1995 Winter CES Commentary by:
Michael Lambert (mike@bend.ucsd.edu)

3DO Comments

Hiya. I just got back from CES, and wanted to share what I saw.

To let you know where I'm coming from, I do own a 3DO and like it a lot. My philosophy towards video games is that I don't care what system it's on so long as it's a good game. I'm no company's advocate.

Everything from here on out is my opinion. Opinions were gathered from watching, playing, and listening to other players and designers. I had a very limited amount of time at CES, so on average I had only a few moments with many of the games. This is so you take everything with some reservation -- there's no way to measure depth of play or lots of neato features. I think that many of my first impressions are valid, but there are bound to be games that I mis-judge since I didn't have lots of time to spend on any one.

Phew! Done with the disclaimers :) On to the games, generally in order from good to bad, although not in a strict sense.


My favorite of the 3DO software, this is the sequel to Twisted, and it really does improve on the original. The setting is still a game show, but it is set in a country (I don't think it's Russia by name, but it's certainly meant to be) where communism has collapsed and capitalism has arisen. Lots of cold war humor.

The best thing about ANPG is the greater interactivity between two players. In Twisted, to select a mini-game one person would select row, then the other person would be handed the joypad and would select the column. Here, both players can move the indicator window simultaneously, with the mini-game being chosen when time runs out. Much more strategy, as you have to guide the indicator to something you like which stopping your opponent from putting you on something bad.

The games themselves are geared to simultaneous play as well. There arrange-the-movie game is now split-screen, with *two* jumbled movies. The winner is the person who reorganizes it first. The concentration game takes on a new spin because any time one player makes an error, the other player gets to take over! Trivia questions are still there, but now the points go to the person who answers first. This takes the concept of Twisted, and really improves it. After awhile with Twisted, many of the challenges become too easy. Since you're no longer being challenged by time or the computer, but are instead up against another player, the gameplay has improved a ton! I can't wait for this one.

The only downside I can think of would be the setting. Twisted was immediately accessible to everyone, since just about everyone has seen a tacky game show. While I don't think anyone will have a problem "getting it", it may not be as accessible. ANPG is not ready yet -- I'd give it a few months. Personally, I find the setting and humor a great idea, but I don't know if everyone will...


This year was the year of Doom clones. In my book, PO'ed is second only to Descent, which is currently only on the PC. PO'ed is the best of the Doom clones for the 3DO and it looks to be one of the fresher takes on the 6 degrees of freedom Doom-like games. What makes PO'ed good? Its level design actually uses and encourages those 6 degrees. Don't laugh, but many of the games which allow you to look up and down really never make use of those abilities! I can look up! Whee!

The level I saw of PO'ed was really neat. Rather than a twisty maze or something I've seen on every DOOM clone in existence, it was this weird suspended double-pyramid (small at the top and bottom, but wide in the middle -- if you've ever seen the UCSD library, that's it :)

I liked the look of PO'ed and the originality put into a design that all too many people are simply cloning. Looking forward to seeing how this turns out! Plus, the guys at Any Channel were really nice (Hi Nate!).

Release is for spring would be very optimistic, but we should see it soon -- late spring or summer would be a safe bet.


Okay, the graphics aren't the best thing in the world (small, but detailed, and scrolling was a little chunky). However, this game looks to be *really* fun. There seem to be lots of scenarios (I saw players controlling helicopters, jeeps, and I never got the chance to actually play since it was always busy -- a good sign!) and it is 2-player simultaneous (yeah!). Add in a great score (Holst, Rossini, Wagner) and this looks like a real winner! This one has my dollars!

DUNGEON (I think this was the title)

This one's for RPG fans, although I didn't get a real good feel for the title. I played a little bit, in a battle against a character (a nicely animated insect-thing). I don't really like turn-based RPG's (preferring action-based games like Zelda or Landstalker), but this looked to be a pretty good one. Lots of options, spells, weapons. I can't recommend it seeing as I didn't see enough of it due to limited time, but it is something to look out for!


Okay, this is out already but I was impressed :) When I first saw it, I thought "Ick! Is *that* Supreme Warrior? It's grainy. And Jerky. Yuck!" However, I watched some more, and then played. It's surprisingly engaging, and the FMV is well executed. It's a hard game, but I think I did okay given that I had no instructions :) The FMV, while not Oscar quality, is pretty good, and there's lots of it. The gameplay doesn't feel like your standard FMV/Dragon's Lair/One Choice or You Die type game, and it didn't seem like the same thing over and over. After seeing this, I'd definitely pick it up.


This is an interesting title. Combine The 7th Guest with Alone in the Dark and you'd get something like this. Gameplay is like AITD, but the visuals are all FMV, except for closeups of the main character (a woman) who is all polygonish. The woman is nicely animated and expressive. Downside is that the FMV is slow, although it seemed less slow as the game went on. The game has lots of atmosphere, and could be good. I hope that it speeds up a little, especially some of the longer walking sequences and the response time to the controller.


Color me confused. Based on what I saw, I hope that there's a lot more to this game. All I saw were target-practice type shooting games which displayed all the great graphics and eye-popping color of your average Sega Genesis. I couldn't seem to access anything *but* this target-practice mode, and some introductory FMV which seemed to have a lot of stills. I hope this is an early version and I missed all the good parts!


I've been awaiting this one since my PC does not have enough power to run it. I was a bit underwhelmed, though. WCIII is supposed to have 3-D polygon enemies instead of the old bitmaps, but they sure look like bitmaps when you get close (all blocky and ugly). I hope this is only temporary. A coworker who has WCIII on his PC and can run it :) says that the PC version never gets blocky like what I saw. They have until March, I suppose :)


Another Doom clone, but not an exceptional one. This one looks Just Like Doom (which may not be a bad thing, but there were all too many games that look Just Like Doom at CES) except a little less so.Killing Time was a bit darker, and harder to control. The game requires precise aiming, but it oversteers, making it frustrating to hit enemies. Either the movement needs to be more precise, or it needs to auto-aim like Doom.

The enemies are nothing to write home about, either. I saw a human (looked like a guy in a hunting outfit), a big red face thing, and killer ducks. Yes, ducks. The ducks were cool (they really quacked) and they exploded well, but the hunters were dull and they had green blood. Hello, is this Nintendo? Green blood? The face-things just sort of disappeared. Yawn. I realize that gore is not necessary for a good game, but this looked dull.


Ugh. Now I know that an MPEG decoder is only as good as the disc it is decoding. I hope that someone out there is able to tell me that Star Trek II is a badly-encoded disc; otherwise, the MPEG decoder is one big turd. There was artifacting *everywhere*. This is nowhere near VHS quality, to say nothing of laser discs. I can't see why anyone would want something of such low quality. And, if perchance, ST II is a badly-encoded disk, *why* were they using it to demo the MPEG adapter? If Star Trek II is *not* a badly-encoded disc, be *very* afraid.


I get the feeling that these games aren't ready. The only playable version of Space Ace I saw was on the Sega CD. There was an intro for the 3DO version, but I didn't see a playable version anywhere. I saw neither hide nor hair of DLII. I'm no longer holding my breath for these games -- I think it will be awhile.


As far as I'm concerned, these two are the same game and equally as bad. What is the excitement for these two? Both are shooters which overlay sprites on top of FMV backgrounds. The sprites really stick out from the FMV, making them seem tacked on and emphasizing the fact that the actual "game" part is pretty hokey. The FMV backgrounds I saw weren't that hot. Colorless and dull would sum it up. If you want an FMV shooter, go for StarBlade over these dogs.


No, that's not the title of a game :) Here's some of the stuff I wanted to see but didn't: Mortal Kombat II (okay, so Bill Watters said it's not coming -- I still want to know why!), Primal Rage, Doom, the M2 upgrade (where was this -- it's supposed to be out later this year -- uh oh), that Thayer's Quest based game, sports titles, -- oh, just about anything really exciting. I liked what I saw, but nothing really blew me away.


First, if you haven't heard elsewhere, 3DO was not located with the rest of the video game companies. This seems to me to be a very strange, even dumb, move. 3DO was as far away distance-wise from the video-game displays as one could possibly be and still be located in the convention center. In other words, you had to look for them to find them, and you had to realize that they weren't with all the other guys. 3DO needs visibility, and this isn't the way to achieve it. Nearly every demo was of a game, and yet there were probably many game players that never saw it since they didn't go to that area.

3DO - listen up! Get Descent on the 3DO platform, and get it soon. Descent was my favorite game overall at CES, and it is the best of the Doom inspired games, taking the engine to new heights instead of being a retread. Forget Doom, Doom II, Heretic, Quarantine, Killing Time, and others of their cookie-cutter ilk. Bring Descent to the 3DO. It wouldn't hurt to get someone to bring a modem out for network play, either. Descent would sell a lot of 3DOs, especially if there was network play available.

If I had to sum it all up, I'd say it was pretty lackluster. There are some good things on the horizon (ANPG, PO'ed, Return Fire), but there's nothing amazing or really big. 3DO could definitely *use* something big, what with all the competition, and it could have used a demo (or even a Nintendo-style demo-*tape*) of the M2. Especially if 3DO want to face its competition head on.

Hope you found this interesting reading. I'd be glad to answer any questions I can on any of the stuff I saw.

- Michael

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