range of game modes, and complex yet easy to understand commands Fifa players will enjoy the hours of fun and depth involved with the strategy soccer simulator. Even today I find it to have a nice balance feel of a retro sports title and the polish of a “at the time“ innovative game, one of the best sports titles for the 3DO.
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PGA Tour Golf 96

Continuing its monopoly for sports games, EA has yet another solid franchise to enjoy, as in PGA Tour Golf 96. Not nearly as big a seller as Fifa or Madden, but also no stranger to the golfers and gamers. PGA Tour features 9 pros, 3 stunning championship courses such as Summerlin, Sawgrass, and River Highlands.

Take a swing with digitized graphics (photo realistic) pro golfers, and control with the standard swing meter, which is easy to comprehend. I’m not the hugest golf fan, but thought since all three of these games can be bought for $25 dollars complete with long boxes, I thought why not turned out to be a fun game. Also check out Wicked 18 which is another golf game with a more twisted theme based off the PGA Tour gameplay mechanics.
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Twisted: The Game Show

Quoted as being Trip Hawkins favorite 3DO game, Twisted for short is a trivia/puzzle game that has contestants stuck on a digitized game show. The object is to make your way to the top of the spiral game board and make it back to reality.

With the most unusual cast of characters you can go head to head with up to 5 players in multiplayer. Each player will take turns rolling the Cyber Die and then will move that amount of spaces, landing on different colored spaces grants a certain event. Most spaces will either give a bonus or be a trap, then there’s the Matrix space, this is where the competition happens. Depending on which matrix square is selected that corresponding game will take place.

Surprisingly many of the trivia games are very entertaining, and also memory, reflex, and intelligence come into play. There’s a total of 8 games that are all presented in a goofy manor and are fun and challenging. Sound Bites lets you select a presidents picture and match wacky sounds that come from their mouths. Meanwhile Twin Peaks lets you open different pictures to match what’s behind them, just to give a few examples.

There’s enough variety for replay value especially since it’s suitable for all ages, it’s easy to pick up and great choice for a family get together.
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D

Live the nightmare of D as the horror begins in Los Angeles National Hospital. As laura you must find out why your father, Dr. Richter Harris, has lost his sanity, murdered some of the patients, and takes others hostage.

Locking himself inside of the hospital, laura is summoned to talk some sense into her father, but as she enters the hospital it suddenly transforms into an ancient castle. From here you will have to explore, find clues and solve puzzles all with the clock ticking away.

Kenji Eno President of WARP INC. wanted D to have an interactive movie feel, putting the player in a state or despair. From beginning to end there are no pause or save features, just you, a mystery and 2 hours.

I happen to believe D is a masterpiece for its time and remember playing this game every week for as long as I owned it. Scattered throughout the game are these scarab like beetles that glow and appear randomly in different areas. Finding one of these reveals a flashback sequence which is rather disturbing, and can be pieced together when you find all 4.

Clever puzzles, immersive plot, and haunting atmosphere D belongs on the top must experiences.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo

Dominating arcades and home consoles, spawning tons of spin-offs and being a staple for fighting fans everywhere. 3DO gets a near perfect conversion of the arcade coin-op. Adding four new warriors to the already large cast of twelve fighters. Cammy, Dee Jay, Fei Long, T. Hawk, and even Akuma can all be played. Also note that the 3DO 3 button controller is not a good option as the 6 button controllers when it comes to fighting games on the 3DO, there’s even a fight stick that was made, but goes for a decent amount online.

Once you get your controller(s) situated in addition to a few new characters, some tweaks were made to the fighting mechanics. New super moves, combos, and animations improve the experience. The mix of fighting styles always was an attraction to the series, no excessive blood or gimmicky fatalities, just the best of world class warriors .

A remake has been readily available for the XBLA and PSN from $5-$10 bucks, adding HD updates and online match making.
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Samurai Shodown

One of the most popular games for the NEO GEO, Samurai Shodown is a very Japanese, 2-D fighting game in which each character has a unique weapon. Unlike its SSFII Turbo counterpart, Samurai Shodown is much more bloodier and violent.

The 3DO version of Samurai Shodown is even better than home NEO GEO version (to some degree), thanks to CD-quality music. Uncensored arterial spray was left in which was changed to white fluid in other versions and pretty much a big deal.

Crystal Dynamics conversion of Shodown isn’t without its flaws, some did complain about a few audio qualities and jumpy animations. So unless you are a diehard these minor issues are hardly noticeable.
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Return Fire

Action/Strategy game Return Fire is the 3DO version of the Amiga computer game Fire Power from the late ’80s. The concept of the game is to capture the enemy’s flag and return it to your base. In an all out attempt to defend or return with the opponents flag, Return Fire adds up to be one frantic and addictive formula. To further the strategy, there are now four vehicles at your disposal: Helicopters, tanks, armored support vehicles, and jeeps (each provide strategy to your approach).

Two-player mode is a blast to play, and is simply the best multiplayer experience for the 3DO period. There’s also Return Fire: Maps O’ Death, which is rather uncommon, but a great expansion to the already solid title.
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Daedalus Encounter

A port of the earlier PC released game minus all the bugs, glitches and messes, Daedalus Encounter is a sci-fi adventure game with puzzles, small shooting segments and FMV footage of course.

Starring Tia Carrere (Lt. Ariel Matheson)and Christian Bocher (Zack Smith), you are Casey O’Bannon, a thin line between Man and Machine. All that’s left of your human body form is your brain, which was infused with a mechanical support and electronic interface. Zack has also added some modifications for better communication and to control various devices. There are a total of 9 different commands anywhere from the simple Yes/No to Analysis, Diagnostics, and Probe.

Daedalus Encounter is a very difficult game at times and takes multiple attempts to make it all the way through, but all in all however has an above decent story line, much improved visuals, better save-game features and faster gameplay than its PC counterpart.

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AD&D Slayer/Deathkeep

Incorporating the official 2nd Edition rule set from Advance Dungeons & Dragons, a popular table top fantasy Role-Playing Game. Slayer was an early 3DO Adventure/RPG in a first person view, in true D&D fashion character generation is a staple. With choices from many pre-generated characters and custom character settings, this is where the heart of you avatar lies and journeys begin.

Every adventurer enjoys connecting with their alter egos, and what better way to do that than with a random dungeon generator that has billions of layouts. Included with the random dungeon designs are customized options that let you choose, how many creatures to face, traps to spring, levels to conquer, and treasures to find!

Slayer has an in depth class system which will have affect on your combat strategy, so when building a character try to have a general idea of the style your going to play. Another helpful survival tip is, dodging and retreating can keep you alive a lot longer than going straight head to head with a baddie plain and simple.

Throughout all the searching, pillaging, and looting, there are end bosses to each dungeon. But Slayer fails to offer a great tale to tend to its quest, however a solid entry to the genre.

A sequel was made, named AD&D Deathkeep and has improved the game drastically. Tightening up the bugs from Slayer, removing the random dungeons and replacing them with 25 created levels. Deathkeep is even better than its older sibling, and there’s even a storyline to go with the mayhem this time around. Regarded as one of the best games 3DO has to offer.
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Guardian War

Trying to restore peace to the once rich and beautiful land, the goddess Erald using her powers of light, has summoned a Golem. In hopes, with her peaceful followers and inner warrior they will seek to abolish the evil incarnate Azrael.

Strategy and team work is the name of the game in Guardian War, with no NPCs or puzzles to solve you must battle your way through various monster types and gain experience. Despite this sounding boring and repetitive the depth to the battle strategies and ever growing stats are more than enough reason to keep coming back.

Guardian War was brought overseas and translated from Power Kingdoms, although not without its flaws in translation a beautiful game to play with hours upon hours of fun addictive battles.

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Honorable Mentions

  • Alone in the Dark Series
  • Corpse Killer
  • Night Trap
  • Shockwave Series
  • Mad Dog McCree Gunslinger Collection
  • Star Control II
  • Killing Time
  • Out of This World
  • Total Eclipse
  • Myst
  • Primal Rage
  • Cannon Fodder
  • Lemmings
  • Dragons Lair
  • Space Ace
  • Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger
  • Lucienne’s Quest
  • Theme Park
  • Star Fighter

16 Comments

  1. Thiago Siões says:

    Great list, but no Lucienne’s Quest?

  2. damain says:

    Great list, I loved my 3do it was probably my favourite console although many people considered it a turkey they were jealous of NFS ;-)

    You forgot a few I loved:

    Theme Park – 3do had the most stable version :-)
    Star Fighter – awesome game, awesome soundtrack

    I have a guilty love of wingcommander 3 on there too!

  3. TekToro says:

    @Tiago,
    Luciennces Quest is a great RPG, I would think it fits better in more of the hidden gems than here since there wasnt many copies available and some were even recalled.

    yeah so, that was left out intentionally. lol

    @damian, I totally agree as well on both titles. Since there are other 3do guides in the works they may also fit elsewhere (they would be great canidates for the cheapest games worth every penny).

    Thanks for the feedback and checking out the guide and thank you to Racket for letting me share this with all..

  4. sevin0seven says:

    great article TekToro!

  5. FaceOnFire says:

    Wow, I’m saddened to see Star Control II in the honorable mention and not given its own spot. Probably one of the finest games ever made.

  6. BurningDoom says:

    Very cool, guys! I’ve been wanting a 3DO for a while, and I this article just cemented that decision. Now I just have to find one that actually works for a decent price.

  7. This list seems to be a list of the best games for the system, but what defined it in most peoples eyes where the “interactive experiences” like Shockwave etc which where some of the most heavily advertised games for the system, anyway I still enjoyed it!

    Check out my review of the 3DO and some games – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=va3RGq5uy30&list=UUenBYEupFr45ztQdv0Q00Gg&index=1&feature=plcp

  8. TravisDreamcast83 says:

    I love D The first system i played it on when i was elven was playstation which i never finished but recently I got it for the sega saturn and I adore this game. Most think it’s slow and wont even attempt it but I think it’s a masterpiece in everyway.

    I only wish they still made game’s like this

  9. TravisDreamcast83 says:

    Funny I knew gex came out for the 3do infact I own it but i did not know it was the first system it did. I have always loved the 3do and thought it was underrated

  10. Janman says:

    Star Control II and Road Rash were the best games on the system. SCII is easily one of the best games of all time. The Horde was another really fun and unique experience and would be one of my top picks on the 3DO.

  11. Ark Thompson says:

    What about Wolfenstein 3D? It has to be one of the best console ports of that game. Fluid graphics, good sound quality, and it even has the original unedited version with the Nazi imagery, etc.

  12. Nice work TEKTORO – Both Madden and FIFA are interesting games in that EA really put a lot of effort to advance the graphics for the 3DO. A real labor of love.

    I need to get PGA Tour ’96. I enjoyed that on the PC back in the day.

  13. J_Wil says:

    The 3DO isn’t exactly the console that comes ot mind when I think about great gaming libraries but it had some standouts. Road Rash and Super Street Fighter II are a couple of my all-time favorite games.
    I’ve never actually picked up a 3DO controller but it’s on my wish list. I was very much aware of it but wasn’t something I ever thought I’d get as a kid. It was more of a curiousity well out of my reach due to the ridiculous retail price. Even now, it’s something I want for more for the purpose of collecting than playing.

  14. Alex says:

    Played Gex and Road Rash on one of those stands blew me away. Especially Road Rash. The price blew my mind though.

  15. Jeff says:

    Way of the Warrior?

  16. Mr.James says:

    It was hard to play the 3DO back in my day being one of two people who owned one while attending grade school; everyone else had a Sega or Nintendo and it was a bitch explaining what a 3DO is during lunch school gaming discussions, it was like does play Mario or Sonic,”no”, then we don’t care. Another thing ain’t odd the similarities this system has with the PS3, yet one is doing a hella of alot better than the other…