I am a 3DO owner.
I’m not entirely sure if this is a brag, a confession, or some weird amalgamation of both. I do recognize that there was a point in my game collecting phase where I got a bit out of control, hungering to see what hid in the darkest corners of gaming history. The 3DO in particular was an incredible failure; an overpriced and poorly designed piece of hardware that never stood a chance in an oversaturated market, made even worse by the fact that most of its software was designed under the impression that full motion video was to be the future of all interactive entertainment. It was, but said future only lasted about three more years before we all came to our senses.
Despite all of this, I don’t regret buying my 3DO. Sure, it mostly spends time just collecting dust in a drawer, but I like knowing that I still have access to this weird relic whenever I choose. There’s a distinct feeling one gets from playing games of this era, so different from the nostalgia tinge we feel when revisiting the standard classics. I couldn’t even say that it’s comparable to watching a cult movie because that implies a following that I don’t think the 3DO ever had. I’d say it’s more like watching old footage of a public access show; something that makes you wonder how many (or how few) others ever experienced that same thing. I don’t think I’ll ever meet another human being that’s played Twisted: The Game Show, but if I ever did, we’d probably hit it off fairly well, since it takes a particular brand of neurosis to appreciate what it’s doing.
That said, what it’s doing is a fairly bland trivia/mini game collection. What makes it stand out at all is the painfully eccentric 1993ness of it all. It’s a looking glass back into a time when we were still utterly clueless about what games were going to become, yet at the same time still being so sure of what we wanted them to be. It’s a lot of lame jokes and gaudy production; an all around terrible aesthetic that I’m not going to defend. I can’t even really say that I enjoy the act of playing Twisted, since the first ten minutes really sum up the whole of it, and most other FMV game experiences. But I can’t help but smile whenever I think about it, maybe because possessing that awareness of these games fills me with a misguided sense of pride, like I’m privy to a sort of forbidden knowledge. The more likely answer is that I’m just a weirdo that enjoys the fact that a video game where you control a sentient Pez dispenser exists.
It’s a bad aesthetic, but it’s my aesthetic, damn it. Even now, staring directly at it, warts and all, I kinda miss it. I can’t help but wonder how later generations are going to look at what we create now and if they’ll see it in the same context. We most likely won’t look at the current palette of AAA games with this derision, but I imagine there will be someone with a blog in 2040 that’ll be demanding a return to the quaint stylings of 2016.
Learn from history. Please don’t listen to that silly person.