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Cobra!
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« on: April 18, 2023 @145.36 »

So we all know about the big 4 that duked it out during the early 2000s: Sega’s Dreamcast, Sony’s PlayStation 2, Nintendo’s Gamecube and newcomer Microsoft’s Xbox.
But did you know there were 2 other systems that also tried to enter the ring at that time? I figured I’d put them both in the same thread because they interest the hell out of me!

The first is probably more well known. The 3DO company planned to get a headstart on the competition by releasing their next console early, they planned to release what is now known as the “M2” in 1996. Originally the 3DO company themselves were going to do, then pitch the idea to Sega until eventually falling into the hands of Panasonic.

However, it never released, but several arcade games used the board, as well as kiosk units being made that used the hardware and can even play the software that’s out there for it, and has a controller port to play them with!

Video Game Esoterica is a channel dedicated to the M2, and has shown every bit of hardware and software that exists for the thing! Here’s a comparison between the M2 and the N64 and Dreamcast console-wise:



You can see that the M2 is between the 2 and likely would have struggled to catch up to the other the other then-next-gen systems had it come out. That probably played a role in it’s cancellation.

The other system I want to talk about was apparently the reason the PS2 has a DVD player.

The story goes that Sony were initially reluctant to add it, in fear of it taking sales away from their standalone players, until Ken Kuturagi saw competition they thought would dominate if their next console didn’t do something to compete with it, and that console wasn’t the M2 or the Dreamcast.

It was an upcoming system called “Project X” (Original title, I know!), and the idea was that it was to be incorporated into certain DVD players, and specs wise was said to match what Sony planned for their system (More or less, it’s a little complicated)

The system was developed by the same team that worked on the Atari Jaguar, who left Atari after that console flopped, and formed “VM Labs”. So it was in a way a Jaguar 2.

The system was planned for release in 1998, but problem after problem arose, and they had to delay it.

The system eventually came out as the “Nuon” in late 2000, after the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 already hit the market, had more 3rd party support, were easier to program for and most importantly, far cheaper.

And so the Nuon flopped hard, with only 8 games being released in it’s lifetime, 2 of which were pack-in games, 1 being recalled because of compatibility issues, and 1 only being released in South Korea. VM Labs declared bankruptcy in mid-2001.

Did it actually square up to it’s competition, though? It’s hard to say, the console was apparently very hard to program on (Making even the Jaguar look easy!). The system also had no GPU, but it had a very powerful quad-core CPU.

Most games were like N64 but with a higher polygon count, and the only game that showed the Nuon had any sort of amazing next-gen power was Tempest 3000. (Warning: Flashing Lights)



I got 2 Nuon units (A Toshiba Unit and Samsung N-501), and I really think they’re cool. The system has no copy protection, so you can give those trying to sell the games for 3 figures the middle finger!

On top of Tempest 3000 looking super trippy, it’s actually a really fun game! Easily the best on the system and in my top 5 of the era as a whole!

The thing that interests me the most about these 2 systems is that SDKs are readily available for both! VM Labs actually released an SDK themselves as a last ditch attempt to give the Nuon some relevancy. There also exists an SDK for the M2 available to download on the Internet Archive, but I haven’t tried it yet.

I’ve had a look and played about with Nuon demos, and I think I can totally make something with it, maybe something with N64-like graphics. (And the SDK is limited compared to assembly and actual dev kits!)

So have you guys heard of either system? You have any experience from the time? What are your thoughts?
« Last Edit: April 18, 2023 @152.63 by Cobra! » Logged




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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2023 @410.74 »

i have heard about the 3DO - the M2's older sibling - comparing it to itch.io: known for very unique games made by independent developers. it's a shame the m2 was never made real. :sad:  although the console space is quite the monopoly these days - you're only going to see games made for zboz, playstation and switch - i guess this was the eventual lead up?

@Cobra! do you have either of these systems? :omg:
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Cobra!
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2023 @745.23 »

@Cobra! do you have either of these systems? :omg:

Like I said in the original post, I own 2 Nuon models, a Toshiba SD-2300 and Samsung N-501.

I use the N-501 more because that can play homebrew games, which was a featured VM Labs added in 2001 or so. They've since figured out how to play homebrew on Toshibas as well, but I guess sometimes a DVD would be a waste if a game is only like 50MB, you know?

I don't have an M2 model, the only models you can get that can play them go for like $2,000 at least.
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2023 @896.99 »

oops, sorry for skipping over that. :ohdear:  i would actually love to see what you could make on the N-501 even if i don't have the console myself! it looks like a good bit of fun

tempest 3000 is a really fun game to watch! i don't think i've seen anything like it, and the visuals and audio are so delightfully intense. also holy crap tempest 3000 was published by hasbro? didn't even know hasbro interactive was a thing.
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2023 @978.06 »

The 3DO is such an interesting specimen, it's too bad it costed so much, because I could see it definitely as a big thing for hobbyists. I could see it being put along the likes of the Amiga in that regard.
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Cobra!
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2023 @121.08 »

i would actually love to see what you could make on the N-501 even if i don't have the console myself! it looks like a good bit of fun
Yeah, I’m going to make an FPS prototype once I can get the 3DSMax exporter to work so I can import my own models.

tempest 3000 is a really fun game to watch! i don't think i've seen anything like it, and the visuals and audio are so delightfully intense. also holy crap tempest 3000 was published by hasbro? didn't even know hasbro interactive was a thing.

Yeah, Hasbro had a game publishing division in the 90s. They bought Atari after the Jaguar’s failure bankrupted them, but then Hasbro Interactive were in financial trouble, so was sold off to Infogrammes, and eventually the name Atari was given to scam artists, basically, but that’s a topic for another time.

I remember owning a game published by Hasbro: Pong for the Game Boy Color. Was basically pong with extra graphical and gameplay modes. Was pretty good for what it was!
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« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2023 @912.89 »

One particular aspect of the Nuon I'd like to talk about is the Visual Light Machine that powered Tempest 3000. Being kind of a spiritual successor to the Jaguar, it was natural they gave it that feature too. And yeah, just like in the Jaguar, pretty much any music CD you put in it becomes a trippy lightshow thanks to that! What's odd to know is that the Xbox 360 would give us another implementation of the VLM the Jaguar CD and Nuon had...
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