3DO Interactive Multiplayer
p>The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer was released in 1993 - a product of the 3DO Company, formed partly by Matsushita, Panasonic's parent company. 3DO's console was not manufactured by 3DO. Instead, the company licensed the technology to other companies such as Panasonic, Goldstar and Sanyo.
The console was revolutionary at the time, using a 32-bit CPU and games on CD-ROM. The console features only 1 controller port, however, there was an additional controller port on the controller itself, allowing "daisy-chain" linking of controllers thus eliminating the need for multiplayer taps if a game requires multiple players. Also included in the system is 32Kb backup memory for save games.
The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer was quite expensive to begin with (around US $800), most likely due to the high manufacture costs and the 3DO licencing fees that the licensees had to try and recoup via huge mark-ups. The later releases by Panasonic and Goldstar were a little less expensive. Another item that was later released by a licensee was Creative Labs' 3DO Blaster - a card for PCs that allowed 3DO games to be played on the computer.
The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer's software library featured some good titles - but these were mostly ports of games from PCs and other systems. Many of the exclusive 3DO releases were plagued with pixellated Full Motion Video (FMV) sequences, rather than quality game play.
Previously, video footage could not be incorporated into games due to the limited space available on the ROM cartridges used by systems in years prior to the 3DO's release. Now, with the large capacity of CDs, they could incorporate video footage, however, the system was still only 32-bit, thus the pixellation of the footage. You'll find this feature used all too often in early CD-ROM games (just look at the Sega Mega CD/Sega CD).
It was due to some of these poor quality games, but more likely the 3DO's high price tag that killed the system only a few years after its release. 3DO and Matsushita later worked together on the M2 console - a 64-bit CD system that would have been competition for the Nintendo 64 had its release not been cancelled unexpectedly, even after working prototypes had been produced and displayed at E3 in 1996.
3DO Interactive Multiplayer Technical Specifications
- CPU: Advanced RISC Machines 32-bit 12.5Mhz RISC CPU (ARM60)
- Resolution: 640 pixels x 480 pixels, 16.7 million colours
- Video Co-processors: 2 x Accelerated Video Co-Processors @ 25MHz producing 9-16 million REAL pixels per second (36-64 Mpix/sec
interpolated), distortion, scalion, rotating and texture mapping, ability to map rectangular bitmaps onto any arbitrary 4-point polygon, texturemap source bitmaps can be 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, or 16 bits per pixel and are RLE compressed for optimised resolution and storage space. Supports transparency, translucency, and colour-shading effects.
- Sound: 16-bit Stereo Sound with 44.1KHz Sound Sampling Rate. Fully Supports Dolby™ Surround Sound.
- CD-ROM Drive: 320ms access time, 32 Kbyte RAM buffer, Doublespeed 300kbps Data Transfer
- DSP: Custom 16-bit Digital Signal Processor @ 25MHz specifically designed for mixing, manipulating, and synthesizing CD quality sound with the ability to decompress sound 2:1 or 4:1 on the fly, Pipelined CISC architecture, 16-bit register size, 17 separate 16-bit DMA channels to and from system memory, On chip instruction SRAM and register memory, 20-bit internal processing, Special filtering for effects.
- BUS: 50 Megabytes per second
- Separate BUS for video refresh updates (VRAM is dual ported)
- Math Co-Processor custom designed by NTG for accelerating fixed-point matrix operations
- DRAM: 2MB
- VRAM: 1MB, capable of holding and executing code and data
- SRAM: 32Kb battery backed up SRAM
- ROM: 1MB
- DMA Channels: 36
- Multitasking 32-bit Operating System
- Expansion ports: 1 x High-speed 68 pin x 1 AV I/O port (for FMV cartridge) + 1 x High-speed 30 pin x 1 I/O expansion port
- 1 Control port, with "daisy chaining" ability capable of linking up to 8 peripherals