By Sir Arthur

Born from the ashes of the deceased FreeDO project, 4DO is an emulator of the historical 3DO console released under an open source license. 4DO aim is to improve on the already remarkable accuracy level of the FreeDO main core by adding new features, bringing bug-fixes and making the software compatible with more games from the actually-not-so-large library of titles published for the 3DO.

The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer is a fifth generation console stemmed from the mind of Trip Hawkins (founder of Electronic Arts) and marketed starting from 1993, a minor chapter in the 32-bits systems war that crowned the Sony PlayStation as one of the most tremendous successes of the industry and the beginning (for better or worse) of a videogaming massification period with consequences still felt nowadays.

Based on an ARM60 32-bit RISC CPU clocked at 12.5 MHz, the 3DO console was a machine mainly designed for raster (bitmap) graphics and the hopeless Full Motion Video craze (like the Philips CD-i) when the competitors (and the Play in particular) began to exploit the potential of polygonal graphics in three “real” dimensions accelerated by a dedicated co-processor, with texture mapping and so on.

Sank by a stellar launch price ($699.95), poor support from third-party developers, an overall low-grade games library and by the explosion of the aforementioned PlayStation phenomenon, the 3DO lives again thanks to emulators like 4DO and other projects started in 2010, following the release of the FreeDO source code. FreeDO has been the first working 3DO emulator, while at the moment 4DO seems to be the most active software from a code development point of view.

The emulator is in beta state, and the latest release brings several improvements: video rendering (FMV) of Wing Commander III is now working, a fact that makes the game “quite playable”, occasional crashes during the loading screens of some games are fixed, The Horde, Jurassic Park and other titles benefit from the fixes of the aforementioned WC III rendering, a Spanish translation has been added and the French one has been edited.

4DO runs on all the modern versions of Windows (XP-Vista-7) and users DirectX 9 (or alternatingly the OS GDI subsystem) for video rendering. The documentation wiki includes a setup guide for the first steps with the emulator, while the beta download is available at this address. To get an idea of the video games that can be enjoyed on 3DO a quick look at MobyGames is recommended, while the compatibility list shows known working and non-working titles.