In 1994, the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer was released in North America. Conceived by entrepreneur and Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, the 3DO was not a console manufactured by the company itself, but instead was a series of specifications that could be licensed by third parties. Panasonic produced the first models in 1993. On March 20, 1994, the 3DO was introduced in Japan. North American system usually doesn’t sell well in Japan, but although the 3DO didn’t sell well overall, with less than 2 million units sold worldwide, more than 750,000 units were sold in Japan alone. This is more than the combined worldwide sales of the other underdog of this generation : PC-FX, Atari Jaguar, Amiga CD32, FM Towns Marty and the Apple Bandai Pippin. Japan also had more exclusive 3DO title than the US.
In itself, the 3DO wasn’t attractive enough to justify the need for a Hotel unit, but another factor weighted in VCD. In the early 90s, the VCD format was extremely popular in Asia. Although less popular in Japan, the format was still popular enough for video game console to support them. The Philips CD-i, the PC-FX or the PS1 (SCPH-5903 model) supported the format natively while others such as the Sega Saturn, 3D0, Sega Dreamcast and Amiga CD-32 would need external hardware or boot discs to be able to play them.
As Panasonic had just released their VCD add-on for their FZ-1 model, Panasonic saw this as an opportunity to create a hotel unit were both movies and game could be included in one system. The hoteliers weren’t very enthusiastic to the idea, until the idea was proposed to the Love Hotel. A love hotel is a type of short-stay hotel found around the world operated primarily for the purpose of allowing guests privacy for sexual activities. The name originates from “Hotel Love” in Osaka, which was built in 1968 and had a rotating sign.
These hotels were particularity interested as the 3DO have a selection of pornographic games and, as of 1995, Vivid Interactive started to release pornographic movies in VCD format. Having found a market for its Hotel unit, Panasonic decided to start the production, hoping that other hotel would follow love hotels.
Released as the 3DO Robo, the device was primarily sold to love hotels in Osaka. The system came in two versions (Blue/Gray and Beige) although we couldn’t confirm if there’s internal difference between the two released.
The 3DO Robo was largely unsuccessful, with apparently only 500 units sold.
- Based on the Panasonic FZ-1
- 5-Discs carousel
- Include the Panasonic VCD adapter
- Support both 480i/240p through a mode A,B switch behind the console.