Time Machine: 3DO

Trip the light fantastic at Hawkins' bazaar...

They had grand plans, EA graduate Trip Hawkins and his 3DO Company boys. Design, pitch and license the next big thing to electronics giants with the scattershot aim of getting one into every living room.

3DO Interactive Multiplayer, the set-top box that could do everything: run its own 32-bit game library, play video at a standard that seemed like the filthiest wizardry back in the early '90s, chuck in photo viewing and pre-PlayStation CD playback, and... set you back somewhere in the region of 400 quid, or even more on import.

Yes, sadly that's a key reason why we're not all firing up our 3DOs to take potshots at bionic Nazi space marine gobshites today. Each manufacturer (notably Panasonic and Goldstar) had to make money on the hardware, rather than stitching together banknote bedsheets out of first-party game profits like today's lot.

The result: an entry price about as accessible to drooling young Barry on his paper round as a Masters degree in Neuropsychology.

So while the 3DO got stuck with the perception of being a console for posh buggers, gamers stuck with the cheaper SNES and Mega Drive until the PlayStation and Saturn barged in - and funding for the other crucial pieces of the 3DO multimedia jigsaw stayed in the box.

It's a real shame that the 3DO couldn't find a good handhold, as pretty much every model had the feel of a premium piece of kit. The FMV-tastic game library also ballooned to a fair size for a system only available for three years (though dangerously lenient licensing didn't help the batting average).

Publishers were already packing up by the time Trip went hawking his M2 upgrade, and by 1996 the writing was on the wall. Next to the bit that said "So it's a capital O then? Not a zero? Or is it? FFS."

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