Opinion List: Comparing the 3DO, Jaguar, and 32X Game Libraries

I have had a lot going on recently so I have not gotten nearly as far with that Genesis Game Opinion Summaries update list as I’d like, though I do have the list of titles I’ll be covering together.  But not enough is done to post, so for this month’s last-minute update I guess I will post this dumb little opinion list.  This started out as a silly little timewaster I made for fun a few months ago, after some discussion of these platforms on a retro-gaming Discord I post on.  Now I have expanded that list into a full article.

Three Failed Video Game Platforms of 1993-1994: Which Is Best?

Note: For the purposes of this list, the Jaguar and Sega 32X also include not only the cartridge games for those platforms, but also all Jaguar CD and 32X CD games.

Below, I will list my opinions on where all three of these platforms compare in each design or game genre category.  Number one is the best, two is in the middle, and three is last.  How big the gap is between them in each genre or category varies widely from category to category, it depends.

Table of Contents

Summary List Comparisons
Hardware Comparisons
Game Genre Comparisons
Overall
Detailed Comparisons
Hardware Comparisons
Game Genre Comparisons
My Top 10 Favorite Games, Overall and On Each Platform
Conclusion


Summary List Comparisons

Hardware Comparisons

Hardware Power – 1. 3DO 2. Jag 3. 32X
Controller – 1. 32X 2. 3DO 3. Jag
System Design: 1. 3DO 2. Jag 3. 32X

Game Genre Comparisons

Racing – 1. 32X 2. 3DO 3. Jag (all three are great, it’s a matter of opinion)
Fighting (2d) – 1. 3DO 2. 32X 3. Jag
Fighting (3d) – 1. 32X 2. Jag 3. 3DO (maybe, 2nd and 3rd are close — Ballz 3D vs Fight for Life)
Vehicular Combat (Flat Plane) – 1. 3DO 2. Jag 3. 32X (though it is very close between first and second and could go either way)
FPS – 1. 3DO 2. Jag 3. 32X (probably, though JagDoom may be best overall)
Flight Combat – 1. 3DO 2. 32X 3. Jag (probably; all are great here and any could win)
Simulation – Vehicle (land or air based) (lots of overlap here with the flight combat and vehicular combat genres) – 1. 3DO 2. Jag 3. 32X
Rail Shooter / Into the Screen Shooter – 1. Jag 2. 32X 3. 3DO
Light Gun / Light Gun Style Shooter – 1. 3DO 2. Jag 3. 32X
Shmup / Shmuplike / Run & Gun – 1. Jag 2. 32X 3. 3DO
Platformer (3d) – 1. 32X (none on Jag or 3DO)
Platformer (2d/2.5d) – 1. 3DO? 2. Jag? 3. 32X? (This one is very close and could go any way. For exclusives only the list would be different, too – first Jag, second 32X, distant third 3DO.)
Strategy / Simulation (Building) – 1. 3DO 2. Jag 3. 32X
Puzzle – 1. 3DO 2. Jag (32X has none)
Adventure / FMV – 1. 3DO 2. Jag 3. 32X
Action-Adventure / Survival Horror 1. 3DO 2. Jag (32X has none)
RPG / Action-RPG – 1. 3DO 2. Jag (32X has none)
Sports / Card / Board – 1. 3DO 2. 32X 3. Jag (maybe; the Jag has my favorite overall game in this genre and maybe should be second)

Overall

3DO: 1st: 15 2nd: 2 3rd: 3 – 52 pts (3-1st 2-2nd 1-3rd)
Jaguar: 1st: 2 2nd: 12 3rd: 7 – 37 pts
32X: 1st: 4 2nd: 5 3rd: 9 – 31 pts

Overall, comparing these consoles this way the 3DO is the best no question, followed by the Jaguar and then probably the 32X. The 3DO is the winner no matter how you define the genres, but it’s close enough between the Jaguar and 32X that depending on how you redefine those genres either one could finish in second.

Detailed Comparisons

And now I will go in detail comparing each genre on the list above.  Note: Italics note games that are either console-exclusive or true exclusive; that is, games that are either only released on the platform in question, or are on computer and this console and not other consoles.  I will consider games exclusive if they have a substantial amount of exclusive content over other versions of the game, such as Virtua Racing does.  There is not an Overall category in this section because the Overall section above speaks for itself.

Hardware

Hardware Power – This is a tricky one, as these three systems use very different design philosophies.  Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the weaknesses are significant enough to help explain some of the reasons why all three of these platforms failed in the market. Going chronologically, the Jaguar released first, in fall ’93.  The first real 5th-gen console, the Jaguar was powerful for this time with 26 Mhz CPU and graphics chips, but it is quite bad at textured polygons and has numerous hardware bugs that make programming for it very difficult indeed and limit some of its power.   Getting the most out of the Jaguar is still hard, even all these decades later.  It is able to do pretty good 2d graphics as seen in Rayman, but the tough programming and design issues makes this hard sometimes; see bad performance of the Jag version of Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, for example. Next, the 3DO is perhaps not as powerful on paper, as it has only one, 12.5Mhz CPU.  Indeed, games like Doom or Wolfenstein 3D show how the Jag can run 3d games at higher framerates and with more graphical detail as well; even a much more optimized 3DO Doom would probably not have been able to match the Jaguar version.  The 3DO also requires developers program in C, instead of machine code; it was the first console to do this, and it was controversial at the time as it probably limits power.  However, the 3DO has none of the hardware bugs or issues that the Jaguar does, so it was much easier to program for.  Making 3d games was hard at the time and you see that on the 3DO, but it is a better-balanced, less broken design able to do some nice things when programmed for well.  It is better at FMV and polygonal 3d than it is 2d — 3DO 2d usually seems to run at only 30fps, as Gex shows — but still, it’s a good design for the time.  As for the 32X, it released a year after the other two, and in some ways is the most powerful, but also is, like the Jaguar, something of a huge pain to program for.  In the 32X’s case, this is because Sega decided to use a dual-core, 23Mhz CPU, at a time when nobody had any idea how to program for two CPUs.  Just like the Saturn after it, most games surely do not make good use of both CPUs; it was just too early for that.  It is hard to program for as well, as its odd design is kind of tricky — the Genesis and 32X are each working simultaneously, and the two video images are combined in output to make what appears to be a single image… but it is actually two entirely separate images being combined.  Games often have a 32X main image and sprites and Genesis menu bars and background, or vice versa.  The 32X alone is not designed to do things such as 60fps 2d, so most games have issues.  Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, for example,  has a 60fps Genesis background, with 30fps 32X sprites on top.  I may not notice much as I’m not framerate-concious much at all, but people who notice those things will really dislike this.  The 32X’s maximum capabilities are impressive, but the limitations of the CPUs and dual-system design hold it back.  So, I decided that the least broken design here, the 3DO, is best; it may be slower but games can actually get the most out of the system, and games which push it look great — see Blade Force for example.  Second, the Jag is busted but powerful when programmed for by a skilled team; see Skyhammer.  The 32X is similarly hard to program for, though perhaps easier than Jaguar, but I’m putting it in third because its best games and techdemos don’t match up to what I’ve seen from the best of the Jaguar — Skyhammer probably beats that infamous Zyrinx 32X techdemo video, for example.  I’m not a programmer though, so I could be convinced to change my mind on this category.

Controller – The 32X uses the Genesis controller.  All games work with regular 3-button Genesis controllers, but many 32X games support the 6-button controller for additional functions.  I definitely recommend the 6 button pad for the 32X, a lot of games do support it.  The official Sega 6 button Genesis controller is my favorite non-analog controller ever, so I gave the win here to the 32X.  It’s a fantastic and very comfortable controller.  In second, the 3DO has a very Genesis-inspired controller, with three face buttons along with two SNES-like shoulder buttons.  It is not quite as comfortable as a Genesis pad, but is a good controller regardless which fits well in the hand and works well.  For some games you do wish there was a sixth action button, though.  The 3DO does have the best assortment of alternate controllers, too — there is a light gun (the GameGun), a 3DO mouse, analog joystick (the CH Flightsick Pro for 3DO), and 6-button digital controllers in several designs, including from Capcom and others, for alternate controllers that give better controls in various kinds of games.  I have the mouse, joystick, and a few 6-button pads, and they are great options in supported titles.  The analog joystick really improves those flight games!  In last, the Jaguar controller is a lot more comfortable than I had ever given it credit for before finally buying a Jag earlier this year.  It may look huge and awful, but for those of us who like larger controllers like I often do the Jaguar controller is actually comfortable and feels good.  However, the decision to have a 12-button keypad, with only three action buttons and no shoulder buttons at all, is questionable.  While there are a few games which make good use of the keypad to allow things that would be a pain to do with any other controller, most of the time it just makes for awkward gameplay, as you have to reach down to the keypad for some important functions.  There s an expensive 6-button controller with shoulder buttons, but that just duplicates five of the keypad buttons onto the five added buttons, so how useful it is depends on how games mapped the keypad.  You will need to use that keypad, and it only sometimes works well.  Also, the Jaguar is one of the only 5th-gen consoles which has absolutely no analog control options released during its life.  There is now a homebrew mouse adapter with one or two things that support it, but for the most part Jaguar games are digital-pad-only, which is a real problem in 3d titles.  32X games are also mostly digital-only, but that is a last-gen addon so it is more excusable there than it is in this next-gen console.  The 3DO doesn’t have analog stick on its controller either, but the mouse, joystick, and lightgun controller options fill in there.  This is what decides it for me in the 3DO’s favor over the Jaguar, that the 3DO has analog controllers while the Jaguar does not; otherwise, between the two base controllers, it’s close enough that I could go either way.  But a lot of Jaguar games are screaming for analog controls that they system doesn’t have.  This was the case with a whole lot of games on all consoles at the time, until the N64 changed things, but it is an issue even so.

System Design – I like the look of the FZ-1 3DO.  It looks like a VCR or other similar pieces of ’90s home electronics, and it’s a classy look that is extremely dated in a nice way.  If the NES was designed to look like an ’80s VCR, the FZ-1 3DO is a ’90s VCR, a bit like the one we had back then but with discs.  I have not seen the FZ-10 in person, but it looks like a fine console design.  It is nothing amazing, but okay.  On the other hand, the 3DO saves to a battery soldered to the board, which is bad; those batteries will die and need replacing.  The disc drive and tray are also high failure points.  The Goldstar’s not as nice, but it still looks alright.  As for the Jaguar, it is a good looking system with some nice lines, but the absence of a cartridge flap, and the exposed board ports on the back and front, look cheap.  The cartridges look nice, but don’t stack all that well because of their curved design and don’t have end labels unless you add them, unfortunately.  As for the 32X, it has great Sega design, but its odd, mushroom-like look is an issue.  The Jaguar CD drive similarly blobs up on top of the Jaguar, but as much as it is maligned for looking like a toilet seat and being absurdly failure-prone, at least the Jag looks like it was designed for that CD drive to sit on top of it, so the two fit together well; the CD kind of completes the look of the Jaguar.  The Genesis clearly was not designed for a top addon, so the 32X is this ugly blob on top of your Genesis.  As for saving, Jaguar games save to EEPROM chips on the carts.  These chips hold very little data, but are great and their write limits should last a long time.  32X games save to batteries or EEPROM or FRAM chips on the carts. The 32X is probably the most durable of these three systems, with the lowest failure rate by far.  Still, overall, the 3DO looks the best.  You’ll need to replace that battery sometime and may have laser issues, but it’s a mostly good design.  The Jaguar is in second, with better design than it usually gets credit for.  And as much as I love the Genesis, the 32X lags behind in last.  The Sega CD and Genesis look good together, but adding the mushroom on top kind of messes up the look.  32Xes are much more likely to work in the future than the other two systems are, though.

Genres

Please note, this is not a comprehensive list of all games on all three consoles.  I’m only mentioning some highlight titles.

Racing32XVirtua Racing Deluxe, Motocross Championship, BC Racers; 3DOThe Need for Speed, Road Rash, Autobahn Tokio, Wacky Races 2: In Space, kind of Off-World Interceptor (it’s mostly a shooter), Driving School, MegaRace, F1 GP, Crash ‘n Burn, BC Racers; JagSuper Burnout, Power Drive Rally, Club Drive, Checkered Flag, Supercross 3D, Val d’Isere Skiing and Snowboarding. All three platforms have some great games here, but I gave the win to the 32X because Virtua Racing Deluxe is an outstanding game that I love, and the 32X version is in some ways the best version of the game. This is definitely an opinion case, it’s easy to see why some people would prefer the 3DO for NfS and Road Rash particularly, or the Jag for Super Burnout particularly, but I like VR Deluxe enough to put it on top.  Really all three of these systems are winners in this genre.

Fighting (2d)JagUltra Vortek, Kasumi Ninja, Primal Rage; 32X – Mortal Kombat 2, Brutal: Above the Claw, Cosmic Carnage, Supreme Warrior, Primal Rage; 3DO – Samurai Shodown, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Ultraman Powered, The Eye of Typhoon, Sailor Moon S, Shadow: War of Succession, Yuu Yuu Hakusho, Way of the Warrior. For a non-MK fan like me, SamSho and SSFIIT make this a very easy win for the 3DO.  The anime fighters on 3DO are amusing games as well.  For second place, real MK2 is a whole lot better than the mostly poor MK knockoffs on 3DO and Jaguar, so the 32X finishes second. Of the 3DO and Jag’s MK knockoff games Ultra Vortek is the best one, but that’s not saying all that much. Oh, worst game here is actually tough — do you go with the unbelievably horrible, barely playable atrocity that is Shadow: War of Succession — a game that should score under a 1 out of 10 on any scale — or the incredibly awful wreck of a game that is Supreme Warrior, which is also horrendous? As much as I greatly dislike Supreme Warrior it’s at least amusing to look at, so Shadow is worst overall I think.  Kasumi Ninja is also a pretty awful game, but it’s not on the level of those two atrocities.

Fighting (3d) JagFight for Life; 3DOBallz 3D: The Director’s Cut; 32X – Virtua Fighter, kind of WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game. Here we have a very good version of a very popular classic — Virtua Fighter — and … two awful messes that very few people like, FfL and Ballz. I’ve never liked VF1 all that much, but it is a good game and the 32X has a great version. So the 32X has one of the biggest wins on the list, but who is second? Here I chose Fight for Life over Ballz, in part because FfL is a VF clone while Ballz is a slightly enhanced last-gen port, but you could go either way there, and maybe Ballz is better. Oh, and Wrestlemania the Arcade Game kind of counts since it plays like a fighting game with 3d movement, not a wrestling game. You have regular health bars and everything.

Shmup / Shmuplike / Run & GunJagTrevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy, Raiden, Defender 2000, Protector SE (PD), Total Carnage, Rebooteroids (PD); 32XZaxxon’s Motherbase 2000, Kolibri; 3DOCaptain Quazar. The 3DO has a lot of shooting games, but they’re all top-down free-roaming stuff or 3d into-the-screen games, not regular topdown or side-view shmups, arena shooters, or run & guns, which is why those genres are all combined into one here; these systems just don’t have many. So, the Jaguar, with a true classic in Raiden and a few other okay games, wins this, with the 32X in second with a good game in Motherbase. Though, since the two 32X games are exclusives while while Raiden is on many platforms and is not best on Jaguar, for exclusives you could give this to the 32X — it’s much better than the Jag-exclusive Trevor McFur or Defender 2000 by what I’ve seen of those games. If you include homebrew releases, Protector SE and Rebooteroids on Jag also look good. As for Captain Quazar, it’s an okay game.

Platformer (2D/2.5D)3DO – Gex, Phoenix 3 (the first half of the game), Johnny Bazookatone, Soccer Kid, Flashback, Out of this World; Jaguar – Rayman, Hyper Force, Soccer Kid, Zool 2, Flashback, Bubsy in: Fractured Fairy Tales, Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure; 32X – Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, Blackthorne, Spider-Man: Web of Fire, Knuckles Chaotix, Tempo. Rayman is probably the best overall game here, but as I said this is a tough one because for me personally none of these three systems have a platformer I really love. Rayman is good but too hard; I’ve never really liked the cinematic, high-animation style of game seen in Flashback, Out of this World, and Blackthorne, but of those three I like Blackthorne the best and while it is a port the 32X version does have an exclusive graphical overhaul and level; Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure is good, but both of these versions are quite flawed (it’s best on PC); Tempo, Soccer Kid, and Gex are decent to good games, but are slow-paced and kind of average; and the others, Bubsy Jag, Hyper Force, Zool 2, Spiderman, Phoenix 3, Johnny Bazookatone… average at best. Oh, and Knuckles Chaotix is interesting but very flawed and isn’t above average in my book either, not in its main game. I love platformers, but these three could go in any order really and be valid…

Platformer (3D) – The bonus levels in Knuckles Chaotix on 32X are the only thing here on any of these formats so it’s an automatic win for the 32X. They’re really good for the time!

RPG / Action-RPG – As the only one of these platforms with any amount of Japanese gaem support, the 3DO has an advantage here — the top Western RPG studios were almost exclusively PC game developers at this point, while in Japan RPGs were mostly a console genre.  So, the 3DO has some JRPGs.  It has a few Western ones as well, most notably a pair of pretty good first-person dungeon crawlers.  3DO Lucienne’s Quest, AD&D: Slayer (FPS-RPG), AD&D: Deathkeep (FPS-RPG), and a few Japanese-language games; JagTowers II (FPS-RPG). 32X none. This one’s a very clear win for the 3DO. AD&D Slayer’s better than Towers II alone, never mind the rest of it…

Adventure / FMV is a very clear 3DO win. All three systems have some adventure games, and some are on several of these systems, but the 3DO has the most by far.  Quite a few adventure games were ported to 3DO, particularly ones with FMV video in them; it was a good platform for this kind of game and the adventure genre is probably one of the strongest on the 3DO. If the Jaguar CD had done better and lasted longer this could have been competitive because Jag CD visuals do seem to regularly beat the 3DO in FMV, but it has so few games that it doesn’t. The handful of games on both platforms may all be better on Jaguar, perhaps, but even if they were, they can’t outweigh the pile of good stuff on 3DO.  Some games, such as Myst and Dragon’s Lair are on both 3DO and Jaguar.  Additionally, the 3DO also has games such as Psychic Detective, Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller, Dragon Lore, Putt-Putt Joins the Parade, and more.  As for the 32X, there aren’t really any in its cartridge game library, but all six 32X CD games are ports of Sega CD FMV games.  They aren’t really adventure games though, and most are quite awful.  The two from Sega, Fahrenheit and Surgical Strike, are the best of the six, but they’re still not great.  Only Fahrenheit is even kind of an adventure game, too; Surgical Strike is a FMV shooter.  So, in adventure games the 3DO wins easily, the Jaguar finishes second with a small but sometimes quality library, and the 32X trails well behind.

Action-Adventure / Survival Horror – This genre could be combined with  the above one, but I decided to separate it.  As opposed to the above games, these have combat beyond the ‘hit the button at the right time’ QTE gameplay of a Dragon’s Lair or Space Ace.  The 3DO is the first console with survival horror games as we know them today, so it is noteworthy for this.   3DOAlone in the Dark, Alone in the Dark 2, Doctor Hauzer, Robinson’s Requiem; Jag – Robinson’s Requiem, Highlander: Last of the McLeods; 32X – None. I’m no AitD fan, but this is a clear win for the 3DO.  The Jaguar is second by default; that Highlander game gets mostly bad reviews but it is something, which is more than the 32X has.  There are some PD Jaguar adventure and action-adventure games as well.

Strategy / Simulation (Building) is similar; all three have at least one, and there are a few good ones on Jaguar, but the 3DO‘s a clear winner. The great classic Star Control II, my favorite 3DO game, is the standout here, and one of the best games on the 3DO as well.  I don’t need to list these out for each platform, it is no contest at all.  The Jaguar does have some interesting strategy and simulation games, including Attack of the Mutant Penguins, Baldies, and some games released on both 3DO and Jaguar Cannon Fodder if you count it as one (it isn’t really), Syndicate (another semi-strategy title), and Theme Park, but Star Control II is better than any of those games, and the 3DO has plenty more besides, such as Guardian War, Panzer General, Theatre Wars, The Tower (SimTower), DinoPark Tycoon, The Horde, The Perfect GeneralKonpeki no Kantai, and more.  Some of these are Japanese-only, but still it’s a decent library.  The 32X has very little in this genre other than a Japan-only port of Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV, so it finishes well behind in last.  So, 3DO first, Jaguar second, 32X last.

Rail / into the screen shooter (with a movable character) – These are into-the-screen 3d shooting games where you control some kind of ship or character that you can move around.  JagTempest 2000, Zero Five, Blue Lightning; 3DO – Pyramid Intruder, Burning Soldier, Total Eclipse, Off-World Interceptor (racing/shooter), Novastorm, Microcosm, Sewer Shark (kind of), Rebel Assault (partially); 32X – Space Harrier, After Burner Complete. All three have good to awesome stuff here but Tempest 2000 is an all-time great and the best game on any of these three consoles so the Jag wins the category. The 3DO has the most games but I don’t love any of them, so it finishes third; 32X Space Harrier is amazing! A bunch of those 3DO games try to be like a Space Harrier, but they’re so much worse…

Light Gun / Light Gun Style Shooter  These are games where you can’t move a character or ship around, but instead just control a cursor on a railed path, shooting at things as they appear.  They may or may not support actual light guns.  JaguarMissile Command 3D; 3DOSpace Pirates (lightgun), Mad Dog McCree (lightgun), Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold (lightgun), Corpse Killer (lightgun), Who Shot Johnny Rock? (lightgun), The Last Bounty Hunter (lightgun), Crime Patrol (lightgun), Drug Wars (lightgun), Starblade (some consider this a rail shooter, but it’s really a no-gun lightgun game.); 32X – Corpse Killer (lightgun), Surgical Strike (kind of). The 3DO has a pretty obvious win here, with an actual light gun and a bunch of games for it.  I’ve never liked Mad Dog McCree at all, but the no-gun shooter Starblade is fun and some of those American Laser Games titles are cheesy fun even if their gameplay isn’t the best.  Choosing second place is harder, though.  Corpse Killer is an awful game with horrible controls.  It supports light guns, but still plays terribly even with one!  I know, I have tried.  Surgical Strike’s a lot better, but it is also an FMV game, so the controls are frustrating and environments repeat constantly. I haven’t played Missile Command 3D, but it wins anyway because I’d probably like it more than Surgical Strike.

Vehicular Combat (flat plane) – These are vehicular combat games where you do not have any form of real height control.  So, you’re in a tank, hover-tank, or such.  You may be able to jump, but can’t fly up or down.  These games include: on JaguarHover Strike and its improved CD release Hover Strike: Unconquered Lands, Aircars, I-War, Iron Soldier (this is also kind of a vehicle sim), Iron Soldier 2 (also kind of a vehicle sim); on 32x T-Mek, Metal Head; on 3DO Stellar 7: Draxon’s Revenge, BattleSport, Shockwave and its expansion Shockwave: Operation Jumpgate, Shockwave 2: Beyond the Gate, Quarantine, maybe Return Fire (overhead, not first/third person) and its expansion Return Fire: Maps o’Death. Return Fire is a great game and probably pushes the 3DO over the Jaguar, though it’s very close — the Iron Soldier games on Jag are also quite good. Aircars, I-War, and Hover Strike on Jag and the Shockwave series on 3DO are somewhat similar games and I’ll call them about even, though I do have a fondness for Hover Strike: Unconquered Lands and I-War that I don’t for Shockwave, so I’d probably lean Jag here.  On the other hand, I do also quite like BattleSport, so it is close.  As for the 32X, I like both of its games in this genre as well, but the games on the other two systems outshine them so it is in third for sure.  This is another genre where all three platforms do well, the 3DO and Jaguar particularly.  I guess I’ll stick with the 3DO being in first for now, but I could switch them sometime, the Jaguar has some games here I really like.

FPS3DO – Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Defcon 5, Immercenary, Iron Angel of the Apocalypse, Iron Angel of the Apocalypse: the Return, PO’ed, Escape from Monster Manor, Killing Time, Space Hulk: Vengeance of the Blood Angels, Cyberdillo, Creature Shock (kind of, and partially; it’s also a rail shooter). 32X – Doom. Jag – Doom, Alien vs, Predator, Wolfenstein 3D. JagDoom is the best overall game here but the sheer number of 3DO FPSes puts it in first overall I’d say; some of those games are also quite solid. One great game can win a category if it’s THAT amazing, but there are a lot of ways to play Doom and the combination of flawed but interestingly weird games like Space Hulk, PO’ed, Immercenary, and Cyberdillo and good simpler shooters like Killing Time give the edge to 3DO, I think. AvP also is pretty interesting and Jag fans could give this to the Jag on a “quality over quantity” argument, but for now I lean 3DO. And the 3DO does have Doom, it’s just got a very low framerate. I find it fun anyway… Oh, and the 3DO also has two fps-rpg games and the Jag has one, though I’ll count those as RPGs I guess. The 3DO ones are great, I think — see the RPG genre.

Flight Combat (often slightly simmish) – 3DOStarfighter (also kind of a sim), Blade Force (a little simmish), maybe Super Wing Commander and Wing Commander 3 though they are also vehicle sims; 32xStar Wars Arcade, Shadow Squadron (almost a simmish game, but… not quite I think), Darxide, Star Trek Starfleet Academy Starship Bridge Simulator (simple combat with some sim elements); Jag – (note: all of these are also kind of vehicle sims) Skyhammer, Battlesphere + Battlesphere Gold (both PD), Cybermorph, Battlemorph. All three systems have some great games in this genre so it’s hard to decide objectively, personal opinion will probably decide it.  Even that’s hard though, I really like Starfighter and Shadow Squadron, and surely would like Battlemorph.  Star Trek, Blade Force, Star Wars Arcade, Skyhammer, and Cybermorph are good fun games too, with some issues.  I said 3DO first, 32X second, and Jag third, but you could make a case for these three going in any order depending on which games you like the most.  And while Cybermorph really is a good game, Battlemorph is better, and Skyhammer is a very impressive game for the Jaguar, my longtime love for Shadow Squadron and Starfighter put those systems above the Jag, I think.  And between 32X and 3DO, the other 32X games do some impressive things but they don’t match up to Wing Commander; I may never have been a fan of that series, but I can admit to their quality.

Vehicle Sim3DO Flying Nightmares, VR Stalker, Scramble Cobra, and the Wing Commander games, Blade Force, and Starfighter if you count them here; Jaguar has no exclusively vehicle-sim games, but does have the Iron Soldier games, Battlesphere, Skyhammer, and Cybermorph/Battlemorph if you count them here instead of where I put them earlier. 32x has none unless you count Shadow Squadron, which I likely wouldn’t, and Star Trek Starfleet Academy Starship Bridge Simulator, which … maybe. The 3DO is the only one with legit vehicle sims so it wins this by default. If you include all of the other games I just listed it’s a lot closer because all three have some great a-bit-simmish space or futuristic vehicular combat games, but the 3DO still probably wins if you include all the games I just listed. Shadow Squadron is one of the best games on that list but isn’t amazing enough to beat all of the other games listed, so the 32X is probably in last, though not by much. Those Jaguar games are also pretty good, Iron Soldier especially, and I haven’t played Battlemorph or Battlesphere so I can’t judge it entirely. As for 3DO, I like Blade Force, but find it super hard; Starfighter’s great but the controls are odd; and I’ve never been a Wing Commander fan, but they are good certainly. So uh, personal opinion might lean towards the Jag? I’ll need Battlemorph, Battlesphere is multiplayer-focused and insanely expensive. For now, for the sci-fi games portion of this genre, I put 3DO on top because of how much I like Starfighter. Of course, it also wins because it’s the only one with actual sims. Not good sims going by reviews, but sims.  I’ve never cared for fighter jet sim games though, so I can’t imagine liking them much myself.  Still, it has them.

Sports / Card / Board – With its very influential versions of FIFA International Soccer and John Madden Football, I think the 3DO has to win this category. There are other football and soccer games on all three platforms, but those two are the most important by far. The Jaguar has two football and two soccer games, including a solid version of International Sensible Soccer, but they look quite dated compared to those two, with much more 4th-gen-like visuals. The 32X has a version of FIFA and it’s good, but the 3DO one is better. Also, Olympic Soccer on the 3DO’s a decent game as well. In golf games the 3DO also has a huge lead — the Jag has none, and the 32X one okay one, while the 3DO has quite a few, a full eight in fact, most exclusive. The 3DO has the most other sports games too, such as boxing, FMV “how to ski / how to play tennis” tutorial discs, an okay summer olympics game, and more.  They’re mostly exclusive or console exclusive, too. For wrestling the 32X does have two WWF games though, while the 3DO and Jag have nothing. I don’t like wrestling, but WWF: The Arcade Game is alright.  For baseball, the 32X has two Genesis-style overhead baseball games, while the 3DO has two Japan-only more 3d baseball games (one by EA, oddly enough; why not make a US version too?) and a hitting trainer. As I don’t like Genesis World Series or RBI Baseball, even though I haven’t played the 3DO ones yet I’ll give the 3DO the edge here.  The EA one, Pro Yakyuu Virtual Stadium, looks good, and was EA’s first attempt at 5th-gen baseball in the Triple Play style; the other one, Pro Stadium, looks worse. For hockey though, the 3DO and 32X have nothing, while the Jaguar has one average effort in Brett Hull Hockey (aka Jaguar Hockey) so the Jag wins hockey. As for basketball, NBA Jam T.E. is on the 32X and Jag and is one of the best sports games ever made. The Jaguar has a couple of other much less good basketball games as well, in White Men Can’t Jump and Barkley: Shut Up and Jam (unreleased but leaked), but forget those.  There are two 3DO basketball games, Slam’ n Jam ’95 and Jammit, but they’ve got nothing on Jam, though Slam n Jam’s 3d perspective is kind of cool for the time. So this is a category where the sports game I’d most want to play, Jam, is on the two losing platforms but not the winning one… oh well, I love Jam TE but it is on lots of systems and I don’t love it so much I’d put the 32X or Jag over the whole, much larger 3DO sports library just because of it. Maybe they should win though, because the 32X and Jaguar versions of Jam T.E. are often mentioned as maybe the best versions of the game. The Jag version of Jam is a port of the 32X one with slightly better visuals.  As for card and board games, it should be no surprise that the 3DO dominates, as it does in this category in general, with multiple chess, mahjong, and shogi titles.  So, the 3DO wins here.  As for second place though, in part because baseball is my favorite sport and the Jag has no baseball games while the 32X at least has some, the 32X takes second.

Puzzle / Trivia – The 3DO has a quite clear win here. There are a few good puzzle games on Jaguar, such as Zoop, Vid Grid, and such, and more from homebrew developers, but the 3DO has more and better, including the all-time classic Bust-A-Move. That alone makes this an easy call; I do like Zoop, and the Jaguar has the only console version of Zoop that actually saves your high scores, but BAM’s one of the greats. The 3DO is also the only one with trivia quizshow games, such as Zhadnost: The Peoples’ Party and Twisted: The Game Show.  It has Lemmings, Shanghai: Triple Thread, Gridders, Trip’d, The Incredible Machine, and more, as well.  Several of those are good version sof all-time classic puzzle games. The 32X doesn’t really have anything in these genres, they’re all just on Genesis.

 

My Top 10 Favorite Games, Overall and On Each Platform

Now, I posted a list some years back of my favorite games by platform.  It’s getting a bit old though, and does not include the 3DO or Jaguar, so here are some little updated lists just for these three platforms.

3DO

1. Star Control II
2. Starfighter
3. Samurai Shodown
4. Return Fire & Maps o’Death
5. AD&D: Slayer
6. BattleSport
7. Super Street Fighter II Turbo
8. The Incredible Machine
9. BladeForce
10. Shockwave 2: Beyond the Gate

Honorable Mentions: Doom, Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed, Wing Commander 3: Heart of the Tiger, Shanghai: Triple Threat, Gex, AD&D: Deathkeep

Jaguar

1. Tempest 2000
2. Super Burnout
3. Iron Soldier
4. Zoop
5. Hover Strike: Unconquered Lands
6. Rayman
7. I-War
8. Cybermorph
9. Val d’Isere Skiing and Snowboarding
10. Club Drive

Honorable Mentions: It’s not a game, but the Jaguar CD VLM is amazing!  Like, really amazing.  Also Battlemorph would probably be in 5th or so if I’d ever played it, but sadly I have not.

32X

1. Virtua Racing Deluxe
2. Space Harrier
3. Shadow Squadron
4. After Burner
5. Zaxxon’s Motherbase 2000
6. Star Wars Arcade
7. Metal Head
8. Star Trek Starfleet Academy Starship Bridge Simulator
9. Virtua Fighter
10. Tempo

Honorable Mentions: T-MEK, Blackthorne, Mortal Kombat II, Knuckles Chaotix (for those cool 3d bonus stages)

Overall – 3DO, Jag, and 32X

1. Tempest 2000 (Jag)
2. Virtua Racing Deluxe (32X)
3. Space Harrier (32X)
4. Star Control II (3DO)
5. Starfighter (3DO)
6. Shadow Squadron (32X)
7. Super Burnout (Jag)
8. Samurai Shodown (3DO)
9. Return Fire (3DO)
10. AD&D: Slayer (3DO)

Honorable Mentions: Iron Soldier (Jag), Zoop (Jag)

All of these 12 titles mentioned in Overall are B+ or better grade titles in my opinion, from the A+ all-time great Tempest 2000 on down to the B+-grade honorable mention titles.

Conclusion

 

In conclusion, this little exercise may not have proven much, but hopefully it does show that the 3DO had a nicely broad game library, with interesting games in a wide variety of genres.  Some of those games are good and others are not, but many of them are well worth playing, particularly if you like games from the era or are interested in mid ’90s experimental titles which try new things older consoles could not do. Overall, Tempest 2000 on the Jaguar is the best game here, and it is one of my favorite games of all time.  It is an exceptional classic, and I am thrilled  to finally own the original version.  The Jaguar is a very charming console too, with a mostly exclusive library of very odd games, for both good and ill.  Jaguar-era Atari gave games extremely small budgets and the system had nearly nonexistent third-party support, so seeing how much teams could accomplish on clearly far too little money is pretty interesting stuff.  Sometimes the results were good and other times quite the opposite, but that’s part of its charm, oddly enough.  The Jaguar’s ongoing, strong homebrew development community is another reason to be interested in the system — of these three systems, it has the most homebrew software by far. The Jaguar is an expensive endeavor to collect for, but I’m glad to finally be doing that.  Some Jaguar and 3DO games are very bad, but even that kind of thing can be pretty interesting, I think; just how unbelievably unplayable Shadow: War of Succession is, for example, must be played to be believed!  As for the 32X, the thing is an interesting system indeed.  On the one hand, Sega never should have released it.  The 32X proved to be a major mistake, helping to totally ruin Sega’s reputation among gamers.  You simply cannot abandon a platform that quickly after releasing it and expect there to be no consequences for that!  It’s sad, because some really cool 32X games were casualties of its very early demise such as the impressive-looking X-Men, but the quick death and major reputational damage shows that Sega’s best move would to have been to never release the thing.  However, it does exist, somewhat unfortunately, and… yes, if you like Sega and the Genesis absolutely get one!  The 32X library may be tiny, but among those few games are some fantastic classics.  Any Genesis owner will love some of the games on the 32X, and its best titles stand with the best on the Genesis.  The 32X is a lot cheaper to buy and collect for than the 3DO or Jaguar are, too, and the hardware is more reliable and less likely to fail in the future.  It may have the overall weakest game library of these three platforms, and it absolutely does lag behind both overall, but it’s still a weird and interesting platform I like.

Overall, I can see why most people never bothered with all three of these consoles, and why many collectors will pass on all three of them.  Try some games on one sometime, though; sure, many are rough by modern standards, but others still hold up well, and seeing the progress of the industry in that time of extremely rapid change is fascinating.  Tech this century has not changed anywhere near as rapidly as it did in the ’90s.  So yeah, get a 3DO.  And consider a Jaguar too, if you can afford it.

About Brian

Computer and video game lover
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