Thursday, 23 September 2010

Top Five 3DO Games

The poor old 3DO was hardly a run away success, was it? It was released during a difficult period. Change was coming, but not quite ready to be embraced by the gaming public. The fact that it cost as much as a car didn't help matters either, of course! Consequently it doesn't have the biggest of software libraries. With this in mind, instead of doing a genre-based Top Five for some of its games, I have little choice but to simply select the five best games on the system from all genres. Behold:

Games-Related Top Fives Disclaimer: I've traditionally stuck to the games I know and love so far, and these game-related top fives reflect that. One of the purposes of this blog is diversify my gaming experiences, to play games I haven't played before, so I will do new game-related top fives in a few years to see how different they are!

5. Return Fire (1995)

Released somewhat belatedly as a sequel to the popular Amiga strategy shooter, Fire Power, this fiendishly addictive game was among the best the 3DO could offer for two-player thrills. The move from Fire Power's overhead viewpoint to a slightly angled 3D perspective was slight but Return Fire looks a lot prettier, and it retained and expanded upon its prequel's enemy-flag-capturing fun. There are four vehicles you can employ to capture your enemy's flag - tank, jeep, helicopter, and an armoured missile launcher - and each is accompanied by it's own classical music! There are a good few stages, or 'maps', to battle through here, but the game was also later supplemented by a 'data disc' called Maps O' Death which contained 100 new stages too. Return Fire is good fun for the solo-gamer, and I've spent a lot of time playing it by myself, but it was always intended as a two-player game, and in this capacity it's one of the most enjoyable games I've played.

4. Gex (1994)

Poor old Crystal Dynamics. They clearly put a lot of effort into this game but it went virtually ignored by most gamers who were presumably awaiting all the 'next generation' games they'd been promised. I suppose most weren't really looking for yet another 2D platformer after the deluge the MD and SNES received, but if they'd actually played Gex, they'd have discovered a superb game. Starring Gex, a lazy, television-obsessed Gecko who gets sucked into his TV, the game consists of five TV-themed levels, each split into several stages, through which Gex must travel before he can defeat Rez (no, not the Dreamcast game) and escape. Featuring sumptuous, varied graphics, some great music (although the frequent quips uttered by Gex can soon grate), a huge game world, and a perfect difficulty curve, Gex really is one of the most enjoyable 2D platformers around. Forget the fact that there's no FMV or polygons and give it a go!

3. The Need For Speed (1994)

There's a good chance that around 9 out of 10 gamers have played at least one of the Need For Speed games, but how many know that the series started here on the 3DO? Not only that, but many fans still consider this the best game to bear the name too! Most of the many NFS games have been unrealistic, arcade-style games, but this original was designed to be as realistic as possible right down to the vehicles sounds and dashboards, and it worked too. Rarely has a driving game made it so enjoyable to simply drive. Nevermind the racing, the admittedly superb crashes, or anything else, cruising along the coast in a Supra or Ferrari, or any of the other real cars depicted here is a hypnotic experience. The Saturn and PlayStation conversions added more courses and a two-player mode amongst other things, but never has the series matched the enjoyment of the driving in this original.

2. Star Fighter (1996)

The previous three games on this list, whilst all going on to appear on other systems, all debuted on the 3DO. This game did not, but it's by far the best version of it. Converted to the 3DO after first appearing on the Acorn Archimedes of all systems, it was subsequently ported to the Saturn and PlayStation, but both of these conversions are horrifying, which is a mystery considering their superior power. So, this version remains the best, and what a game it is! It was my first experience of a free-roaming, 3D game world and still one of my favourites. Set on a variety of planets, and even in space, it's a mission-based strategic shooter which sees you up against a sizable enemy military, largely on your own! Yes, it looks a bit ropey today, but it's a game with enormous scope and creativity, not to mention a fantastic soundtrack, which I still love to play today. Just make sure you avoid discovering the atmosphere-destroying story!

1. Star Control 2 (1994)

The winnah! Could it be anything else? Anyone who knows much about me would be expecting this - not only is it my favourite 3DO game, but my favourite videogame of all-time! It doesn't look like much from screenshots, nor from watching someone play it, but this space-exploration adventure is epic and drew me into its world, captivated me, kept me playing, like nothing else ever had, and it continues to do so. The story is deep, twisty, and really is enthralling, with details revealed, clues released, little by little as you play through the game. With a huge game universe to explore featuring 25+ races, each with their own territory, mannerisms, and hours of speech, this is a game that literally lasts for years. And that's before you've even tried the Super Melee, two-player battle mode! A stunning game that still enjoys a strong following, and it's free to download now too!

So, that's my personal 3DO Top Five. It was hard to leave out some other great games such as Road Rash and Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo (the best versions of both games in my opinion), but the games I did select are not only superb, but also mostly not so well-known. If you agree or disagree with the list, let me know!


  1. The lack of Road Rash makes me sad :( As well as being an amazing game, it's one where the FMV clips actually add to the experience. Also can't beat the opening video with crazy bikers and Sound Garden blasting out. Awesome.

    SSFIIT is also very cool but the 6-button pad I have is crap. Playable with the normal FZ-1 controller but still...

    Will agree with Star Fighter though. I only have the 3DO Magazine demo disc of the game but it's great fun. Will have to track down the full version at some point.

  2. Yeah I know, RR and SSFIIT would've been numbers 6 and 7, I like them both a lot. RR actually got me into Sound Garden! Madden on the 3DO is really good too, actually.

    If you play the full version of Star Fighter (which I recommend as it rules!), steer clear of the PS1 and Saturn versions, they're awful :(

  3. Was the Sound Garden track on RR called Kickstand? Or where there others too? I remember that one from the PC demo. What a tune! The whole Superunknown album was bloody brilliant.

    Nice article - as ever - but Gex? Are you shitting me? Who cares how good the game is when it's wrapped up in the most ball-crushingly obnoxious generation X bullshit that 90's focus groups ever churned out? You can do better... ;)

    No surprises about number one, but that number two is intriguing. I would love to get my hands on an Archimedes. They're the machines we used in high school so there are a lot of fond memories (especially of Zarch!)

  4. I can't remember how many Sound Garden songs RR used to be honest, but Kickstand remains my favourite to this day.

    Haha, sorry mate, but I really like Gex. It has decent power-ups, multiple routes, and it's satisfying to play. It does have its annoying points though, I agree.

    We had Archimedes towards the end of my time at school too but I never got to use one. I think they were for the 6th form students only or something like that!

  5. The Sound Garden track in RR was 'Rusty Cage' wasn't it? That's the one that plays with the intro FMV anyway. Love that song and it really suits the game.

  6. actually some of those look pretty good. Especially like the look of Return Fire. The 3DO - better than the Cdi!

  7. The list is almost there but the lack of Space Hulk in the top 3 is mystifying. Frankly, it and Wing Commander III should be in there kicking Gex and Need For Speed to the curb, where they belong.

  8. Really need to get hold of Star Fighter - I'd agree that Road Rash should be in there, certainly. And I'd stick Return Fire in the top spot.

    The 3DO has my favourite version of Cannon Fodder on it as well.

  9. You should definitely try Star Fighter - it might look a little ropey these days but it was amazing back then. It was the first 3D game to really amaze me and it's still great to play now. Make sure it IS the 3DO version you play though - the others are awful :(

    Five years since I made this list though, and I still stand by it. Nothing could ever topple Star Control II which remains my favourite game of all-time. Road Rash is great but I preferred the five games featured. Cannon Fodder is also great but the bloody game uses up about 75% of the 3DO's internal memory, so for that reason alone it's beyond consideration :P

  10. 75%?!?!? Didn't realise that!

    I've been re-visiting the 3DO a lot lately, since discovering the 4DO emulator - runs everything I've tried perfectly, and obviously there's no internal memory limitations.

    Quarantine is one I've been enjoying most over the last few weeks - think Doom mixed with Crazy Taxi!

    1. Well, that was only a guess - I remember it did use up a totally unrealistic amount of memory though, and external memory cards were not easy to come by for the 3DO so alas, I didn't get to play it very often.

      Yeah, that 4DO is fantastic. I used to FreeDO but some games were a bit glitchy on it and a couple didn't work at all. Every game has been fine so far on 4DO.

      I haven't played Quarantine actually. I really must, It sounds great from your description :)